Vadodara’s Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

Vadodara’s Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

 

Welcome to the regal world of Vadodara’s Lakshmi Vilas Palace, an architectural marvel that encapsulates the grandeur and opulence of a bygone era. This iconic palace, situated in Vadodara, Gujarat, is a timeless masterpiece that beckons visitors from all corners of the globe. The palace decorations, carvings, artwork, murals, oil paintings, etc. are all worth enjoying.In this article, we invite you on a virtual tour through the history, architecture, and captivating stories that make Lakshmi Vilas Palace an unparalleled attraction. Let’s step into the world of royal splendor.

Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

A Glimpse of History

 

The Birth of a Palace

Lakshmi Vilas Palace was commissioned by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890. This majestic structure, designed by British architect Major Charles Mant, was built to celebrate the prosperity and grandeur of the Gaekwad dynasty. Covering an astounding area of over 700 acres, four times the size of Buckingham Palace, the royal residence of the Queen of England, Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara is a magnificent combination of nineteenth-century European, Hindu, and Islamic architecture.

Vadodara’s Glorious Past: The Reign of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad III

Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

In areas like Fatehganj, Pratapganj, Khanderao Market, and Sampatarao Colony, a glimpse of the Gaikwadi era can be observed. One such well-known address is ‘Rajmahal Road’. This road starts in Rajmahal and goes through Kirtistambh to the extent of Red Court. ‘Rajmahal’ means Lakshmi Vilas Palace. In a large space outside the Four Gates area of ​​the city, the grandeur of this palace can be observed from a distance as well. Built in 1890 AD, the Lakshmi Vilas Palace is the residence of the royal family today. Some parts of the palace are open to visitors and tourists. Apart from its magnificence, this palace is unique in its construction.

The Legacy of Architectural Precision: Major Charles Ment’s Vision for Laxmi Vilas Palace

Lakshmi Vilas Palace was designed by the famous English architect Major Charles Ment, who was commissioned by Maharaja Sayajirao III of Vadodara in 1878 AD. It is the habit of the English to go into detail. Major Charles Ment must have also madeVadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur several calculations while preparing the design of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace. However, at one point, Major Ment felt that there was a major flaw in the design. He was worried that the whole palace would be ruined due to the damage, which eventually caused his death. After the death of Major Charles Ment, the unfinished work of the construction of Lakshmi Vilas Palace was taken up by another engineer named Robert Gizo and completed in twelve years, in 1890 AD. The entire palace was built according to the design prepared by Major Charles Ment and even after seven hundred years, not a single stone has fallen from it.

The Majestic Laxmi Vilas Palace: A Royal Marvel of Opulence and Grandeur

Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

Built at a cost of around 18,00,000 pounds (227,00,000 as per the current rate), the Lakshmi Vilas Palace is a masterpiece of art and royal opulence. In basic detail, the Lakshmi Vilas Palace complex, spread over an area of ​​700 acres (about 3 square kilometers) is the largest residence in the world. There are 170 rooms in the palace, which are decorated in different styles. The main dome of the palace has a huge water tank inside. The water supply to the entire palace comes from that tank. The minaret to the left of the dome is 91 meters (three hundred feet) high, with openings in between.

 

Architectural Fusion at Laxmi Vilas Palace: East Meets West in a Grand Display of ArtistryVadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

In the construction of this palace, the art and architecture of the East and the West have been combined, and the materials used in the construction have also been brought from different places to create a nice combination. The structure of the palace is built mostly of Dhrangadhra stones. Red stone brought from Agra, black-brown rocks from Pune, and marble from Rajasthan are also used here. Italian marble has been used in the staircase, columns, and door jambs. To give artistic form to all these materials, the best artisans in that field were specially selected. As such, expert artisans from Madras (Chennai) were hired to apply lime plaster to the interior walls.

