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. For a stay in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a recommended option. Those seeking luxury travel in a pilgrimage city can consider the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa. To experience the vibrant Lucknow life, Clarks Awadh is a great choice. Exploring Nagpur's heritage, Chitnavis Wada in the Mahal area of Chitnavispura is worth a visit. These Wadas are reminiscent of the grand elite houses found in Maharashtra, such as the famous Shaniwar Wada in Pune.
This particular Wada stands out as one of the rare ones that has successfully maintained the magnificence and traditional charm of the prestigious mansions. I made my way inside by passing through a curved entrance adorned with a wooden door. A signboard positioned outside displayed its name and location.
When I entered the gate of Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I was surrounded by buildings that encircled an open area. It was hard to determine if I had entered the Wada or if I was still outside. The construction on the side of the main door gave off a sense of being from the colonial era. The wooden blind panels on the building reminded me of similar structures found in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which are likely older than the nearby buildings, provide a dense canopy. I entered the space that was pointed out to me as the office. Inside, there is a plethora of old wooden furniture, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts, scattered about. It became apparent to me that this area is the main Wada. The structures I observed outside were additional sections that functioned 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. My expectations were not high, as I only anticipated seeing well-crafted wooden pillars in the Wada. Nevertheless, surprises are never too distant, as I was pleasantly surprised to discover the presence of 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 layout is reminiscent of the Havelis found in Shekhawati region. The first Chowk, also known as the public area, is typically where guests or individuals involved in business matters would visit. In the case of Chitnavis Wada, this outer courtyard served as the office space for the head of the family.
Chitnavis was the title given to the highest-ranking documentation officer in the court of a king. The Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur was constructed by Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who served as the Chitnavis for the Bhosle kings. Randive arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE alongside Raghuji – I Bhosle. The Wada is estimated to be around 200 years old, judging by its architectural style.
As I entered the first courtyard, I was immediately greeted by vibrant paintings surrounding me. The courtyard, which was previously open, is now sheltered with a wooden covering. However, the corridor that encircles it still has a calming mud floor.
The walls were adorned with artwork showcasing the life of Krishna, who I later learned is the family's revered deity. These paintings depicted various scenes from famous stories like the Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's renowned artworks.
Located in one section of this open space is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to several temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is devoted to Krishna and is truly a sight to behold. Sitting in front of this temple makes you feel completely enveloped by the presence of Krishna. This particular area of the courtyard is appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, signifying its significance as the sacred space of the deity.
At this particular intersection known as Family or Fountain Chowk, we discovered a doorway that led us to another area. In the center of this space, there was a beautiful fountain. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a floor made of mud. It was a pleasant spot within the Wada where we took the opportunity to sit and appreciate its simplicity and welcoming atmosphere. This particular section of the Wada was designated as the family area, where individuals would gather together to share meals. As I sat there, I envisioned the women of the family coming together in this space for casual conversations or to bask in the sunlight.
The next area we entered was the final courtyard, which appeared to be primarily used by the household staff. This was the location of the kitchen in the past. We observed a grinding stone and grooves for pounding, indicating the preparation of food. Additionally, there was a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful palkis, or traditional Indian palanquins, were scattered throughout the area.
One fascinating aspect is a tiny hole in the wall that connects to the granary. By opening the window, you can easily access the grains needed for cooking. This area can also be referred to as a service chowk or the behind-the-scenes facilities for operating the wada.
Located on the side of this square is a door that grants access to the family temple. It was common for large residential complexes to have their own personal temple dedicated to their family deity, and this wada is no exception. The Murlidhar temple is situated within the wada, featuring a small inner sanctum and a shikhara in the Nagar style of architecture. Inside the temple's mandapa, one can observe numerous wooden pillars, a characteristic commonly found in many temples throughout Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda on either side of the main temple.
Once we have finished appreciating the inside of Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and are captivated by the exquisite woodwork on display. One notable feature is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a distinct signature of the talented woodcarvers in this area. Additionally, we can also observe the presence of Banana flower endings, similar to those found in the Peshwa wadas in Pune.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the guest houses located on the outside. The guest houses, which have a colonial design, were possibly intended for entertaining or accommodating Europeans. Although they are connected to the main wada, they are physically separate, serving as a division between the family section and the guest section.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the style of Charbhag, featuring walking paths that divide it into four sections. The garden, although not as vibrant as it used to be, still holds some of its original charm. Interestingly, I stumbled upon a vintage 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 see the city's skyline from this vantage point. I visited during sunset, and the charming red tiled roofs added a special ambiance to the view.
Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have made efforts to incorporate modern conveniences such as bathrooms. Additionally, a portion of the Wada is utilized as an office space for different organizations. They also offer the rental of the venue for events like weddings or small gatherings. Interestingly, traditional wooden planks are employed for serving food.
At the moment, the place is not accessible to the general public. To arrange a visit, you should reach out to the office of the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is led by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it is advisable to coordinate with her for the visit.
Depending on how interested you are, it will take you around 1-2 hours to see it.
In the vicinity of Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore on foot.
In this article, the focus is on Nagpur and its significance. The author appreciates the information provided and expresses gratitude for learning new things about the city.
I consider your blog as a gateway to the world. Your captivating narratives and breathtaking images have introduced me to unfamiliar places that I never even knew existed. Your talent for conveying the true spirit of each location is extraordinary. Please continue to share your adventures, as they continuously inspire and fuel my desire to explore!
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