Mayurbhanj Palace

By: Rusiraj Pattanayak

The extravagantly decorated Mayurbhanj Palace of the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj is a heritage building depicting the rarest engineering skill and architectural excellence of a bygone era. The construction of the first phase of the palace began on orders of Maharani Sumitra Devi Bhanj Deo in 1804, who ruled the state from 1796 to 1810.

In phased development, the palace could get its aura of majesty with intricate designs during the rule of Maharaja Krushna Chandra Bhanj Deo (1868-1882), Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo (1882-1912), Maharajah Purna Chandra Bhanjdeo and finally during the rule of Maharaja Pratap Chandra Bhanj Deo (1928-1948). It is a brick-built double-storied structure in the classical Western style having of Doric-Corinthian column and a mixture of Greek and Victorian architecture.

Lime-mortar has been used in construction of this palace. SriramChandra Bhanj Deo did major additions to palace in 1892, which has 126 rooms. The front of the palace, which resembles the Buckingham Palace, was also built during his reign in 1908.

Local people address this palace as Rajbadi. The huge wooden doors have royal insignia carved of them. The Mayurbhanj Palace is surrounded by acres of lush green ground marked by boundary.

The walls of the royal bathing ghat was studded with mirrors reflecting the sun’s rays on the water sprouting from a fountain illuminating the already ghat.

This wonderful specimen of engineering was short-lived when the heritage building was taken over by the government. The pool was covered with wooden floors and converted into a library-cum-reading room for Maharaja Purna Chandra College that shifted to the palace in 1960.

An old temple behind the main college building is on the verge of collapse. It is built like a pagoda housing several Jain and Buddhist icons. The Mayurbhanj Palace also once housed the temple of their kuladevi, Goddess Kichakeshwari, which was not only ishta-devata of Bhanj dynasty but also the State deity. Its idol was brought here from their old palace in Khiching.

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