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 BhanjjaKings 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.
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 for a warm royal welcome.
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 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.
Equidistant from both Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar in Northern Odisha is The Belgadia Palace, a former royal residence. The two storeyed building surrounded by gardens and a mango orchard offers a taste of royal life and local culture, in the company of its passionate owners, Princesses Mrinalika and AkshitaBhanjdeo.
Know your Host
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 lead the heritage experience at this charming residence. Mrinalika is a yoga teacher and nature enthusiast whereas history buff Akshita is laden with stories and anecdotes of the family’s royal past.
The inventory adds up tosix suites and rooms. Characterised by high ceilings and ensuite 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.
Breakfast is typically alfresco with the fragrance of frangipani and hibiscus 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.
Individuals and small groups and families, off the beaten track exploration, immersions into local history and culture as well as rural sojourns. Its also the ideal place to work away from the office and home.
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.
Open all year
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 Baripada; Dokra brassware, black stone carvings and Sabai grass ware, run by a women’s co-operative. 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.
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.
A vacation in its true sense is a luxury but cannot be experienced without burning fossil fuels and some amount of social, economic and environmental impact. However, given the positive impact of tourism and hospitality, especially with concepts that are a part of the RARE Community, we believe every vacation has the potential of being a conscious choice and also a transformative experience through learning. These then have the power to balance carbon footprints accumulated through travel. One of the key differentiators of every RARE hotel is their commitment to the community and focus towards being conscious of the impact of every tourism and hospitality activity.
Conservation of heritage and nature, no-motor activities, community engagement and positive impact on their livelihood, intangible cultural heritage highlights and transformations, sensitive land and resource use etc. are some constants that serve as the common thread that connect all members of the RARE Community.
The RARE Touchstones are used by the hotels to self-evaluate on parameters that look at:
The first thing that came to my mind when I stepped in was that it’s so clean! I desperately needed a getaway and I’m glad I choose The Belgadia Palace. The hallways have rich history of the Royal...
The Belgadia palace has a lot to offer. A facsinating centuries old history, warm and courteous service, elegant and tastefully done interiors and the unparalled and unspoiled beauty of the...
We had a wonderful stay at the Belgadia Palace. Thank you to the Bhanjdeos for being so warm and hospitable and taking such good care of us. Learning about the history of the palace and the family is...
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)