Exploring Nagpur’s Chitnavis Wada: A Glimpse into Maharashtra’s Elite Heritage

Exploring Nagpur’s Chitnavis Wada: A Glimpse into Maharashtra’s Elite Heritage

Exploring Nagpur’s Chitnavis Wada: A Glimpse into Maharashtra’s Elite Heritage

Continents such as Asia, Europe, and the Rest of the World have various destinations to offer for holistic living experiences. One of these destinations is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. For a stay in Shekhawati, consider Piramal Haveli. Luxury travel in the pilgrim's city can be experienced at Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa. Living the Lucknow life can be done at Clarks Awadh. Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur is a heritage site that provides a glimpse into the grand houses of the elite in Maharashtra. It is located in the Mahal area in a locality called Chitnavispura.

This particular Wada stands out as one of the rare ones that has successfully maintained the splendor and nostalgic allure of the distinguished residences. I passed through a gate adorned with an arch and a wooden door. A sign displayed outside indicated the name and location of the Wada.

Upon entering the premises of Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I was greeted with a cluster of buildings surrounding an expansive open space. It was quite puzzling to determine whether I had actually entered the Wada or was still outside, as the construction on the main door side bore a striking resemblance to the colonial era. The wooden blind panels, in particular, evoked memories of similar architectural features found in Colonial Calcutta.

The towering trees, which are likely much older than the nearby buildings, are standing proudly. I entered what was pointed out to me as the office. Inside, I noticed a collection of aged wooden furniture, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts scattered about. It dawned on me that this is the primary Wada. The structures I saw outside were additional sections that served as a guest house during the time of British rule.

I received assistance from a man in charge of the establishment who provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to unlock the wada for me. My expectations were modest, assuming only the presence of beautifully carved wooden pillars in the wada. Nevertheless, surprises are always close at hand, as I initially noticed the intricate wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.

Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards, known as Chowks. These courtyards are arranged one after the other. It is worth noting that we have previously encountered a similar layout in the Shekhawati Havelis. The first Chowk, which is typically the public area, serves as a space for guests and business associates. In the case of Chitnavis Wada, this particular courtyard also functions as the office of the family's patriarch.

Chitnavis was the title given to the head document officer of a king. The Wada, or building, was constructed by Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who held the position of Chitnavis for the Bhosle kings of Nagpur. Randive arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE alongside Raghuji – I Bhosle. Based on its stylistic details, it is estimated that the Wada is approximately 200 years old.

As I entered the initial courtyard, I was immediately immersed in a vibrant display of paintings. The once open courtyard is now sheltered by a wooden structure, while the surrounding corridor maintains a comforting mud flooring.

The walls were adorned with artwork showcasing the life of Krishna, who I later learned is the deity of the family. The paintings depicted various scenes from epics such as Mahabharata. Additionally, there were lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's paintings beautifully framed and displayed.

Within the confines of this outdoor space, there exists a charming wooden temple situated in one corner. Its design bears a resemblance to numerous temples found in Rajasthan. This particular temple is devoted to Krishna and exudes a remarkable beauty. When one positions themselves in front of this temple, they become fully encompassed by the presence of Krishna. This open area is appropriately referred to as Deoghar Chowk, or the sanctuary's courtyard.

Located at Family or Fountain Chowk, we discovered a door that led us to a charming courtyard with a beautiful fountain at its center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a rustic mud floor. We took a seat near the fountain and took in the tranquil atmosphere of this cozy section of the Wada. It was evident that this area was designated for family gatherings and meals, as I could envision the women of the family coming together here for leisurely conversations or to bask in the warmth of the sun.

Kitchen Square

We entered through another door into the final square, which was likely frequented more by the household staff. This was the location of the former kitchen. Here, you can observe the presence of a grinding stone and grooves for pounding. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant. Brightly colored Palkis were scattered about the area.

A fascinating aspect of the wall is a small aperture that is linked to the grain storage area. By simply opening the window, one can retrieve the necessary grains for cooking. This space could also be referred to as a service corner or the behind-the-scenes operations for maintaining the wada.

Located on the side of this chowk is a door that leads to the private temple of the Murlidhar family. It was customary for large wadas to have their own personal temple dedicated to their family deity. The Murlidhar temple in this wada is relatively small, with a garbhagriha and a shikhara designed in the Nagar style. Inside the temple's mandapa, there are numerous wooden pillars, a common feature I observed in many temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples of Hanuman and Garuda situated on either side of the main temple.

When we finish appreciating the inside of Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and marvel at the intricate wood carvings on its exterior. One notable feature is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a distinguishing mark of the skilled woodcarvers at this location. Additionally, the presence of Banana flower designs resembles those found in Peshwa wadas in Pune.

The higher levels of the building are linked to the guest houses located on the outskirts. The guest houses in the colonial section might have been utilized for entertaining or accommodating European visitors. Although it is connected to the main wada, this section stands independently, forming a division between the family space and the guest space.

Across from the wada, there existed a garden designed in the Charbhag style, featuring walking paths that divided the garden into four sections. The garden, although not as vibrant as its original state, still contained a fascinating vintage handpump that was actively being utilized.

On top of the Wada building, you have a clear view of the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you can also observe the city skyline from this vantage point. I had the opportunity to visit during the sunset, and the sloping red tiled roofs enhanced the overall atmosphere.

Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have made efforts to incorporate modern amenities such as bathrooms. Additionally, a section of the Wada is utilized as an office space for different organizations. They also offer the option to rent out the venue for occasions like weddings or small gatherings. It is interesting to note that traditional wooden planks are used to present and serve food.

Currently, the place mentioned is not accessible to the general public. In order to visit, you must get in touch with the office of the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is led by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to arrange the visit through her.

The time required to explore it varies between 1 to 2 hours, depending on how interested you are in it.

In the lanes surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore on foot.

Other articles on this website discuss various topics related to Nagpur, including the historical significance of Ramtek and the architectural masterpiece of Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Another article explores Matheran, a charming hill station in Maharashtra. Two readers have left comments expressing their appreciation for the article and the new information they learned about Nagpur.

Your blog has opened up a whole new world for me. Your captivating narratives and breathtaking pictures have introduced me to hidden gems I had no idea existed. Your talent in capturing the true essence of a place is truly extraordinary. Please keep sharing your exciting adventures, as they continuously fuel my desire to explore!

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