Continents like Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world offer various destinations for holistic living. Swaswara at Om Beach in Gokarna is one such place that promotes a holistic lifestyle. When considering accommodation in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a good option. For luxury travel in the holy city of Pushkar, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is highly recommended. Clarks Awadh is a great choice for experiencing the vibrant culture of Lucknow. One can also explore the heritage of Nagpur by visiting Chitnavis Wada, a grand house in the old city area.
This particular Wada stands out as one of the rare few that has successfully maintained the magnificence and timeless allure of the prestigious residences. As I made my way inside, I passed through a curved entrance adorned with a wooden door. A sign displayed outside provided the name and location details for this establishment.
When I entered Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I noticed that there were buildings surrounding an open area. It was hard to tell whether I was already inside the Wada or still outside due to the layout. The construction on the main entrance side had a colonial style, particularly the wooden blind panels, which reminded me of similar structures in Colonial Calcutta.
The tall trees, which seem to have been here longer than the buildings, create a dense forest. I entered the designated office space and noticed a collection of old wooden furniture, such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts scattered throughout the area. It dawned on me that this is the primary Wada building. The structures outside were additional sections used as a guest house during the British era.
The manager of the establishment, who was a polite and helpful person, assisted me in obtaining a brochure and requested the staff to open the Wada for me. Initially, I didn't have high expectations and only anticipated seeing some beautifully carved pillars made of wood in the Wada. Nevertheless, as is often the case, surprises were not far off. I was pleasantly surprised when I first laid eyes on the intricately carved wooden pillars that surrounded the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion or haveli with three separate courtyards. It resembles the layout found in Shekhawati Havelis. The first courtyard, known as Chowk, serves as a public space where guests and business associates are received. In this particular haveli, the first courtyard also functions as the office of the family patriarch.
Chitnavis was a title given to the highest-ranking officer responsible for documentation in a king's court. The Wada, or building, in question was constructed by Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who held the position of Chitnavis for the Bhosle kings of Nagpur. Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE with Raghuji – I Bhosle. Based on its stylistic features, it is estimated that this Wada is approximately 200 years old.
When I entered the first courtyard of Chitnavis Wada's Deoghar Chowk, I was immediately greeted by vibrant paintings that surrounded me. Although the open courtyard was now covered with wood, the corridor that encircled it still had a calming mud flooring.
The walls were adorned with paintings that depicted the life of Krishna, who I later learned is the deity worshipped by the family. These paintings included scenes from famous epics like Mahabharata, as well as framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's artwork.
Located in one section of the courtyard, there is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to numerous temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is devoted to Krishna and exudes beauty. When seated in front of this temple, one feels completely encompassed by the presence of Krishna. This particular courtyard is appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, signifying it as the sacred space of the deity.
In this particular area known as Family or Fountain Chowk, there was a door that led us to the next chowk. In the middle of this chowk, there was a beautiful fountain. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with a floor made of mud. We took a seat near the fountain and appreciated this cozy and inviting section of the Wada. It was evident that this area was meant for families to come together and enjoy a meal. I could picture the women of the family gathering here for casual conversations or to bask in the sunlight.
We entered through another door which brought us to the final courtyard, primarily utilized by the household staff. This area previously served as the kitchen. Here, you can observe the presence of a grinding stone and grooves for pounding spices. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant. Colorful Palkis were scattered about the courtyard.
There is a fascinating aspect of the wall that is linked to the granary, which is a small opening. By simply opening the window, one can easily access the grains needed for cooking. This can also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes operations for maintaining the wada.
Located on the side of this courtyard, there is a door that leads to the private temple of the family. It was common for large ancestral homes to have a personal temple dedicated to the family's chosen deity. In the case of this particular home, the temple is dedicated to Murlidhar. The temple features a small inner sanctum and a shikhara (tower) in the architectural style of Nagar. The main hall of the temple is adorned with wooden pillars, a common sight in many temples found in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda situated on either side of the main temple.
Upon appreciating the inner parts of the Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and marvel at the exquisite wooden craftsmanship displayed on its exterior. One particular standout feature is a hanging section adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a distinct symbol of the skilled woodcarvers in this area. Additionally, the presence of Banana flower endings, reminiscent of those found in Peshwa wadas in Pune, further adds to the allure of the woodwork.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the outer guest accommodations. The colonial section of these accommodations might have been utilized to entertain or accommodate Europeans. This section is attached to the main residence, but it is separate, 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 type of garden is divided into four sections by pathways. Although the garden has lost some of its former charm, I did stumble upon an intriguing antique handpump that is still functional.
The Wada has a rooftop that offers a great vantage point to see the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, it provides a scenic view of the city skyline. I visited the rooftop during sunset, and the beautiful red tiled roofs enhanced the atmosphere.
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 now serves as an office space for different organizations. Furthermore, they also offer the rental of the venue for events such as weddings or small gatherings. Traditional wooden planks are utilized for serving food in these occasions.
At present, the location is not accessible to the general public. In order to visit, you must get in touch with the office of Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is conducted by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it is recommended to coordinate with her for the visit.
The amount of time required to see it varies based on your level of interest, typically taking around 1-2 hours.
In the streets around Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore by walking around.
This piece of writing provides valuable information about Nagpur and introduces new insights. Thank you for sharing this.
I consider your blog as a gateway to the world. Your captivating storytelling and breathtaking photographs have introduced me to unfamiliar places. Your exceptional talent in capturing the true essence of each destination is truly impressive. Please continue sharing your adventures, as they consistently inspire and fuel my desire to travel.
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