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HindustanTimes Mon,01 Sep 2014

Vadodara royal family to end dispute over Rs. 20,000 cr property

Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times  Ahmedabad, October 23, 2013
First Published: 12:37 IST(23/10/2013) | Last Updated: 13:40 IST(23/10/2013)

The 23-year-old dispute among the scions of the erstwhile Baroda state over Rs. 20,000 crore immovable property is set to end with the two sides likely to ink a deal in a local court in Vadodara on Wednesday.

The properties in question include Vadodara's iconic Laxmi Vilas Palace and its sprawling 700 acre compound, Nazarbaug palace, Indumati palace, Baroda Rayon Corporation which was once a blue chip company in Surat, properties in Mumbai, Delhi, London and several other European countries.

The Laxmi Vilas Palace, an extravagant building of the Indo-Saracenic school, was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890 and Major Charles Mant was its architect.

It is reputed to be the largest private dwelling built till date and is four times the size of Buckingham Palace. At the time of its construction, it boasted the most modern amenities such as elevators and the interior is reminiscent of a large European country house.

Present day real estate value of the palace and its ground is estimated to be over Rs. 5000 crore.

It is not clear as yet whether the settlement will also include division of priceless heirlooms including three precious diamonds, gemstones, necklaces, gold ornaments weighing over 100kg, historical swords of the royal family, two chariots of gold and silver and countless paintings by Raja Ravi Varma.

According to people close to the family, the value of the heirlooms is almost impossible to evaluate because they include three of the most precious diamonds in the world -- the Star of the South, Akbar Shah (which Mughal emperors wore on their headgears) and the Empress Eugenie.

The legal battle started between late Ranjitsinh Gaekwad and his brother Sangramsinh Gaekwad -- sons of the last king of Baroda Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad - in 1990.

In May 2012, Ranjitsinh passed away. Ranjitsinh's son Samarjitsinh and Sangramsinh's son Pratapsinhrao have been engaged in hectic negotiations over last one year to resolve the dispute and find an amicable solution.

In the last 23 years, the messy and bitter legal battle raged in various judicial and corporate forums, including the Vadodara Civil Court, the Company Law Board (CLB), the Gujarat high court and the Supreme Court.


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