After the rather commercial ambience of Ahmedabad, the charming city of Vadodara in the state of Gujarat, comes as a pleasant change. The character of the city closely reflects the legacy of Maharajah Sayaji Rao III who was a progressive ruler and a great city planner. Successive rulers added palaces, lakes and parks, making the city one of the most charming urban centres in the region. The city has a mixed bag of people from all over the country that came here attracted by Vadodara's catholicity, its modern outlook and its cosmopolitan culture. Contemporary Vadodara is important as a growing industrial city and a renowned centre for academics. The College of Fine Arts is acknowledged as one of the best in the country.
Vadodara has some good markets that sell everything from factory made, mass production items to hand crafted furniture, textiles and the entire selection of handicrafts that Gujarat is so famous for. The bulk of shopping is done in the shops at Raopura, Mandvi, Teen Darwaza and Lehripura Mandir Bazar . More modern shops selling contemporary fashion apparel and furnishings can be found at Alkapuri Arcade and National Plaza.
The climate of Vadodara is pretty much akin to that of central India. The summers tend to be fairly warm with average temperatures of around 32°C in the months of April, May and June. End June finds the temperatures easing a bit with the onset of the monsoons. The months of June, July and August receive as much as 365 mm of rainfall but average temperatures remain at around 28°C. Winter is more pleasant with temperatures coming down to 20°C in the months of November, December, January, February and March.
Ubharat: It is situated 42 kms from Surat. Ubharat is known for a fine, sandy beach with a backdrop of shady palm groves.
Tithal: It is situated 108 kms from Surat and 5 kms from Valsad on the Bombay Vadodara Western Railway. A beautiful sandy beach palm sheltered cottages is what you would get to see there.
Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara
Bardoli: It is situated 34 kms from Surat. Gandhiji had launched a farmers' movement known as the 'Bardoli Satyagrah' in 1921-22 under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Swaraj Ashram at Bardoli has become a place of pilgrimage in India.
Ukai: It is situated 94 kms from Surat. A major multipurpose irrigation project of Gujarat, the storage of water at the dam site is almost as large as that of Bhakra Nangal Dam in Punjab.
Bulsar: The Vansda National Park is situated in Bulsar District. Wild animals such as leopards, tigers, panthers and wild boars are found here.
Attractions and Places to Visit in Vadodara
For the visitor, the city has some fine parks, palaces, and museums. Kammati Baug and Sayaji Bagh are beautiful parks in the heart of the city and also house a zoo, a planetarium as well as the Vadodara Museum - the Maharajah Sayajirao Museum Art Gallery set up in 1894. The museum exhibits a fine collection of European paintings, sculptures, industrial arts and royal family memorabilia. It also contains an excellent collection of the famous Akota Bronzes. Akota lies on the western fringes of the city and was the seat of Jain culture in the 5th century. The Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum contains the royal collection of art treasures of European masters, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, Indian miniatures, Graeco-Roman exhibits and contemporary Indian art.
In The Laxmi Vilas Palace was the official residence of the erstwhile Maharajahs of Baroda. Though a little down at heel and run down, the palace still has impressive interiors done up with Venetian glass, crystal chandeliers, Italian marble and mosaic and fine porcelain and marble statues from Europe. Close by is the tiered step-well called the Naulakhi Baoli , because it could store 9 million gallons of water. the centre of town are the memorial grounds of the reigning dynasty of Gaekwads with a modern temple complex. Visitors to Vadodara can see some fine examples of old Gujarati havelis (manors) in the area around the Khanderao Market. The Nazar Bagh Palace has a Shish Mahal or Glass Palace worth seeing, even though it is in a rather dilapidated condition.
How to Reach Vadodara
By Air: Vadodara airport has daily and weekly connections to Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad. The airport is 6km from the city and auto rickshaws and taxis are available outside. The bigger hotels also arrange airport to city transfers, if you are booked to stay with them.
By Train: Vadodara lies on the main broad gauge railway lines between Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Mumbai-Delhi, so there are several trains to choose from including the two superfast Shatabdi Express trains to Ahmedabad and Mumbai and the Rajdhani Express to Delhi.
By Road: Vadodara is very well connected by road to various parts of India. State government run buses ply to the neighbouring states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Within Gujarat, Vadodara is connected to Ahmedabad, Surat and Bhavnagar by regular roadways buses and deluxe air-conditioned coaches. Information and reservations can be done at the Central Bus Stand opposite the Vadodara Railway Station. You can rent a car and drive in ? cars can be hired from travel agents and car rental companies.