Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world are different regions. At Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna, you can experience holistic living. For accommodation in Shekhawati, consider staying at Piramal Haveli. For a luxurious travel experience in the pilgrimage city of Pushkar, Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a great choice. Clarks Awadh offers a chance to experience the lifestyle of Lucknow. Chitnavis Wada, located in the Mahal area of Nagpur, is a heritage site that showcases the grand houses of the elite in Maharashtra. This visit served as my introduction to the city.
This particular Wada stands out for its ability to maintain the impressive and nostalgic qualities of the prestigious residences. I made my way inside by passing through a gate with a wooden door that had a sign displaying the name and location of the Wada.
When I entered Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, there were buildings surrounding an open area. It was hard to determine if I was inside the Wada or still outside because of the layout. The construction on the main door side had a colonial feel, especially with the wooden blind panels that reminded me of buildings in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which have likely been around longer than the buildings, are dense. When I entered the designated office space as directed, I noticed a collection of old 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 had seen outside were additional sections that functioned as a guest house during the British era.
I received assistance from a polite man in charge of the establishment, who provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to open the Wada for me. Initially, my expectations were limited to admiring the well-crafted wooden pillars within the Wada. Nevertheless, pleasant surprises awaited me as I noticed the intricate carvings on the wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards, known as Haveli. Each courtyard is connected to the next one in a sequential manner. This architectural design is reminiscent of the Havelis found in Shekhawati. The first courtyard, also referred to as the First Chowk, serves as a public space where visitors and individuals conducting business would gather. In the case of Chitnavis Wada, this outer courtyard functioned as the family head's office.
Chitnavis was the title given to the main person in charge of documenting information for a king. The Chitnavis of the Bhosle kings in Nagpur was Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who constructed this Wada. Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE with Raghuji – I Bhosle. The age of this Wada is estimated to be around 200 years old, judging by its stylistic features.
Upon entering the initial courtyard of Chitnavis Wada in Deoghar Chowk, I found myself immersed in a vibrant display of paintings. Although the open courtyard had been covered with wood, the surrounding corridor retained its calming mud flooring.
The walls were adorned with paintings that showcased the life of Krishna, which I later found out to be the deity of the family. These paintings depicted scenes from famous epics like Mahabharata. Additionally, there were also framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Situated in a corner of the courtyard is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to numerous temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is devoted to Krishna and exudes exquisite beauty. When you sit in front of this temple, you feel completely enveloped by the presence of Krishna. This particular courtyard is appropriately referred to as Deoghar Chowk, which translates to the courtyard of the deity.
At the intersection known as Family or Fountain Chowk, we found a door that led us to the next square. In the center of this square, there was a beautiful fountain. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a floor made of mud. We took a seat by the fountain and enjoyed the peaceful and cozy atmosphere of this part of the Wada. It was clear that this area served as a gathering place for families to come together and share meals. I could envision the women of the family gathering here to chat or bask in the sunlight.
We entered through another entrance into the final courtyard, which was likely primarily used by the household staff. This area used to house the kitchen. Here, you can observe a grinding stone and grooves for pounding. There is also a well and a Tulsi plant present. Additionally, there are brightly colored Palkis strewn about.
One intriguing aspect of the wall is a small opening that links to the granary. By simply opening this window, one can easily retrieve the necessary grains for cooking. This could also be referred to as a service chowk or the behind-the-scenes services for operating the wada.
Located on the side of this square is a door that grants access to the private temple of the Murlidhar family. It was customary for prominent families in the area to have their own dedicated temple for their chosen deity, and this wada is no exception. The Murlidhar temple features a compact inner sanctum and a shikhara in the architectural style of Nagar. Inside the temple's hall, numerous wooden pillars can be found, a common sight in many temples throughout Nagpur. Additionally, the Murlidhar temple is accompanied by smaller temples devoted to Hanuman and Garuda.
When we finish appreciating the inside of the Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and are captivated by the intricate wood carvings on the exterior. One notable feature is a corner decoration that showcases a peacock and parrot, which is a distinct characteristic of the skilled woodcarvers associated with this place. Additionally, there are decorative elements resembling Banana flowers, similar to those seen in the famous Peshwa wadas in Pune.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the outer guest accommodations. The colonial section of these accommodations might have been utilized to entertain or host Europeans. This section is attached to the main residence, but it is distinct, establishing a division between the family space and the guest space.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the style of Charbhag, which is divided into four sections by pathways. The garden appears to be a faded version of its original state. Nevertheless, I discovered a fascinating old handpump that is still functional.
On top of the Wada, you have a vantage point to observe the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you are treated to a breathtaking panoramic view of the city that surrounds it. I had the opportunity to visit during sunset, and the slanted red tiled roofs added a special ambiance to the scene.
Throughout the years, the current generation of owners has made efforts to incorporate modern amenities into the ancestral property, such as the addition of bathrooms. A portion of the Wada now functions as an office space for different organizations. Additionally, they also offer the property for rent to host events like weddings or small gatherings. Visitors may notice the presence of wooden planks, which are traditionally used to serve food.
At the moment, the place is not accessible to the general public. If you want to visit, you should get in touch with the office of the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is organized by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to arrange your visit through her.
The amount of time it takes to see it varies depending on how interested you are, typically taking 1-2 hours.
In the streets surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore by foot.
Other articles on this website discuss various topics such as the influence of the Ramayana in the region of Vidarbha and the architectural masterpiece of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Another article focuses on the charming hill station of Matheran in Maharashtra. Two people have commented on this article, expressing gratitude for the new knowledge they gained about Nagpur.
Your blog has opened up a whole new world for me. The way you tell stories and take breathtaking pictures has introduced me to places I never even knew existed. Your talent for capturing the true essence of a place is truly impressive. Please keep sharing your adventures, as they constantly inspire and fuel my desire for exploration!
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