Frustrated with the ongoing non-stop and everlasting series of assignments, tutorials, labs and exams in our college, I decided to take a break; though it was pre-decided in December, in the days of Technovanza. The orange city, the geographical centre of India, as it was referred to, by the British, the tiger capital of India, the second capital of Maharashtra, the city of our Hon’ble CM Mr. Devendra Fadnavis – this city can be called by several such names! Nagpur has been talked about in the history for various incidents whose effects can be seen in today’s modern world. Initially, when I asked my Nagpurian friends about tourism in the city, they all gave pessimistic replies as if Nagpur was a dead city. However, honestly speaking, it’s a place worth to visit for a 2-3-day picnic if you want to go moderately away from Mumbai and yet experience city life.
I reached Nagpur by the fastest train 12289 Mumbai – Nagpur Duronto, which arrived at 7 am, 20 minutes prior to its scheduled time, and the hotel’s check-in time was 12 pm, and hence we decided to stay at the station till then. Nagpur is an important junction where trains going from south to north and east to west meet. The Nagpur -Sewagram railway line is a common line for trains on both these routes. Hence, a train arrives at Nagpur station after every 10 minutes or so, thus spending time there is not a big deal. I was lucky to see many long-distance trains, the photos of some of which are shown below, which also includes the Nizamuddin (Delhi) – Bangalore Rajdhani which arrives at Nagpur at 10 am.
My hotel was on the North South highway corridor of India (NH-47) which is locally known as Wardha road or Nagpur – Chandrapur Road. The construction of the Nagpur metro railway is in full swing on this road, leaving only two lanes per side for road traffic.
If you are fond of old railways, the Narrow-Gauge rail museum maintained by the South East Central Railway is worth visiting. It contains locomotives, coaches, equipments and other special tools required for maintaining its narrow gauge line from Nagpur to Jabalpur in M.P. This railway line would soon be converted to broad gauge under the Project Unigauge of the Indian railways and hence, the museum would serve its purpose of preserving the colonial era narrow gauge rail technology.
Something you can’t miss if you’re in Nagpur is Haldiram’s. They sell sweets of different Nagpuri flavours and some of them, such as Mava Jalebi and orange barfi are available only at Nagpur. Also, some of the Haldiram’s outlets also comprise of a restaurant which is famous for its chaat, ice-creams and drinks.
Nagpur has been historically known for Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and his followers’ conversion to Buddhism at Deekshabhoomi, which was the largest public conversion in the world. Deekshabhoomi also holds a record for having the largest hollow Buddhist stupa in the world. It was my first visit to a Buddhist temple, and I also found East Asians there (don’t call them Chinese); but moreover, what I found, which is uncommon in Hindu temples is silence – no bells, no gossips!
There’s much more to visit there, such as the ancient Shiva temple at Ramtek and Dragon Palace temple at Kamptee, both outside the city, Sitabuldi fort, Maharajabagh Zoo, various lakes, tiger sanctuaries and the recently commenced mine tours organized by the Maharashtra Tourist Development Corporation, at two mines near Nagpur. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit these places as we were supposed to leave the next day, because of my brother’s scholarship exam, whose date was informed too late by the State board, else we would have stayed there for an extra day as well.
Linguistically, I didn’t find many locals speaking Marathi among themselves; most of them prefer Hindi, just as in Mumbai, though Nagpur is a part of Maharashtra. The reason is because Nagpur was a part of the Central Provinces & Berar province in British India which was re-organised to Madhya Pradesh and a part of the province was ceded to Maharashtra. You would not find many people walking there, especially after sunset and roads get too lonely, except in the market areas. Rickshaw-wallas charge you heftily, almost ₹ 70 for a distance of 2-3 km, so I would instead prefer Ola or Uber cabs, which are available easily and you can also avail the discount with their coupons. I also found Nagpur comparatively cleaner than Mumbai. I do recommend a visit to this great city; hoping to visit other cities in Vidarbha too!