Twelve artisans from a famous Murano company in Venice stayed for a year and a half toVadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur prepare the special Venetian mosaic floor in the Darbar Hall here. The plastering and molding on the walls and ceiling were carried out by a specialist from London. The gardens here were designed by Mr. Goldring, a horticulturist from the Q area of ​​London. Sculptures on the staircase, in Darbar Hall, and in other sections of the palace were done by the Italian sculptor Felicci. The Belgian stained glass windows were crafted by a specialist named Dix from London. If you want to see how the combination of all these can create a wonderful result, you have to visit Lakshmi Vilas Palace.

The Harmonious Fusion of Indian and European Elegance: Laxmi Vilas Palace’s Interior SplendorVadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

The beauty of Lakshmi Vilas Palace is that its exterior looks very Indian due to the arches, domes, minarets, canopies, etc., but its interior decoration is of European style. The magnificent Darbar Hall spread over five thousand square feet in this palace is very attractive. Musical programs as well as other cultural events are held here frequently. The magnificence and artistry of this place are amazing. The Venetian mosaic floor, Belgian stained glass body windows, wall murals on them, and chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling give a sense of royalty.

The Enchanted Ride: The Tale of the Flying Scotsman at Laxmi Vilas Palace

 

Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

Another example of wonder: In 1941, the then Maharaja Pratap Singh Gaekwad of Vadodara imported a special mini-sized steam engine from abroad for his children. That engine, named Flying Scotsman, used to pull three miniature coaches on a three-kilometer-long track laid in the palace courtyard. Sitting on this toy train, the children of the royal family went to school every day; the school was located in the courtyard of the palace only. The train, with a seating capacity of 30 children in three coaches, was gifted by the royal family to Sayaji Garden in 1956 and became an attraction for children across Gujarat. This train entertained children for almost three and a half decades. Finally, in 1993, his engine’s boiler failed, and he had to take a forced break. Today, the historic steam engine of the Flying Scotsman is preserved as a souvenir in the museum at Lakshmi Vilas Palace.

The Price of Preservation: Why Laxmi Vilas Palace’s Entrance Fee Is Worth It

Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

The entrance ticket rate of this palace may seem a bit higher than that of other palaces in India, but there is a reason behind it. Lakshmi Vilas Palace is four times bigger than the Queen of England’s Buckingham Palace. It is natural that the cost of maintenance and upkeep of such a large architecture is high. On the one hand, many of the other palaces in India are in a dilapidated state due to a lack of maintenance, while the maintenance of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace is eye-popping. It is worth spending a few hours in the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, which stands intact, preserving the architecture and paintings dating back seven hundred years and the history of the Gaekwad dynasty.

Royal Residency

For over a century, the palace served as the Gaekwad family’s residence. Even today, a portion of the palace is still their private residence, giving it an aura of authenticity and nostalgia. As you wander through the corridors, you’ll be stepping into the footsteps of royalty.Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

Samarjit Singh Gaikwad and his family currently live in the luxurious Lakshmi Vilas palace, which has a total of 170 rooms. Samarjit Singh Gaekwad is an accomplished cricketer. His wife, Radhika Raje is involved in women-oriented social activities. The practice of two symbols indicating the presence of the royal family in the palace has been in force since the time of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad III. A saffron flag is seen waving at the main entrance of the palace during the day, and a red light is seen at the top of the tall minaret of this palace at night to indicate that the Maharaja is in his residence.

Architectural Marvel

 

Indo-Saracenic Splendor

Laxmi Vilas Palace boasts an architectural style that’s nothing short of breathtaking—Indo-Saracenic. This style beautifully blends Indian and European elements, resulting in a mesmerizing symphony of domes, arches, minarets, and ornate carvings. The palace stands as a testament to the harmonious amalgamation of various cultures.Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

The palace is indeed unique because it blends three different architectural styles: Mughal, Hindu, and Gothic (European). Engineering scholars refer to such a combination as the Indo-Saracenic style. Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Station in Mumbai, Madras High Court Building, North Block and South Block Buildings in New Delhi, Anand Bagh Palace in Darbhanga, and Darbhanga House in Patna are examples of Indo-Saracenic style. This distinctive style was developed by English architects in the late nineteenth century. Apart from palaces, the style was also used in public buildings during the period of British India.

