Sayaji Rao

Other names: 

Sayaji Rao, Maharaja of Baroda III

Sayaji Rao Gaekwad

Date of birth: 
11 Mar 1863
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Date of death: 
06 Feb 1939
Location of death: 
Bombay, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1887
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1887, early 1930s.


Sayaji Rao was the son of Kashi Rao, a village headman, who belonged to the Maratha family which had created the state of Baroda in Gujarat during the eighteenth century. He took the name Sayaji Rao III when he was installed on the gadi or throne of Baroda in May 1875. Sayaji Rao was invested with governing powers in December 1881, shortly before his nineteenth birthday.

In order to relieve health problems reputedly brought on by overwork and variously described as neurasthenia or nervous prostration, sleeplessness, and gout, he made his first trip to England in 1887. Various Indian figures worked for the Maharaja. Dadabhai Naoroji was his Minister in 1874, and Aravinda Ghose worked in the Baroda service after his return from England in 1893. He sponsored B. R. Ambedkar's education in Bombay and the USA.

Sayaji Rao' second wife, Chimnabai II, was the first president of the All-India Women's Conference in 1927. She co-wrote The Position of Women in Indian Life (1911) with S. M. Mitra. Sayaji Rao had three children from his first marriage and three children from his second. His daughter from his second marriage married the Prince of Cooch Behar and was well-known in 'society' circles in London in the 1920s and 1930s. Sayaji Rao was known to openly support the Indian National Congress, but was awarded a GCIE in 1919.

After 1919 Sayaji Rao travelled and lived in Europe and Britain for several months each year. After spending most of the 1930s travelling to seek relief for health problems at various European spas, Sayaji Rao III returned to India in November 1938. He died in Bombay on 6 February 1939.


B. R. Ambedkar, Fanindranath Bose (sculptor), Sunity Devee (Maharani of Cooch Behar - mother-in-law of his daughter), Romesh Chunder Dutt, Aravinda Ackroyd Ghose, S. M. Mitra (wrote with his wife), Dadabhai Naoroji.

Published works: 

Notes on the Famine Tour by His Highness the Maharaja Gaekwar (London: s.n., 1901)

Speeches and Addresses (Cambridge: Privately printed at the University Press, 1927)

(with Alban Gregory Widgery) Speeches & Addresses ... 1877-1927. With a Portrait, Etc. (London: Macmillan & Co., 1928)

(with Anthony Xavier Soares) Speeches and Addresses ... Selected and Edited by Anthony X. Soares (London: Oxford University Press, 1933)

(with Cyril Ernest Newham and Kenneth Saunders) Speeches & Addresses of His Highness Sayaji Rao III, Maharaja of Baroda, Etc., Vols. 3 & 4

Secondary works: 

Bhagavan, M. B., 'Higher Education and the "Modern": Negotiating Colonialism and Nationalism in Princely Mysore and Baroda', (PhD Thesis, University of Texas, 1999)

Bottomore, S., '"Have You Seen the Gaekwar Bob?": Filming the 1911 Delhi Durbar', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 17 (1997), pp. 309-45

Copland, I., 'The Baroda Crisis of 1873–77', Modern Asian Studies 2 (1968), pp. 97-123

Copland, I., 'Sayaji Rao Gaekwar and "Sedition"', in Peter Robb and David Taylor (eds) Rule, Protest, Identity: Aspects of Modern South Asia (London: Curzon Press, 1978), pp. 28-48

Gaekwad, Fatesinhrao, Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao of Baroda: The Prince and the Man (London: Sangam, 1989)

Gense, James H., Banaji, D. R., and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, The Gaikwads of Baroda. English Documents. Edited by J. H. Gense ... D. R. Banaji. Vol. 2-10 (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co., 1937)

Hardiman, D., 'Baroda: The Structure of a Progressive State', in Robin Jeffrey (ed.) People, Princes and Paramount Power: Society and Politics in the Indian Princely States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 107-35

Nuckolls, C. W., 'The Durbar Incident', Modern Asian Studies 24 (1990), pp. 529-59

Ramusack, Barbara N., 'Gaikwar [Gaekwar], Sayaji Rao [Sayaji Rao III], Maharaja of Baroda (1863–1939)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Rice, Percival Stanley Pitcairn, and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, Life of Sayaji Rao III Maharaja of Baroda, 2 vol. (London: Oxford University Press, 1931)

Sergeant, Philip Walsingham, and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, The Ruler of Baroda. An Account of the Life and Work of the Maharaja Gaekwar (Sayajirao iii) (London: John Murray, 1928)

The Times (7 Feb 1939)

Weeden, Edward St Clair, and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, A Year with the Gaekwar of Baroda ... With 25 Illustrations from Photographs, Etc (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1912)

Widgery, Alban Gregory, and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, Goods and Bads. Outlines of a Philosophy of Life: Being the Substance of a Series of Talks and Discussions with H. H. The Maharajah Gaekwar of Baroda (Baroda, 1920)  

Archive source: 

MSS, Gujarat State Archives, Southern Circle, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

Wodehouse MSS, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Hardinge MSS, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge