Nagpur, also known as Orange city is third largest city of state of Maharashtra in the region known as Vidarbha. Nagpur also happens to my hometown. The reason for that is both my parents are from Nagpur though we have mostly lived away from Nagpur due to my father's Central govt job. I was born and raised in Delhi and till my time there I would call myself a Delhiite. However, since my parents left Delhi in 2006 to settle back in Nagpur I have started calling myself from Nagpur. Since 2007 I have also started living in Pune so Nagpur or Vidarbha region is what I associate myself with. Even though I may not have lived at Nagpur technically but have made countless trips to it and have stayed for as much as 2 months during our summer vacations at a stretch but was always a visitor. I still have faint memories of traveling from Delhi to Nagpur every summer in trains like AP Express, Dakshin Express from New Delhi or Nizamuddin station. It is an overnight journey and mostly was carried out in sleeper class. The when we grew up, the visits became infrequent and were mostly for some occasions like marriage or death of relatives. Since 2006, the visits were more frequent with my parents having moved there from Delhi. In 2008 got married which entailed more visits. One of my sister got posted there for 5 years which led to many trips. When she moved out, along with my other sister they started visiting Nagpur annually in summer with their kids for vacations and we would invariably have a family reunion of sorts for few days in summer. I was call it sizzling and sweltering or warm family reunion as it is really hot at that time of the year. In between also made visits to Nagpur to settle some property deals like purchasing a flat and plot. Some of these were from Hyderabad where I lived from 2004 to 2007. All such trips would invariably include visits to all relatives houses. So it never occurs to you that your hometown has sights and places which could be explored like any other destination. Most of the excursions in childhood were to salubrious places within Nagpur like Ambazari lake, Telangkhedi (or Futala) lake which is understandable to beat the heat.
The story of Nagpur being home to both my parents is like this. My grandfather Baliramji Kohad moved to Nagpur in 1942 from a village called Sonora in Wardha district to work in Empress Mill colony at Nagpur. They lived at places including Ramdaspeth in Nagpur before they being allotted a 1500 sft plot with built dwellings to accomodate workers of Empress mill. This is very near to Nagpur Medical college and right in the main city area. My maternal grandfather was Superintendent officer with Maharashtra govt who would get transferred district to district and settled in Nagpur at Laxmi Nagar by building own house. We children would visit and spend most of our time in this house in our childhood and also visit Empress mill colony house. My grandfathers both of them died in year 1987 within few months.
Now, Nagpur city was founded in 1703 by the Gond King Bakht Buland Shah of Deogarh and later became a part of the Maratha Empire under the royal Bhonsale dynasty. The British East India Company took over Nagpur in the 19th century and made it the capital of the Central Provinces and Berar (CP & Berar). The Bhonsales were there till 19th century before British took over in 1853 when the last ruler died without a heir. During their rein, a number of lakes, wadas, temples etc. were built. Nagpur is named after the river Nag which flows through the city. The old Nagpur (today called 'Mahal') is situated on north banks of the river Nag. There is a historic Kashibai temple complex, located on the shores of river Nag. The temple complex is the Raj Ghat (royal crematorium) of the Nagpur Bhonsles. There are several chhatris (cenotaphs) which are a part of the complex. The oldest chhatri in the Kashibai temple complex is more than 260 years old, commemorating the Bhosale kings and their wives. More information here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagpur_kingdom.
|Entry to Kashibai temple complex|
|Raghoji Bhosale memorial|
In the current times, the city derives unique importance from being an important location for the Dalit Buddhist movement and the headquarters for the Hindu nationalist organisation RSS. I happened to visit both this time after all.
Deekshabhoomi is a huge ground where on 14th Oct 1956 Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar converted to Buddhism along with 5 lakh of his followers. It is holiest place for Dalit Buddhist or Ambekarite people of India. Every year on 14th April (Ambedkar Jayanti), 14th Oct (Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din) & 6th December (Mahaparinirvan) followers congregate at Deekshabhoomi to pay homage to Ambedkar. The ground now has a Vihara (Stupa) with images of Buddha and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar inside and their busts outside. Apart from that there is office, place to stay for pilgrims and a book shop. The collection of books here unlike any other with Constitution of India being most prominent. I did pick a copy of constitution from here along with few more books. There is huge bodhi tree similar to Bodhgaya. This Bodhi Tree was planted at Deekshabhoomi from three branches of the Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka which got sapling/branch from Bodhgaya originally.
|22 vows given by Dr. Ambedkar to his followers|
|Dr. Rajendra Prasad receiving constitution from Dr. Ambedkar|
|Bodhi tree inside Deekshabhoomi|
|Bust of Dr. Ambedkar|
|Bust of Gautam Buddha|
RSS has a Hedgewar Smarak Samiti at Reshimbagh area in front of namesake ground. There is a huge barrack like building which houses dwellings for Swayamsevaks. There is a Smriti mandir dedicated to Dr. Hedgewar and M.S. Golwalkar also known as guruji. There is a huge Sabhagriha for occasions and book shop which unfortunately was closed till afternoon. This too would be unlike any other bookshop. There are guides present at Sabhagriha to take visitors around. The main RSS headquarter is in the old city near Badkas chowk in Mahal area. I went there as well as I was told that one can visit. The place is under heavy security. After security check, went inside and talked to those present at reception. From here went to house of Dr. Hedgewar which is a little away in an alley looked after now as a heritage property by NMC. This is where RSS was established way back in 1925.
