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Vansada City Guide

"At the foothills of sahyadri mountains"
Vansada is one of the two former princely states of south Gujarat : Vansada and Dharampur. Vansada town is surrounded by dense bamboo forests and probably derives its name from 'Vans', meaning bamboo in Gujarati.

The history of the Vansada State dates back to at least 750 years and the rulers of Vansada are the descendants of Chalukya (Solanki) Rajput clan. Vansada was the capital of the princely State of Vansada, till the independence of India in 1947 AD. Maharaval Virsinhji founded the present day fortified town of Vansada in 1781 AD, in a picturesque location, on the banks of Kaveri river, at the southern foothills of the Sahyadri range. Before founding the city, as per Hindu religious traditions, King Raval Virsinhji built three temples- Vireshwar Mahadev, Vireshwari Mata and Virabhadra Hanuman to sanctify the site chosen for constructing a new town.

Maharaja Pratapsinhji became the king of Vansada in 1885 AD; soon after his accession, he introduced tax reforms, a banking system and provided generous public charity during the terrible famine of 1890 AD. His able administration over the years resulted in surplus wealth in the state treasury. He was a visionary ruler and under his patronage several architectural and urban design projects were constructed in Vansada, for the benefit of the public. The Clock Tower, Town Hall, Anglo-Vemacular School, Library and Ratankunwarba Hospital have been built during his regime, which changed the skyline of Vansada town forever.

Vansada town has two entrance gates. The one near Vireshwari Temple is an imposing structure with a big plaster decorated arch having motifs of fish on both sides, wooden roof, cast iron brackets supporting two beautifully carved wooden balconies on both sides. The another gate near the Town Hall, is a three storey high structure with a carved wooden door, receding volumes and a sloping roof. Although both these gates have lost their original function as security gates, they still the famous landmarks of the town.

Kings of Vansada were great patrons of arts and they have constructed some beautiful palaces on the vast palace grounds, just abutting on bank of Kaveri river. The Digvir Niwas Palace is one of the finest examples of royal architecture in the early 20th century. The approach to the palace is through a beautiful plaster-decorated gate and the octagonal chhatris on both sides of the entrance gate give it an imposing look.

The Digvir Niwas Palace is a low profile linear building, with ashlar stone masonary. All the openings are defined by white decorative plaster, creating an interplay of textures. The entire facade has several architectural elements like- carved balustrade, arches, brackets, pediments, columns, semi circular and octagonal verandahs, curved overhangs- protecting windows with stained and coloured glass, with a steep sloping Mansard roof on the top arranged in a creative design scheme to create an appealing edifice. The setting of the palace building and the campus layout seem to have been inspired by British castles and French chateaux of the European aristocracy.

A Gymkhana Building is located in the Digvir Niwas Palace compound. It is designed in the manner of the cricket pavilions of English counties having sloping roofs, wooden trusses and Mangalore tiles creating an intimate and cozy building.

Another interesting building is the royal guest house- Sushil Sadan with a big pediment porch, terraces and central tower capped by Mangalore tiled roof, with Dormer windows. Two other public buildings are the Clock Tower and Sir Pratap High School- both are made using exposed brick work. The tall Clock Tower has four storeys, with four comer pilasters terminating in to chhatris and the central part is capped by a dome. Sir Pratap High School is a symmetrical building, with a central porch, central Clock Tower and sloping roof with Mangalore tiles.

Excursion :
Vansada National Park (Tiger, Panther) 10 km, Unai (Hot water springs, Unai Mata Temple) 18 km, Saputara (famous hill station, 875 m high, Geera falls) 66 km. Puma Sanctuary (dense forests) 60 km

Travel Information :
Air : Nearest airport is Vadodara (297 km), Mumbai (248 km)
Rail : Nearest railway station is Unai Vansada Road (18 km) on Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge railway line
Road : Ahmedabad (410 km), Surat (83 km), Valsad (63 km)
Local transport : Non-metered auto rickshaws and Jeeps
Accomodation : Local guest houses
Food : Local eating joints

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