Mayurbhanj in Odisha has an interesting past and a present that is an explorer’s dream. During the reign of the British, the Bhanjja Kings pioneered the upliftment of the region and it was regarded as one of the most progressive states. The Bhanjja kings established educational institutions and banks and were known for their generous, futuristic and firm governance. A drive through Baripada town, home of the Mayurbhanj estate, showcases stately buildings and the railway station, which dates back to as early as 1905.
The 18th-century Victorian-era styled Belgadia Palace is the home of the Bhanjdeo royal family. The legacy of the erstwhile rulers forms a tangible presence in the attitude of the present generation of the family and their relationship with the people of the district. Princesses Mrinalika and Akshita are your charming hostesses at this heritage experience-led boutique residence.
As you drive up to the modest gates, you are impressed by the double storeyed white façade with striking Corinthian columns, inviting you gently towards the ‘Hathi Baramdah’ entrance. Catch a glimpse of the lavish interiors as you are led into the library to be welcomed and shown to your accommodation.
All around the palace, you see remnants of old-world grandeur. Heritage comes alive through family portraits and paintings that adorn the walls. Period furniture and ornate chandeliers compete for your attention as you admire furnishings and upholstery, old vinyl records, Persian carpets, chandeliers and oil paintings. The wide and winding mahogany staircase leads you to the upper chambers, which comprise spacious suites in jewel-toned décor. The inventory adds up to six suites and rooms. Characterised by high ceilings and en-suite bathrooms, the suites are decorated with antiques and art from around the world. The design is young and colourful and contrasts with the heritage architecture in an interesting way. The rooms on the ground floor overlook the gardens and open into a long veranda.
The main lounge, porch, halls and galleries are all spaces for conversation, beverages and snacks. The well-stocked library is an immersive experience in itself with writing instruments, typewriters and elaborate desks. The palace is surrounded by fifteen acres of mango orchards and gardens. The extensive grounds have clear walking paths that urge you to explore; local weeds and creepers hang over a natural lake. The open verandas, built as viewing parlours for the ladies of the household are ideal for an afternoon siesta, for lounging, reading and to idle away in the company of rustling trees and birds.
Breakfast is typically alfresco with the fragrance of frangipani and hibiscus in wafting around you. The main meals are typically served in the formal dining room; you have the choice of dining by yourself or family-style around a large dining table, in the company of the royal family. The cuisine is mainly homestyle Indian and regional delicacies, using a variety of locally grown vegetables and grain.
The Belgadia Palace warrants a minimum of two nights and ideally three or longer depending on your interests and time. The buildings in Baripada town form the basis of an interesting heritage walk that includes the Mayurbhanj Palace, now repurposed as a women’s college. The local Jagannath temple is a replica of the temple in Puri and dates back to the 14th century; its lively evening aarti is a deeply spiritual experience. The weekly village haat (market) is a photographer’s dream come true. Traders sell a variety of produce, from fresh vegetables to varieties of grain, spices, fish, miscellaneous bric-a-brac including hand woven basket-ware and cooking utensils. Excursions based on art and craft abound around Balipara; Dokra brassware, black stone carvings and Sabai grass ware, run by a women’s co-operative.
About half an hour’s drive away, Simlipal National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the famous melanistic tiger and a great birding site. Well known for its lush vegetation and its many waterfalls, Simlipal is yet unexplored and sees few tourists. The stone temples of Khiching dedicated to the mother goddesses are important pilgrimage sites of the region. The Mayurbhanj Chhau offers visitors an insight into this folk dance that flourished under the patronage of the Mayurbhanj rulers.
The Belgadia Palace is a great start (or end) to an exploration of East India, with good connectivity to both Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar. It combines well with our other RARE properties of the region: Rajbari Bawali, Bari Kothi and the Glenburn Penthouse in central Kolkata as well as the Assam Bengal Navigation’s river cruises on the Ganges and Brahmaputra.
This area of India is quiet, safe and rural. The palace is in a time warp with old furniture and photos. The service is, however, almost non existent, apart from the charming welcome of the Maharani...
Located among a well protected area of lavishly lush greenery in the heart of Baripada town, the Belgadia Palace of Mayurbhanj is a magnificent work of Architecture and grandeur of bygone era of...
We stayed at the Belgadia Palace from the 29-31st of December 2019. It had a few bright spots but was overall a disappointing stay. It was priced like a 5 star but felt like a home stay. I’m...
Nearest Airport : Kolkata - Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport : 229 km/4-4.5 hours
Nearest Railway Station : Kolkata Howrah station to Balasore station (90 minutes from The Belgadia Palace by road)
Nearest Bus Station : Kolkata (about 4.5 - 6 hours)