|Hedgewar Smarak Samiti|
|Information about Smarak Samiti|
|Room at Dr Hedgewar's house where RSS was founded|
|Dr. Hedgewar's house|
Nagpur has green & hilly area called Seminary hills. While driving past it, came across the arch of "Lourd Mata Mandir" with an inviting narrow, tree flanked road inside. Out of curiosity went inside and found it to be a Shrine dedicated to Mother Mary. There were symbolic plaques of Jesus and cross. The place was nestled among trees and quite calm. Climbing stairs from there came across a whole complex of convent educational institutes & colleges and church.
|Lourd mata mandir|
|Lourd mata mandir|
Nagpur is also known for being center of India though there is no official declaration. It has major North-South, East-West highways and train tracks meeting at this place. Nagpur is almost equidistant from all 4 metros - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata & Chennai. The train track of the two trunk routes Delhi-Chennai & Howrah-Mumbai form a diamond crossing just outside Nagpur station where the tracks criss-cross. It has erstwhile NH-6 (Surat to Kolkata) and NH-7 (Varanasi to Kanyakumari) passing through it. Now Nagpur has a ring road which let's major truck and commercial traffic bypass the city. There is a Zero Mile Stone which is a monument built by British during the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India in 1907 in Nagpur, Maharashtra. The Zero Mile Stone consists of a pillar made up of sandstone and another small stone representing the GTS Standard Bench Mark. It has distances marked of various towns at that time like Chandrapur, Jabalpur, Hyderabad etc. Apart from this there is a white & yellow National highway marker pillar which has Nagpur marked as 0 kilometer! Has anyone seen such milestone? Generally the distances are marked from GPO or main Bus stand of the city on roads but in case of Nagpur it is marked from Zero milestone. What more evidence is required for Nagpur to be center of India!!
|Zero milestone info|
|Zero milestone pillar|
|Nagpur 0 km|
In 1994, there was an unfortunate incident in recent history when more than 100 people died in a stampede. Around 50000 members of Gowari community gathered in Nagpur for their grievances when the stampede occured. Now there is a Gowari smarak opposite to Zero milestone which was constructed as a memorial to those who died.
Nagpur is famous for its "tari" Poha which is plain poha topped with hot chickpea curry and burnt poha. It is quite hot as in spicy. Nagpur is also famous for its "Saoji" food which is again spicy and has special masala. Nagpur being one of the hottest populated places could not understand how residents handle heat with spicy hot food. But Nagpur does get cooler post summer and does get very cold as well.
|Eatery at Shukravar peth|
Nagpur has water bodies like Ambazari and Futala lake which have promenade and frequented by residents to relax and spend time however, they are mostly at outskirts. There is another one called Shukrawari talav bang in the middle now called as Gandhi Sagar lake. Then there is a Naik talav which is bang in the old area which is also known as Bangladesh. Yes, there is a locality known as such. Not sure whether it is official but it is definitely there on google maps. Just went around the lake just to observe the people and locality.
|another angle of Shukravari talav|
|Naik Talav, Bangladesh|
Recently Nagpur has taken strides in terms of infrastructure. During my trip I drove around Nagpur and was pleasantly surprised to see well laid, wide cemented roads and flyovers to pass over junctions. It was a pleasure driving around. Then the newly opened Nagpur metro and as a customary made trip of entire length. It was as expected smooth like other cities in India. Travelled from Khapri to Sitabuldi and from there to Lokmanya Nagar, the two legs which are open. The other two are yet to open.
|Double decker metro with flyover beneath|
|JP Nagar station|
|Khapri station built in grand style|
|At Khapri station|
Tried to visit other prominent places of Nagpur like Sitabuldi fort, Central Museum of Nagpur and Narrow gauge Railway Museum but all of them were closed due to Covid. Visiting Sitabuldi fort is perhaps allowed only on 26th Jan & 15th August as the fort is occupied by Army. The story of Sitabuldi fort is that here in a battle in 1817 British defeated Bhonsales and got a stronghold in Central India.
|Sitabuldi fort description outside|
|Nagpur Central Museum|
|Monument of Bhakt Buland|
|Narrow Gauge Museum|
There are institutions which one cannot visit as layman like Vidhan Sabha where the winter session of Maharashtra happens. Reserve Bank of India building is a prominent location. There there is a small monument dedicated to Bhakt Buland who established the city. Lokmat is a prominent newspaper. It has a huge building in Sitabuldi area and also the square called as Lokmat square.
|Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha|
Close to Nagpur is town of Kamptee across the Kanhan river is town of Kanhan. I had not been to this road ever which goes to Jabalpur, so thought of a drive upto Kanhan. The road bridge is from British time flanked by two cantilever single line railway bridges. The river is quite wide and basic quite deep but was mostly empty now. Kamptee has another Buddhist site called Dragon Palace temple which is a Vihara with a huge hall used for meditation. The main building is quite grand and beautiful in a manicured garden.
|Kanhan river bridge|
|Dragon palace temple|
|Buddha statue @ Dragon palace temple|
|Dragon palace temple in manicured garden|
Nagpur has many more hidden gems from colonial or cultural past. Some of the buildings like GPO, Agricultural college and many in old areas are interesting. Hope to visit them someday and post about them.