Continents like Asia and Europe, as well as the rest of the world, offer various destinations for holistic living. One such destination is Swaswara on Om Beach in Gokarna. For accommodation in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a recommended option. If you're looking for luxury travel in a pilgrim's city, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is worth considering. Experience the vibrant lifestyle of Lucknow with a stay at Clarks Awadh. Nagpur's heritage can be explored by visiting the Chitnavis Wada in the Mahal area of Chitnavispura, known for its grand houses.
This particular Wada stands out for its ability to maintain the magnificence and timeless appeal of the affluent residences. As I approached, I passed through a gate adorned with an arch and a wooden door. There was a sign outside displaying its name and location.
When I entered Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I was greeted by a sight of numerous buildings surrounding an open area. It was hard to determine whether I was already inside the Wada or still outside due to the layout. The construction on the main entrance had a distinct colonial feel, with wooden blind panels that reminded me of similar structures in Colonial Calcutta.
The towering trees, which are likely much older than the nearby buildings, are standing proudly. As I entered the room that was pointed out to me as the office, I noticed a plethora of aged wooden furniture scattered about, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts. It dawned on me that this is the primary Wada, while the structures I had seen outside were additional accommodations used as a guest house during the British era.
I received assistance from a kind man in charge of the establishment who provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to allow me access to the wada. My expectations were not high, as I only anticipated seeing well-crafted wooden pillars in the Wada. Nonetheless, surprises are always just around the corner, as I discovered when I first laid eyes on the intricately carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards arranged consecutively, commonly known as a 3-Chowk Haveli or Wada. This architectural design, similar to the ones found in Shekhawati Havelis, features a series of courtyards. The first courtyard, referred to as the First Chowk, serves as a public space where guests and individuals conducting business typically visit. In this particular Haveli, the first courtyard also functions as the office space for the head of the family.
Chitnavis was a title given to the head documentation officer of a king. The Wada, or building, 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 features, it is estimated that this Wada is approximately 200 years old.
I entered the initial courtyard and was immediately greeted by a vibrant display of paintings. The open space had been transformed with a wooden covering, while the surrounding corridor still had its calming mud flooring.
I noticed that the walls were adorned with artwork showcasing the life of Krishna, who I later found out is the deity of the family. The paintings depicted scenes from famous epics such as Mahabharata, and there were also framed lithographs showcasing Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Located in a specific section of the courtyard, there is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to various temples in Rajasthan. This particular temple is dedicated to the deity Krishna and exudes beauty. When one sits in front of this temple, they are completely encompassed by Krishna's presence. Thus, this courtyard is aptly named Deoghar Chowk, signifying it as the deity's sacred space.
Next to the Family or Fountain Chowk, there was a doorway that led us to another chowk. In the center of this chowk, there was a beautiful fountain. Surrounding the fountain, there was a corridor with mud flooring. We took a seat by the fountain and enjoyed the peaceful and cozy atmosphere of this part of the Wada. This area was specifically designated for families to gather and have meals together. I could envision the women of the family coming here to engage in friendly conversations or simply relax in the warm sunlight.
The final courtyard we entered was likely frequented by the family's staff and served as the location of the kitchen. Here, we observed a grinding stone and grooves for pounding food. Additionally, there was a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful Palkis were scattered throughout the area.
One intriguing aspect is a small aperture in the wall that is linked to the storage room. By simply opening the window, one can easily retrieve the necessary grains for cooking. This area can also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes operations that keep the wada running smoothly.
The Murlidhar Temple is located within a chowk and can be accessed through a side door. Like many large ancestral homes, this wada also has a private temple dedicated to the family deity, which in this case is the Murlidhar temple. The temple features a small inner sanctum (garbhagriha) and a pointed tower (shikhara) in the Nagar architectural style. Inside the temple's hall (mandapa), there are numerous wooden pillars, a common sight in many temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda positioned 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 on the building. One unique feature is a hanging corner that showcases a peacock and parrot, which serves as a symbol of the skilled woodcarvers in this area. Additionally, there are also decorative Banana flower motifs similar to those seen on Peshwa wadas in Pune.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the external guest accommodations. The guest houses, which have a colonial style, may have been intended for entertaining or hosting Europeans. While this section is connected to the main building, it is physically separate, creating a division between the family space and the area designated for guests.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the Charbhag style, with walking paths dividing it into four sections. The garden has lost some of its original charm but I did come across an intriguing old-fashioned handpump that is still functional.
The Wada rooftop offers a vantage point to observe the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, it provides a picturesque view of the city skyline. I had the opportunity to be there during sunset, and the charming red tiled roofs added to the enchanting atmosphere.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the ancestral home have made efforts to incorporate modern amenities such as bathrooms. A section of the Wada now functions as an office space for different organizations. Additionally, they also offer the location for rent to host events like weddings or small gatherings. As part of the traditional dining experience, they utilize wooden planks for serving food.
Currently, the place is not accessible to the general public. To visit, you must get in touch with the office of the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is conducted by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to make arrangements through her.
The amount of time required to fully experience it can range from 1 to 2 hours, depending on how interested you are
In the vicinity of Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous lanes where one can explore and come across a plethora of traditional Wadas (residential buildings)
Other articles from the same author discuss the influence of the Ramayana in the city of Ramtek in Vidarbha. Another article explores the architectural masterpiece of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Lastly, there is an article about Matheran, a charming hill station in Maharashtra. There are two comments on this article expressing gratitude for the new information about Nagpur.
Your blog has opened up a whole new world for me. Your captivating stories and breathtaking pictures have introduced me to hidden gems I didn't even know existed. Your talent for capturing the true essence of a place is truly impressive. Please keep sharing your adventures, as they constantly fuel my desire to explore and travel!
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