Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world are popular destinations for travelers. One attractive place to experience holistic living is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. If you're considering where to stay in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a great option. For those seeking luxury travel in a sacred city, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a top choice. To immerse yourself in the Lucknow lifestyle, Clarks Awadh is the perfect place to stay. Exploring Nagpur's heritage, I had the opportunity to visit Chitnavis Wada, a magnificent house in the old city. This area, known as Chitnavispura in the Mahal area, is filled with similar grand houses.
This particular Wada stands out among the rest for successfully maintaining the majestic and nostalgic appeal of the luxurious residences. Upon entering, I passed through a gate with an arched design and a wooden door. A sign outside displayed its name and location.
When I arrived at Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I was greeted by a sight of various buildings surrounding an open area. It was hard to determine whether I had entered the Wada or if I was still outside due to the layout. The construction of the main entrance had a distinct colonial feel, with wooden blind panels that reminded me of similar designs in Colonial Calcutta.
The towering trees, likely much older than the nearby buildings, rise high into the sky. I entered the room that was pointed out to me as the office. Inside, there is a collection of antiquated wooden furniture, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts scattered about. It dawned on me that this is the central 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 man who is in charge of the location, and he kindly provided me with a brochure. He also requested the staff to open the wada for me. My expectations were not high, as I only anticipated seeing some well-crafted wooden pillars in the Wada. However, I was pleasantly surprised, as I immediately noticed the beautifully carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a historical building with three courtyards arranged in a row. This architectural style, known as a Haveli or Wada, is reminiscent of the design seen in Shekhawati Havelis. The first courtyard, referred to as the First Chowk, is typically a public space intended for receiving guests or conducting business. In the case of Chitnavis Wada, this area served as the office of the family's patriarch.
Chitnavis was a title given to the highest-ranking documentation officer of a king. The Chitnavis Wada, a building in Nagpur, was constructed by Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who held the position of Chitnavis for the Bhosle kings. Randive arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE alongside Raghuji – I Bhosle. Based on its stylistic features, it is estimated that the Chitnavis 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 transformed with wooden flooring, the surrounding corridor retains a calming mud surface.
I noticed paintings on the walls that portrayed the life of Krishna, which I later learned was the deity of the family. These paintings depicted scenes from famous epics like Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Located in one section of the courtyard is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to various temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is dedicated to the deity Krishna and possesses a captivating beauty. When one sits in front of this temple, they are completely enveloped by the presence of Krishna. Appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, this courtyard serves as a sacred space for the deity.
At the Family or Fountain Chowk, we entered through a door that led us to a chowk with a fountain in the center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with mud flooring. We took a seat by the fountain to appreciate this cozy and inviting section of the Wada. This was the designated family area where people would come together to enjoy their meals. I could picture the women of the family gathering here for conversations or to bask in the sunlight.
We entered through another doorway and arrived at the final square, which was most likely frequented by the household staff. This area used to be the kitchen. Here, you can observe a grinding stone and grooves for pounding. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant. Colorful Palkis were scattered throughout the space.
One intriguing aspect is a tiny aperture in the wall that is linked to the storage area for grains. By simply opening the window, one can easily retrieve the necessary grains for cooking. This can also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes operations for running the wada.
Located on the side of a chowk, there is a family temple called the Murlidhar Temple. Like many large wadas, this temple is dedicated to the family deity. It features a small garbhagriha and a shikhara in the Nagar style. Inside the temple, the mandapa is adorned with numerous wooden pillars, a common sight in temples throughout Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples of Hanuman and Garuda on either side of the main temple.
Upon exploring the inside of the Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and appreciate the stunning woodwork displayed on its exterior. One notable feature is a hanging corner adorned with intricately carved peacock and parrot designs, which serves as a distinct characteristic of the woodcarvers in this area. Additionally, the presence of Banana flower endings, reminiscent of the Peshwa wadas in Pune, adds to the artistic beauty of the wada.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the guest houses located on the outer side. The guest houses, which have a colonial design, might have served as venues for entertaining or accommodating Europeans. Although connected to the main wada, this section is physically separate, acting as a barrier between the family space and the guest space.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the Charbhag style, with walking paths dividing it into four sections. The garden has lost some of its former glory, but I did discover a fascinating old handpump that is still functional.
From the top of the Wada building, you have a clear view of the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you can also enjoy a panoramic view of the city that surrounds it. I visited the rooftop during sunset, and the angled red tiled roofs added a special atmosphere to the scene.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have made efforts to incorporate modern amenities such as bathrooms. Additionally, a portion of the Wada has been converted into an office space for different organizations. The owners also rent out the venue for events such as weddings or other small gatherings. In a traditional manner, wooden planks are utilized for serving food at these events.
Currently, the place mentioned is not accessible to the general public. In order to visit, it is necessary to get in touch with the office of the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The Architect Nitika Ramani offers a heritage tour of the Wada, so it might be advisable to arrange the visit through her.
The amount of time required to view it varies depending on how interested you are, typically taking around 1-2 hours.
There are numerous Wadas and temples that can be explored in the streets surrounding Chitnavis Wada.
In this article, the author discusses the influence of the Ramayana in the region of Vidarbha, specifically in Ramtek. They also highlight the architectural brilliance of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Additionally, the article mentions Matheran as a charming hill station in Maharashtra. The author expresses appreciation for the knowledge gained from reading this article about Nagpur.
Your blog has opened up a whole new world for me. Your captivating narratives and breathtaking images have introduced me to hidden gems that I never even knew existed. Your talent for capturing the true essence of each place is truly astounding. Please keep sharing your adventures, as they constantly fuel my desire to explore and travel!
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