One of the many outstanding aspects of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace is its stained glassVadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur windows. No other palace, not only in India but also in the world, has as many stained glass windows as compared to this palace. Additional information: Many people confuse stained glass with glass painting. Actually, both are very different methods. In stained glass, different pieces of colored glass are cut into different shapes as required and joined together with lead in such a way that the whole frame forms a complete picture. In glass painting, a picture is drawn on the glass itself with special colors.

The Grand Courtyard

The palace features a grand courtyard adorned with intricate mosaic decorations and a stunning fountain. As you stand in this courtyard, you can’t help but be transported back in time, feeling the palpable history that surrounds you.Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

Just outside the palace’s Darbar Hall is an Italian-style courtyard with a fountain, which looks very attractive because of its arches. Every corner of the palace that tourists can visit is ‘picture perfect’. This gives an idea of what the rest of the palace will look like. There is a complete sense of the concept of meticulous craftsmanship along with the splendor. There is an armory at one place where the latest weapons of the Maratha, Sikh, and Mughal armies can be seen.

Beautiful sculptures in bronze, marble, or terracotta (clay) are arranged all over the premises, which gives a unique beauty to the entire premises. An area on the premises of Lakshmi Vilas Palace has been earmarked for a golf course. On one side of the palace is the Navlakhi Maidan, which has a beautiful step-well. At the rear of the palace is the Vishwamitri Bridge, from which one can get a wonderful view of the palace.

A Treasure Trove of Art

The Durbar Hall

The Durbar Hall is a stunning example of the opulence within the palace. The interior is embellished with Venetian mosaic work, Belgian stained glass windows, and a mosaic of the various orders of the Chivalry.

The Maharaja Fateh Singh MuseumVadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

This museum, housed within the palace, is a treasure trove of art and history. It showcases an exquisite collection of sculptures, paintings, and artifacts from different periods. The museum also houses a remarkable collection of European oil paintings, including masterpieces by renowned artists.

 

The Artistic Legacy of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad III: Raja Ravi Varma’s Masterpieces at Laxmi Vilas Palace

 

In addition to his love for their people, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad III was known for hisVadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur love of art and foresight. He invited Raja Ravi Varma, the great painter not only of the nineteenth century but also of modern Indian painting. Ravi Varma has created wonderful paintings of Indian mythological events using European styles of painting. A special studio was set up for Ravi Varma in the palace grounds, where he painted several exemplary oil paintings of members of the royal family and scenes from the Mahabharata. Today, the structure of that studio is in a dilapidated condition, but it is thrilling to think that Raja Ravi Varma might have worked here at times. The oil paintings of this great painter are placed in the Fateh Singh Museum in the courtyard of the palace itself. Some walls of the palace are also adorned with his oil paintings. One need not be a deep art connoisseur to enjoy Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings. Being an ordinary art lover is enough.

Captivating Stories

The Royal Family

The history of Laxmi Vilas Palace is intertwined with the Gaekwad family’s legacy. As you explore the palace, you’ll come across captivating stories of the rulers, their customs, and the rich traditions that have been handed down through generations.

Pioneering Luxuries of the 19th Century: Innovations at Laxmi Vilas PalaceVadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

It is surprising to know how facilities were provided in the nineteenth century for the royal family of the Gaikwads. For instance, when the name of ‘Elevator’ (a lift) was unknown to many people in India, the Lakshmi Vilas Palace was equipped with an elevator. The palace had its own telephone exchange set up so that members of the royal family could communicate with each other. The palace also had an electricity connection, which was a miracle at that time in the nineteenth century.

