Asia and Europe are two regions of the world, while the Rest of the World refers to all other regions. Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna, offers a holistic living experience. If you're looking for accommodation in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is worth considering. For a luxurious travel experience in the pilgrimage city of Pushkar, Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a great choice. Clarks Awadh allows you to experience the vibrant life in Lucknow. Chitnavis Wada is a historic building in Nagpur that provides a glimpse into the city's heritage. Wadas are traditional grand houses in Maharashtra, similar to the famous Shaniwar Wada in Pune. During my visit to Nagpur, I had the opportunity to explore Chitnavis Wada in the Mahal area of Chitnavispura locality.
This particular Wada stands out among the others for successfully maintaining the magnificence and nostalgic appeal of the prestigious residences. Upon arrival, I passed through a gate adorned with an arch and a wooden door. A sign displayed outside provided the name and location of the Wada.
When I entered the gate of Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I noticed a cluster of buildings surrounding an open area. I couldn't immediately tell if I was inside the Wada or still outside, as the architecture was quite blended. The construction on the main door side had a distinct colonial feel to it, with wooden blind panels that reminded me of structures I had seen in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which appear to have been around longer than the buildings, are dense and abundant. I entered the office as directed, and found it filled with various old wooden furnishings such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts. It dawned on me that this is the primary Wada, while the extensions I observed outside were used 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 my visit. Initially, I had low expectations and anticipated only the presence of beautifully crafted wooden pillars within the Wada. Nevertheless, surprises are always just around the corner, as I was pleasantly surprised to discover the intricate carvings on the wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards arranged in a row. This architectural style, known as a 3-Chowk Haveli or Wada, is reminiscent of the design seen in Shekhawati Havelis. The first courtyard, also known as the First Chowk, typically serves as a public space where guests and individuals conducting business would visit. In the case of Chitnavis Wada, this outer courtyard functioned as the office of the family's patriarch.
Chitnavis is a title given to the chief documentation officer of a king. The Wada, which is a building, 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 with Raghuji – I Bhosle. Based on the stylistic details, it is estimated that the Wada is around 200 years old.
When I entered the first courtyard, I was immediately immersed in a vibrant display of paintings. The open space in the courtyard is now shielded by wooden coverings, but the surrounding corridor still retains its calming mud flooring.
On the walls, there were paintings illustrating the life of Krishna, which I later found out to be the chosen deity of the family. These paintings included scenes from famous epics like Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs displaying Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Within the confines of this courtyard, there exists a charming wooden temple that brought to mind the numerous temples found in Rajasthan. This particular temple is devoted to the worship of Krishna, and its aesthetic appeal is undeniable. When one takes a seat before this temple, they are completely immersed in the presence of Krishna. It is no wonder that this courtyard has been rightfully named Deoghar Chowk, signifying its status as the sacred space of the deity.
At the next intersection, we entered a chowk that featured a beautiful fountain in its center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a floor made of mud. We took a seat by the fountain and appreciated this cozy and inviting section of the Wada. This particular area was designated for family gatherings and meals. I could envision the women of the household coming together here for friendly conversations or to enjoy the warmth of the sun.
The final courtyard, which was likely primarily used by the household staff, was accessed through another door. This area used to be the kitchen. There are visible remnants of a grinding stone and grooves for pounding. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant present. Brightly colored Palkis were scattered about.
A notable aspect of the wall is a small aperture that is linked to the granary. By simply opening the window, one can easily obtain the necessary grains for cooking. This 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 courtyard is a door that leads to the private temple of the Murlidhar family. It was common for large households, like this one, to have their own personal temple devoted to their family deity. The Murlidhar temple, in particular, features a compact inner chamber (garbhagriha) and a distinctive tower (shikhara) in the Nagar architectural style. Inside the temple, the mandapa is adorned with numerous wooden pillars, a characteristic that I noticed in many temples throughout Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda positioned on either side of the main temple.
When we finish exploring the inside of Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and appreciate the impressive woodwork on the exterior. One notable feature is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a distinctive symbol of the skilled woodcarvers at this location. Additionally, there are decorative elements resembling the Banana flower endings commonly 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 attached to the main central building but is separate, serving as a divider between the living quarters for the family and the designated area for guests.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the Charbhag style, with pathways dividing it into four sections. The garden has undergone some changes and is not as vibrant as it used to be. Nevertheless, I came across a fascinating old handpump in the garden that is still functional.
On top of the Wada building, you have a clear view of the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you can also see the city's skyline from this vantage point. I happened to be there during the sunset, and the inclined red tiled roofs gave a unique ambiance to the scene.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the ancestral property have made efforts to include contemporary amenities such as bathrooms. A section of the Wada is utilized as an office space for different organizations. In addition, they also offer the place for rent for occasions like weddings or small gatherings. It is interesting to observe the traditional use of wooden planks for serving food.
At the moment, 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. Architect Nitika Ramani offers a heritage tour of the Wada, so it would be advisable to arrange the visit with her.
It will take approximately 1-2 hours for you to fully explore it, depending on how interested you are in the subject
In the streets near Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore by walking around.
Other articles from the same author:
– Ramtek: The influence of the Ramayana in Vidarbha
– The Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar: A masterpiece of Kalinga architecture
– Matheran: A charming hill station in Maharashtra
There are two comments on this article expressing gratitude for the valuable information about Nagpur.
Your blog has opened up a whole new world for me. With your captivating storytelling and breathtaking pictures, I have been introduced to places I never even knew were out there. Your talent for capturing the true essence of a location is truly extraordinary. Please keep sharing your adventures, as they constantly fuel my desire to explore!
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