Why is Vadodara Called the Sanskari Nagari?
Vadodara was once known as Vadpatra. The word was derived from the sanskrit word Vatoda. It literally means in the heart of the banyan tree. Back in the day, Vadodara was covered with gigantic banyan trees and so, it was known as Vatoda. Though many have died or were removed to make way for development, till date you can find some ancient banyan trees in Vadodara.
The city was at one time part of the trading route between Gujarat and Malwa during the Ankotakka dynasty. This affluence attracted a lot of rulers from all over the country. Different rulers from different dynasties like Solankis, Vaghela's, Gaekwads and sultans ruled in Vadodara. This left a great impact on the city's culture, art and architecture.
The people of Vadodara have held on to these cultures and traditions. Hence, it is known as the sanskari nagari. You will find well-behaved and friendly people in Vadodara. Also, the Maharaja Sayajirao university was also set up by Maharaja Sayajirao III which added in the intellectual advancement of the city. It also adds to the vibrant culture of the city.
Things You Should Eat When in Vadodara
Vadodara is a place that is filled with culture and traditions. It has a lot of gardens and cafes to hang out in. The other thing that Vadodara is known for is its food. It serves a lot of local yet continental delicacies. One of the most common one is sev usal.
Sev usal is a local snack yet you will find the taste to be different at different places in Vadodara. The locals are really crazy over this snack. It is made up of varieties of lentils and peas. The usal curry contains various spices as well. Then, the curry is garnished with sev. Sev is made out of chana powder. It is then fried and thus, it is crunchy.
Some people relish the usal on its own while others prefer to have it with pav which is a type of soft bread. There is also a garlic chutney, lemon and chopped onions that is served with the usal. People who like it spicy add the chutney in the usal. One of the famous places in Vadodara is the Jay mahakali sev usal which is located in the old city.
Kachori is another item that can be found in any street of Vadodara. Kachoris are spicy snacks thus, you can find them in the morning for breakfast and even in the evening. If you want to try the local flavour, then you must visit the old city. There are a lot of stalls available there for the same.
The kachoris are made from a dough of flour, they can be small rounds with stuffing inside or they can be bigger rounds. The bigger ones also have delicious stuffing in them and the whole kachori is deep fried to a beautiful golden which gives it a delicious crunch as you bite in while the center stays soft. Apart from that, a lot of garnishing options are used. You can add tamarind sauce, garlic sauce, puffed rice, boondi and pepper.
It is really delicious and you must try it when in Vadodara. The best place to relish the kachori is Pyarelal ki kachori. It is one of the most popular outlets in the city. If you are looking for dry kachoris that you want to carry back home, then you must head to Sukhadia Khambhatwala Sweets and Snacks in Alkapuri.
The people of Gujarat really love their food. It is a good idea to indulge yourself with one of the amazing Gujarati thalis. There are various restaurants in Vadodara that serve Gujarati thali. A typical gujarati thali serves multiple items that will be arranged around a steel thali.
It includes two-three types of vegetables, a few curries made from pulses. Apart from that, the lentil dal is sweet and sour , it is really very different from the usual dals you will taste around the country. The thaali has farsan items too which can either be fried or steamed. The thali will include pickle, salad and raita. A dessert is also served in the end.
One of the famous places in Vadodara is Sasuma Gujarati thali. It is always crowded and thus, it is a nice idea to reserve the table from before. The restaurant only serves gujarati thali. Also, the thali is unlimited. Apart from that, there is a kathiyawadi gujarati thali too. The preparation of vegetables is different in that. It is oily and spicy. You can visit Khadki restaurant if you want to eat that thali.
Historical Places to Visit in Vadodara
Laxmi Vilas Palace
Laxmi Vilas Palace is the beauty of Vadodara. It is an extravagant building which was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890. Major Charles Mant was the architect of the palace. It is known to be the largest private building in the world. It is actually four times the size of Buckingham palace.
A part of the palace is open to visitors. This is because the royal family still resides in the other half of the palace. It looks mesmerising and is a treat to the eyes. It is located on an area of 700 acres. You will be able to spot monkeys and peacocks strutting around in the gardens.
The palace is constructed with the Indo-Saracenic style. The style basically contains Hindu, gothic and mughal architectural forms. It contains domes, minarets and even arches. You will have to pay an entrance fee to go inside and the price of the ticket includes a free audio tour as well. The timings of the palace are from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Sayaji Gardens are one of the most beautiful gardens in Vadodara. The name of the garden is dedicated to Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. It was dedicated to the Maharaja by the Maharaja himself. It is one of the largest gardens in the Western region of India and so, it is worth a visit.
