Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Konkon Reise - Netravati to Sabarmati: Part VI - Vadodara, India’s Chemical Capital

I reached Vadodara early in the morning. It’s was dark outside; so I went to second class rest room and sat there for some time. Here I met Shiva. He was on his way to Delhi to write UGC GATE exam and then to UP to celebrate his birthday with parents. He was sitting in a chair next to me and was quite restless. Later I came to know that, his ticket to Delhi was still in waiting list. So for rest of the night we talked and in between checked the status of his train ticket.
I had one full day in Vadodara. My plan was to see Laxmi Vilas Palace first, Fateh Singh Museum and then to simply roam around the city. The problem was, Palace wouldn’t open before 10 or 10.30.
Anyway, it was better to roam around rather than simply sitting in the steel chairs of Railway station. Hence I went to clock room, unloaded all luggage (except camera bag) and then went outside with Shiva to have some breakfast. By the way he was quite unwilling to use the clock room facilities and carried all bags, which later proved to be a bad choice.
We went to the make shift stalls located outside the station and had some pakoda and tea. Now it’s time to go to the palace. Unfortunately, we missed the bus stop and got down at a different gate. So we had to walk back towards palace’s main gate. Sun was in his early innings and was not fully in form, so the fog stayed in the air for a while. As there nothing much to do, we sat in the benches placed in road sides. Road, its side and the benches were very much neat and clean. We killed the time by talking about quite a lot of things.
I think helmets are not compulsory in Baroda. Most of riders were not wearing that.
Vadodara is the third largest city in Gujarat, after Ahmadabad and Surat. In the beginning of the millennia, Guptas established control over the region. Later it was taken over by Chalukyas. Then Solankis gained power and established their dynasty.
During the rise of Delhi Sultanates like many other places, this region also came under the tight grip of Sultanates. After the fall of Sultanates this region was conquered by Mughals.
When power tilted in favour of Marathas, Gaekwads got this area and Baroda became their capital. In those days, Gaekwads were under Pune’s control. However ‘Third Anglo-Maratha War’ changed the equation and Pune’s control over Gaekwad’s weakened considerably. Then onward till India’s independence Baroda remained as princely state.
Lakshmi Vilas Palace
Finally it was time to enter Lakshmi Vilas Palace. Entry fee was 170 INR and photography was prohibited inside. Shiva was not ready to spend 170INR just for seeing a palace. So he told bye and left for station.
Palace was big and beautiful; there was a working golf course located next to it. From front room audio guide was available. For next two and half hours, I spend my time in that building.
Main attractions in the palace were armoury (guns, knifes, spears, poisoned swords, chakras etc), throne room (some of Ravi Varma pics are displayed here), elephant hall, banquet hall) etc.
Fateh Singh Museum
This museum is located in the palace complex itself. However we need to go through a different gate. Entry fee was 60INR and another 30 INR for audio guide. By the way, this museum hosts a lot Raja Ravi Varma paintings. I spend quite a lot of time in front of Raja Ravi Varma’s works; original and copy of many other artists.
Ranji Match
Cricket ground is located beside the museum. On that day ‘Vadodara Vs Mumbai’ Ranji match was going on in that stadium. Unfortunately, common people can’t go through the gate located next to museum; hence I had to take a long path to reach the other side of the ground. There were not much viewers, some were standing here and there. A small group was near to fence and shouting. I was a bit tired and sat on the grass and watched the match till the end.
By the way, Irfan Pathan was fielding at that end.
After the match I took a shared auto to railway station. Next destination was Ahmadabad. Soon Ahmadabad Double Decker train came. I heard about the introduction of double decker trains in some routes. However, it was the first time I was travelling in it.


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