As of 2011[update] Vadodara had a population of almost 2.2 million people. The city is the site of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, the residence of the Maharaja of Baroda and the royal family; and his erstwhile Darbar. It is also the home of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Vadodara), the largest university in Gujarat. An important industrial, cultural and educational hub of western India, the city houses several institutions of national and regional importance while its major industries include petrochemicals, engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, IT and foreign exchange services amongst others.
The first recorded history of the city is that of the early trader settlers who settled in the region in 812 AD. The province was mainly Hindu-dominated with Hindu kings ruling until 1297. The Gupta Empire was the first power in the region in the early years of the Christian Era. After fierce battles, the region was taken over by the Chalukya Dynasty. Finally, the kingdom was annexed by the Solanki dynasty. By this time Muslim rule had spread across India, and the reins of power were then snatched by the Delhi Sultans. The city was ruled for a long time by these Sultans, until they were overthrown by the Mughals. The Mughals biggest problem were the Marathas who eventually took over the region. It became the capital of the MarathaGaekwads.
Sayajirao Gaekwad III (1875–1939) made many public and bureaucratic improvements in the region. Although the British had a major influence on the region, Baroda remained a princely state until Independence. Like many other princely states, Baroda also joined the Dominion of India in 1947.
Two thousand years ago, there was a small town known as "Ankottaka" (present day Akota) on the western bank of the river Vishwamitri . The earliest mention of Vadodara is in a granth or charter of 812 that identifies it as Vadapadraka, a village attached to the nearby town of Ankottaka. In 600 AD, severe flooding of the Narmada River forced the inhabitants to move to its eastern side to a village known as Vatpatrak (literally, leaf of banyan tree) which developed into Vadodara. In the 10th century, Vadapadraka replaced Ankottaka as the main town.
The city used to be called Chandanavati after its ruler Raja Chandan of the Dor tribe of Rajputs, who wrested it from the Jains. The capital was also known as Virakshetra or Viravati (Land of Warriors). Later on it was known as Vadpatraka or Vadodará, which according to tradition is a corrupt form of the Sanskrit word vatodar meaning in the heart of the Banyan tree. It is now almost impossible to ascertain when the various changes in the name were made; but early English travellers and merchants mention the town as Brodera, and it is from this that the name Baroda is derived. In 1974, the official name of the city was changed to Vadodara.
It is believed that early man lived on the banks of the Mahi River, which formed the flood plain during that age. The movements of these hunter-gatherers, living on the banks of the river, grubbing the roots and killing animals with crude stone tools made out of the cobbles and pebbles available on the river bank, were necessarily controlled by the availability of convenient raw materials for their tools. There is evidence of the existence of early man in the Mahi River valley at a number of sites within 10 to 20 kilometres (6.2 to 12.4 mi) to the north-east of Vadodara. However, no evidence of the existence of these people is found in and around present day Vadodara. This may be because of the absence of gravels and cobbles on the banks of the Vishwamitri rivulet.
The next phase of the pre-historic Vadodara witnessed the first human settlement on the right bank of the river Vishwamitri on a group of dunes resting on the alluvium of the river. These people still belonged to the stone age, crafting their tools with finely grained stones. From their material culture and physical environment, they seem to have belonged to the same culture as those whose implements were found in the Mahi River valley. This human settlement has been dated to 1000 BC.
Around the beginning of the Christian Era, a small township developed at the same spot as the above-mentioned settlement on the right bank of the river. It came to be known as Ankotakka (present day Akota). The mound on which this settlement was established came to be known as Dhantekri. The entire settlement was developed by clearing the grazing land and forests of Ankhol and covered an area of .5 to .75 square kilometres (0.19 to 0.29 sq mi). This indicated thepresence of thick forests during those times. Due to its location on the ancient trade route between Gujarat and Malwa, this small township flourished into a commercial centre.
The township of Ankotakka developed during the rule of the Guptas and the Vallabhis. It was subjected to periodical heavy floods and severe flood which inundated the renovated public hall, forced the inhabitants to abandon this township and moved away from the banks of the Vishwamitri. The flood occurred in 600 AD where upon the inhabitants moved to the east of Ankotakka to another elevated portion located in the present Kothi area. This formed the nucleus of a new township.
The City of Vadodara was described by a medieval Jain writer as a "Tilak on the Brove of Lata". It was a nodal center of the coastal plain of Gujarat strategically located at a junction of the main highways linking Gujarat with Rajputana to the north, Malwa and the Ganges Valley to the north-east and Maharashtra to the south and south-east. Significantly, Vadodara is today a junction on the western railway of the lines leading to Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai. This confirms the historic role of Vadodara in the communication pattern for movements of people and culture. The history of Vadodara city amply bears out its cultural and commercial activities during the last two thousand years. Apart from the traditional stories, knowledge of the history of Vadodara is based mainly on Jain literature and a few old inscriptions pertaining to Vadodara.