The garden spreads for around 45 hectares of land. It was built back in 1879 on the Vishwamitri river of Vadodara. It contains various species of flora with over 99 species of different trees. Apart from that, this park contains two museums and a planetarium.
It also has a big zoo with a toy car train for children and is big enough for even adults to sit in the train. The park also has a flower clock which still shows the right time. The park also has small gardens in it. We suggest you carry food with you when you visit and have a nice picnic there.
You might need half a day to actually see all the attractions in the Sayaji Baug. Make sure to take enough time before going to the park. You will have to check with the show timings of the planetarium so that you can adjust your schedule accordingly. The garden is open all the day while the museum and picture gallery is open from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. The planetarium shows are available from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm.
Kirti Mandir is a very beautiful structure which is located in the heart of the city. It is located very close to the Vishwamitri bridge. Kirti mandir was also made by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. He built the structure in the memory of his ancestors.
The place is also known as the temple of fame and was built back in 1936 for the Maharaja's diamond jubilee celebrations. This building is also designed in the Indo-Saracenic style. The style is reflected in the various features of the building such as windows, shikaras and finials.
A lot of travellers visit this site to witness the renowned architecture displayed here. The place is a treat to watch from the inside as well. It contains marbles and intricately painted walls. The murals on the wall are painted by prominent Bengali artists. The place also hosts rangoli competition during Diwali.
Vadodara Museum and Picture Gallery
If you are interested in history, then you must visit the Vadodara museum and picture gallery. It is located on the grounds of the Sayaji Baug and you can combine these visits. It was also made by the Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. The museum resembles the design of Victoria and Albert museum of London. Some of the elements of the museum are built in Indo-Saracenic style.
The style can be witnessed in elements like chhatris, torans and cusped arches. Although, the ground floor of the museum has distinct European influences. The Maharaja had collected various artefacts himself to build the museum which he donated as part of the first collection of the museum.
There are 28 different galleries in the museums and all of them exhibit different collections. The various collections are from places like Japan, Nepal, China, Tibet, Greece, Rome and Egypt. There is one gallery that solely has Gaekwad's possessions. The museum remains a source of fascination for a lot of tourists who visit Vadodara.
Makarpura Palace is another palace in Vadodara worthy of a visit. It was built on extensive gardens by Maharaja Khanderao Gaekwad in 1870 to serve as a summer palace and hunting resort of the royal family. It was built in 1870. The site of the palace was amidst the proximity of the deers during that time.
Maharaja liked hunting, thus he used to spend a lot of time there. However, the palace now is in city limits and there are no deers around but the palace is open for public viewing. It features the Italian Renaissance style of architecture but the highlight of the palace is undoubtedly the garden.
The garden is built in a Japanese style with ornamental fountains, swimming pool and a lake of swans. The palace is beautiful and you must definitely witness it. The palace also contains classical rows of arches with multifoil fountains. The palace was used by the Indian Air force as their office for sometime. However, they have shifted their office and the palace is empty. However, it needs conservation and renovation.
Sursagar Lake is located in the heart of old city. It is almost a landmark of the city Vadodara and is also one of the most popular places to visit in Vadodara. The lake was known as Chandan Talav because the place looks beautiful at night under the moonlight.
The lake contains a statue of Lord Shiva. It is visible for any corner around the lake. The statue is 120 feet tall and is worth a visit. There are no entry fees for the lake. However, the lake is not open for boating or swimming. You can only witness it from the railing.
the whole area is superb as you will be able to enjoy a lot street food around the lake. There are certain stalls that are available in the morning. However, evening is a good time to visit the lake as a lot of different stalls serving delicious delicacies will be available. The lake is open 24 hours and thus, you can visit it any time.
Shopping Places to Visit in Vadodara
Shopping is fun in Vadodara. You can find a lot of local items here that are not easily available anywhere else. Teen Darwaza is a shopping market in the old city area of Vadodara and has a lot of different stores selling unique items.
You will be able to see shops selling a lot of artificial silver jewellery. There are various vendors who sit on the road as well. You find big and small jhumkas both. Apart from that, it is possible to find rings and necklaces as well. The market also sells authentic silver jewellery and silver plated items as well. You will have to explore the area on foot as there are a lot of by lanes with these shops.
