Though the origins of the city date back to the 18th century, ancient history of the district is shrouded in obscurity, with traces dating back to the 5th century. The current city of Nagpur was founded by The Gond King Bhakt Buland. In 1467 AD Muhammad Bahmani conquered the area, but in the following century the local Gonds underwent a resurgence of power, which lasted until 1740, when the Bhonslas conquered the country. On 26 and 27 November 1817 Maratha troops attacked the British Resident and his bodyguard. After a lengthy struggle the British prevailed and the Bhonsla's army was disbanded. When the succession lapsed in 1853, the territory was annexed by the British and eight years later it was formed with Saugor and Narbada into the Central Provinces. In spite of a local uprising in 1857, the garrison remained loyal.
On entering Nagpur city a fine view can be witnessed. The railway station has been rebuilt on a grand scale with an impressive facade. Outside there is a fine view of Sitabaldi Fort. The roads from here run in three directions: to Sitabaldi, Sadar and Hansapuri. Behind the railway station the road leads through the orange market towards the Jumma Talao, a large artificial lake with a beautiful garden in the centre. There are two other main tanks to the west of the city: the Ambazari Tank and the Telin Khedi. The former, built by the Bhonsla Rajas, was made into a reservoir in 1873. There is a pleasant garden area with romantic views across the lake.
Among the monuments of Nagpur, the prime attraction is the Sitabaldi Fort. Other architectural constructions of the years gone by can also be found, both historical and religious in nature.
Historical Monuments of Nagpur
Among the historical monuments of Nagpur, the Sitabaldi fort is the chief attraction. Apart from this some other structures of civic amenity can also be found standing tall here from the colonial times.
The Sitabaldi fort is the prime among the historical monuments of Nagpur. The Fort actually embraces two hills joined by a narrow saddle of land. There are two sets of defences, the larger embracing both hills and the smaller, much stronger set forming a central redoubt on the larger hill. The walls and ramparts are surrounded in places by sheer cliff faces and elsewhere by a moat. There are five bastions to the inner area and two to the outer defences, each with gun emplacements.
Crowning the larger hill is a monument to those who fell in the Battle of Sitabaldi of 1817. Just before the tunnel entrance that leads to the inner fort on the right-hand side are a number of British graves. Facing the city to the east is another monument, marking the spot where King George V and Queen Mary gave an audience to the people of Nagpur in 1911.The fort now houses the offices of the territorial army.
The old civil station lies west of Sitabaldi Hill. The main European buildings are concentrated here.
There are two post-independence statues of note. The Statue of Maharani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, cast in bronze, was erected in 1962. The other statue is that of the Indian patriot Sankar.It was unveiled by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru in February of the same year.
The Central Museum was constructed in 1863.The museum maintains collections which are mainly for Vidharba region. It has excellent collections divided into six separate sections: art and industry, archaeology, anthropology, geology, paintings and natural history. International film shows and lectures are also conducted here from time to time. A well stocked is also to be found here.
One of the most distinguished buildings in the city is the Council Hall. It was built in 1912 by the British. The building is a two-storey affair in red brick with a distinctive central range and wings on each side. To the west of the Council Hall lies the Secratariat, a construction of the modified Renaissance style. The High Court designed by Henry Medd, is an impressive civic range in the distinctive style evolved by Lutyens at New Delhi and is very similar to Viceroy's House.
North of Sadar Bazaar is another high hill, Takli, on which stands Government House or Raj Bhavan. Within are some interesting drawings depicting the battle of 1817 and other paintings of local British residents.
Religious Monuments of Nagpur
A number of temples and mosques figure among the historical monuments of Nagpur. One of the most revered shrines in Nagpur is the Badri Narayan temple. It is dedicated to Lord Badrinath who is the presiding deity here. The chief deity is flanked by Lord Kuberaand Narnarayan on either side. A number of other deities are also worshipped here- Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, and Goddess Lakshmi. The main festival celebrated here is Baisakhi which draws a number of devotees from far and wide.
The Poddareshwar Ram Mandir was built in 1923.It is a beautiful temple that has been constructed out of marble and sandstone. The temple is dedicated to Lord Rama, and along with him, Sita, Lakshman and Lord Shiva are also worshipped here. The major festivals celebrated here are the Ramnavami, Mahashivratri, Janmashtami, Vinayak Chaturthi and Hanuman Jayanti.
In the south-east of the city in Sakkardara district is Tajabad Sharif, a square Muslim tomb with arches on all sides supported by four giant pillars crowned by minarets, over which rises a large round dome. It is the tomb of Baba Tajul Aulia, popularly known as Tajabad Sharif Baba Tajauddin.
Between the eastern fort walls and the barracks is the Nav Gaz Ali Baba, believed to be the grave of Nawab Kadar Ali, grandson of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, who was hanged with his associates by the British for their role in the rebellion of 1857.
The Anglican Cathedral of All Saints was designed in 1851 by Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Hieram Sankey and subsequently altered in 1879 by the gifted English architect G. F. Bodley. The later alterations involved lengthening the nave, deepening the transepts and adding a chancel, two vestries and an organ chamber. Nearby is the Roman Catholic Cathedral and school.
The Cenotaphs of th Bhonsla Rajas lie in the Shukrawari quarter, south of the old city.
Though Nagpur is now primarily a modern city with buildings and civic structures built in the latest architectural style, some remnants of a historic past can also be found here in the form of these various monuments.