I had initially planned to skip Vadodara and head straight to Ahmedabad. When I arrived here, I found the city neat and clean. The streets are not crowded. Traffic flows freely. So I checked into a cheap room, so cheap that I dare not relax in it and use it only for spending the night. I did not want to waste time looking for a better place.
The Vadodara Museum and Picture Gallery was founded by the Gaekwads in 1894. The way to it from the railway station is easy. I was told to head to Sayaji Bagh. Someone said to head for the “Black Horse”, which I later found to be an equestrian statue at the entrance to the park. The museum is within the park grounds.
The museum has a wonderful collection of artifacts. Particularly impressive are the Nepalese and Tibetan bronzes and mandalas, true pieces of awe inspiring beauty. Indian sculptural art is represented by many splendid pieces from Shamlaji, a place in Northern Gujarat. Wooden balcony windows (jarokhas), perforated screens (jalis), carved brackets and ceilings are wonderfully presented. There is even a wooden palanquin. The other two famed exhibits here are the skeleton of a whale washed up in 1944 and an Egyptian mummy. The mummy exhibit is sealed in a glass case but visitors will instinctively covers their noses and mouths at the sight of a dead body some 3000 years old.
The museum building is interesting as well. It has sloping roofs and gables with pointed arches. Indo-European in style, the Indian component is to be found in overflowing kumbha motifs, lotus motifs and chhatris. The roof is pierced by two levels of projecting gabled windows that let in natural light into the museum. Stone jalis with flower and vase motifs represent yet another Indian influence on the building.
The park is vast and is used by locals and visitors. The lawns and flower beds are well maintained. There is a toy train for kids, so small that only kids below ten can probably get into it.
The other thing I care to mention about my brief stay here is a wonderful lunch, a typical Gujarati thali with its spread of delicacies served with attentive service. From the little I have seen and experienced, I like Vadodara.