Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world are all popular travel destinations. If you're looking for a holistic living experience, consider visiting Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. For a unique stay in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a great option. If you're in the mood for luxury travel in a pilgrim's city, check out Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa. Experience the vibrant Lucknow life by staying at Clarks Awadh. In Nagpur, explore the rich heritage by visiting Chitnavis Wada, a grand house in the old city.
This particular Wada stands out among the others for successfully preserving the elegance and nostalgic appeal of the affluent residences. I made my entrance through a gate adorned with an arch and a wooden door. A sign placed outside proudly displayed its name and location.
When I arrived at Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I noticed that there were buildings surrounding an open area once I entered through the gate. It was hard to determine whether I was actually inside the Wada or still outside due to the layout. The construction on the main door side had a distinct colonial era feel, especially with the wooden blind panels that reminded me of similar structures in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which are likely much older than the nearby buildings, provide a dense canopy. I entered the building that I was informed is the office. Inside, there is a multitude of ancient wooden furniture, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts scattered about. I came to understand that this is the primary Wada. The structures I saw 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 unlock the Wada for my visit. I had low expectations, assuming that the Wada would only feature attractive pillars made of wood. However, as surprises often do, I was pleasantly surprised to discover intricately carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards, known as Chowks, arranged in a consecutive manner. This architectural design, similar to the Havelis in Shekhawati, features a public area in the first Chowk, which is often frequented by guests and individuals conducting business. In this particular Wada, the first Chowk serves as the outer courtyard, functioning as the family head's office space.
Chitnavis was a title given to the highest-ranking officer responsible for documenting the activities of a king. The Wada, or residence, 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 characteristics, it is estimated that this Wada is approximately 200 years old.
When I entered the Deoghar Chowk of Chitnavis Wada, I was immediately greeted by vibrant paintings that adorned the area. The courtyard, although now covered with wood, still retained its calming atmosphere with its mud flooring.
The walls were adorned with paintings that showcased the life of Krishna, which I later found out was the deity of the family. These paintings included scenes from famous epics like Mahabharata, as well as framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Within this courtyard, there is a charming wooden temple located in one corner. It bears resemblance to numerous temples found in Rajasthan and is devoted to the worship of Krishna. The temple's exquisite design allows one to feel completely immersed in the presence of Krishna when seated in front of it. This particular courtyard is appropriately referred to as Deoghar Chowk, signifying it as the sacred space of the deity.
Located at the junction known as Family or Fountain Chowk, we entered through a door which led us to a bustling square with a beautiful fountain at its center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a floor made of mud. We found a spot around the fountain and took a moment to appreciate this humble yet inviting part of the Wada. This particular area was designated for family gatherings, where people would come together to share meals. I could envision the women of the family gathering here for casual conversations or to bask in the warmth of the sun.
We entered through another doorway and arrived at the final square, which was likely frequented by the household staff. This area used to house the kitchen. Visible here are 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 small aperture in the wall that is linked to the granary. By simply opening the window, one can retrieve the necessary grains for cooking. This area could also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes facilities for operating the wada.
The Murlidhar Temple is located on the side of this chowk. Like many large wadas, this one also has a personal temple that is dedicated to the family deity. In this case, it is the Murlidhar temple. The temple itself has a small inner sanctum and a spire in the Nagar style. Inside the temple, there are wooden pillars in the mandapa, which is a common feature in many temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are small temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda on either side of the main temple.
When we finish appreciating the inside of Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and marvel at the intricate wood carvings. One notable feature is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a distinctive symbol of the skilled woodcarvers in this area. Additionally, there are decorative banana flower motifs similar to those found in Peshwa wadas in Pune.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the external guest accommodations. The colonial section of these accommodations might have been utilized for entertaining or hosting Europeans. This section is joined to the main building, but it is distinct, forming 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 contains walking paths that divide it into four sections. The garden has undergone some deterioration compared to its original state. Nevertheless, I discovered a fascinating old hand pump that is still functional.
The Wada rooftop provides a vantage point to observe the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, it offers a picturesque view of the city skyline. I had the opportunity to visit during sunset, and the charming red tiled roofs added a unique atmosphere to the scene.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have made efforts to incorporate modern amenities such as bathrooms into the building. Additionally, a section of the Wada is utilized as an office space for different organizations. Furthermore, they also offer the rental of the venue for occasions like weddings or small gatherings. In the dining area, traditional wooden planks are used to serve food.
Currently, the place is not accessible to the general public. To 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 arrange the visit through her.
The amount of time required to see it varies depending on how interested you are, typically ranging from 1 to 2 hours
In the vicinity of Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous lanes where you can explore and come across several traditional Wadas and temples.
Other articles from the same author include one about the influence of the Ramayana in the region of Vidarbha, another about the impressive Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar, and a third about the charming hill station of Matheran in Maharashtra. There are two comments on this article expressing gratitude for the new information learned about Nagpur.
The blog you write has opened my eyes to new parts of the world. Your captivating stories and breathtaking pictures have introduced me to places I never even knew existed. Your talent in capturing the true spirit of a location is truly impressive. Please keep sharing your adventures, as they constantly inspire and fuel my desire to explore!
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