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Vadodara to Baroda to Vadodara : The Architectural Jewels

Once upon a time, many years ago, a little town woke up in its abode among the huge Vatavrukshas ? the Banyan trees. The river Vishwamitri gurgled and flowed nearby, working its way down from the holy Pavagadh mountain a few miles to its north. The town called itself Vadapadraka, honouring the vast banyan canopies that sheltered and protected it.

In 1726, the brave Sardar Pilaji Gaekwad captured it for the Peshwas, as the powerful Mughals disintegrated in the wake of Aurangzeb's death in 1707. Pilaji collected revenues for the Peshwas, carving out a kingdom for himself with Vadodara at its centre. A few years later, Damajirao, his successor, consolidated it and established Gaekwad rule in Vadodara in 1734.

The Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 saw the Peshwas completely defeated and the Gaekwads retaining Vadodara for themselves, changing its name to Badode, and making it one of the most powerful kingdoms in the Indian sub-continent, deserving of a 21-gun salute by the British. The Gaekwads ruled it till India's independence in 1947. In 1974, the official name of the city, which had continued to be the British Baroda, was changed back to Vadodara.

The brightest period in Vadodara's recent history started with the accession of Maharaja Sayajirao III to the Gaekwad gaddi in 1875. He ruled from 1875 to 1939, did much to modernize Vadodara, establishing compulsory primary education, a library system, a university, and model textile, chemical and tile factories. Sayajirao's appreciation of the arts has led to the present sobriquet to the city ? Sanskar Nagri ? the city of culture. Raja Ravi Varma, now acknowledged as India's first modern painter, spent several years here. The dowry of Maharani Chimnabai included troupes of Devdasis and their musicians, initiating the first movement of the South Indian dance, Bharatanatyam, to the North of the country. The court singer was the illustrious Ustad Faiyyaz Khan. The Kalavant Karkhana (now Kalabhavan) had as its students, Dr. Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema. Visionaries such as Shri Aurbindo, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar made the city their home even though for a short duration of time. The sprawling, multi-disciplinary Maharaja Sayajirao University campus, recently gave us our newest Nobel Laureate, Venkataraman Ramakrishnan.

Thanks to the vision of Sayajirao III, the subsequent industrialization, proliferation of academic activities and strategically important geographical location, Vadodara has welcomed a wide variety of people from all over the world. Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English are the languages that echo through the pols, the by-lanes and the modern 'societies' and 'colonies'. All festivals are celebrated with gusto and mirth ? the crackers and lights of Diwali, the huge pandals of Ganesh Chaturthi, the celebration of Narsinhji no Varghodo, Santa's Christmas, the vibrant night food bazaars during Ramzaan, the Parsi New Year. The Garbas of Vadodara's Navratri ? Sheri Garbas, United Way Garba, Fine Arts Garba ? are famous all over the world!

What's more, Vadodara is one of the very few cities in Gujarat, along with Ahmedabad and Junagadh, to boast of fine traditional, Gujarat Sultanate, and later Indo-Saracenic architecture. The woodwork and masonry is amazing and the standing monuments and buildings are a tribute to Gujarat's hoary Jain, Hindu, Islamic and colonial architecture traditions.

Today, cosmopolitan Vadodara is a major industrial hub with the presence of multinational organizations and SEZs in its neighbourhood. Its strategic location has become the prime reason why corporates have chosen it as a place with a high potential of growth and development. The city is a Gateway to the Golden Quadrilateral and is on the major rail and road arteries on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Delhi link.

I present you these breathtaking images of Vadodara as a Portfolio comprising a selection of eleven, 13 x 9.5 inch prints made with archival quality inks and paper on state-of-the-art printmaking equipment. These prints are produced as a limited edition of 300 and come in a hand-crafted leather box and is priced at Rs.7,000/-, plus cost of shipping. Send me a mail on Facebook or at rahul@rahulgajjar.com if you would be interested in purchasing the Portfolio. The selection of prints in this Portfolio are some of the most sensitively photographed and produced images; they will be appreciated and enjoyed as much by the receiver as the giver.

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