Vadodara also known as Baroda formerly, is the third largest city in the Western Indian State of Gujarat,
Vadodará, which according to tradition is a corrupt form of the Sanskrit word vatodar meaning in the heart of the Banyan tree. The city sits on the banks of the Vishwamitri River, in central Gujarat.
In medieval times Vadodara was a nodal center of the coastal plain connecting Rajputana to the north and Maharashtra in the south. Even today it is on a major connecting point on western railway as well as Major highway connecting Capital of India New Delhi and Mumbai. This centralized location of Vadodara is instrumental in confirming movement of people and culture and commercial activities since 2000 years. During British Era, Vadodara was ruled by the Gaekwads, Maratha kings from 1734 to 1948 post India’s independence.
Maharaja Sayajirao was one of the foremost administrators and reformers of his times. He initiated a series of bold socio-economic reforms. He attached great importance to economic development and started a number of model industries to encourage initiative, and then handed back the working industries to private enterprise. He started model textile and tile factories. It is as a result of his policy of industrial development that Vadodara is today one of the most important centers for textile, chemical and oil industries today. He boldly introduced mandatory primary education and a library movement (the first of its kind in India) to augment his adult education scheme.
There is a saying that nothing grows under the banyan tree, but this is not true of Vadodara. Having witnessed the rise and fall of the empires and kingdoms of the Hindus, Pathans, Moghuls and Marathas, it now occupies a unique position on the educational, cultural and industrial map of India. Yet, it has been fortunate enough to retain the beauty of its rich and varied past. And it is one of the few cities in India which is still influenced by the lost might of its ruling dynasties.
The people of Vadodara like to tell visitors that their city is a ‘Sanskari Nagari’, that is, a ‘cultured city’. By and large, the visitors agree. The city does indeed have rich cultural traditions and today’s Barodians have quite a full and hectic cultural life throughout the year.
The outstanding trait about Vadodara’s cultural life is that it is remarkably cosmopolitan. And while there are hundreds of different identities, everyone participates in all activities. So, the culture of the city is not just history or heritage; it is dynamic, ever-changing and alive.
Vadodara is one of India’s most cosmopolitan cities. Thanks to the vision and broadmindedness of the Gaikwads, the subsequent industrialization, the proliferation of academic activities and a strategically important geographical location, Vadodara has welcomed a wide variety of people from all over India and also from all over the world. To see Vadodara’s cultural enthusiasm, you should visit this city during any festive occasion Navratri, Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid, New Year, Uttarayan (Kite flying), Holi (Festival of Colors), campus fun fairs, etc. On any given day, some cultural activity or the other is going on in the city. Classical music and dance have their patrons, and so does the modern stage and pop culture. The culture and the traditions are both alive and being forever experimented with.
The official language of Gujarat is Gujarati, but Hindi, Marathi and English are also widely used in Vadodara. State and local government offices in the city use both Gujarati and English, Central government offices use English and Hindi and industrial and commercial organizations use English. The medium of instruction at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodara (MSU) is English.
Vadodara enjoys a special place in the state of Gujarat. Till the early 1960’s Vadodara was considered to be a cultural and educational center. The first modern factory (Alembic Pharmaceuticals) was established in Vadodara in 1907 and subsequently many other companies came up in the 1940s. In 1962, Vadodara witnessed a sudden spurt in industrial activity with the establishment of Gujarat Refinery.
Other large-scale public sector units are Heavy Water Project and Gujarat Industries Power Company Limited. In addition to these public sector enterprises, a number of MNC and auto industry has laid grounds near Vadodara. The industrialization of Vadodara has attracted entrepreneurs not only from Vadodara but also from all over Gujarat and India and abroad. A large number of the entrepreneurs come with sound business backgrounds and the level of education and technical skills is exceptionally high.
Vadodara is part of Smart City Mission of Government of India.
Vadodara is synonymous with education. The patronage of education started with Maharaja Sayajirao and the city has built further on the academic infrastructure established by him.
The present educational foundation rests on over 20 public schools and over 100 private schools. Towering benevolently over all is the Maharaja Sayajirao University, the jewel in the Vadodara crown, so to speak. MSU is the only university in Gujarat with English as the medium of instruction. It has 13 faculties and 17 residential hostels, 4 of them for women students. The university caters to over 30,000 students.