Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world have various destinations for holistic living. One such place is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. If you are planning to stay in Shekhawati, consider Piramal Haveli for a comfortable stay. 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. If you are interested in exploring Nagpur's heritage, a visit to Chitnavis Wada in the Mahal area is a must. These wadas are grand houses that were once occupied by the elite in Maharashtra.
This particular Wada stands out for its ability to maintain the impressive and nostalgic atmosphere of the distinguished residences. I made my way inside through a gate adorned with an arch and a door made of wood. A sign positioned outside displayed the name and location of the Wada.
When I entered the gate, I noticed that there were buildings surrounding a spacious open area. It was hard for me to determine whether I was inside the Wada or still outside, as the construction on the main door side had a distinct colonial feel to it. The wooden blind panels particularly reminded me of structures I had seen in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which are likely much older than the buildings, are densely clustered together. I entered what I was informed is the office and noticed a variety of old wooden furniture scattered about, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts. It became clear to me that this is the central Wada. The structures I saw outside were additional sections that functioned as a guest house during the time of British rule.
I received assistance from a man who oversees the location. He provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to unlock the Wada for my access. My expectations were not particularly high, aside from the presence of beautifully carved wooden pillars within the Wada. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised as soon as I noticed the intricate carved pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional Indian mansion with three interconnected courtyards. This type of architecture, known as a Haveli or Wada, features three consecutive courtyards. This design is reminiscent of the Shekhawati Havelis we previously encountered. The first courtyard, also referred to 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 served as the office space for the head of the family.
Chitnavis is a title given to the head documentation officer of a king. The Wada, a building, 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 the Wada is approximately 200 years old.
I entered the initial courtyard and was immediately greeted by vibrant paintings in every direction. The uncovered courtyard has now been replaced with wooden flooring, but the surrounding corridor still retains its calming mud flooring.
The walls were adorned with paintings portraying the life of Krishna, whom I would later find out is the deity of the family. These paintings included scenes from epic stories like the Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs displaying the famous paintings by Raja Ravi Varma.
Within this courtyard, there is a charming wooden temple located in one corner. It brought to mind numerous temples found in Rajasthan. Devoted to the deity Krishna, this temple is truly stunning. When you sit in front of it, you are completely enveloped by Krishna's presence. This courtyard is appropriately referred to as Deoghar Chowk, which translates to the deity's courtyard.
In this particular chowk, known as the Family or Fountain Chowk, there was a door that led us to the next area. In the center of this space, there was a fountain, and surrounding it was a corridor with a floor made of mud. We took a seat near the fountain and appreciated this more modest, yet cozy section of the Wada. It was apparent that this was the designated family area, where people would come together to share meals. I could envision the women of the family gathering here for casual conversations or to bask in the sunlight.
We entered another doorway which brought us to the final junction that was likely frequented by the household staff. This area was once the location of the kitchen. Here, we observed a grinding stone and indentations for pounding. There was also a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful Palkis were scattered nearby.
One intriguing aspect is a tiny aperture in the wall that is linked to the granary. By simply opening the window, one can conveniently retrieve the necessary grains for cooking. This could also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes facilities for operating the wada.
Located on the side of this square is a door that grants entry to the private temple of the Murlidhar family. It was common for large ancestral homes, known as wadas, to have their own personal temple dedicated to their family deity. The Murlidhar temple, situated within this wada, features a compact inner sanctum and a shikhara (tower) designed in the Nagar style. Inside the temple's hall, known as the mandapa, one can find numerous wooden pillars, a characteristic often observed in temples throughout Nagpur. Additionally, adjacent to the main temple, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda.
At Chitnavis Wada, one cannot help but appreciate the intricate woodwork displayed both inside and outside the building. As we step outside, we are immediately drawn to the remarkable wooden carvings adorning the front of the wada. One notable feature is a hanging corner that showcases a beautifully carved peacock and parrot, which has become a distinct symbol of the talented woodcarvers at this location. Additionally, the presence of Banana flower endings on the woodwork is reminiscent of the architectural style seen in the
The upper levels of the building are linked to the external guest accommodations. The colonial section of these accommodations was possibly utilized for entertaining or hosting European visitors. This section is attached to the main living quarters, but it is physically separate, forming a division between the family space and the guest space.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the style of Charbhag, which features walking paths that divide the garden into four sections. The garden has undergone some changes and is not as vibrant as it used to be. Nevertheless, I did come across a fascinating old handpump that is still functional.
At the top of the Wada building, you have a great vantage point to observe the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you can also enjoy a beautiful view of the city from the rooftop. I had the opportunity to be there during sunset, and the charming red tiled roofs added a special atmosphere to the scene.
Throughout the years, the current generation of owners has made efforts to incorporate modern amenities such as bathrooms into the Wada. Additionally, a section of the Wada has been designated as an office space for different organizations. The owners also make it available for rent for occasions like weddings or small gatherings. Interestingly, the traditional practice of using wooden planks to serve food can still be observed.
At the moment, the place is not accessible to everyone. If you want to visit, you should reach out to the office of the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is organized by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it would be advisable to go through her for the visit.
The amount of time needed to see it varies depending on how interested you are, usually taking around 1 to 2 hours
In the vicinity of Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore by taking a stroll through the lanes.
Other articles on this website discuss various topics such as the influence of the Ramayana in the town of Ramtek in Vidarbha, the architectural masterpiece of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar, and the charming hill station of Matheran in Maharashtra. This particular article has received positive feedback with two comments expressing gratitude for the new knowledge gained about Nagpur.
Your blog has provided me with a valuable view into the world. Your captivating narratives and breathtaking pictures have introduced me to places I had no knowledge of before. Your talent for capturing the true spirit of a location is truly extraordinary. Please continue to share your journeys, as they consistently inspire and fuel my desire to explore!
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