Continents mentioned in the text are Asia, Europe, and the Rest of the World. Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna, offers a holistic living experience. For accommodation in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a recommended option. Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa provides luxury travel experiences in the religious city of Pushkar. Clarks Awadh offers a chance to experience the lifestyle of Lucknow. Chitnavis Wada, located in Nagpur, is a glimpse into the city's heritage. These Wadas are similar to the grand houses of elites in Maharashtra, like the famous Shaniwar Wada in Pune. My exploration of Nagpur began with a visit to Chitnavis Wada, located in the Chitnavispura locality of the Mahal area.
This particular Wada stands out for its ability to maintain the magnificence and traditional allure of the high-class residences. I stepped inside through a gate adorned with an arch and a wooden door. A sign displayed the name and location of the Wada outside.
When I entered the gate of Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I noticed several buildings surrounding an open space. It was hard to determine if I was already inside the Wada or still outside, as the construction near the main door had a distinct colonial era feel to it. The wooden blind panels particularly reminded me of similar structures found in Colonial Calcutta.
The towering trees, which likely predate the buildings, are prominent in the area. I entered a room that was identified as the office. Inside, there was a collection of aged wooden furniture, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts scattered about. It dawned on me that I was in the main Wada. The structures I had observed outside were additional sections that functioned as a guest house during the time of British rule.
I received assistance from a kind man who is in charge of the location. He provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to open the Wada for my visit. Initially, my expectations were not high, assuming I would only find beautifully carved wooden pillars in the Wada. However, as it turned out, surprises were not too distant. I was pleasantly surprised when I first laid eyes on the intricately carved wooden pillars that adorned the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards arranged in a row. This architectural style, known as a "haveli," is reminiscent of the ones found in Shekhawati. The first courtyard, also known as the First Chowk, serves as a public space where guests and individuals conducting business would gather. In this particular haveli, the first courtyard functions as the family head's office.
Chitnavis is a title given to the highest ranking official responsible for documenting matters for 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 first arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE alongside Raghuji – I Bhosle. Based on its architectural style, it is estimated that the Wada is approximately 200 years old.
Upon entering the initial courtyard of Chitnavis Wada in Deoghar Chowk, I was immediately greeted by an array of vibrant paintings. Although the open courtyard has been transformed with a wooden covering, the surrounding corridor still retains its calming mud flooring.
On the walls, there were paintings that portrayed the life of Krishna, which I later found out to be the deity of the family. These paintings depicted scenes from famous stories like the Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Located in a corner of the courtyard, there is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to temples found in Rajasthan. This temple, dedicated to Krishna, is truly exquisite. When you sit in front of it, you feel completely enveloped by Krishna's presence. This area of the courtyard is aptly named Deoghar Chowk, which translates to the courtyard of the deity.
At the intersection known as Family or Fountain Chowk, we discovered a doorway that led us to a new area. In the center of this area, there was a beautiful fountain. Surrounding the fountain, there was a pathway made of mud. We found a spot to sit near the fountain and enjoyed the peaceful and welcoming atmosphere of this part of the Wada. This particular area was designated for families to gather and share meals together. I could envision the women of the family coming together here to engage in friendly conversations or simply bask in the sunlight.
At the end of another passage, we entered the final courtyard which was likely frequented by the household staff. This area used to house the kitchen. Remnants of the grinding stone and grooves for pounding can be observed. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful Palkis, or traditional Indian palanquins, were scattered around the area.
A fascinating aspect is a small aperture in the wall that connects to the storage area for grain. By simply opening the window, one can easily access the necessary grains for cooking. This aperture can also be referred to as a service area or the back-end operations that support the functioning of the wada.
Located on the side of this chowk, there is a family temple known as the Murlidhar Temple. Like many other large wadas, this particular wada also had its own personal temple dedicated to the family deity. The Murlidhar temple features a small garbhagriha (sanctum) and a shikhara (tower) designed in the Nagar style. Inside the temple, the mandapa (hall) is adorned with numerous wooden pillars, a common feature found in many temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are small temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda that stand on either side of the Murlidhar temple.
Upon exploring the insides of Chitnavis Wada, we step out and appreciate the exquisite woodwork displayed on the exterior. One distinctive feature is a suspended corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a symbol of the skilled woodcarvers in this area. Additionally, there are decorative elements resembling Banana flower endings, reminiscent of the Peshwa wadas found in Pune.
The upper levels of the building are linked to the separate guest houses located on the outer side. It is possible that the colonial section of these guest houses served as a venue for entertaining or hosting Europeans. This section is connected to the main building, but it is distinct and creates a division between the family space and the guest space.
Across from the wada, there existed a garden designed in the Charbhag style, which featured walking paths that divided the garden into four sections. The garden has since lost some of its original charm and vibrancy. Nevertheless, I stumbled upon a fascinating old-fashioned handpump in the garden that is still functional.
On top of the Wada building, there is a rooftop that provides a view of the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you can also see the city skyline from there. I visited the rooftop during sunset, and the slanted red tiled roofs added a unique atmosphere to the scene.
Throughout the years, the current generation of owners have made attempts to incorporate modern amenities such as bathrooms into the ancestral home. Additionally, a section of the Wada has been designated as office space for different organizations. The owners also make the property available for rent, allowing individuals to host events such as weddings or small functions. As you explore the premises, you will notice the traditional use of wooden planks for serving food.
At the moment, the place is not accessible to the general public. To arrange a visit, you must get in touch with the office of Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. A heritage tour of the Wada is conducted by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to go through her for the visit.
Depending on how interested you are, it will take you around 1-2 hours to fully experience it.
In the streets surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore on foot.
Other articles on this website discuss different topics, such as the Ramayana's influence in the Vidarbha region and the impressive architecture of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Additionally, there is information about Matheran, a charming hill station in Maharashtra. There are two comments on this article expressing gratitude for the valuable information learned about Nagpur.
I find your blog to be a wonderful way for me to explore the world. Your captivating stories and incredible pictures have introduced me to new and unknown places. Your talent for capturing the true spirit of a location is truly impressive. Please keep sharing your adventures, as they constantly fuel my desire to travel and explore!
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