Near the present day Vidhan Sabha in Nagpur, there is a statue consisting of four horses and a pillar, marking the former centre of India – the Zero Mile Stone. The “heart” or centre of India though has a history dates back to well before the British era. The city gets its name from the river Nag, which flows through the city, originating at a small village called Lavha.
The city of Nagpur was probably established in the Vakataka period as is suggested by the finds of the pottery shards and a terracotta figurine of Bhairava found in the city. Present day Nagpur was most probably known as Yashapura during this period. This is mentioned in a Patna museum copper plate inscription of a Vakataka king. ‘Gond killa’ is a habitation mound showing evidence right from the Neolithic phase. Rashtrakuta copper plates found at Deoli (Wardha district) belonging to Krishna III dated 10th century CE mention Nagapura-Nandivardhana Vishaya as its place of issue. Since Nandivardhana (present Nagardhan) was the capital of the Vakatakas, the subsequent dynasties like the Kalachuri, the Nalas etc. too issued grants from this place. It appears from this that Nagpur was associated with Nandivardhana in the Rashtrakuta period.
Nagpur was a major town and stronghold under the Gond royal house of Devagadh (Dist. Chhindwada, M.P.) in the mediaeval era. In the 17th century CE, the Mughals defeated the Gond rulers and took over the region. In the 18th century the Bhonsale rule was established by Raghuji Bhonsale. He belonged to a sub–family of the house of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Bhonsales contributed a lot to the enrichment of Nagpur. Their palace (referred to as Mahal after which the locality is named) was a majestic structure. Several Shaiva and Vaishnava temples, stepped wells, and ghats were built during their rule. In 1853, the territory under the rule of the British and after 1857 it was made the head quarters of the Central Provinces and Berar until Independence in 1947. In 1960 it was made the second capital of the newly formed state of Maharashtra.
Arts and Crafts
The tradition of painting in Nagpur was patronized by the royal house of the Bhonsales as well as common people. Illustrated manuscripts of the Bhagavat, Jnaaneshwari, Shakuntala, Geetaetc and the folk patachitras related to some festivals are available besides murals. The community of artists was called chitaris (painters), and this community has today turned to sculpting.
Textile was once an important industry in Nagpur. Good quality cotton was produced in abundant quantities thanks to a suitable soil and climate. With the introduction of the railways, cotton sales and goods transport flourished. Besides cotton textiles, silk and wool weaving was also practiced in the district. Silk sarees and Pagota, Patka, Dhoti, borders etc were woven with the silk thread.
The traditional cuisine of Nagpur is referred to as Saoji Khana. The community of weavers (Koshtis) are also known as Saoji. They are famous for both their vegetarian and meat dishes. Saoji cuisine is characterized by the use of strong spices, particularly khuskhus (poppy seeds) and dried coconut. Saoji mutton curries are a delicacy typical to Nagpur.
Nagpur is also famous for its oranges, which have some typical qualities have recently begun to attract international attention. Numerous beverages are made out of the oranges and the Orange Burfi is a very famous preparation.
Distance from Mumbai: 841 km
How To Reach
The Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport is one of the busiest airports in India, being well-connected to most Indian cities. It has recently begun international services to the Gulf countries.
Nagpur Junction is equally well-connected with most major long-distance trains passing through it.
The NH 6 running north-south from Varanasi to Kanyakumari and NH 7 going east-west from Surat to Kolkata both pass through Nagpur. It’s central location means most cities within overnight distance are connected by bus services.