Move over the Ambanis, the real royals have arrived. Four times bigger than Buckingham Palace, the world’s largest private residential building is in India, and it is the monarchic mansion of dreams, even bigger than Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia in Mumbai. Presenting the Lakshmi Vilas Palace of Vadodara. Let’s take a look at this regal property.
A resplendent architectural marvel, Lakshmi Vilas Palace is still inhabited by the Gaekwads of Vadodara. The palace was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890, with the Indo-Saracenic Revival architectural brilliance. Made at a whopping amount of £180,000 back in the day, HRH Samarjitsinh Gaekwad, his wife Radhikaraje Gaekwad and their two daughters still live here. But that’s not enough information for a palace of this stature. So here’s everything you need to know about Lakshmi Vilas Palace.
All you need to know about Lakshmi Vilas Palace
Before the Lakshmi Vilas Palace was built, the Gaekwads used to live either in the Maharaja Palace, aka the Sarkarwada, or the Nazarbaug Palace. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III then got the most famous architect of the time, Major Charles Mant, on board. Major Charles Mant had built similar palaces in India, namely the ones in Kolhapur and Darbhanga, but Lakshmi Vilas was his biggest project up until that point. But he succumbed to his poor mental health and passed away midway through the project. After this, architect Robert Fellows Chisolm was recruited.
Inside Lakshmi Vilas Palace
Even though it was built in the 1800s, the palace had all the modern amenities that one could think of and are relevant even to this day. The palace featured an internal telephone exchange, elevators inside it and uninterrupted electrical supply. The exterior of the palace was built with the golden stones from the Songadh quarries, giving the palace a magnificent golden glow.
The interiors are even more exquisite. Inside the Lakshmi Vilas Palace are two huge courtyards, dotted with trees and fountains that kept the palace cool on hot summer afternoons. The floors were done with expensive marbles and mosaics that are still maintained well to this day. The palace features a majestic collection of art, weapons and painting by the renowned artist Raja Ravi Verma.
The palace premises also feature huge parks, golf courses, the LVP Banquets & Conventions, Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building. Lakshmi Vilas Palace also houses the Moti Bagh Cricket Ground and the offices of the Baroda Cricket Association. It even features an exquisite teak wood-floored indoor tennis court and badminton court. Back in the day, it even had a small zoo, and a railway track inside the palace premises that used to ferry the royal kids around the palace.
The four-storeyed Laxmi Vilas Palace is spread across 700 acres and houses 170 rooms in total, all of which were meant to be used only by the Maharaja and Maharani. The elegant and beautifully crafted gardens were conceptualised and brought to life by one of the most renowned botanists of those days, Sir William Goldring.
Even though the palace was built in yesteryear India for the Indian royals, it resembles a European country house, making it one of the most famous palaces that exist in India today.
(Hero and featured image credit: Tuul & Bruno Morandi/Getty Images)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: According to Gujarat Tourism, it is still the residence of Vadodara's royal family, Laxmi Vilas was built in full-throttle 19th-century Indo-Saracenic flourish at a cost of INR 6 million. Built over 500 acres, this is the largest private home built till date and four times the size of Buckingham Palace.
Answer: The royal family of Vadodara HRH Samarjitsinh Gaekwad, his wife Radhikaraje Gaekwad and their two daughters still live here.
Answer: For Indian nationals, Palace fees is INR 150 and museum fees is INR 60.
Answer: Built over 700 acres, the Laxmi Vilas Palace is four times the size of Buckingham Palace.
Answer: Laxmi Vilas Palace has a total of 170 rooms.