Vadodara (or Baroda as it’s often known) lies 106km southeast of Ahmedabad, little over an hour’s drive along National Expressway 1. Vadodara has some interesting city sights, but the main reason for coming here is the stunning Unesco World Heritage Site of Champaner and Pavagadh nearby. The city is way less hectic than Ahmedabad, and parts of the Sayajigunj area near the university have a college-town feel.
After the Marathas expelled the Mughals from Gujarat in the 18th century, their local lieutenants, the Gaekwad clan, made Vadodara their capital. Vadodara retained a high degree of autonomy even under the British, right up to Independence in 1947. Maharaja Sayajirao III (1875–1939) was a great moderniser and laid the foundations of Vadodara’s modern reputation as Gujarat’s cultural capital, and the city's main attraction – the palace – is part of his legacy.