Monday, March 11, 2013

Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City

Nagpur Railway station

I reached Nagpur station at 7.20 in the morning. Railway station seemed to be engaged in a non-stop struggle to embrace the new world, but not yet ready to come out of the old fabric. Nagpur is famous for oranges, and that was the first thing I wanted to do in the city – buying one kilo Orange. Contrary to my expectation, orange was not cheap. Anyway, I bought around one and half kilo for breakfast.

After searching a lot, finally I found a bathroom in platform one. Already three to four people were in queue, soon another three joined behind me to increase its length. Unfortunately there was no option to lock the door; you have to take constant vigil on the door so that no one else would open it when you are in. Many in the queue were so impatient and behaved like their entire life depends on that single bath!!!

Clock room

Let me tell you something about Nagpur’s clock room. In order to keep belongings here, one has to get it sealed by RPF (Railway Protection Force) scanners. Procedure is simple; take the bag to front door, put it on a scanner’s conveyer belt and ask the police personal standing there to seal it. They would attach a paper seal in the main zip. What I didn’t understand was the effectiveness of this procedure.

First of all, people can come to the platform without scanning their bags. Secondly, first platform’s main gate is not the only entrance to the station. Thirdly, places close to the clock room are accessible to common public. Fourthly, they will seal only the main compartment of the bag. Even after sealing you can open other compartments and place anything there. Fifthly scanner is placed at the platform’s entry point, which means anyone can board the train from nearby stations and reach here without anybody checking their baggage.

After seeing these type of equipments – hand held scanners, metal detectors, vapour tracers - sitting idly on the gates of many private and public companies, railway stations, I can only say that don’t simply go and buy it because someone else use it, or someone else recommend it. If we are not using it in a proper way, it’s a pure wastage of resources.

Tekdi Ganpati Temple

Tekdi Ganpati Temple
Located close to railway station this Ganesh is on the sides of St. Tulsidas road. I don’t know whether it was because of Jan 1 or not, there was a huge crowd in front and inside the temple. I also went in and walked towards the big Ganesh idol in orange red colour. After praying there, I came back to Tulsidas road.

As the width of the road was not enough, riders were using the sidewalks as well for their two wheelers. In breaking these rules, girls were not far behind.

Zero Mile Pillar

Zero mile Pillar
Next on my list was zero mile pillar located on the sides of Surat - Hazira bypass road. Erected by British, this monument consists of four horses and a sand stone pillar. I don’t think this pillar is exactly at the geographic centre of India, but the distance through road from Delhi (1105km), Kolkata (1125km) and Chennai (1129km) are very close. I walked from Tekdi Ganpati temple towards Zero mile, it’s just 1.4 kilometres.

Shaheed Gowree Smarak is located close to it.

History of Nagpur

Looking to this old sandstone pillar, I stood there for some time. Don’t know why, but had a feeling that this pillar doesn’t belongs to that small corner of road.

Nagpur - also called 'Orange city' - is the political centre of Vidarbha region and winter capital of Maharashtra. The word Nagpur - was originated from a river called 'Nag' flowing through the city (Nag means 'Snake' in Sanskrit). This region was earlier ruled by Rashtrakutas, Vakatakas, Badami Chalukyas and Yadavas. Allauddin Khilji invaded the region in 1296 AD; then came Tughlaqs. Later Mughals conquered this region; however, regional administration remained with Gonds.

Like many other kingdoms during the rise of Marathas, Nagpur came under their rule (Bhonsle dynasty). However, third Anglo-Maratha war (1817 AD) altered the equations and Nagpur fell in to the hands of British. Following the death of Raghoji III in 1853 AD, British annexed the kingdom under 'Doctrine of Lapse'.  From here, till the formation of 'Central Provinces' in 1861 Nagpur was ruled by commissioner appointed by Governor General of India.

Some important incidents associated with Nagpur

A Busy Road in Nagpur
1. Tata group started country's first textile mill 'Central India Spinning and Weaving Company Ltd'.
2. Congress launched Non-Cooperation movement in its Nagpur session (1920).
3. RSS was founded by K. B. Hedgewar in this city (1925). Organization's current head quarter is located in this city.
4. It was in the Deekshabhoomi of Nagpur, Ambedkar and his 3,80,000 followers accepted Buddhism after taking the oath of Three Jewels, five precepts, and 22 Vows.

Sitabuldi Fort

Founded in early 19th century, this fort lies between the twin hills of Sitabuldi. Currently housing the 118th Infantry Battalion of Indian Army, this old fort witnessed Anglo-Maratha wars and uprising of 1857 as well. During freedom struggle, M.K Gandhi spent some of his prison days here. Unfortunately fort is not open to public except twice in a year - August 15 and January 26.


I resumed my journey on foot through the city. From another junction got a shared auto to Deekshabhoomi. It was here in the grounds of Deekshabhoomi, B.R Ambedkar along with his 3, 80,000 followers accepted Buddhism on Oct 14, 1956. In Buddhism deeksha indicates accepting the religion, like baptism in Christianity.

At present there is a large stupa (designed by Sheo Dan Mal) in the ground, which probably based on the designs of Sanchi Stupa. Unlike numerous other Buddhist stupas this one is hollow. Significant numbers of photographs displaying various events in Ambedker’s life were displayed inside the calm and quiet atmosphere of stupa.

22 Pledges
Outside, there was a big tablet engraved with 22 pledges took by people on the eventful day of Oct 14, 1956. Buddha Vihara is located close to the tablet. On the other side another tablet displays the front cover of ‘Indian Constitution’ both in English and Hindi. After spending some more time, left Deekshabhoomi and headed towards Nagpur Railway station.

Nagpur Railway station

I covered almost half the way on foot. Roads are straight, wide and clean. In between somewhere one person offered me a lift in his bike and dropped me in front of railway station.

After having lunch from railway station, I bought a general ticket (29 INR) to Sevagram. Time was around 1.30 in the afternoon, waiting for the train to depart...


Front page of Indian Constitution

Netaji's statue
For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

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