Vadodara, which is also known as Baroda, is the third-most populated town in Gujarat after Ahmedabad and Surat (the three towns with a population of over 1 million in Gujarat).
It is located on the Visvamitra river, southeast of Ahmedabad. Vadodara is also a district in the state of Gujarat and the city is the administrative headquarters of this district. This district is surrounded by Panchmahal, Dahod (North), Bharuch, Narmada (South), Anand and Kheda (West) districts. To the east is the state of Madhya Pradesh.
It is home to almost 1.492 million people (as of 2001 census), the beautiful Maharaja Palace and the Maharaja Sayajirao University (M.S.U.) which is famous for its fine arts department. It has a high literacy rate by Indian standards of 78% (2001).
It is the second biggest city of Gujarat (after Ahmedabad), and known as its cultural capital.
Major industries include textiles, petrochemicals engineering and a small but growing software industry.
While not having major tourist attractions, Baroda is generally considered a good place to live, and it has an interesting mix of traditional Indian areas like the old city, various temples, etc., and modern developments like shopping centres and multiplex cinemas.
About 15,000 people lived in slums in Vadodara according to the provisional results of census 2001.
It was one of the cities affected by the 2002 rioting between Hindus and Muslims. The riots in Gujarat led to around 2,000 deaths, most of them Muslims.
The earliest mention of Baroda is in a grant or charter of 812 that identifies it as Vadapadraka, a village attached to the nearby town of Ankottaka. In the 10th century Vadapadraka replaced Ankottaka as the main town.
Baroda more recent history began when the Maratha leader Pilaji Gaekwad (or Gaekwar) conquered the city from the Mughal empire in 1721. The Gaekwads were granted the city as a fief by the Peshwa, the nominal leader of the Maratha empire. After the Maratha defeat by the Afghans at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, control of the further regions of the empire by the Peshwas weakened, and the Gaekwad Maharajas ruled Baroda until Indian independence. In 1802, the British intervened to defend a Maharaja that had recently inherited the throne from rival claimants, and Baroda concluded a treaty with the British that recognized their independence from the Maratha empire, and guaranteed the Maharajas of Baroda local autonomy in return for recognizing British sovereignty.
Maharaja Sayajirao III, who took the throne in 1875, did much to modernize Baroda, establishing compulsory primary education, a library system, a university, and model textile and tile factories, which helped to create Baroda's modern textile industry. With India's independence in 1947, the last ruling Maharaja of Baroda acceded to India. Baroda was added to Bombay state, which was divided into the states of Gujarat and Maharastra in 1960. Because Gujarati was Baroda's predominant language, it became part of Gujarat.