Nagpur, referred to as the ‘orange city’ of India, is the largest and most important city in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. An important gateway to several forest reserves and national parks, including Pench National Park, the city has many tourist destinations that represent numerous historical landmarks. The Nag river flows in a serpentine path and lends its name to the city.
Located on Deccan plateau, the city was founded in the early 18th century by a Gond prince of Devagad in 1702 AD, on the banks of Nag River. In 1743, the city came under the control of the Marathas and later British ruled the city under Lord Dalhousie’s Doctrine of Lapse. When India won its independence, Nagpur was made the second capital of Maharashtra.
Today, Nagpur is one of the few cities in India that have managed to retain their age-old charm, despite moving ahead with the times. With its numerous education institutions, industries, commercial and transportation centers, the city has become a major milestone for India. It is the third largest city in the state.
Starting Point: Visit the heart of colonial-era India, the Zero Milestone
Blessed with a number of very beautiful British-era administrative buildings, Nagpur is well known for the Zero Milestone pillar which represents the centre of colonial India and is located near the Gowari Shahid Memorial.
Near the pillar are statues of four horses to represent the four horses which the British let out from the four corners of India. They met at the exact spot where today stands the Zero Milestone pillar. All the distances on the pillar are given in miles and not in kilometers since a mile was the distance calculator in those days, the unit of measurement. The pillar is made from sandstone and its base is circular with a diameter of 7.9 metres.
Another importance of this pillar is that all the geostationery satellites of India are aligned with this pillar. Next to it, there is a stone which provides the standard benchmark. This refers to the elevation above sea level and the stone was constructed in 1907. From the Zero Milestone pillar, one can also drive to the RBI building. Photography is not permitted even from outside. In the vicinity is the Shahid Smarak which is a memorial dedicated to martyrs.
Did you know?
Nagpur is at a distance of about 837 km from Mumbai, about 1094 km south of Delhi, 1092 km north of Chennai and 1140 km west of Calcutta. The location of this city is almost in the centre of the country. For this very reason it has the Zero Mile Marker, which indicates the geographical centre of India.
Heritage & faith: A melting pot of cultures, connect with your soul in Nagpur
A major attraction in Nagpur is Nagaloka which is famous for the Walking Buddha statue. Buddha is generally associated with meditation which is either done in a standing, sleeping or in a sitting posture and represents a static state. Nagaloka is unique as it has the Walking Buddha statue and here meditation is depicted in a dynamic state. It is also dedicated to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s vision of bringing back Buddhism to benefit all. Nagaloka also runs an eight month residential training course in which students learn basic dhamma teachings, meditation, ethics, puja, community life and about the life and work of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. The place also has a souvenir shop.
Another famous place is Ganesh Tekdi Temple which is located inside the Nagpur cantonment area. Here, it has been said, that the idol is swayambhu or self originated. Just like there are 8 Ashtavinayaka Ganpatis in Maharashtra, there are 8 Ashtavinayaka Ganpatis in Vidarbha and the Ganesh Tekdi Temple is one of them. It is situated on a hillock and hence gets its name tekdi, which in Marathi means ‘hillock’.
Among the other heritage buildings of Nagpur are the Church of 1840 and the St. Francis De Sales (SFS) Cathedral and High School built in 1870. Some of the notable alumni of this school are Col. CK Naidu who was the first test cricketing captain of India, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Supreme Court Judge; filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani and famous lawyer Harish Salve.
Displaying history: Embark on a trip back to the past, and witness the evolution of railways.
When it comes to museums, Nagpur proudly displays the Narrow Gauge Rail Museum which is the only one-of-its-kind in India. Even the ticket counter is inside a railway coach. While the toy train will appeal to kids, the 5 Bagnall was a royal carriage. One can get to see its cooking stove, basin, cutlery and crockery used on display in the room next to the carriage. Furniture and old uniforms are also on display in this room. Don’t miss the weighing scale of 1897 which even today gives accurate weight.
An interesting exhibit is the revolving coach which is kept on a turn table which was earlier used to change the direction of the steam loco. The turn table takes 14 minutes to complete a 360-degree rotation. Other exhibits include a four wheeler open wagon, brake van, pathway instructor trolley (PWI), rail bus, tank wagon, wash up crane and machine gallery. Builder plates, gauges and the history of narrow gauge steam locomotives are also depicted.
The largest samai or lamp in the world is also located in Nagpur. It is known as Jerryl’s Samai and is in Yash Palace which is used for wedding ceremonies. The lamp is recorded in both the Guinness Book of World Records and the Limca Book of Records.
Oranges are synonymous with Nagpur. The city has its own orange market and if you want to see the early morning auction of oranges, then this is the place to be. So what is it that makes the oranges of this city different from those found all over India? Nagpur oranges are non-tangerine in nature. If one makes juice out of them, it would stay for a maximum of eight hours. On the other hand, one can make juice from tangerine oranges and it can be stored for months. Hence, you will not find Nagpur orange juice. Instead you can get a squash. The orange burfi of the city is also delicious. Nagpur oranges are generally grown in the Vidarbha region, apart from being grown in the hilly slopes of India. These require a lot of water for irrigation. These oranges are even exported to foreign countries such as Sri Lanka, Canada, the USA, the UK, Germany and more.
A Significant Railway Station
Nagpur Railway Station, one of the oldest and busiest stations of India was inaugurated in its present form in 1925 by the then Governor Sir Frank. This grand structure was built from red stone brought from Saoner. The tall columns and pillars add great beauty. It is the headquarters of two Railway divisions: Central Railway and South Eastern Railway.
Trujet connect: Trujet offers direct services to Nagpur from Hyderabad. Log on to www.trujet.com for further details.
Written by Khursheed Dinshaw