Alternative Modernity of the Princely states- Evaluating the Architecture of Sayajirao Gaekwad of Baroda
The first half of the 20th century was a turning point in the history of India with provincial rulers making significant development that had positive contribution and lasting influence on India’s growth. They served as architects, influencing not only the socio-cultural and economic growth but also the development of urban built form. Sayajirao Gaekwad III was the Maharaja of Baroda State from 1875 to 1939, and is notably remembered for his reforms. His pursuit for education led to establishment of Maharaja Sayajirao University and the Central Library that are unique examples of Architecture and structural systems. He brought many known architects from around the world to Baroda including Major Charles Mant, Robert Chrisholm and Charles Frederick Stevens. The proposals of the urban planner Patrick Geddes led to vital changes in the urban form of the core city area.
New materials and technology introduced by these architects such as use of Belgium glass in the flooring of the central library for introducing natural light were revolutionary for that period. Sayajirao’s vision for water works, legal systems, market enterprises have all been translated into unique architectural heritage of the 20th century which signifies innovations that had a lasting influence on the city’s social, economic, administrative structure as well as built form of the city and its architecture. This paper demonstrates how the reformist ideas and vision of an erstwhile provincial ruler lead to significant architecture at the turn of the century in Princely state of Vadodara.
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