THE LAKSHMI VILAS PALACE :
Maharaja Sayajirao III commissioned Major Charles Mant (also known as 'Mad' Mant for his eccentric work) to build the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, which was later finished by R.F. Chisolm. It was built in the Indo-Saracenic tradition, with an eclectic mix of Indian, Islamic, and European elements, as if, as Philip Ward writes, “an architectural Paul Klee had taken solid lines for a walk”. The imposingly impressive interior is full of multi-colored marble, mosaic tile and various works of art and the courtyards of palms and fountains have arched entrance-ways big enough for “the tallest elephant with the largest howdah on his back” to pass through, as reported by Edward Weeden, one of the earliest Europeans to stay in the palace. The palace grounds include a golf course and Sayajirao's personal museum, containing, among other displays, original paintings by Raja Ravi Varma. While less impressive than the Vadodara Museum, this one is still worth a brief visit.
The museum is open from 10:30am - 5:30pm and the entrance fee is Rs. 25/- for Indians and Rs. 100/- for Foreigners.
The palace is open from 11am - 5pm and entrance fee is Rs.100/-. To view the palace you must ask for a permit from the Maharaja’s secretary in the palace office or call +91 265 242 6372. Both palace and museum are closed on Mondays.
THE NAZARBAUGH PALACE :
Nazarbaugh Palace was once a royal guesthouse, and now houses royal family heirlooms for public viewing (though the building is a little dilapidated). The former royal residence at Pratap Vilas Palace, now converted into the Railway Staff college, has an free entry, but you must ask for permission from the authorities who can also arrange a guided tour from 9am - 6pm.
THE MAKARPURA PALACE :
Makarpura Palace, the supposed royal summer palace, though the royal family mostly spent their summers in the Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu, is now used for Indian Air Force training and is not open to the public. Still, the striking 3-storey Italian Renaissance structure is worth peeping at from the outside.
How to get there
By road: Vadodara, 112 km from Ahmedabad and 420 km from Mumbai, is located on National Highway 8. There are various state transport (ST) buses and private luxury coaches from all over Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Rajasthan. Ahmedabad-Vadodara intercity buses take 2 hours and run every 15 minutes. There are also several private bus companies on or near Station Road. Tickets vary according to the type of bus, but the average rate is Rs 100/- to Ahmedabad and Rs 200/- to Mumbai. You can also rent a car with a driver to explore the city and its surroundings at the Express Hotel. Rates range from Rs. 650/- without air-conditioning to Rs. 2200/- for luxury vehicles, for 8 hrs or 80 km per day.
By rail: Vadodara, a major railway junction is located on the Western Railway, which connects Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad.
By air: Vadodara is connected by various domestic airlines to Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Daman, and Pune.