Vadodara, or Baroda, as many still call it, is the third-largest city in Gujarat, and is touted as the state’s cultural capital. With a history that has seen Islamic, Hindu and Jain rulers make their mark on the city; there’s enough to please architecture buffs and curious tourists alike. Chief of all is the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, the largest in Gujarat, and the genesis of the legendary ‘Baroda school’ of art. The Maratha’s royal family, the Gaekwads still reside in the Laxmi Vilas Palace, part of which is also open to the public.
Best time to visit: October to March is the best time to explore Vadodara.
How to reach
By Air: Vadodara Airport, also known as Civil Airport Harni is the nearest airport to the city. IndiGo operates more than 30 weekly, non-stop flights between Vadodara and Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
By Train: Vadodara Junction railway station is well-connected to all major cities of the country through regular trains.
By Bus: Vadodara has a network of regular buses connecting it with the other cities and towns.
Getting around: The city’s local modes of transportation includes buses and auto-rickshaws, reaching all corners of Vadodara.
For a Gujarati thali fit for royalty, make your way to Mandap, where you will find unlimited chapatis, puris, curry and more.
For traditional Kathiyawadi food that includes sev-tameta and bajari rotala, stop by at this exciting restaurant.
If you can’t decide what to order, the buffet dinner allows you to sample a variety of dishes across cuisines at this popular restaurant. Also worth sampling is the pasta if all the Indian food is getting to you.
This famous street stall serves Maharasthrian sev usal, which can be customised right at your table for spice and tanginess, using the different varieties of chutneys on the table.
Named for the latitude that cuts through Vadodara, the food that this restaurant serves up is south Indian. Everything from dosas to avial is on the menu. La Quello Mediterranean Kitchen, Race Course: Primavera, pesto Genovese and Alfredo—are just three of the kinds of pasta on the menu at this completely vegetarian, Italian eatery that also serves up wood-fired pizza, baked dishes and more.
If you’re looking for artisanal hand-printed fabric, you must stop at Baroda Prints. They have two branches in the city—at the Salatwala Road outlet, you can watch the skilled printers working on the fabric in the workshop upstairs. Khadi Bhandar is another option for those looking for hand-woven clothing. For keepsakes from your trip that can range from jewellery to fabric to sculptures, make your way to Sejal Handicrafts, which stocks a range of handcrafted products, all made using traditional techniques. When it comes to shopping in crowded lanes, where small stalls heave under the weight of their wares, make your way to Khanderao Market, where you can find fruits, vegetables and flowers. It might not be something you can carry back home, but to get a sense of the market, and produce available, a visit at the crack of dawn is worth it.
Taj Gateway Hotel at Akota Gardens This is one of the 5-star hotels in Vadodara which offers up large, comfortable rooms in the heart of the business district. Catering to corporate guests and families alike, there is a pool and two restaurants to kick back.
Eastin Residences, Alkapuri For those considering a more extended stay in the city, these apartment-like rooms are ideal. Spacious and sleek, The Glass House, the all-day dining eatery serves up both traditional and international favourites.
Lemon Tree Hotel, Sayajigunj Colourful and well appointed, the rooms at this property are cosy, and with its location and spacious events space, this is a hotel that caters to every need.
WelcomHotel Alkapuri, Home to the legendary restaurant Peshawari, for those that crave sikandari raan or creamy dal Bukhara, this hotel also includes 133 luxurious rooms and suites for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Sursagar Lake: If you’re looking to engage with nature, make your way to Sursagar Lake, where you can catch a glimpse of the massive statue of Lord Shiva that sits in the middle of the water.
Sayaji Baug: The small zoo is also worth visiting, especially if you are in the city with children, as they will enjoy the variety of animal life and the aquarium, planetarium housed here. Built by Maharaja Sayajirao III in 1879, it’s a royal legacy that the city has made its own.
Nazar Baug Palace: Built-in 1721, Naza Baug palace is a beautiful structure and Gaekwad’s royal household. Constructed during the reign of Malhār Rāo Gaekwad, it is the oldest building in the city, and you should not miss it in your itinerary.
Champaner: A weekend getaway to Champaner, to see the historic Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, is also worth considering. Built by Mehmud Begda, the architecture here features a blend of Hindu and Islamic and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is undoubtedly worth a visit.
Depending on your state of being, you can experience complete opposites while in Vadodara. If you’re seeking to get in touch with your inner peace, make it a point to visit the Aurobindo Ashram, where you can meditate, or peruse their extensive library of spiritual books. Located near Dandia Bazaar, the ashram is open through the day (and for those looking to spend a couple of days in the vicinity, there are numerous hotels in the area). Delta 9, on the other hand, is run by the country’s largest paintball operator, and for those looking to spend an afternoon ‘shooting’ at each other, and trying their hand at tactical team games, this is the place to do so.