Continents mentioned in the text include Asia, Europe, and the Rest of the World. One place of holistic living mentioned is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. For accommodation in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a recommended option. For luxury travel in the pilgrimage city of Pushkar, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is suggested. Living the Lucknow life can be experienced at Clarks Awadh. Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur is a historical building that offers a glimpse into the city's heritage.
This particular Wada stands out among the rest as it successfully maintains the elegance and timeless appeal of prestigious homes. As I made my way inside, I passed through an arched gate adorned with a wooden door. A sign outside displayed its name and location.
When I entered the gate at Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I was surrounded by buildings and an open space. I couldn't tell if I was inside the Wada or still outside, as it was hard to determine. The construction on the main door side had a colonial-era feel, especially with the wooden blind panels that reminded me of similar structures in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which have likely been around longer than the buildings, provided a dense canopy. I entered the space that was identified as the office. There was a collection of aged wooden furniture, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts, scattered throughout the area. It became clear to me that this was the primary Wada. The additional structures I had seen outside were built as guest houses during the British era.
I received assistance from a polite man in charge of the establishment who provided me with a brochure. He also kindly requested the staff to open the wada for me. My initial expectations were limited to the presence of attractive wood-carved pillars within the Wada. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the front courtyard was adorned with these intricately carved wooden pillars.
Chitnavis Wada is a historical building with three courtyards, known as 3-Chowk Haveli or Wada. This architectural style, with multiple courtyards, is reminiscent of the Havelis found in Shekhawati. The first courtyard, also referred to as the First Chowk, is typically the public area where guests and business associates are received. In 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 of a king. The Chitnavis Wada 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. The architectural style of the Wada suggests that it is approximately 200 years old.
As I entered the initial courtyard of Chitnavis Wada's Deoghar Chowk, I found myself completely immersed in vibrant paintings that adorned the surroundings. The open area of the courtyard has been transformed with wooden coverings, while the corridor encircling it still retains its calming mud flooring.
On the walls, there were paintings that portrayed the life of Krishna, who I later learned is the deity of the family. These paintings depicted scenes from famous epics such as Mahabharata. Additionally, there were lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's paintings beautifully framed and displayed.
Located in a specific area of this courtyard lies a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to many temples found in Rajasthan. The temple is dedicated to Krishna and exudes an exquisite beauty. When seated in front of this temple, one feels completely immersed in the presence of Krishna. This courtyard is appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, signifying it as the sacred space of the deity.
The next area we discovered was called Family or Fountain Chowk. It was a charming space with a fountain situated in the center. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a rustic mud floor. We took a seat by the fountain and appreciated the humble and inviting atmosphere of this particular section of the Wada. It was the designated family area, where people would gather to enjoy meals together. I could envision the women of the family congregating here for casual conversations or to bask in the warmth of the sun.
We entered through another doorway that took us to the final square, which was likely frequented by the household staff. This area used to be the kitchen. There were visible signs of a grinding stone and grooves for pounding. Additionally, there was a well and a Tulsi plant. Colorful Palkis were scattered around the area.
One intriguing aspect is a tiny aperture in the wall that connects to the granary. By simply opening the window, you can easily access the grains needed for cooking. This opening can also be referred to as a service chowk or the behind-the-scenes services for operating the wada.
Located on the side of this square, there is a door that leads to a temple that belongs to the family. It was common for large traditional homes to have their own personal temple dedicated to their family deity. In this particular home, the temple is called Murlidhar temple. The temple consists of a small inner sanctum and a tower in the architectural style of Nagar. Inside the temple, there is a spacious hall supported by wooden pillars, a feature that is commonly seen in many temples in Nagpur. On either side of the temple, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda.
Upon appreciating the inside of the Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and marvel at the exquisite woodwork displayed on its exterior. One notable feature is a suspended corner adorned with intricately carved figures of a peacock and a parrot, which serves as a distinctive trademark of the talented woodcarvers associated with this place. Additionally, we notice the presence of Banana flower motifs, similar to those found in the Peshwa wadas located 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 wada, but it is physically distinct, creating a division between the family space and the guest space.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the Charbhag style. This style divides the garden into four sections using pathways. The garden, although not as vibrant as it used to be, still retains some of its original charm. Interestingly, I stumbled upon a vintage handpump that is still functional in the garden.
At the top of the Wada building, you have a vantage point to observe the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city that surrounds it. I personally experienced this during sunset, and the charming effect of the slanted red tiled roofs only enhanced the overall ambiance.
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 now utilized as an office space for different organizations. The owners also offer the Wada as a venue for events like weddings or small gatherings, and traditional wooden planks are used for serving food.
Currently, the location mentioned in the text is not accessible to the general public. In order to visit, individuals are required to get in touch with the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust office. It is recommended to reach out to Architect Nitika Ramani, who organizes heritage tours of the Wada, for the best experience.
The amount of time required to see it will vary depending on how interested you are, usually ranging from 1 to 2
In the lanes surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore on foot.
In this article, the author discusses the significance of Ramtek in the Ramayana and its impact on the Vidarbha region. They also highlight the architectural masterpiece of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Additionally, they explore Matheran, a charming hill station in Maharashtra. The article received positive feedback from readers, who found it informative and appreciated the new insights about Nagpur.
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