Surrounded by greenery, hills and waterfalls, the over 200-year-old Belgadia Palace belongs to the royal family of the Bhanj Deo dynasty, the descendants of whom still live here. The palace has now been renovated and turned into a heritage homestay by two sisters Mrinalika and Akshita, who aim to build sustainable communities using funds raised through travel tours, workshops and cultural exchanges.
With a mix of Greek and Victorian architecture and Doric-Corinthian column, the palace sits on a raised hill with sprawling lawns on either side. The entrance is beautifully decorated with indigenous flora and fauna. Open verandahs, porches, lakes, walking paths, refurbished furniture and upholstery, vintage vinyl records, century-old artworks, orchards and an organic farm make up this heritage homestay.
The rooms ooze royalty with velvet sofas, old-world drawers, antiques and mirrors. There’s a dining hall, drawing room, spa, work stations, projector and billiards room and a common library (crying tears of happiness!). The meals are cooked using the fresh produce from their organic farm.
Engage with the tribal community, visit heritage sites, learn art forms like Dhokra and chauu, marvel at the architectural brilliance of the temples, explore Simlipal National Park, stop by the Barheipani, Bhimkund and Jaranda falls, visit Haripur - the original palace of the royal family, or stop by Deokund for scenic views.
Are you an artist? Then, check out the Artists Residency Programme where artists get to interact with the local communities, visit heritage sites within town and create art inspired by their experiences. The artworks are then displayed at the palace and are also up for sale. A percentage of the proceeds goes to the local communities for development in the education, health and arts sectors. You can also conduct talks and workshops with local students.