In the aftermath of the wave of globalization & privatization, India, the ‘Asian tiger’, has had the imprints of industrialization written all over itself. Be it Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata or Chandigarh, there’s hardly any corner of India that has been left unfazed by the swathe of industrialization and the tide of modernity that it has brought along with it. Very few cities in India have managed to keep their rich heritage and culture intact in the face of these circumstances. Vadodara is one such city, which has managed to keep in touch with its roots.
Overlooking the banks of River Vishwamitri, the town of Vadodara was once known as Vadpatra, which is derived from the Sanskrit word Vatoda, which literally translates into ‘the heart of the Banyan tree’. Today, this quaint town has been endowed with the epithet of Sanskari Nagari, owing to the fact that it was the nucleus of unprecedented patronage of culture. This culture blossomed owing to the fact that this coastal city served as a major port over the last 2000 years; thereby, becoming the seat of flourishing dynasties that patronized art, knowledge, architecture and literature.
It is believed that during 600 AD, Ankotakka was a leading trading centre, which flourished during the reign of the Gupta Empire. This was owing to the fact that it was situated along the ancient trading route between the region of Gujarat and Malwa. According to the ancient chronicles of that time, a drastic flood annihilated this city around that time, forcing its occupants to move eastward towards Vadodara. This marked the beginning of Vadodara’s journey to become a prosperous trading town.
This affluence lured leading ruling clans from far and wide. A string of leading empires of that time controlled the city; the Chalukyas, the Solankis, the Vaghelas, the Rashtrakutas, the Solankis, the Gaekwads and the Sultans of Delhi and Gujarat, to name a few. Each of them left an indelible mark on the city’s architecture & culture. However, there’s one particular name that stands out for his outstanding contribution to the blooming of the city’s vibrant culture; Maharaja Sayajirao III who ruled the city in 10th century. His reign is believed to be the golden age in the history of Vadodara. In fact, the king was quite interested in the intellectual advancement of his subjects and was instrumental to the founding of Baroda College in 1881, which today exists in the form of the sprawling Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.
The fact that the people of Vadodara are still in touch with their culture has earned it the tag of being the ‘Sanskari Nagari’ or the ‘city of culture’. When you make a trip to Vadodara and after you are done exploring the city, you can drop by at Royal Orchid Central, Vadodara, which has numerous well-appointed rooms and an array of fine dining options where you can unwind.