Rural & Royal - a rewarding immersion into Northern Odisha

The Belgadia Palace

The Belgadia Palace

, Odisha
, India

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 decor.

The palace is surrounded by 15 acres of mango orchards and gardens. The extensive grounds have clear walking paths that urge you to explore. Do check out the beautiful 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.

Our Rating: Mid-Range
Property Type: Heritage


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. They 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 1905.


The suites and rooms are characterised by high ceilings and ensuite bathrooms. They are tastefully decorated with antiques and art from around the world. The design, young and colourful, 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 al fresco with the fragrance of frangipani and hibiscus wafting around you. The main meals are 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 grains.


The Belgadia Palace warrants a minimum of two nights, and ideally three or longer stay 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.

Baripada is renowned for its on art and craft – Dokra brassware, black stone carvings and Sabai grass ware, which are 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.

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.

Perfect For
Individuals, small groups and families, off the beaten track exploration, immersions into local history and culture as well as rural sojourns. It’s also the ideal for a workcation. 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 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.

Why we love this place

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 Akshita Bhanjdeo.

About your host

The 18th-century Victorian-era styled Belgadia Palace is the home of the Bhanjdeo royal family. The enduring legacy of the erstwhile rulers is clearly visible in 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.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

Mrinalika and Akshita are focussed on ensuring that The Belgadia Palace is high in terms of responsible tourism. This has earned them the Champion for Community Tourism Award as part of Travel and Leisure’s India’s Best Awards 2022.

No Single Use Plastic: The property has banned single use plastic, and are trying to phase out using any plastic containers. Glass water bottles with safe filtered drinking water are kept in the room; personal water bottles given to guests for outside excursions. Refillable haircare and skincare dispensers are in all guest rooms.

Safe Garbage Disposal: Waste is segregated into biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste and three compost pits are being used for creation of manure. The attempt is to create less to zero waste. This translated into using recycled and upcycled furniture and interiors, and using sustainable building materials – local brick, mortar lime was used towards the construction.

Water Conservation: Low flush toilets and sustainable sanitation and water management practices are in place.

Energy Efficiency: Energy efficient lighting and appliances are in place.

Nature and Biological Diversity Conservation: There is emphasis on nutrition farming through integrated pest management and integrated nutrition management, which is all organic and made by recycling and manufacturing on site by dedicated staff. This entails using ‘amrut jal’ and other zero budget natural farming techniques. This also leads to preserving and creating awareness on local flora, practicing edible landscaping with restoration and rehabilitation of indigenous and certain exotic species, and removing invasive species that may kill 100-year-old plant species. A large variety of plants are grown on the property – a 100-year-old bamboo plantation, golden asafoetida, clove, many species of mangoes, including alphonso, and other fruit bearing trees like sitaphal, ramphal, lychee, papayas and bananas.

Local Community Engagement: The palace is sensitive to its relationship with the local community. Youth from local community are hired and skilled so that the economic benefits of tourists coming in accrue to the community. Partnerships include those with a local tribal contemporary artist, collaborations with colleges to create awareness on sustainable practices.

Light Footprint Tourism: There is a low ratio of room to land (about 7 acres of land). When cyclone Fani hit in 2019, the debris from the destruction, such as tree and foliage were used for composting, while fallen branches were turned into tables, chairs and reused to make the boundary wall. The property is working toward creating a sustainable ‘farm to table’ concept and a model that can be replicated by others. Food produce is sourced locally from the local market and from the farms within the property.

Sensitive Destination Discovery: The family at The Belgadia Palace are keen on putting Mayurbhanj and its surroundings on the tourism map but with guidelines based on responsible tourism.

Heritage Preservation: There is emphasis on preserving heritage by promoting local festivals, and arts and crafts such as Dokra and Chhau – a martial arts dance form. Life sized pattachitra frames adorn the living rooms of the palace. Mayurbhanj Chhau dance, an ancient dance form, is still being practiced. Belgadia has tied up with an NGO promoting the dance form for guests to experience the folk music and dance. Guests are encouraged to visit the handicraft villages and engage with communities and purchase goods.

Human Touch: The Mayurbhanj Foundation has been created to touch the lives of 100,000 people in the district in the fields of education, livelihood and health, sports and the arts. To promote business and provide an alternative livelihood from eco-tourism, the Foundation has tied up with local communities such as Project Chhauni, Chuliaposi Handloom School, Mayurbhanj Art Foundation, Sabai Grass Communities (SHG), Leper Colony, Dokra Handicraft Villages. This provides them direct access to tourists without any middle man with 100% profits going back to communities. (Mayurbhanj Foundation keeps a percentage of revenue earmarked for social and environmental projects for the benefit of the local community throughout the year).

Our Recommendation

About half an hour's drive away, Simlipal National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a great birding site. Well known for its lush vegetation and its many waterfalls, Simlipal is yet unexplored and sees few tourists.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

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Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)