Laxmi Vilas Palace, literally meaning the ‘abode of the Goddess of wealth, Laxmi’, is just perfect to describe this majestic building. Splendor and lavishness are the ideal words to describe this palace of Baroda (now known as Vadodara) in the state of Gujarat. This palace was constructed since the Gaekwad, a famous Maratha family started ruling the state of Baroda. The first one was a building known as the Sarkar Wada, which is not really a palace and given up for the Nazarbaug Palace built in ancient classical style. The palace boasts an Indo-Saracenic school and was constructed by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in the year 1890. The whole palace was completed its construction in 12 year with a budget of £180,000. The Laxmi Vilas Palace stands the four times the size of Buckingham Palace. Let’s know more about this wonderful palace.
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Stylish Construction: During the time when India was still experimenting with European architecture, this palace had already fitted elevators. It also had modern amenities including imperial spacious apartments for European visitors, elegantly designed dining rooms and billiard rooms. The design and architecture of this building is a blend of Indian and European styles of architecture. The ornate Darbar Hall, which sometimes serves as the venue of music concerts and many other cultural events, has a beautiful Venetian mosaic floor, Belgium stained glass windows and walls with intricate mosaic designs. Outside of the Darbar Hall is an Italinate courtyard of water fountains. The palace has a fine collection of old armoury and sculptures in bronze, terracotta & marble by Fellici. The gardens were beautifully landscaped by William Goldring. The palace is open to the public with an audio tour is also available.
The Palace “compound” covers over an area of 700 acres and has a number of buildings, mainly the “Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum” and the “Moti Baug Palace”. Initially, the museum was built as a school for the Maharaja’s children. However, now this building displays a large number of works of art related to the Royal family. The most notable of these is the extraordinary collection of the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, who was specifically commissioned by the then Maharaja of Baroda. Apart from the portraits of the Royal family, the paintings based on Hindu mythology by Raja Ravi Varma are the most wonderful things to explore in the Museum hall.
Sports in the Palace Premises: The huge 200 acre property offers variety of sporting activities which can be played in the palace compound. Adjoining to the Motibaug Palace and the Museum is the Moti Bagh Cricket Ground. Along with that, there are offices of the Baroda Cricket Association, rare indoor teak floored badminton and tennis court. There is also a golf course which dates back 90 years, which was first created by Maharaja Pratap Singh for European guests. In the 1990s Pratapsinh’s grandson Samarjitsinh refurbished the course and opened it for public. The course was extended in 2004 into a beautiful course that is managed by the Gaekwad Baroda Golf Club and now boasts over 300 members. The most recent Bollywood films shot in this incredible heritage site are Grand Masti (2013) and Rang Rasiya (2014).