Apart from jewellery, you will find a lot of ethnic wear dresses too. You will also find the traditional dress that the locals wear while playing garba, which is a long skirt with a blouse and dupatta. You can buy such a piece if you wish too. Apart from that, you will find cotton kurtis and sarees with local designs and embroidery on it.
The local fabrics of Vadodara include tye and dye fabric with bandhej. You will find even western dresses made from such fabrics. Apart from that, you can always purchase the fabric and get it stitched from your local tailor back home.
Raopura is is another old city area which offers a lot of shopping options. However, the shops are scattered here and so, it is ideal that you explore the area on foot. You can even ask the locals around and they will show you the right shopping places in the area.
You will be able to find a lot of embroidered fabric here and we suggest you buy some because the local embroidery is quite unique and is done with mirrors and beads. If you are looking for something local and unique, then you can buy these. You will also find jackets made out of these fabrics. They really look unique and amazing.
At the same time, you can find embroidered footwear too. Apart from that, it is possible to find different wall hangings and appliqued quilts. You can surely purchase them as momentos for your friends and relatives back home. make sure to even by saris with beadwork as they look fashionable and unique. You will surely find a lot of different things in this area.
Religious Places to Visit in Vadodara
Pavagadh is not exactly in Vadodara. It is located in the outskirts of Vadodara and is around 54 km from the city. However, it is a major tourist attraction and a lot of people visit the place to worship Kali Mata. The temple is located on a hill which is 762m above the sea level.
A ropeway is available at the beginning of the hill. However, to even reach the ropeway you will have to climb a little. Apart from that, you can even reach the ropeway in a car. Even stairs are available if you do not want to use the ropeway service. It is important to note that the ropeway takes you halfway to the temple only. You will have to climb the rest of the way which can be a bit of a trek.
There are a lot of stalls available when you finally get to the top and you will get snacks, cold drinks and water in all of them. Some of them also sell local handicrafts. The place is considered sacred by all the Hindus. There is a guest house named Machi Haveli where it is possible to accommodate all the tourists.
Take a day to visit Pavagadh. The place has a Champaner archaeological park as well. It is declared as the UNESCO World heritage site. If you are a history buff or an architecture lover than it is worth visiting. Plan a day trip to Pavagadh from Vadodara. There are buses that take you there. You can choose to hire a cab as well.
EME Temple is a wonderful place to visit. It has a rare construct and it actually celebrates secularism. It represents 5 major religions of the world. The structure of the temple is made out of aluminium. It was built by the engineers of the Army corps of India. It is even run by them.
The temple is in a high security area and so, photography is prohibited inside. Also, remember to carry an id-card as they will ask for the same at the gate. People who love architecture should surely visit the temple. It is a fantastic example of Geodesic structure.
The hidden message of the structure is secularism and thus, it has left a special place in everybody's heart. The locals as well as the tourists adorn the temple. The temple contains a kalash which is the topmost part of the structure. It denotes Hinduism. Then there is a dome which is exactly built with Islamic architecture. It denotes Islam.
The next part depicts Christianity which has the idol of Dakshinamurthy. The top of the tower is in gold and that denotes buddhism and jainism. A fire is also included in the temple and that denotes Zoroastrianism.
Bonus Tip: Statue of Unity Near Vadodara Should Not Be Missed
Statue of Unity is the world's tallest statue. It is located in Gujarat and is just 89.4 km from Vadodara. The statue is dedicated to the iron man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He was one of the India's founding fathers and country's first deputy prime minister.
The statue is 182 metres tall. It is a massive bronze statue and it is a delight to watch. There are five different zones through which you can witness the statue. However, only three zones are open for the public. Zone 4 and 5 are the highest ares and they are served as the maintenance areas.
Apart from that, there is light and sound show that happens in the evening. There is also a viewing gallery and museum which explains the contributions of Sardar Patel in an elaborative way. If you are visiting Vadodara, then it makes sense that you dedicate a day to the statue of Unity. There are buses available at different times to reach the place. you can also hire a cab for full day to reach the statue of unity.
Plan your travel
Unless you have plenty of time, do not try to see everything. Indian cities are best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, punctuated with plenty of breaks to eat, and bargaining at local markets. If it's just a few days' visit, prioritise what you want to see and do and explore each properly.