Continents such as Asia and Europe, as well as the rest of the world, offer various destinations for holistic living. One option is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. For accommodation in Shekhawati, consider staying at Piramal Haveli. If you're looking for luxury travel in a pilgrimage city, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a great choice. Experience the lifestyle of Lucknow by staying at Clarks Awadh. Additionally, Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur provides a glimpse into the city's heritage, with its grand houses in the Mahal area.
This specific Wada is unique in its ability to maintain the magnificence and nostalgic appeal of the distinguished houses. Upon arrival, I passed through a gate with an arch and a wooden door. A sign outside displayed the name and location of the Wada.
When I entered through the gate, I noticed that there were buildings surrounding an open area. It was hard to determine whether I was inside the Wada or still outside because of the layout. The construction on the main entrance side had a distinct colonial feel to it. The wooden blind panels reminded me of similar structures I had seen in Colonial Calcutta.
The towering trees, which have likely been around longer than the buildings, are standing proudly. I entered what I was informed is the office space. Inside, there is a plethora 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 observed outside were additional sections that functioned as a guest house during the time of British rule.
I received assistance from a kind man in charge of the location, who provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to allow me access to the Wada. My expectations were not high, as I only anticipated seeing well-crafted wooden pillars within the Wada. However, to my pleasant surprise, I first encountered the beautifully carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional Indian mansion known as a Haveli, specifically a 3-Chowk Haveli. This means that it consists of three courtyards arranged one after the other. This architectural layout is reminiscent of the Havelis found in Shekhawati. In this particular Haveli, the first courtyard serves as a public space where guests or individuals conducting business would visit. It functions as an outer courtyard and also serves as the office space for the family's patriarch or head.
Chitnavis was a title given to the highest-ranking documentation officer in the court of a king. The Wada, or building, mentioned in the text was constructed by Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who served as Chitnavis for the Bhosle kings of Nagpur. Randive arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE alongside Raghuji – I Bhosle. The Wada is estimated to be around 200 years old, judging by its stylistic features.
Upon entering the initial courtyard of Chitnavis Wada's Deoghar Chowk, I found myself immersed in a vibrant display of paintings. Although the open space is currently sheltered by wooden structures, the surrounding corridor maintains its calming ambiance with its soothing mud flooring.
The walls were adorned with artwork that portrayed the life of Krishna, who I would later learn is the revered deity of the family. The paintings showcased various scenes from famous epics such as Mahabharata. Additionally, there were beautifully framed prints of Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Inside the courtyard, there is a charming wooden temple located in one corner. Its design is reminiscent of several temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is dedicated to Krishna and possesses a remarkable beauty. When you are seated in front of it, you feel completely immersed in the presence of Krishna. This particular area of the courtyard is known as Deoghar Chowk, which translates to the deity's courtyard.
The next chowk we entered had a fountain at its center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a floor made of mud. We decided to sit near the fountain and appreciate this cozy section of the Wada. This particular area was designated for families to come together and share a meal. I could envision the women of the family gathering here for friendly conversations or to enjoy the sunlight.
Through another doorway, we entered the final courtyard, which was likely frequented by the household staff. This was the location of the kitchen in the past. Remnants of the grinding stone and grooves for pounding can still be seen. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful palkis were scattered throughout the area.
One intriguing aspect is a small aperture in the wall that is linked to the granary. By simply opening the window, one can obtain the necessary grains for cooking. This space can also be referred to as a service area or the operational support for maintaining the wada.
Located on the side of this courtyard, there is a door that leads to the family temple known as Murlidhar Temple. Like many large traditional houses, this particular wada also has its own personal temple devoted to the family's chosen deity. The Murlidhar temple features a small inner sanctum and a distinctive shikhara in the architectural style of Nagar. Inside the temple's assembly hall, known as the mandapa, there are numerous wooden pillars, a common sight in many temples found in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda situated on either side of the Murlidhar temple.
At Chitnavis Wada, we can appreciate the beautiful woodwork after taking a moment to admire the interiors. One notable aspect is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a distinctive feature created by the skilled woodcarvers at this place. Additionally, there are decorative banana flower motifs similar to those seen in the Peshwa wadas in Pune.
The upper levels of the building are linked to the external guest houses. The guest houses that have a colonial style might have been utilized for entertaining or accommodating Europeans. This section is connected to the main wada, but it is physically separate, forming a division between the section designated for the family and the section designated for the guests.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the style of Charbhag. This garden is divided into four sections by pathways for walking. The garden has lost some of its original beauty, but I did come across an intriguing old handpump that is still functional.
Atop the Wada building, one can have a clear view of the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, the rooftop provides a picturesque view of the city that surrounds it. Personally, I had the opportunity to be there during the sunset, when the sun's rays illuminated the slanted red tiled roofs, creating a captivating atmosphere.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have attempted to incorporate contemporary amenities such as bathrooms. A section of the Wada has been allocated as office space for different organizations. Additionally, they also offer the rental of the venue for events such as weddings or small gatherings. Traditional wooden planks are utilized for serving food at these occasions.
Tips for Traveling:
Currently, the place is not accessible to the general public. In order to visit, you must get in touch with the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust office. It is recommended to reach out to Architect Nitika Ramani, who organizes heritage tours of the Wada, for the best experience.
The amount of time it takes to see it will vary based on how interested you are, but generally it will take about
In the lanes surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore by taking a stroll.
In this article, the author explores the cultural and historical significance of Nagpur. They discuss the influence of the Ramayana in the city of Ramtek and highlight the architectural masterpiece that is the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Additionally, they mention the charming hill station of Matheran in Maharashtra. The article has received positive feedback from readers who found it informative and appreciated the new knowledge gained about Nagpur.
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