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Baroda delights - Gujarat Diaries

Baroda is a sheer delight. It's classy, and is the cultural capital of the state. The old and the new sit cheek by jowl here. It feels like Mysore in some respects, thanks to its royal heritage. We went to the awe-inspiring Laxmi Vilas Palace, where some members of the royal family still live. The palace is in great condition; a nicely presented audio tour is also available. We also visited the museum, which is housed in a beautiful red structure. But for me, the piece de resistance was the Tambekar Wada, a 19th century structure belonging to Bhau Tambekar, the erstwhile diwan of the princely state of Baroda. It is an old wooden building hidden in Raopura, in the lane opposite Dhuli Ram Pendawala, a famous vendor of sweets, and am sure the cab driver was amused to see us enter that crumbling old building. Wadas are typical Maharashtrian joint family homes, much like the waade manes of North Karnataka. This Baroda wada (traditional home) is in a state of disrepair. One of the portions is covered in mud, has bats inside and wooden planks have crashed onto the floor. The other portion has brilliant murals in vivid colours, and is a treasurehouse of all that is brilliant in terms of art and architecture.

Everywhere you look, you see old structures with intricate jaali work, window shutters with ornate work on them and balconies with floral motifs on their grills. Raopura is a great area to go to if you want to look for such structures. Also, many offices and educational institutions are housed in heritage buildings.




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