Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world offer different experiences for holistic living. One such place is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. For a unique stay in Shekhawati, consider Piramal Haveli. If you're looking for luxury travel in a pilgrim's city, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a great option. Experience the Lucknow lifestyle by staying at Clarks Awadh. Take a glimpse into Nagpur's heritage by visiting Chitnavis Wada, a grand house in the old city.
This particular Wada stands out from the rest as it has successfully maintained the magnificence and nostalgic appeal of the prestigious residences. I stepped inside through a gate with an arch and a wooden door. A sign outside displayed its name and location.
When I entered through the gate, I noticed that there were buildings surrounding an open area. It was hard to determine whether I was already inside Chitnavis Wada or still outside because of the layout. The construction on the main entrance gave off a colonial vibe, and the wooden blind panels reminded me of structures I had seen in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which have likely been around longer than the buildings, provide a dense cover. I entered the office as directed and found an assortment of aged wooden furniture, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts, scattered throughout. It dawned on me that this was the primary Wada. The structures I had seen outside were additional sections that functioned as a guest house during the time of British rule.
I received assistance from a kind man who oversees the location, as he provided me with a brochure and also requested the staff to unlock the Wada for me. My expectations were not high, as I only anticipated seeing pleasant wooden pillars that were intricately carved in the Wada. Nevertheless, surprises always seem to be just around the corner, as I first noticed the presence of these beautifully carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards arranged in a row. It resembles the architectural layout seen in Shekhawati Havelis. The first courtyard, known as the First Chowk, is typically used as a public space where guests and individuals conducting business would be received. In this particular Wada, the first courtyard served as the office area for the head of the family.
Chitnavis is a title given to the highest-ranking official responsible for documenting matters pertaining to a king. The Wada, or building, being referred to here 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 the stylistic elements, it is estimated that this Wada is approximately 200 years old.
When I entered the Deoghar Chowk of Chitnavis Wada, I found myself immersed in a vibrant display of paintings. The courtyard, which was previously open, is now sheltered by a wooden covering. However, the surrounding corridor still retains its calming mud flooring.
The walls were adorned with artwork showcasing the life of Krishna, which I later found out was the deity worshipped by the family. The paintings depicted scenes from famous epics like Mahabharata, and there were also framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's paintings.
Located in a corner of the courtyard is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to the temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is dedicated to Krishna and is truly a sight to behold. When you sit in front of this temple, you feel completely immersed in the presence of Krishna. This courtyard is appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, signifying its status as the sacred space of the deity.
The next chowk we entered was called Family or Fountain Chowk. In the middle, there was a beautiful fountain surrounded by a corridor with mud flooring. We took a seat by the fountain and admired this cozy section of the Wada. It was a place where families would gather to eat together and enjoy each other's company. I could picture the women of the family using this area to chat and bask in the warmth of the sun.
We entered through another door and found ourselves in the final courtyard, which was likely utilized mainly by the household staff. This was the location of the kitchen in the past. Evidence of its presence can be seen in the grinding stone and grooves used for pounding. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful Palkis are scattered throughout the area.
One intriguing element is a small aperture in the wall that connects to the granary. By simply opening the window, one can access the grains needed for cooking. It can also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes operations for maintaining the wada.
Located on the side of this square is a door that provides access to the private temple of the Murlidhar family. It was common for large ancestral homes, known as wadas, to have their own personal temple dedicated to their chosen deity. In the case of this particular wada, the temple is dedicated to Murlidhar. The temple itself features a small inner sanctum and a shikhara (tower) in the architectural style of Nagar. Inside the temple, the mandapa (assembly hall) is adorned with numerous wooden pillars, a common sight in many temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda situated on either side of the main temple.
At Chitnavis Wada, one can appreciate the beautiful wood carvings both inside and outside the building. As we step outside, we are captivated by the intricate woodwork, particularly a unique hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which is a distinctive feature created by the skilled woodcarvers at this location. Additionally, we notice the presence of Banana flower endings, reminiscent of the designs found in the Peshwa wadas in Pune.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the external guest residences. The guest houses, which have a colonial design, were possibly utilized for entertaining or accommodating Europeans. Although it is connected to the main wada, this section is separate, forming a division between the family space and the guest space.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the Charbhag style, featuring walking paths that divide it into four sections. The garden has deteriorated over time but I did come across a captivating vintage handpump that is still functional.
On top of the Wada, if you look down, you will be able to observe the courtyards located within the building as well as the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a panoramic view of the city that surrounds it. I personally experienced this at sunset, when the sun was descending and the slanted red tiled roofs contributed their own special atmosphere to the setting.
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 rent out the venue for occasions like weddings or small gatherings. Visitors can observe the traditional use of wooden planks for serving food.
At the moment, the place is not accessible to the general public. To visit it, you will need to get in touch with the office of the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is led by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to arrange the visit through her.
The amount of time it will take for you to see it varies depending on how interested you are, typically ranging from 1
In the vicinity of Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous lanes where you can explore and come across a variety of Wadas and temples.
Other articles on this website discuss various topics related to Nagpur, such as the influence of the Ramayana in the region of Vidarbha, the architectural masterpiece of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar, and the charm of Matheran, a hill station in Maharashtra. The author of this comment expresses gratitude for the informative content and the opportunity to learn more about Nagpur.
I consider your blog as a portal that allows me to explore the world. Your captivating narratives and breathtaking pictures have exposed me to hidden gems that I had no knowledge of before. Your talent in capturing the true essence of a place is truly extraordinary. Please continue to share your adventures, as they consistently fuel my desire to travel and explore!
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