SITUATED ON THE banks of the Nag river, Nagpur was the capital of the Central Provinces until it became part of Maharashtra state after Independence. It is a fast developing industrial city lying on India’s main north-south railway line and is also the country’s orange-growing capital. Historically, it was the capital of the aboriginal Gond tribals until it was captured by the Maratha Bhonsles in 1740, and finally by the British in 1861.
In October 1956, the city witnessed an event of great social importance, when Dr BR Amhedkar , writer of the Indian Constitution and a freedom fighter born into a lower caste Hindu family, converted to Buddhism in a stand against the rigid Hindu caste system. Nearly 200,000 people followed him, and the movement gathered great momentum, resulting in about three million conversions. Nagpur town is built around Sitabaldi Fort, which is encircled by a deep moat. It is open to the public only on 26 January and 15 August. In the eastern part of the city are the remains of the Bhonsle Palace, which was destroyed by fire in 1864. South of the old city lie the Chhatris, or memorials of the Bhonsles kings, while a number of colonial buildings are situated in the western part of Nagpur. Among the most noteworthy are the High Court (1737-42) and the Anglican Cathedral of All Saints (1851).
ENVIRONS: Ramtek, 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Nagpur, is associated with the 14-year exile of Rama, Sitar and Lakshman, as told in the epic Ratnayana . It was the capital of the Vakataka dynasty between the 4th and the 6th centuries, and the fort on the Hill of Rama dates to this period. Its walls, however, were built later, in 1740, by the founder of Nagpur’s Bhonsles dynasty, Raghoji I. There are also several temples dedicated to Rama and Sitar , dating to the 5th century.