Incredible Lakshmivilas Palace- Vadodara-
It was not in my life, that I plan too much for things and then make them happen. So, visiting to Vadodara, was much like this. I had few cousins staying over there and then when I got a weekend, I thought of visiting them. It was just an amazing time I had with them and since I love to visit the nearby places, I decided to go to Laxmivilas Palace, about which I have heard a lot in the last 15-20 years.The best thing about this palace is that it is still a living palace which means, that still the Gaekwad family stay there in one part of the palace. Its a home for them. This is not usually seen in other palaces, where they are kept just for visits and maintenance. One can make out, how different one feels, when one enters someone’s home, which is a palace itself and how those energies are felt all around.
My niece, Namita, came along with me and we really had some really enriching, wonderful and incredible experience. I never thought that this palace is so huge. Being in Rajasthan, I had visited to many palaces and so I was not really thinking this to be an incredible and marvellous piece of art.When you see it from outside, it look like a massive giant palace with enormous facets and when you go closer the massiveness becomes eye catching and mesmerizing in its own ways. Whether its paintings, or wall hangings, gardens or architecture, weapons collection or handmade things, hunting tiger or deer skins or the mehfil khana all just makes you feel speechless.
We left early morning, had our breakfast, shared some stories of our work and then left to visit the palace. Namita, already knew a lot about this palace from the beginning, so she endlessly continued to share stories from the past about the prince, the Gaekwad family and their ancestral anecdotes one after the other. She was quite informative that way and being a localite it was an added advantage. This is my experience that more, you are familiar to the place, more comfortable you become and if you have a local person with you, there is nothing like it. It adds on to your comfort and also well-being in a great way. I really admire Namita and her warm presence around me. She must have visited this place 100s of times, but her curiosity to be a child, and her willingness to share things with me, were something that I relished beyond measures. She has an impeccable command over the stories of the past related to Gaekwad Gharana. What I loved about the palace was the audio system, which helped to listen to stories and information in a great details.
The term Maharaja Palace actually refers to a series of palaces in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, constructed since the Gaekwad a prominent Maratha family started ruling the Baroda State. The first one was a building known as the Sarkar Wada. This building, not really a palace, was given up for the Nazarbaug Palace built in old classical style. This palace was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890.I was really mesmerized by the way the whole architecture was done. In those days ,when technology was not there, when it was difficult to communicate to each other in that era, something so beautiful, unimaginable palace like this was built. Really feels hats off to the workers, laborers and everyone who had contributed to this, due to which today we area able to see some great structures like this.
It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built till date and four times the size of Buckingham Palace. At the time of construction it boasted the most modern amenities such as elevators and the interior is reminiscent of a large European country house. It remains the residence of the Royal Family, who continue to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda.
Darbar Hall featuring the Rajas Throne: This was simply marvellous. My eyes are stuck on the kind of artistic work that was done and that too in those days.
Darbar hall featuring the Ornate artwork:Its ornate Darbar Hall, which is sometimes the venue of music concerts and other cultural events, has a Venetian mosaic floor, Belgium stained glass windows and walls with intricate mosaic decorations.This is the same place where “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” movie was shot in 2015. The place was dedicated for Mehfils by renowned poets, musicians and dancers of those times. The females of the palace, used to see this mehfil from the top windows. They were not allowed to come down and be a part of the larger community. The were considered special and were not given the same treatment as men.
Outside of the Darbar Hall is an Italianate courtyard of water fountains. The palace houses a remarkable collection of old armoury and sculptures in bronze, marble & terracotta by Fellici. Each stone/marble was imported through different parts of the world, through water transport. The palace is full of Italian, Russian, Indo-western styles of architecture. The grounds were landscaped by William Goldring, a specialist from Kew Gardens. The Palace “compound” covers over 700 acres (2.8 km2) and houses a number of buildings, particularly the Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building.
When I entered this place I really thought, why there is not water source here, and the moment I reached to this fountain space,I was on the top of the world. Water, is one thing I have loved the most and still love it. The cleanliness in and around the palace is something, I really wish to share about. The toilets were in very good condition, neat, clean and tidy with water facility. This also speaks about how our culture was and what we have made it like today.
The Museum building was constructed as a school for the Maharaja’s children. Today a large number of works of art belonging to the Royal family have been displayed in the museum. The most remarkable of these is the fabulous collection of the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, who was specially commissioned by the then Maharaja of Baroda. The collection includes portraits of the Royal family in addition to the paintings based on Hindu mythology for which Raja Ravi Varma was famous.
Some more pics: