Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world are all popular destinations for travelers. If you are looking for a holistic living experience, consider visiting Swaswara at Om Beach in Gokarna. For a unique stay in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a great option. If luxury travel is what you seek, Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa offers a luxurious experience in the pilgrim's city. Clarks Awadh provides an opportunity to experience the vibrant lifestyle of Lucknow. In Nagpur, Chitnavis Wada is a heritage site worth visiting, showcasing the grand houses of the elite in Maharashtra.
This particular Wada stands out from the rest as it has successfully maintained the elegance and nostalgic appeal of the affluent residences. I made my way inside through a gate with an arch and a wooden door. A sign displayed outside provided the name and location of the Wada.
When I entered the Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I immediately noticed the buildings surrounding a spacious open area. It was quite perplexing to determine if I had actually entered the Wada or if I was still outside, as the construction near the main entrance had a distinct colonial-era aesthetic. The wooden blind panels particularly brought to mind similar architectural features found in Colonial Calcutta.
The ancient trees, which have likely been around longer than the nearby buildings, tower above me. I entered what I was informed is the office space. Inside, there is a variety of old wooden furniture scattered about, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts. It becomes clear that this area is the main Wada. The structures I observed outside were additions that functioned as a guest house during the time of British rule.
I received assistance from a man in charge of the establishment, who kindly provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to unlock the Wada for me. My expectations were not high, as I only anticipated seeing beautifully carved wooden pillars in the Wada. Nevertheless, surprises are always just around the corner, and although I initially spotted the carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard, there was more to discover.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion or Haveli that consists of three courtyards in a row. This architectural design, as seen in Shekhawati Havelis, includes a public area known as the First Chowk where guests or individuals with business purposes would typically visit. In Chitnavis Wada, this outer courtyard also served as the office space for the head of the family.
Chitnavis was a title given to the main record-keeping officer 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 the Wada is approximately 200 years old.
As I entered the initial courtyard, I found myself engulfed by vibrant paintings that adorned the surroundings. The courtyard, which was previously open, is now sheltered with wood, while the corridor encircling it features a calming mud floor.
On the walls, there were paintings that showed the life of Krishna, which I later found out was the deity of the family. These paintings included scenes from epic stories like Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's artworks.
Located in one section of the courtyard is a charming wooden temple that bears a resemblance to several temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is dedicated to Krishna and is truly a sight to behold. When one sits in front of this temple, they are completely immersed in the presence of Krishna. This particular area of the courtyard is appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, which translates to the courtyard of the deity.
Located at either the Family or Fountain Chowk, we entered through a door that led us to a chowk that featured a charming fountain in the center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a floor made of mud. We gathered around the fountain to appreciate this humble yet welcoming section of the Wada. This particular area was designated for families to come together and enjoy meals. I could envision the women of the household congregating here for casual conversations or to bask in the sunlight.
We entered another door and arrived at the final junction, which was likely frequented by the family's staff. This area used to house the kitchen. Here, you can observe the presence of a grinding stone and grooves for pounding. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant. Colorful Palkis were scattered in the vicinity.
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 access the necessary grains for cooking. This area can also be referred to as a service hatch or the behind-the-scenes facilities for operating the wada.
The Murlidhar Temple is located on the side of the chowk and serves as the personal temple for the residents of the wada. It follows the Nagar style of architecture and consists of a small garbhagriha and a shikhara. Inside the temple, there are numerous wooden pillars, a common feature found in many temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda on either side of the main temple.
At Chitnavis Wada, the woodcarvings inside are truly impressive. When we step outside, we can't help but appreciate the beautiful woodwork on the wada. One distinctive feature is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a symbol of the skilled woodcarvers here. Additionally, the wada also showcases Banana flower endings, reminiscent of the Peshwa wadas found in Pune.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the surrounding guest houses. These guest houses, which have a colonial design, were likely utilized for entertaining or accommodating European visitors. Although they are connected to the main building, they are physically separated, serving as a division between the family section and the area designated for guests.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the Charbhag style, which featured walking paths that divided it into four sections. The garden has lost some of its original beauty over time. Nevertheless, I stumbled upon a fascinating old handpump in the garden that is still functional.
On top of the Wada building, you have a great vantage point to observe the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you can also enjoy a panoramic view of the city from this rooftop. I was fortunate enough to be there during sunset, and the beautiful red tiled roofs contributed to the enchanting atmosphere.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have made efforts to incorporate modern amenities such as bathrooms. Additionally, a section of the Wada is utilized as an office space for different organizations. They also offer the rental of the venue for occasions like weddings or small gatherings. Interestingly, traditional wooden planks are utilized for serving food at these events.
At the moment, the location is not accessible to the general public. To visit, you must get in touch with the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust office. The heritage tour of the Wada is conducted by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to coordinate with her for the visit.
Depending on how interested you are, it will take you around 1-2 hours to fully experience it.
In the lanes surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore and observe while taking a stroll.
This article provides valuable information about Nagpur and I acquired new knowledge about the city. I appreciate the author for sharing this insightful piece.
I really appreciate your blog because it has allowed me to explore new places that I never knew about. The way you tell stories and showcase your photography truly brings these destinations to life. Your talent for capturing the true essence of a place is impressive. Please keep sharing your adventures because they continue to inspire my desire to travel and explore!
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