Laxmi Vilas Palace Vadodara is a witness to this enchanting reality. This palace, built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Vadodara, redefines opulence as one of the world’s largest residential palaces.
Table of Contents
A Palace Beyond Imagination
Imagine a place that covers an area larger than you could ever dream – 700 acres, to be exact. Inside this palace, there are a whopping 170 rooms! It’s like a kingdom within a kingdom. And guess what? This palace is four times the size of the famous Buckingham Palace! Can you believe that? Laxmi Vilas Palace isn’t just a building; it’s a grand masterpiece that stands as one of the biggest residential palaces in the whole world. But this palace isn’t just about its size – it’s about the stories it holds, the history it carries, and the royal family it houses.
A Tale of Dedication and Tragedy
Let’s journey back in time to when this magnificent palace was being built. It took 12 long years, from 1878 to 1890, to create this wonder. The mastermind behind it all was Major Charles Mant, the lead architect who poured his heart and soul into every brick and stone. But life has its share of tragedies, and just as the palace was nearing completion, a dark cloud of doubt engulfed Major Mant. He was gripped by the fear that his calculations were wrong, that the palace might collapse. This weight proved too much, and he tragically took his own life. But this palace is still standing high after facing lots of earthquakes and other natural calamities.
A Symphony of Architectural Styles of Laxmi Vilas Palace
When you step into the palace, you’ll be transported through time as you witness a dazzling blend of architectural styles. Imagine pieces of a colorful mosaic coming together to create a mesmerizing whole. There are traces of Jain architecture, hints of Rajput design, echoes of Indo-Islamic influences, and the charm of Maratha craftsmanship. It’s like a harmony of different cultures and eras. As you stand at the grand entrance, known as the Maharaja Porch, you’ll be greeted by the bold beauty of Maratha architecture. This palace isn’t just about walls and ceilings; it’s about the rich tapestry of culture and art that tells stories of the past.
A Home of Three Realms
Step inside, and the palace unfolds its secrets. It’s divided into three sections, each with its purpose. In the heart of the palace, the Maharaja lived his royal life. To the right, meetings were held and visitors were welcomed. And to the left, the Janana Mahal was a haven for the royal ladies. But this palace isn’t just about spaces; it’s about the lives lived within them.
The lush landscapes surrounding the palace were designed by Sir William Goldring, a botanist who painted nature’s canvas with beauty. The palace was way ahead of its time, boasting modern marvels like lifts, telephones, and even a miniature railway line – a special path for the royal kids to reach their school. This palace isn’t just about the past; it’s about progress and innovation.
The Clock Tower of Laxmi Vilas Palace
Look up, and you’ll see the palace’s tall tower. Initially meant to be a clock tower, it holds its secret tale. Instead of a ticking clock, it held an orange light (or a flag in the day) that signaled the king’s presence within the palace. It’s like a silent announcement that the king is home.
A World of Entrances
The palace has many entrances. Each entrance leads to a different part of the palace, revealing its treasures. The main entrance, the one reserved for the royal family, stands at the end of Raj Mahal Road. But don’t worry, visitors have their entrance – Gate number 2, the gateway to a realm of wonder.
A Journey Through the Palace
As you step inside, a world of wonder unfolds before your eyes. The Maharaja Porch welcomes you with its Sheesham wood balcony, a splendid piece of art. The grand staircase, adorned with marble railings, beckons you to explore further. Long corridors flood the palace with daylight as if the sun itself wants to witness its beauty. And then there are the crystal chandeliers, a sight to behold. Mosaic floors and Belgian glass windows add a touch of elegance, a whisper of the past.
A Peek into Royal Rooms
Though some parts of the palace are open for the Laxmi Vilas Palace Vadodara Gujarat is still India’s largest private residence of the royal family of Vadodara Presetly Maharaja Smarajtsinh the former cricketer is living with his wife Radhikaraje and two daughters.
The Waiting Room
The Waiting Room holds paintings of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad, capturing him in both his youth and old age. Maharaja Pratapsingh Gaekwad also graces the room, while furniture sits as silent witnesses to history.
The Armory “Shri Pratap Shastargar”
The Armory, Shri Paratap Shastragar, is like a time capsule of old weapons, each with a story to tell. The room houses treasures like the Panchkula Talwar of Guru Gobindsinhji, swords from Jahangir and Aurangzeb, and even a sword from Japan. The Navdurgha Talwar, adorned with carvings of the 9 avatars of Goddess Durga, the sword of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad gleams in gold and diamond. There’s even a statue of brave warriors Maharana Pratap and Chhatrapati Shivaji, reminding us of the valorous past.
The Gadi Hall
The Gadi Hall, a place of honor, witnessed the Rajya Abhishek – the coronation of a new king. Paintings by Raja Ravi Verma grace the walls, including the iconic ones of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. The gadi, the king’s seat, holds a profound significance, as it’s where the king sits only once in his lifetime. The Gaekwads follow the belief of “Jin Ghar Jin Takhat,” which translates to “The saddle is my home and The saddle is my throne.“
The Hathi Hall
Adjacent to the Darbar Hall is the Hathi Hall. This is where the king’s majestic march on elephants began. It’s a gallery of headgear, each telling a tale of a regal journey.
The Darbar Hall
And now, we arrive at the grand jewel of the palace – the Darbar Hall. It’s a room that needs no introduction, for its grandeur speaks for itself. With its Venetian mosaic floor and Belgian stained-glass windows, this hall was a canvas for music, culture, and social gatherings. As you walk through its doors, you’ll find the royal symbol of the Gaekwad Family imprinted on the floor and windows. The Jarokhas, sandalwood, and rosewood windows, stand as timeless witnesses to the elegance of the past.
A World Within the Compound
The palace’s compound is a microcosm of wonders. From the LVP Banquet to the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum and Motibaugh, each corner tells a tale. The miniature railway line winds through mango orchards, a haven for the royal children. A zoo houses peacocks and crocodiles, and the Navlakhi Step Well stands as a testament to ancient water resource systems.
An Invitation to Experience Majesty
As our journey through the palace concludes, I extend a heartfelt invitation to every reader. Explore Laxmi Vilas Palace; let its walls whisper stories of progress, royalty, and life. Step into the shoes of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad and experience the world he envisioned for all in his city.
Time to visit laxmi Vilas Palace
I would personally suggest you visit Vadodara in Winter (September to January). The scorching heat and humidity of Vadodara will exhaust you during the summer and monsoon.
Timings and Fare
Laxmi Vilas Palace welcomes visitors with open arms, six days a week, from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. A haven of history and grandeur, the palace is closed on Mondays and National Holidays. Before you embark on this journey, check the entrance fees in the image attached. It’s time to embrace the past and celebrate the legacy of Laxmi Vilas Palace. Here you will be provided with an audio tour in Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, and French Language which will guide you through the Palace