Baroda State was a former Indian State in Western India. Vadodara's more recent history began when the Maratha general Pilaji Gaekwad conquered Songadh from the Mughals in 1726. Before the Gaekwads captured Baroda, it was ruled by the BabiNawabs, who were the officers of the Mughal rulers. Most notably, from 1705–1716, Sardar Senapati Khanderao Dabhade led the Maratha Empire forces in Baroda. Except for a short period, Baroda continued to be in the reign of the Gaekwads from 1734 to 1948. Initially detailed to collect revenue on behalf of the Peshwa in Gujarat, Pilaji Gaekwad remained there to carve out a kingdom for himself. Damajirao, son and successor of Pilaji Gaekwad, defeated the Mughal armies and conquered Baroda in 1734. His successors consolidated their power over large tracts of Gujarat, becoming easily the most powerful rulers in the region. After the Maratha in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, control of the empire by the Peshwas weakened as it became a loose confederacy, and the Gaekwad Maharajas ruled the kingdom until it acceded to Independent Republic of India in 1949. In 1802, the British intervened to defend a Maharaja that had recently inherited the throne from rival claimants, and Vadodara concluded a subsidiary alliance with the British that recognised the Kingdom as a Princely state and allowed the Maharajas of Baroda internal political sovereignty in return for recognising British 'Paramountcy', a form of suzerainty in which the control of the state's foreign affairs was completely surrendered.
Over the centuries there were many alliances and marriages between Baroda's kings and princesses. Dancers were often part of the dowry as dancers, poets and musicians were status symbols for the royal courts such that maharajas had as many artists as they could afford. In 1880 the Maharani Laksmi Bai (Chimnabai I) of Tanjore was married to Baroda's Maharaja Sayajirao III Gopalrao Gaekwad, an enlightened prince who after ascending the throne established the Baroda College as one of his first public acts. It was later absorbed into the university that bears his name.
Chimnabai I was knowledgeable in Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music, and brought a troupe with her comprising two dancers, two nattuvanars (leaders of Bharatanatyam concerts) and two teachers (Khandwani 2002). Others followed later, including Nattuvanar Appaswamy and his dancer wife Kantimati, who had studied with Kannusamy and Vadively, two members of the Tanjore Quartet. After the death of Appaswamy in 1939, Kantimati and their son,Guru Shri Kubernath Tanjorkar,left Baroda to teach in Lucknow,and then worked in the film industry in South India until Sayajirao's successor, Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad recalled the family to Baroda in 1949 to teach in the Music Department in the Kalavan Palace, later absorbed into the Maharaja Sayajirao University (Gaston 1996: 158–160).Later Guruvarya Shri Kubernath Tanjorkar established his own Institute namely Tanjore Dance Music & Art Research Centre at Baroda with his Son Guru Shri Ramesh Tanjorkar and Guru Smt.Leela R. Tanjorkar and their family. This established a tradition of Bharatanatyam dancers and teachers, who were members of a family considered an offshoot of the Tanjore Quartet bani (stylistic schools; Gaston 1996: 159), already established in Gujarat by the time Mrinalini set up her own academy.
Vadodara is located at 22°18′N73°11′E / 22.30°N 73.19°E / 22.30; 73.19 in western India at an elevation of 39 metres (128 ft). It is the 18th largest city in India with an area of 235 square kilometres (91 sq mi) and a population of 2.1 million according to the 2010–11 census. The city sits on the banks of the Vishwamitri River, in central Gujarat. The Vishwamitri frequently dries up in the summer, leaving only a small stream of water. The city is located on the fertile plain between the Mahi and Narmada Rivers. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, the cosmopolis falls under seismic zone-III, in a scale of I to V (in order of increasing proneness to earthquakes).
Vadodara is divided by the Vishwamitri into two physically distinct eastern and western regions. The eastern bank of the river houses the old city, which includes the old fortified city of Vadodara. This part of Vadodara is characterised by packed bazaars, the clustered and barricaded Pol system of shanty buildings, and numerous places of worship. It houses the General Post Office and landmark buildings like Laxmi Vilas Palace, Mandvi area and Nyay Mandir. The colonial period saw the expansion of the city on the western side of Vishwamitri. This part of the city houses educational institutions such as the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (M.S.U.), the Vadodara Railway Station, modern buildings, well-planned residential areas, shopping malls, multiplexes and new business districts.
