Continents like Asia and Europe, as well as the rest of the world, offer various opportunities for holistic living. One such place is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. For a unique stay in Shekhawati, consider Piramal Haveli. If you're looking for luxury travel in a pilgrim's city, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a great option. Experience the vibrant lifestyle of Lucknow by staying at Clarks Awadh. In Nagpur, you can get a glimpse of its heritage by visiting Chitnavis Wada, a magnificent house in the old city.
This particular Wada stands out as one of the rare ones that have successfully maintained the impressive and nostalgic atmosphere of the prestigious houses. I made my way inside by passing through a gate designed with an arch and a wooden door. A sign displayed outside provided the name and location of this Wada.
When I entered the gate of Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I immediately noticed several buildings surrounding an open space. It was hard to determine whether I was already inside the Wada or still outside, as the construction near the main entrance had a distinct colonial-era feel to it. The wooden blind panels specifically reminded me of structures I had seen in Colonial Calcutta.
The towering trees, likely older than the nearby buildings, loom overhead. I entered the designated office area as directed. The room is filled with a variety of aged wooden furnishings, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts. It dawned on me that this is the primary Wada building. The structures I observed outside were additional sections that functioned as a guest house during the British era.
I received assistance from a kind man who oversees the location, who provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to open the Wada for me. My expectations were not high, assuming that the Wada would only consist of attractive pillars made of wood carvings. Nevertheless, surprises always tend to be nearby, as I was pleasantly surprised when I first laid eyes on the intricately carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards, known as 3-Chowk Haveli. This architectural style, with multiple courtyards, is reminiscent of the Havelis found in Shekhawati. The first courtyard, also known as the First Chowk, is typically used as a public space where guests and individuals conducting business would visit. In the case of Chitnavis Wada, this outer courtyard served as the office of the family's head.
Chitnavis is a title given to the highest-ranking official responsible for documenting the affairs of a king. The Wada, or building, in question 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 features, it is estimated that this particular Wada is approximately 200 years old.
Upon entering the initial courtyard of Chitnavis Wada's Deoghar Chowk, I found myself immersed in a vibrant display of paintings. Although the open courtyard has been enclosed with wooden structures, the surrounding corridor still retains its calming mud flooring.
As I observed the walls, I noticed paintings that portrayed the life of Krishna, who I later learned is the revered deity of the family. The artwork depicted various scenes from famous epics such as the Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's remarkable paintings.
Located within the premises, there is a charming wooden temple in one section of the courtyard. Its architectural style bears resemblance to numerous temples found in Rajasthan. The temple is dedicated to the deity Krishna and boasts an exquisite design. When one sits in front of this temple, they feel completely enveloped by the presence of Krishna. This particular area of the courtyard is appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, signifying its association with the divine entity.
Located at the intersection known as Family or Fountain Chowk, we entered through a door that led us to a charming courtyard with a fountain in its center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with earthy mud flooring. We took a seat near the fountain, appreciating the tranquil and inviting atmosphere of this particular section of the Wada. This area was designated as the family space, where individuals would come together to enjoy meals. I could envision the women of the family gathering here for casual conversations or to bask in the sunlight.
We entered another entrance that led us to the final square, which was likely more frequently utilized by the household staff. This area was previously the location of the kitchen. Here, you can observe the grinding stone and grooves for pounding. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful Palkis were scattered throughout the area.
A fascinating aspect is a tiny aperture in the wall that links to the storage area for grains. By simply opening the window, you can easily retrieve the necessary grains for cooking. This space can also be referred to as a service area or the back-end services utilized for operating the wada.
Located on the side of this square is a doorway that leads to the family temple known as Murlidhar Temple. It was common for large traditional homes, known as wadas, to have their own personal temple dedicated to the family's chosen deity. In this particular wada, the temple is dedicated to Murlidhar. The temple itself is relatively small, consisting of a garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) and a shikhara (tower) in the Nagar style. Inside the temple, the mandapa (hall) is adorned with numerous wooden pillars, a common feature seen in many temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda situated on either side of the main temple.
At Chitnavis Wada, once we have taken in the beauty of the inside, we step outside and appreciate the intricate woodwork on the building. One particular feature that stands out is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and a parrot, which is a distinctive symbol of the skilled woodcarvers in this area. Additionally, we can see the presence of Banana flower motifs, similar to those found in the Peshwa wadas in Pune.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the external guest accommodations. The colonial section of these accommodations possibly served as a venue for entertaining or hosting Europeans. This specific section is connected to the main wada, but it is physically separate from it, creating a division between the area for the family and the area for guests.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the Charbhag style, which features walking paths that divide the garden into four sections. The garden has undergone some changes and is not as vibrant as it used to be. Nevertheless, I stumbled upon a fascinating antique hand pump that is still functional.
On top of the Wada building, you have a clear view of the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. What's even more captivating is the panoramic view of the city that surrounds it. I had the opportunity to be there during sunset, and the sloping red tiled roofs added a unique atmosphere to the scene.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have made efforts to incorporate contemporary amenities such as bathrooms. Additionally, a section of the Wada has been designated as an office space for different organizations. They also offer the option to rent out the venue for occasions like weddings or small gatherings. Visitors can observe the traditional practice of using wooden planks to serve food.
At the moment, the location is not accessible to the general public. In order to visit, you must get in touch with the office of Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is conducted by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to arrange the visit with her.
Depending on how interested you are, it will take you around 1-2 hours to see it.
In the lanes surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore by walking around.
This particular article provides valuable information about Nagpur and offers new insights about the city. It is appreciated for sharing these details.
Your blog has provided me with a way to explore the world from the comfort of my own home. The way you tell stories and showcase your photographs has allowed me to uncover hidden gems that I never knew existed. Your talent for capturing the true spirit of a place is truly impressive. Please keep sharing your adventures, as they constantly fuel my desire to travel and explore new places!
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