Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world are three different regions. At Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna, you can experience holistic living. If you're looking for accommodation in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a great option. For luxury travel in the pilgrim's city, consider staying at the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa. Immerse yourself in the Lucknow life by staying at Clarks Awadh. Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur offers a glimpse into the city's heritage. These Wadas are grand houses that were once inhabited by the elite in Maharashtra. The Chitnavis Wada, located in the Mahal area in a locality called Chitnavispura, was my first introduction to Nagpur.
This is one of the rare Wadas that successfully maintains the magnificence and nostalgic appeal of the prestigious houses. I made my way inside through an arched gate adorned with a wooden door. A sign displayed outside revealed the name and location of the Wada.
When I entered the Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I noticed numerous buildings surrounding a spacious courtyard. It was challenging to determine if I was already inside the Wada or still outside due to the layout. The construction on the main entrance evoked a sense of being from the colonial era. The wooden blind panels particularly brought to mind similar structures found in Colonial Calcutta.
The towering trees, which are likely much older than the surrounding buildings, are standing tall. I entered the area that was pointed out to me as the office. There is a plethora of aged wooden furniture present, 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 British era.
I received assistance from a man in charge of the location who provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to open the wada for me. My expectations were not high, as I only anticipated seeing well-crafted wooden pillars in the Wada. However, surprises are always present, and even though I initially noticed the carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard, there was more to discover.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion or Haveli with three courtyards arranged in a row. This architectural design, which resembles the ones found in Shekhawati Havelis, features three separate open spaces. The first courtyard, known as the First Chowk, serves as a public area where guests and individuals on business matters are received. In this particular Haveli, the first courtyard is located at the outermost section and functions as the office space for the head of the family.
Chitnavis was the title given to the highest-ranking officer responsible for documenting the activities of a king. The Wada, or building, mentioned in the text was constructed by Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who held the position of Chitnavis for the Bhosle kings of Nagpur. Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive 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's Deoghar Chowk, I was immediately immersed in a vibrant display of paintings. Although the open courtyard has been transformed with wooden covering, the surrounding corridor still retains its calming mud flooring.
The walls were adorned with artwork illustrating the life of Krishna, who I later learned is the deity of the family. These paintings depicted scenes from epics such as Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs showcasing Raja Ravi Varma's famous artwork.
Within the confines of this courtyard, there exists a charming wooden temple that evokes memories of numerous temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is dedicated to the deity Krishna, and its beauty is undeniable. When one takes a seat in front of this temple, they are encompassed entirely by Krishna's presence. Appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, this courtyard is a sacred space devoted to the deity.
At the intersection known as Family or Fountain Chowk, we discovered a doorway that led us to a charming courtyard with a fountain at its center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a floor made of mud. We decided to take a seat by the fountain and appreciate this humble yet inviting section of the Wada. It was clear that this area was designated for family gatherings and meals, as I could envision the women of the household coming together here for friendly conversations or to bask in the sunlight.
We entered through another entrance which led us to the final courtyard, which was likely frequented by the household staff. This area used to be the kitchen. We could observe a grinding stone and grooves for pounding. Additionally, there was a well and a Tulsi plant. Colorful Palkis were scattered about.
There is a fascinating aspect of the wall that has a small opening which connects to the granary. By simply opening the window, you can easily access the grains needed for cooking. This opening can also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes infrastructure for operating the wada.
Located on the side of this courtyard, there is a door that provides access to the family temple known as Murlidhar Temple. It was common for large households, like this one, to have their own personal temple dedicated to their family deity. The Murlidhar Temple in this household features a small inner sanctum and a distinctive tower in the Nagar style. Inside the temple, the mandapa is adorned with numerous wooden pillars, a characteristic often found in temples across Nagpur. Additionally, on either side of the temple, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda.
Upon appreciating the inside of Chitnavis Wada, we exit and are captivated by the exquisite woodwork displayed on its exterior. A distinctive feature of the woodcarvers in this area is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot. Additionally, we notice the presence of Banana flower designs, reminiscent of those found in Peshwa wadas in Pune.
The upper levels of the building are linked to the exterior guest houses. The guest houses, which have a colonial design, were possibly utilized for entertaining or accommodating European visitors. This section is connected to the main wada (traditional Indian mansion), but it is physically separated, serving as a barrier between the living quarters of the family and the designated guest space.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the Charbhag style, with pathways dividing it into four sections. The garden has lost some of its original beauty, but I did come across a fascinating old handpump that is still functional.
On top of the Wada building, you have a vantage point to observe the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you have the opportunity to enjoy a scenic view of the city skyline. I personally experienced this during the early evening when the sun was setting, and the charming red tiled roofs enhanced the 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. The owners also offer the rental of the venue for occasions such as weddings or small gatherings. As a nod to tradition, wooden planks are utilized to serve food.
Currently, the location mentioned is not accessible to the general public. In order to visit it, it is necessary to get in touch with the office of the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. Architect Nitika Ramani organizes a heritage tour of the Wada, so it is recommended to coordinate with her for the visit.
The amount of time required to fully experience it varies depending on how interested you are, typically taking around 1-2 hours
In the streets surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and marvel at various Wadas and temples.
Other articles in the same category include "Ramtek – The Influence of the Ramayana in the Vidarbha region," "The Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar – a Masterpiece of Kalinga Architecture," and "Matheran: A Charming Hill Station in Maharashtra." There are two comments on this article expressing gratitude for sharing new information about Nagpur.
Your blog has opened my eyes to the world. Your captivating stories and breathtaking pictures have introduced me to hidden gems that I never even knew existed. Your talent for capturing the true essence of each place you visit is truly impressive. Please continue sharing your incredible adventures, as they constantly inspire and fuel my desire to explore!
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