:: Chhota Udepur - A Heaven Nestled In The Hills ::
The town of Chota Udepur is located in the far east of the Vadodara District of Gujarat state, very close to the border of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. This picturesque town is nestled among the Vindhyachal range and the Satpura range of hills. The region in and around Chota Udepur has a mixed population of tribals - Bhils and Rathwas, Muslims, Hindus. This region is steeped in a glorious past of valor and chivalry. Chota Udepur has a colorful history of Maharajas and their tales of bravery.

The royal family of Chota Udepur belong to the Khichi Chauhan dynasty, who are d irect descendants of the brave Rajput king - Prithviraj Chauhan. The Khichi Chauhans moved to Chota Udepur from Delhi via Ranthambore and the Malwa plateau. In 1822 AD after a treaty with the British, peace prevailed and a lot of development work was undertaken to modernize the town. 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 Bhavan Palace are the finest examples of early 20th century Indian palace architecture.

The Kusum Vilas Palace was designed by a famous architectural firm of Bombay, Bhatkar & Bhatkar, in the early 20'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 functional requirements.

A large porch; arcaded facade and balanced architectural treatment of the 5 storeyed central wing with receding volume, capped with a do me 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 jails bringing in an ethereal light effect. The grand reception room on ground floor has large doors, a carved false ceiling, Grench furniture, Belgian mirrors and superb Italian marble statues. The wall paintings by the famous artist M.V. Dhurandhar, depicting the picturesque settings of Chhota Udepur and previous capital Mohan, are most remarkable.

The Prem Bhavan Palace is built in the same campus as the Kusum Vilas Palace. This beautiful mansion was built for H.H. Natwarsinhji's second wife, Premkunverba. This building has the distinction of being built in a span of just 28 days.

Other architecturally beautiful royal buildings, now used as public buildings and government offices are collector's office, Rani Mahal, college and ITI building.

Some other places of tourist interest in the vicinity of Chota Udepur include:

 Ratanmahal Sanctuary (home of sloth bears, panthers, various bird species) 80 km,

 Jambu Ghoda Sanctuary (panthers, four horned antelopes, bird watcher's paradise)
    48 km, Tribal haats of Bhil and Rathawa tribes in nearby villages,

 Haapeshwar Mahadev,

 Pavagadh (Kalika Mata Temple, rope way, Patai Rawal Place, fortification)
    80 km, Champaner (Jami Mosque and other beautiful mosques,fortification) 80 km,

 Dabhoi (13th century fort, Hira Bhagol and other gates) 75 km,

 Sardar Sarovar Dam (one of the largest dams of India) 110 km,

 Sankheda (famous for its lacquered furniture work) 60 km.

All these locales and the palace are ideally suited for filming of motion pictures. Many Gujarati language films have been filmed in and around Chota Udepur. A visit to Chota Udepur would be a unique experience, that assures of an insight into the glorious past of this region, a peek into tribal lifestyle, their customs and culture.