Exploring the Rich Heritage of Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur

Exploring the Rich Heritage of Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur

Exploring the Rich Heritage of Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur

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. If you're looking for luxury travel in the pilgrimage city of Pushkar, consider staying at the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa. Experience the vibrant Lucknow life by staying at Clarks Awadh. In Nagpur, you can explore the rich heritage by visiting Chitnavis Wada, a grand house in the old city area of Chitnavispura in Mahal.

This particular Wada stands out from the rest as it successfully retains the magnificence and nostalgic allure of the prestigious houses. As I approached, I passed under an arched gateway adorned with a wooden door. A sign displayed outside indicated the name and location of the Wada.

When I entered the gate, I noticed several buildings surrounding an open area. It was hard to tell if I was already inside Chitnavis Wada or still outside because of the layout. The construction on the main entrance had a distinct colonial era feel, especially with the wooden blind panels that reminded me of structures in Colonial Calcutta.

The tall trees, which are likely much older than the nearby buildings, create a dense forest. I entered what I was informed is the office space. Inside, there is a collection of old wooden furniture such as palanquins, wooden boxes, writing desks, and wooden bullock carts scattered about. It became clear to me that this is the central Wada building. The structures I observed outside were additional sections that were used as a guest house during the British era.

I received assistance from a man in charge of the establishment who provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to unlock the wada for me. My expectations were not high, aside from anticipating the presence of beautifully carved wooden pillars in the Wada. Nevertheless, surprises are never too distant, as my initial view of the front courtyard revealed an abundance of carved wooden pillars encircling it.

Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion with three courtyards arranged in a row. This architectural style, seen before in Shekhawati Havelis, features a public area in the first courtyard where guests and business associates are received. In Chitnavis Wada, this outer courtyard served as the family head's office space.

Chitnavis was the title given to the top official responsible for documenting the activities and affairs of a king. In the case of the Bhosle kings of Nagpur, the Chitnavis was Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who constructed this Wada. Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE, accompanying Raghuji – I Bhosle. Based on its architectural style, it is estimated that this Wada is approximately 200 years old.

As I entered the initial courtyard, I found myself immersed in a vibrant display of paintings. The courtyard, which was previously open, is now sheltered by wood, while the surrounding corridor retains its calming mud flooring.

The walls were adorned with paintings that portrayed the life of Krishna, which I later found out was the deity of the family. The paintings included scenes from famous epics such as Mahabharata, as well as framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's artworks.

Located in a corner of the courtyard, there is a charming wooden temple that brought back memories of various temples in Rajasthan. The temple is dedicated to Krishna and boasts of its stunning beauty. When one sits in front of this temple, they feel completely immersed in the presence of Krishna. This courtyard is aptly named Deoghar Chowk, signifying its status as the sacred space of the deity.

In the Wada, there is a chowk called Family or Fountain Chowk. This chowk has a fountain in the center and is surrounded by a corridor with a floor made of mud. We took a door that led us to this chowk, and we decided to sit around the fountain to appreciate this cozy and inviting part of the Wada. It is known as the family area, where people would gather to eat and spend time together. I could envision the women of the family coming here to chat or enjoy the sunlight.

Kitchen Courtyard

We entered through another door into the final courtyard, which was likely frequented more by the household staff. This was the area where the kitchen was located. Evidence of food preparation can be seen, such as the grinding stone and grooves for pounding ingredients. Additionally, there is a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful Palkis, traditional Indian palanquins, were scattered around the area.

One intriguing aspect is a small aperture in the wall that is linked to the granary. By simply opening the window, one can access the necessary grains for cooking. This can also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes operations for running the wada.

Located on the side of this square, there is a door that leads to the private temple of the family. It was common for large traditional homes to have their own temple dedicated to their family deity, and in this case, it is the Murlidhar temple. This temple features a small inner sanctum and a tower in the Nagar architectural style. Inside the temple, the mandapa is adorned with numerous wooden pillars, a characteristic I have observed in several temples in Nagpur. On either side of the Murlidhar temple, there are also smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda.

When we finish appreciating the inside of Chitnavis Wada, we step outside and marvel at the intricate wood carvings on the exterior. One notable feature is a hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot, which serves as a unique identifier of the skilled woodcarvers associated with this place. Additionally, there are decorative elements resembling the Banana flower endings found in the Peshwa wadas of Pune.

The higher levels of the building are linked to the external guest houses. The guest houses, which have a colonial design, were possibly intended for entertaining or hosting Europeans. This section is attached to the main building, but it is distinct, serving as a barrier between the living space for the family and the designated area 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 undergone some changes and is not as vibrant as it used to be. Nonetheless, I stumbled upon a fascinating vintage handpump that is still functional.

On top of the Wada building, you have a clear view of the courtyards within and the Murlidhar temple. What's even more impressive is the panoramic cityscape that surrounds it. I visited during the early evening, when the sun was about to set, and the charming red tiled roofs enhanced the ambiance.

Throughout the years, the current owners of the Wada have made efforts to incorporate contemporary amenities such as bathrooms. Some sections of the Wada are utilized as office spaces for different organizations. Additionally, they also make the location available for rent for occasions like weddings or intimate gatherings. Traditional wooden planks are used to serve food at these events.

Currently, the Wada is not accessible to the general public. In order to visit it, you will need to get in touch with the Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust office. The heritage tour of the Wada is conducted by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it might be advisable to arrange the visit through her.

The amount of time required to view it varies depending on how interested you are, typically ranging from 1 to 2 hours

In the lanes surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore by walking around.

Other articles on this website include topics such as the historical influence of the Ramayana in the region of Vidarbha, the architectural masterpiece of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar, and the charming hill station of Matheran in Maharashtra. There are two comments on this particular article, expressing gratitude for the new information learned about Nagpur.

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