Vadodara features a tropical savanna climate (Aw) under Köppen's Climate classification. There are three main seasons: Summer, Monsoon and Winter. Aside from the monsoon season, the climate is dry. The weather is hot through the months of March to July – the average summer maximum is 40 °C (104 °F), and the average minimum is 23 °C (73 °F). From November to February, the average maximum temperature is 30 °C (86 °F), the average minimum is 15 °C (59 °F), and the climate is extremely dry. Cold northerly winds are responsible for a mild chill in January. The southwest monsoon brings a humid climate from mid-June to mid-September. The average rainfall is 93 cm (37 in), but infrequent heavy torrential rains cause the river to flood like the 2005 Gujarat flood or the 2008 Indian floods which were catastrophic.
The highest record temperature was 46.7 °C (116.1 °F) on 11 May 1960, while the lowest record temperature was −1.1 °C (30.0 °F) on 15 January 1935.
Vadodara enjoys a special place in the state of Gujarat. Until the early 1960s Vadodara was considered to be a cultural and educational centre. The first modern factory (Alembic Pharmaceuticals) was established in Vadodara in 1907 and subsequently companies such as Sarabhai Chemicals, and Jyoti came up in the 1940s.
In 1962, Vadodara witnessed a sudden spurt in industrial activity with the establishment of Gujarat Refinery and Indian Oil Corporation Limited at the nearby village of Koyali. Several factors like raw material availability, product demand, skillful mobilisation of human, financial and material resources by the government and private entrepreneurs have contributed to Vadodara becoming one of India's foremost industrial centres.
The discovery of oil and gas in Ankleshwar and Bharuch led to the industrial development of Gujarat in a big way. The Vadodara region is the largest beneficiary in the process of this industrialisation.
In Vadodara various large-scale industries such as Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals (GSFC), Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited (IPCL, now owned by Reliance Industries Limited) and Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited (GACL) have come up in the vicinity of Gujarat Refinery and all of them are dependent on it for their fuel and feedstock. Other large-scale public sector units are Heavy Water Project, Gujarat Industries Power Company Limited (GIPCL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) & Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL). In addition to these public sector enterprises, a number of other large-scale enterprises have come up in the private sector such as Bombardier Transportation, a Canadian company manufacturing the Delhi Metro from its site in Savli along with other manufacturing companies such as Alstom, Areva, Mahindra, Apollo, Thermax, Siemens etc. Vadodara is also taking big leaps in Service Industry along with the aforementioned manufacturing companies. L&T has established "Knowledge City" at Waghodia. Recently MasterCard opened its tech hub at the city. 
The establishment of large industrial units in a region automatically brings into existence a number of smaller enterprises. Vadodara is no exception and the city and the surrounding areas are today humming with industrial activity. The industrialisation of Vadodara has attracted entrepreneurs not only from Vadodara but also from all over Gujarat and the rest of India.
In line with the 'Knowledge City' vision of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Vadodara is gradually becoming a hub in Gujarat for IT and other development projects. It is also the headquarters for information security company Indusface.
The two main institutions involved in planning and development in Vadodara are VMSS and the VUDA. The jurisdiction of both these agencies is demarcated clearly not only physically but also functionally. The governing acts for both the institutions differ. The principal responsibility of VUDA is to ensure a holistic development of the Vadodara agglomeration covering an area of 714.56 km². whereas VMSS is involved in the development of area of 235 km².
Three corporators are elected from each ward, who in turn elect a mayor. Executive powers are vested in the municipal commissioner, who is an IAS officer appointed by the Gujarat state government. The mayor is responsible for the day-to-day running of the city services, municipal school board, the city bus service, the municipal hospital and the city library. The Vadodara City Police are headed by a Police Commissioner, an IPS officer.
The City elects 1 member to the Lok Sabha (parliament) and 5 to the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha(Assembly) All of the 5 assembly seats of Vadodara were won by the BJP during the legislative elections in 2002. In the 2006 VMSS elections, the BJP won 74 seats, 6 seats went to the Congress.
A large number of corporates are headquartered here. The upcoming IT park at Vadodara, had been attracting many firms recently. Many entrepreneurs and corporates that emerged from here made an Intentional repute recently. Bank of Baroda, one of the largest chain of branches and atm in the country was started here. In the recent times growth of E-Commerce Business has increased immensely from Vadodara.
Vadodara Airport (IATA: BDQ) is located north-east of the city. Vadodara has air connectivity with Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkatta, Bangalore and Hyderabad. A new terminal at Vadodara airport is under construction which will be completed in 2016 by which Vadodara is set to have an International Airport by 2016.
