The Belgadia Palace of the Bhanjdeofamily of Baripada, in Mayurbhanj, Odisha, is a royal experiential boutique hotel. Carefully restored to its former glory by Spaces and Design, Kolkata, the mansion is set over two floors, spanning 23,500 sq. ft.
Completed in February 2017, the brief for theproject was to simply restore the old glory of the palace and update it with modern amenities.
The heritage property was constructed on the orders of Maharani Sumitra Devi Bhanj Deo in 1804, who ruled the state from 1796 to 1810. Made with brick in the classical Western style, the structure is adorned with Doric-Corinthian columns and is a mixture of Greek and Victorian architecture. The estate is situated on a hill, surrounded by orchards, groves, and is close to the Simlipal Tiger and Elephant Reserve.
The original design had 25 rooms, but the space was changed in the renovation to accommodate a total of nine rooms, including luxury suites, conference spaces, an extended library, billiards and theatre room, extended dining table, rooftop area, gym, spa, museum with additional verandas.
The project was completed in 18 months,and the aim was not to conceptualise a new design but restore the beauty of the palace. The biggest challenge faced by the architect was drawing that fine line between modernity and heritage.
Spaces and Design kept most furniture as is, only polishing and changing the upholstery, using fabric from parts of the royal palaces of the family in Kolkata and Shillong. The architecture gives guests a taste of the family’s roots, which can be traced to Nepal, Rajasthan and Odisha. Each room brings out a different style and is mixed subtly with the overall Victorian look and feel.
Timeless chequered black and white marbles, chandeliers, detailed mirror work, vintage tiles, vibrant colour schemes, claw-footed bathtubs, heirloom carpetsadded to the meticulous details ensconced in this heritage hotel. Royal Doulton sinks and taps were replaced by modern shower textures, and the old Lalique lights, crystal chandeliers were substituted with energy-efficient fittings. A key feature in the palace is the walls carved with terracotta flowers. Gold leafing, miniature paintings and beautiful murals were restored in old antique shops in Kolkata to replicate the character of the original estate.
Structural maintenance work proved to be an important part of the restoration, and water seepage, sunken flooring, repairingceiling cornices was a priority. The towering ceiling height of 19 feet added to the challenges faced by craftsmen who restored the traditional designs and carvings.