The 113-acre park was gifted by Sayaji Rao in 1879.

In March 11, the residents of Baroda will celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Sayaji Rao, a prince greatly loved by his subjects.

Many places in Baroda (Vadodara) are named after him, including the park, which he dedicated to his people 123 years ago.

Sayaji Rao dedicated the 113-acre park to the people of the State in 1879. Situated along the banks of the Vishwamitri, the park is a treasure house of recreation and a repository of not just art but some exclusive artefacts.

From the outside, the park looks like any other. Cars and buses vie for parking space and a tow vehicle is on the prowl. The roads are busy and noisy all day.

But once inside the park you are transported to a fantasy world.

Keeping time

The floral clock was conceived by Mohan Patel, who was the Director of Parks in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation. The Corporation sanctioned Rs.45,000 for the clock, which was built by New Delhi-based Beauty Watch Company. On January 26, 1975, the clock became a part of the park. Each hand of the clock weighs 22kg. Rajendra Shah, Vadodara Tourist officer, says the clock whose diameter is 40 feet has never faltered. “We have a technician who ensures that the clock is well maintained. The error is minimal,” he says.

Vadodara has experienced floods after torrential rains several times. On at least two occasions, deer in the zoo perished during the floods. Once there were reports that crocodiles from the zoo escaped into the Vishwamitri. But the clock has never stopped. The variety of flowers that make up the clock have attracted film makers.

The film “Dream girl” starring actors Hema Malini and Dharmendra was among the first to be shot with the clock in the background.

The Toy Train

The toy train was a gift from Sayaji Rao Gaekwad to his son Ranjitsinh on his third birthday. The royal children travelled by train from the palace to school. The train was built in 1928 by the British company Flying Scotsman.

On February 13, 1960, the Gaekward family gifted the train to the people of Baroda. Since then, the 3.5km stretch railway line is used to transport children below 12 years around the park. The tiny train runs on a track with a width of just 10 inches.

Fatehsinh Museum

It is one of the few museums in the country which houses an Egyptian mummy besides some rare Mughal miniature paintings. The museum was designed like the Victoria and Albert Museum in England. As you enter the museum you will be greeted by the skeleton of a large blue whale.

Suspended bridge

The park also had a suspended bridge over which one had to walk carefully. The bridge was built by the British in 1895 at a cost of more than Rs.15,000 at that time. It collapsed in 1965 and was never repaired or replaced.


R. SujathaJune 28, 2012