Chhota Udepur was among the three princely states of eastern Gujarat the other two were Devgadh Baria and Rajpipla. The original fortification in the town lies in ruins, overgrown with shrubs and creepers and Darbar Hall burnt down few years back. Many buildings were built in early 1920's, around this fortification, in the fashion of big mansions of Bombay , by the relatives of the ruler.
The founders of Chhota Udepur are the direct descendants of
the famous Hindu King Prithviraj Chauhan, who bravely fought against the
Muslim invaders and was immortalized in 'Prithviraj Raso'- a romantic-
heroic ballad, narrating the love of Samyukta and Prithviraj.
After losing a gallant battle at Ranthambhore to Muslim invaders, the Khichi Chauhan Rajputs moved to the hills of Pavagadh via Malwa, established the capital at Mohan near Narmada and finally shifted the capital to Chhota Udepur. After 1822 AD treaty, with British, an era of peace prevailed and many royal and public buildings were erected in the town.
The town is situated at the edge of a big lake, with blooming lilies and a boulevard with palm trees. The series of temples along the lake dotting the skyline makes a perfect setting for the colourful Tribal haat (market).
Among several temples at Chhota Udepur, the Jain derasar and Kali Temple are worth visiting. The visit to the sprawling 18 acre palace campus is must for any visitor to Chhota Udepur. The two palaces- Kusum Vilas Palace and Prem havan Palace are the finest examples of early 20th century Indian palace architecture.
Vilas Palace: A famous architectural firm of Bombay - Bhatkar &
Bhatkar, designed the Kusum Vilas Palace in the early 1920's. The design
concept was to create a palace in a harmonious fusion of the architectural
style of Champaner with modern amenities of an elevator and other
A large porch, arcaded façade and balanced architectural treatment of the 5 storeyed central wing with receding volume, capped with a dome lends majesty to the palace. The interiors are a blend of east and west. The carved pilasters, friezes gilded with real gold are replicas of such architectural elements at Champaner.
The British-made elevator has a foyer at ground level, enclosed by series of exquisitely carved stone 'jalis' bringing in an ethereal light effect. The grand reception room on ground floor has large doors, a carved false ceiling, French furniture, Belgian mirrors and superb Italian marble statues. The wall paintings by an Indian artist, depicting the picturesque settings of Chhota Udepur and previous capital Mohan, are most remarkable.
Kali Temple: The Kali Temple is dedicated to the Goddess Kali and is worshipped by the royal family.
Jain Derasar Temple: The Jain Derasar is a typical example of plaster-decorated buildings of Gujarat, imitating woodcarvings and figurines in plasterwork, showing the influence of Victorian art. The arcades, with decorated pillars, the figures with musical instruments, their dressing, headgear and hairstyle painted in an unconventional manner with bright colours, make a beautiful composition.
Prem Bhawan: The Prem Bhavan Palace in the same campus is now a heritage hotel, offering excellent accommodation, food and package tours to nearby interesting places. Other architecturally beautiful royal buildings now used as public buildings and government offices are Collector's office, Rani Mahal, college and ITI building.
Sanctuary: Home to sloth bears, panthers, various bird species,
Ratanmahal Sanctuary is 80 kms away.
Jambu Ghoda Sanctuary: Panthers, four-horned antelopes, Jambu Ghoda sanctuary is a bird watcher's paradise. It is 48 kms from the city.
Sardar Sarovar Dam: One of the largest dams of India, Sardar Sarovar Dam is 110 kms away.
Sankheda: 60 kms away, Sankheda is famous for its lacquered furniture work.
Other major excursions are Tribal 'haats' of Bhil and Rathawa tribes in nearby villages, Hapeshwar Mahadev, Pavagadh (Kalika Mata temple, rope way, Patai Rawal Palace, fortification) 80kms, Champaner (Jami Mosque and other beautiful mosques, fortification) 80 kms, Dabhoi (13th century fort, hira Bhagol and other gates) 75 kms.
To Get There
Air: Nearest airport is Vadodara (102 kms).
Rail: Railway Station is on Vadodara-Chhota Udepur line.
Road: There are road linkages to Vadodara and Ahmedabad.
Local Transport: Non-metered auto rickshaws
There are a few local guesthouses and a heritage hotel.
Vadodara: 102 kms
Ahmedabad: 215 kms