Restoration of Belgadia Palace by Pooja Bihani
Restoration of Belgadia Palace by Pooja Bihani
The extravagantly decorated Belgadia Palace of the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj is a heritage building depicting the rarest engineering skills and architectural excellence of a bygone era. The construction of the palace has been completed in different phases. The first phase of the palace was constructed on orders of Maharani Sumitra Devi Bhanj Deo in 1804, who ruled the state from 1796 to 1810. The palace got its aura of majesty with the intricate designs during the rule of Maharaja Krushna Chandra Bhanj Deo (1868-1882), Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo (1882-1912) and finally during the rule of Maharaja Pratap Chandra Bhanj Deo (1928-1948). This stately property has now been converted into a boutique hotel.
The palace portrays a mixture of Greek and Victorian architecture, which has been constructed using lime mortar. It is a classic western style double-storey structure of brick having a Corinthian column. Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo made some major additions to the palace in 1892, which included 25 rooms, a dining room, museum, living room, 3 kitchens, 2 living rooms, 2 libraries, a billiards room, 2 gardens, 1 temple, 2 offices with a front and back sprawling lawn and a long drive-in from the main road with an adjoining lake at the back. All these have been extensively restored and have now been transformed into a thriving holiday destination.
To add to the beauty, the palace is built on a hill surrounded by orchards and groves. Renowned Architect and Interior Designer, Pooja Bihani, a close friend of the royal family, worked closely with Mrinalika Bhanjdeo, to conceptualize the design that stays true to the rich heritage of the property so that the restoration work is carried out meticulously.
After extensive planning, five rooms on the ground floor and four uniquely designed bedrooms on the first floor were carved out from the original structure. The rooms on the upper floor have been named after the royalty of Nepal, as the Queen hails from there: The Narayanhity Suite, the Shahzada Suite, The Bengal Renaissance Suite and The Crown Suite. They’ve been diligently infused with design elements that hark back to the aura of its imperial past yet with the comfort of all modern-day amenities. The palace has been blessed with the huge treasure of antique furniture and accessories which have been revamped and polished to bring back its lost glory.
The restoration work began in late 2016 after the family decided to convert the palace into a boutique hotel. Renovation of the walls, by recognizing the old paint colours and recreating the effect with sustainable paints. The walls were adorned with terracotta flowers and nature imagery, which have been restored by carving out the original designs from the walls and painting them with a different colour to highlight the craftsmanship. Remaking ceilings and reinforcing the very structure of the building has been critical.
Replacing the old wiring and pipelines with modern facilities keeping in-sync with the original architecture and furniture of the palace. Re-using old teakwood panels as flooring and decoration pieces, to avoid tousling with any modern architecture unnecessarily. All the furniture from Europe and East Asia were upholstered and the fabric used was a part of the royal palace and also from the palace of Kolkata and Shillong. The goal was to make the building as much environment-friendly as possible by installing energy-efficient light fixtures.
Keeping the shell of the house intact, the original 25 rooms were broken down and redesigned to accommodate luxury suites, conference spaces, billiards and theatre room, an extended library, extended dining table, rooftop for performances, gym, spa, museum with a few additional verandahs, for a multifaceted crafting of experiential heritage stay.
Gold leafing, miniature paintings and beautiful murals were restored to be placed strategically in rooms, hallways, turrets and verandahs as they were in the original palace. All the art deco, stained glass, chandeliers have been repaired and polished to be placed strategically, giving the essence of living in the turn of the century, as walking through the halls gives you a sense of the different periods the house has been through, beginning with the 1800s.
The engraved teak entrances have been restored to place on main archways and leakages have been fixed from old columns, both inside and outside the house. Century-old carpets and animal taxidermy were cleaned and repaired to be mounted on walls and used in the museum. Royal Doulton sinks and taps have been replaced by modern shower textures, and the old Lalique lights and crystal chandeliers have been replaced by energy-efficient fittings.
Claw footed bathtubs were restored and painted. The antique lamps and lanterns have also been restored and Italian marbles have been used for flooring in almost every room. To give guests a taste of Indian tradition, mixed with authentic local experiences, the royal family’s roots in Nepal, Rajasthan and Odisha were incorporated in the rooms subtly complementing the overall Victorian architecture. Gargoyles and window frames were repainted and fitted to mellow down the tone of the Victorian architecture.
All covered Arches were brought back to their original forms and positions to add to the original grandeur. The rooms have been decorated with remnants of the British period such as beds, doorknobs, railings, desks, draws, keyholes and keys, four-poster beds, ashtrays, vases, oil-burning lamps, etc. The façade of the building is white with a large scale water body in front, a typical characteristic of the yesteryears. Once you enter the state, you escape the bustle of city life.
Spaces and Design have paid special attention to the styling of this Heritage Palace — the verandahs have been opened up and marked with the timeless checkered black and white marbles, chandeliers that capture the regal feel and glory of the days gone by, detailed intricate and extensive mirror work, vibrant colours that span the entire length and breadth of the walls; these thoughtful elements have given a glimpse of the past glory of this iconic property.
For more updates on construction, infrastructure, real estate and allied industries visit: www.infrabuddy.com