Royal Events

Laxmi Vilas Palace has witnessed countless royal events, including weddings, festivals, and grand celebrations. The palace has been a silent spectator to a myriad of joyous occasions that define the royal heritage of Vadodara.

Visiting Laxmi Vilas Palace

Visitor Information

Laxmi Vilas Palace is open to the public, allowing visitors to experience its grandeur. Make sure to check the opening hours and any special exhibitions or events happening during your visit.

Guided Tours

To truly immerse yourself in the history and stories of the palace, consider taking a guided tour. Knowledgeable guides will lead you through the various sections, sharing fascinating anecdotes and insights.

Lakshmi Vilas Palace Address: Gate No. 2, Palace Estate, J. N. Marg, Vadodara. Ticket Rate: ₹ 200/- (Entrance Fee to Palace) ₹ 60/- (entrance fee to the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum)

Lakshmi Vilas Palace is open to tourists from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on Mondays and public holidays. An audio guide is included in the palace entrance ticket. Photography is prohibited inside the palace.Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

Tips for Visiting Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara, Gujarat

Entry Fee and Timings: Check the current entry fee and opening hours before planning your visit. Laxmi Vilas Palace is usually open to the public, but timings and fees may vary.

Guided Tours: Consider taking a guided tour to get a deeper insight into the palace’s history, architecture, and the stories behind its various sections.

Photography: Confirm the palace’s photography policy. Some areas may have restrictions on photography, while others may encourage it.Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

Respect Dress Code: Dress modestly and respectfully when visiting. It’s advisable to cover your shoulders and knees, particularly if you plan to visit religious or historical sections of the palace.

Footwear: In many Indian palaces and temples, you may be required to remove your shoes before entering certain areas. Be prepared for this possibility.

Weather Conditions: Be mindful of the weather conditions, especially if you plan to explore the palace’s outdoor areas. Carry sunscreen, hats, and water during hot weather, and consider an umbrella during the monsoon season.

Security Check: Security measures might be in place, so be prepared to go through a security check at the entrance.

Stay Hydrated: Vadodara can get quite hot, so carry a water bottle with you to stay hydrated during your visit.Vadodara's Lakshmi Vilas Palace: A Journey Through Royal Grandeur

Respect the artifacts: While exploring the palace, remember to respect the artifacts and displays. Do not touch or attempt to move any items.

Check for Special Events: Check if there are any special exhibitions, cultural events, or festivals taking place at the palace during your visit. These can enhance your experience.

Plan Ahead: Laxmi Vilas Palace is vast, so plan your visit accordingly. Allow ample time to explore the palace and its various sections.

Souvenirs: If you’d like to take home a memento, there might be a gift shop on the premises where you can purchase souvenirs related to the palace.

Visitor Behavior: Maintain decorum and be respectful of other visitors. Keep noise levels down, especially in sensitive areas.

Enjoy the Gardens: Take a leisurely stroll in the palace gardens, which are known for their beauty and tranquility.

Learn About Local History: Before your visit, acquaint yourself with the history of Vadodara and the Gaekwad dynasty to better appreciate the palace’s significance.

Local Cuisine: After your visit, explore local restaurants and savor authentic Gujarati cuisine to complete your cultural experience.

Visiting Laxmi Vilas Palace is a journey back in time, and following these tips will help you make the most of your visit to this splendid historical treasure in Gujarat.

Conclusion

Laxmi Vilas Palace is not just a building; it’s a living testament to Vadodara’s rich heritage and the Gaekwad dynasty’s royal legacy. Its architectural beauty, historical significance, and captivating stories make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a glimpse into India’s royal past.

So, if you’re planning a visit to Vadodara, don’t miss out on this magnificent gem that stands as a symbol of grandeur, history, and culture. Explore the exquisite art, soak in the royal atmosphere, and experience the splendor of Laxmi Vilas Palace.


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