Vadodara Junction railway station is Gujarat's busiest junction with almost 150 trains passing through every day.It comes under Vadodara Division of Western railways Passengers can travel to almost all the parts of India from Vadodara Junction, where there is a junction from the directions of Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Kota (all four directions). It has one of the largest electric locomotives sheds in Gujarat and various trains have a loco change over at Vadodara. Trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duranto and important mail/express trains halt at Vadodara Junction. Apart from various small railway stations Vadodara has 10 major railway stations namely Vadodara Junction (BRC'), Pratapnagar, Vishwamitri, Makarpura, Karajan (Miyagaon), Itola, Varnama, Bajwa, Ranoli and Nandesari.
Exterior of Vadodara Bus terminal inaugurated in 2014
See also: [[:Vadodara Bus Station is named VED TRANSCUBE PLAZA. It is India's first Modernized bus terminal and Vadodara's one stop destination for Shopping,food, gaming, movies, parties etc.]]
National Highway 8, connecting Delhi and Gandhinagar with Ahmedabad to Surat and Mumbai, passes through the city. Vadodara is also connected with Ahmedabad through Indian National Expressway 1, a 97 kilometres (60 mi) stretch of super highway with exits at Anand, Nadiad, S.P.Ring Road and finally Ahmedabad. In the near future, this expressway will be extended southwards from Vadodara all the way up to Mumbai. The necessary land acquisition work is in progress and the government has placed the project on a fast track priority.
Public transport vehicles within the city include buses, autorickshaws and taxis. Buses owned by VMSS for public transportation are operated by the private bus operators Vinayak Logistics, which now runs over one hundred buses of 33 and 50 seater configurations. This development has reduced two wheeler traffic as well as provided a safe and cheap transport service. A significant proportion of the population uses their own vehicles – cars, scooters, motorcycles and bicycles.
Recently an airport like bus terminal was inaugurated in Vadodara by Narendra Modi the former Chief Minister.
A bus rapid transport system (BRTS) for the city is planned for the future.
According to the 2011 India census, Vadodara metropolitan area had a population of 2,065,771. In Vadodara, 9% of the population is under 6 years of age.Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English are the languages spoken in the city. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%.
People speaking different languages stay in the city. Apart from Gujaratis and Marathis, a significant population of North Indians, Rajasthanis, South Indians and Bengalis have settled in the city. All of them have various associations and community bodies in the city. This adds to the Cosmopolitan identity of the city.
Vadodara is the cultural capital of Gujarat where all traditional festivals are celebrated in a unique way. Vadodara is also known as Sanskari Nagari, i.e. Cultured City and according to the Gujarat tourism authority is the most sought after location for the dance style known as garba in the entire world. Vadodara is one of India's most cosmopolitan cities. Thanks to the vision and broadmindedness of the Gaekwads, the subsequent industrialisation, the proliferation of academic activities and a strategically important geographical location, Vadodara has welcomed a wide variety of people from all over India and also from all over the world. In all of this, the sprawling and cosmopolitan MS University campus and the large number of local, national and foreign industries act as a catalysing and unifying force.
Navratri or Garba is the city's largest festival, with song, dance and lights every October. Many of the residents spend their evenings at their local Garba grounds where local musicians play traditional music while people dance the Raas and Garba dances. People from various parts of India and abroad visit the city to celebrate this festival with great excitement and enthusiasm.
Apart from this, Ganesh Chaturthi and Uttarayan are also celebrated with great zeal. During Ganesh Chaturthi, there are many Ganesh pandals arranged at the streets of the city. These are kept for seven days or ten days and then the idol of Ganesha is immersed at various water bodies in the city and majority of them are immersed at Sursagar Lake. People also have these idols placed at their home for five, seven or ten days and many of them use eco friendly ways to immerse these idols made of soil, by placing a water tub outside their house and then the water mixed with soil is then used in garden.
Sursagar Lake in Vadodara
Uttarayan is a festival of kites, musics and "tilgud" in the city. Before the festival starts, the markets are lined up with vendors selling kites, threads, balloons and fire crackers as well as various local cuisines. At night the sky is illuminated by crackers, kandils and fire balloons. The Marathi women here also perform "Haldi Kumku".
The most followed religion in the city is Hinduism, practised by 85% of the population. The second most followed religion is Islam, followed by 12% of the population. All other religious groups make up the remaining 4% of the city's population.
There was also a small Jewish community mainly made of the Bene Israel of India but also some other Jewish groups including European Jews, all of whom left during the 1940s and 1950s, mainly to the state of Israel.
Vadodara has a professional cricket team, the Baroda cricket team, as well as the oldest cricket ground in Asia, called Moti Baug. The team has won the Ranji Trophy six times. There is also a private cricket ground owned by Reliance, which hosts ODIs. Football is also a famous sport played in the city. VMSS also launched one indoor sports complex located at Sama & one outdoor sports complex located at Manjalpur.