BHUBANESWAR: Dipped in royalty, every corner of the two-century-old Belgadia Palace in Baripada is reminiscent of the glorious past and grandeur of the Bhanja dynasty in the erstwhile princely state of Mayurbhanj. The 18th century palace is all set to open its gates for travellers as a heritage stay from January 1.Renovated by the scions of the royal family princesses Mrinalika and Akshita M Bhanj Deo, daughters of Praveen Bhanj Deo, the 47th ruler of the Bhanja dynasty, the palace will offer 10 immaculately done rooms with modern amenities but steeped in their regal heritage.
The Victorian era brick-built double-storey structure in the classical Western style of Doric-Corinthian column has undergone careful restoration keeping in mind the unique visitors and guests. “The modern and luxe design of its interior contrasts the ancient and ornate architecture of its exterior making the property and its surroundings a walk through the annals of history,” directors of the palace Akshita and Mrinalika said.
The Bhanjadeo sisters roped in Delhi-based interior designer Pooja Bihani for the elaborate transformation of the palace. The original 25 rooms and space were redesigned to accommodate 10 luxury suites, conference rooms, an extended library, billiards and theatre room, extended dining table, rooftop for performances, gymnasium, spa, museum with a few additional verandas, for a multi-faceted curated experiential heritage stay, said Akshita, who formerly worked with the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid organisation focusing on the Syrian refugee crisis.
The walls have been adorned with terracotta flowers and nature imagery that was brought out by carving the original designs from the walls. Gold leafing, miniature paintings, large canvas and oil paintings, and beautiful murals were restored with their frames besides, gargoyles and French window frames were repainted and fitted to mellow down the tone of the Victorian architecture with the re-modelled 1920 French designs. Also, remnants of weapons used in World Wars I and II by allied soldiers who were stationed at the palace have been cleaned and restored for showcasing in the museum along with State canons and original silk flags with the State emblem.
The palace, however, is not just the only attraction for travellers. With an aim to build a sustainable tourism model having social impact, the sisters have decided to offer tourism add-ons like visit to tribal villages where villagers practice Dokra, black stone carving, Chhau martial dance and the Similipal National Park. A part of the profit from this venture will go towards socio-economic development of the artists and promotion of the art forms that were patronised by their ancestors.
“Tourists can also visit Haripur which was the original palace of the Bhanja kings. The vast ruins afford ample and interesting material for antiquarian research. It was named after the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj, Harihar Bhanja who founded this place as the Capital in 1322,” said said Mrinalika, who is also successful yoga practitioner and facilitates spiritual retreats in India and abroad.