Being held up in an office throughout the week the soul craves for some freedom. I often envision myself spending time strolling through the majestic palaces and try to imagine what the people of that era felt. How did they manage without the modern comfort of technology? How did they fight? How did they love? I am a mountain person so when my friends decided to soak up the heritage of Vadodara I was a bit sceptical. Yes, I was aware of the culture of the city and its palaces but reading about it did not exactly increase my interest. I wanted to visit proper heritage sites, yet I succumbed to the plan. After making sure we have everything in place and packed, we set forth for our 4-hour train journey from Mumbai Central to Vadodara Jn.

Chugging to the Cultural Capital

I love trains. There is something soothing about a train journey as opposed to bus or flights. Since we had 3 days off we decided to board the Rajdhani from Mumbai. Since we would have reached Vadodara after 9 pm, we availed a reliable car rental in Vadodara with an experienced driver before starting our journey. Yes, we could have boarded an earlier train but we all decided to board the train in the evening. While swaying in the train, I logged in to my Instagram account to check out the city we were visiting and I knew I was in for a pleasant surprise!

Hogging out

One of the main reasons me and my friends love to travel is our love for food. Nothing beats authentic dishes served hot from the place of their origin. Our driver took us to Kansaar. We ordered a full meal combo there and let’s just say our stomachs were bursting. I loved the paneer sabzi. After an entire day of food and travelling, 5 of us immediately crashed once we reached our hotel rooms.

Trekking around the heritage

Early in the morning, we set out to have a large breakfast and stuff our backpacks with junk that would last till the final day. Our itinerary was simple – visit Laxmi Vilas Palace, then Makarpura Palace, and after munching some food at a hotel nearby, head to Kabirvad and then stroll around Ajwa Nimeta Garden and then call it a day after seeing the Nazarbaug Palace. My age-old dream to stroll down the lanes of a palace came true at Laxmi Vilas. While the crowd did irritate me a bit, I let my imagination free. The stunning courtyard, the gardens and the ponds…I wish I was alive in that era! But then again being the private palace of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, I am sure that even if I was alive then, my chances of roaming the place were negligible. This palace is 4 times bigger than Buckingham Palace. Kabirvad and Ajwa was an experience. Being from the hustle and bustle of the city of dreams, the rat race leaves one craving for serenity. The chirping of birds, the trees and the musical fountain, everything touched the soul and made me feel alive.

A small detour to Ahmedabad

Being in Gujrat we had to visit the Jhulta Minar of Ahmedabad. An early morning ride took us to the famous and mysterious architectural wonder. Yes, I did shake a minaret and the rest started shaking up too. We reached the minar at about 7 am and the sight took my breath away. The ancient minar is not only astoundingly beautiful but was also believed to be haunted. After this detour, we booked a cab from Ahmedabad to Vadodara to get back to our plans.

Homecoming

Boarding the Vadodara Express at 10:30 pm to return home, I felt a sense of calm and happiness. Jhulta Minar was still stuck in my head and Vadodara turned out to be more than just a Cultural Capital on paper. The palaces, the parks and even the shopping spree were rejuvenating. There was something captivating about the evenings of Vadodara that makes you feel simply alive. I am glad that I changed my usual course and travelled with friends to enjoy an ancient yet enchanting city. I came back not only refreshed but also enlightened.

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