Laxmi Vilas Palace
The Palace of Laxmi Vilas in Vadodara in eastern Gujarat has to one of the most extravagant buildings I’ve ever seen.
It was only built in 1890 by an English architect for the Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda, one of the most prestigious royal families in India, one of only five to be accorded a 21-gun salute in the strict order of precedence of the Indian royal states. Here’s the family’s website.
An English architect was given a huge budget, and briefed to include Hindu, Jain, Christian and Moslem architecture in the styling.
The tour is very limited; we didn’t leave the ground floor in the left half of the palace. The family still live in the wing on the right. No photographs of the interior and lots of guards to keep you on track.
The interior is full of old-fashioned taste and imported craftsmen. Chandeliers, stained glass, stucco and stuffed animals. Italian sculptors were commissioned and marble was imported for the vast darber hall. There’s a collection of armoury including a sword owned by a Mughal emporer and a clay pigeon launcher, allegedly used to propel deadly discs off the back of an elephant.