Recent History

The City of Vadodara aptly described by a medieval Jain writer as a Tilak on the Brove of Lata was a nodal center of the coastal plain of Gujarat. It was strategically situated at a junction of the main highways linking Gujarat with Rajputana and the Punjab in the north, Malwa and the Ganges valley in the north-east, Konkan in the south and Khandesh in the south-east. Significantly Vadodara today is a junction on the western railway of the lines leading to Ahmedabad, Delhi & Mumbai. This confirms the historic role of Vadodara in the communication pattern for movements of people and culture. The history of Vadodara city amply bears out its cultural and commercial activities during the last two thousand years. Apart from the traditional stories, knowledge of the history of Vadodara is based mainly on Jain literature and a few old inscriptions pertaining to Vadodara.

Baroda State was a former Indian State in Western India. Baroda's more recent history began when the Maratha general Pilaji Gaekwad conquered Songadh from the Mughals in 1726. Before the Gaekwads captured Baroda, it was ruled by the Babi Nawabs, who were the officers of the Mughal rulers. Mughal rule came to an end in 1732, when Pilaji Rao Gaekwad brought the Maratha campaigns in Southern Gujarat to a head and captured it. Except for a short period, Baroda continued to be in the reign of the Gaekwads from 1734 to 1948. Initially detailed to collect revenue on behalf of the Peshwa in Gujarat, Pilaji Gaekwad remained there to carve out a kingdom for himself. Damajirao, son and successor of Pilaji Gaekwad, defeated the Mughal armies and conquered Baroda in 1734. His successors consolidated their power over large tracts of Gujarat, becoming easily the most powerful rulers in the region. After the Maratha defeat by the Afghans at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, control of the empire by the Peshwas weakened as it became a loose confederacy, and the Gaekwad Maharajas ruled the kingdom until Indian independence in 1947. In 1802, the British intervened to defend a Maharaja that had recently inherited the throne from rival claimants, and Vadodara concluded a treaty with the British that recognized the Kingdom as a 'Princely state' and allowed the Maharajas of Baroda internal political sovereignty in return for recognizing British 'Paramountcy', a form of suzerainty where the subject of foreign affairs was completely surrendered.

The golden period in the Maratha rule of Baroda started with the accession of Maharaja Sayajirao III in 1875. It was an era of great progress and constructive achievements in all fields. Maharaja Sayajirao III, who ruled from 1875 to 1939, did much to modernize Baroda, establishing compulsory primary education, a library system, a university, and model textile and tile factories, which helped to create Baroda's image as a modern industrial hub. Modern Vadodara is a great and fitting memorial to Maharaja Sayajirao. It was the dream of this able administrator to make Baroda an educational, industrial and commercial centre and he ensured that his dream would come true. For this reason, the city is also referred to as Sayaji Nagari .

With India's independence in 1947, the last ruling Maharaja of Baroda State acceded to India. Baroda State was merged into to Bombay State shortly after independence, which was divided into the states of Gujarat and Maharastra in 1960, with Baroda becoming a part of Gujarat.

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