Finding a Gem in your own backyard

When I used to live in India, I used to dream of Venetian palaces, French chateaus, Chinese summer homes. It took 24 years to open my eyes and see the history surrounding the place where I spent my childhood summers, the city of my birth. Often we passed by the Laxmi Villas Palace in Vadorara in rickshaws but never did I have the curiosity or the fascination to go visit it. Vadodara back then was associated just with long, lazy summers lounging in Grandma’s apartment and going shopping for pretty Gujarati dresses on R.C.Dutt road.

Laxmi Villas Palace, Vadodara

That dusty, boring Vadodara too could have its own fascinating history, beautiful architecture, and an on-site royal family never struck me.

Darbar Hall, Laxmi Villas Palace, Vadodara

It was the permanence of the backyard that strongly hindered my exploratory spirit when it came to this palace. It took a physical, permanent removal from India to get me dreaming about one day visiting the sprawling construction in the heart of the city.

Laxmi Villas Palace, build circa 1890, is gorgeous. One of the seven wonders of India, the palace is a fusion of styles – going from Italian stained glass window (the most in any private residence) to Islamic arabesque carvings. Yet, it retains within itself that charm that makes it a true Gujarati construction – that airy feeling, those open aangans (courtyards), those sculpted wooden arches.

Amusing call-back to America: The palace tour is conducted via an audio guide (in English!), reminding me of my Fall ’09 visit to the gilded mansions in Rhode Island.

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10 thoughts on “Finding a Gem in your own backyard

  1. Hey i’ve always wanted to see d place n palace esp aftr i read d book Maharanis n got to know the palace’s history-Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad, his queen Chimnabai and their daughter Indira devi…The pic is beautiful…u clicked it or is it a postcard?

    • Oh, wow, you know a lot more of the history that I do. I highly recommend visiting the palace – only if you happen to be in the area as the tour gets done in less than 2 hours and there isn’t much to see in Vadodara otherwise.

      Very well preserved though, the Palace. And hey, it’s open to be considered as a wedding hall 🙂

      Pic is not mine, sadly. I did take a few but have yet to upload them.

      See you soon!

  2. That looks like one of the colleges/universities we always used to pass by in Baroda/Junagadh. Maybe that’s why it never occurred to us to explore beyond.

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