Continents such as Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world offer various destinations for holistic living. One such destination is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. If you are planning to visit Shekhawati, consider staying at Piramal Haveli for a unique experience. For luxury travel in the pilgrim's city of Pushkar, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a great option. Experience the vibrant Lucknow life by staying at Clarks Awadh. In Nagpur, the Chitnavis Wada offers a glimpse into the city's heritage and is located in the Chitnavispura locality of the Mahal area. These Wadas are reminiscent of the grand houses of the elite in Maharashtra, such as the famous Shaniwar Wada in Pune.
This Wada stands out among the others for successfully maintaining its majestic and nostalgic appeal of the affluent houses. I made my way inside through a curved entrance with a sturdy wooden door. A sign displayed on the exterior provided the name and location of the Wada.
Exploring Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur was quite an experience. As I entered the gate, I was greeted by various buildings surrounding an expansive open area. It was difficult to determine whether I had stepped inside the Wada or if I was still outside, as the construction near the main entrance had a distinct colonial-era feel to it. The wooden blind panels particularly reminded me of the architectural designs found in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which are likely much older than the nearby buildings, create a dense forest. I entered what I was informed is the office space. Inside, there is a collection of aged wooden furniture such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts scattered about. It became apparent to me that this is the central Wada building. The structures I observed outside were additional sections that functioned as a guest house in the past, specifically during the British era.
I received assistance from a kind man who is in charge of the location. He provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to open the wada for my visit. Initially, I had modest expectations, assuming that the wada would only have beautifully crafted pillars made of wood. However, to my pleasant surprise, there were more surprises awaiting me. As I entered the front courtyard, I immediately noticed the presence of intricately carved wooden pillars surrounding the area.
Chitnavis Wada is a historical building with three courtyards lined up in a row, known as a 3-Chowk Haveli or Wada. This architectural layout is reminiscent of the Shekhawati Havelis we previously encountered. The first courtyard, also referred to as the First Chowk, serves as a public space where visitors, including guests and individuals conducting business, would typically gather. In this particular Haveli, the first courtyard functioned as the office space for the head of the family.
Chitnavis was a title given to the main person responsible for documenting the affairs of a king. The specific individual referred to in this context is Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who held the position of Chitnavis for the Bhosle kings of Nagpur. He arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE alongside Raghuji – I Bhosle. The Wada, or building, in question was constructed by Randive and is estimated to be approximately 200 years old, judging by its stylistic features.
Upon entering the initial courtyard of Chitnavis Wada in Deoghar Chowk, I found myself immediately surrounded by vibrant paintings. While the open area was now covered with wooden flooring, the surrounding corridor still maintained its original soothing mud flooring.
The walls were adorned with artwork illustrating the life of Krishna, which I later learned is the deity of the family. The paintings included scenes from famous epics such as Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs displaying Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Located in a corner of the courtyard, there is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to several temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is dedicated to Krishna and holds great beauty. When you sit in front of it, you feel completely immersed in the presence of Krishna. The courtyard itself is known as Deoghar Chowk, appropriately named as it serves as the sacred space for the deity.
There was a chowk, either called the Family Chowk or Fountain Chowk, which we accessed through a door. In the center of this chowk, there was a fountain. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with mud flooring. We found a spot to sit near the fountain and appreciated this humble yet inviting section of the Wada. It seemed like the designated family area, where people would come together to share meals. I could picture the women of the family gathering here to engage in friendly conversations or simply enjoy the warmth of the sun.
We entered another entrance which brought us to the final courtyard, which was likely used primarily by the family's staff. This area was once the location of the kitchen. Here, you can observe a grinding stone and grooves for pounding. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful palkis were scattered throughout the space.
One fascinating aspect is a little 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 can also be referred to as a service outlet or the behind-the-scenes support for operating the wada.
Located on the side of this courtyard, there is a door that leads to a private temple belonging to the family. Like many other large traditional homes, this wada also has its own temple dedicated to the family deity, known as the Murlidhar temple. The temple is designed in the Nagar style and consists of a small inner sanctum (garbhagriha) and a shikhara. Inside the temple, the mandapa is adorned with wooden pillars, a common feature found in numerous temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda situated on either side of the main temple.
Upon exiting the building and taking in the beautiful interior, we are greeted by the impressive woodwork of Chitnavis Wada. One notable feature is a hanging corner adorned with intricately carved peacock and parrot designs, which serves as a distinctive symbol of the talented woodcarvers who work here. Additionally, the presence of Banana flower endings, similar to those found in Peshwa wadas in Pune, adds to the charm and uniqueness of this place.
The upper levels of the building are linked to the outer guest houses. It is possible that the colonial section of the guest houses was utilized for entertaining or accommodating European individuals. This particular section is joined to the main wada, but it is physically separated, thus creating a division between the family space and the guest space.
Across from the wada, there existed a garden designed in the Charbhag style, featuring walking paths that divide the garden into four sections. The garden has undergone some deterioration from its original state, yet I stumbled upon a captivating old handpump 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. Personally, I visited during sunset, and the slanted red tiled roofs added a unique atmosphere to the view.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have made efforts to incorporate modern amenities, such as bathrooms. Additionally, a portion of the Wada is utilized as office space for different organizations. They also offer the venue for rent for special 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 must get in touch with the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust office. The Wada's heritage tour is led by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to coordinate with her for a visit.
The amount of time it takes to see it can vary from 1 to 2 hours, depending on how interested you are
In the vicinity of Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous alleys where you can take a stroll and explore various Wadas and temples.
Other articles on this website discuss different topics such as the Ramtek region and the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Another topic covered is Matheran, a charming hill station in Maharashtra. Two people have commented on this article, expressing their gratitude for the new information they learned about Nagpur.
I find your blog to be a gateway to the world. Your captivating narratives and breathtaking images have introduced me to hidden gems that I was previously unaware of. Your talent for capturing the true essence of a place is truly extraordinary. Please keep sharing your adventures, as they constantly fuel my desire to explore new horizons!
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