A Glimpse Into The Lives Of Princesses Mrinalika And Akshita Manjari Bhanj Deo

Born to royalty and known for their refined design aesthetic, Maharajkumaris Mrinalika and Akshita Manjari Bhanj Deo offer us a special peek into their home, The Belgadia Palace in Mayurbhanj, Odisha, as well as an insight into the pursuits and passions close to their hearts.


Regal Beginnings

Our childhood was filled with frequent travels. And so, we were introduced to several cultures from a young age. It’s true what they say —travelling truly broadens one’s horizons. It did so for us, too. Growing up, we spent time in both Kolkata and Mayurbhanj, before attending the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore. Later, we moved to the USA for further studies. Currently, we are the directors of a boutique hotel that has been crafted out of our ancestral home, the 200-year-old Belgadia Palace. It’s a labour of love of which we’re very proud!

A Royal Life

 Mrinalika and Akshita Manjari Bhanj Deo

We have a very personal concept of what it means to come from a regal lineage. Giving back to the community you come from, keeping traditions, such as storytelling, alive through festivals, and empowering communities around you to remember their roots—that is what royalty means to us today. Climate change, gender equality, and the protection of vulnerable sections of society are issues close to our heart. It’s important for us to showcase our local champions, and shed light on how they are building solutions to overcome challenges. This passion to support our people played a huge role in our
journey back home.

Restoring Glory

When we decided to move back to India, we discussed with our family the prospect of converting the palace into a boutique hotel, while retaining a private wing to ourselves. We believe design is a powerful tool that tells your story without using words. And what better way to introduce your culture to others than by opening up the doors of your own home? The careful restoration process began in 2016. We left no stone unturned to get the right fabrics, pick the desired paint shades, and keep the legacy of our ancestral property intact. The original 27 rooms were narrowed down to 11 and fitted with modern amenities, without taking away the essence of a heritage building. And in 2019, we opened our doors to guests. Through The Belgadia Palace, we want people to discover the beauty of Mayurbhanj and, subsequently, Odisha. Staying in our home is one way to explore the immense treasure of art, culture, and heritage this region has to offer.

Inspiration at Home

Belgadia Palace - Bhanj Deo Sisters

Mrinalika: When you belong to a long lineage of royals, one doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. For me, our parents— Maharaja Praveen Chandra Bhanj Deo, the 47th ruler of the Bhanja dynasty, and Maharani Rashmi Rajya Laxmi Bhanj Deo—are my source of inspiration. They were the first investors who believed in my vision to restore our ancestral home.
Akshita: I’d like to rewind a bit further and mention our ancestor, Maharaja Sri Ram Chandra Bhanj Deo, who initiated iron ore mining with the Tatas and built the first rail line in north Odisha. Like our forefathers, we want to be ambassadors for our state. You can’t imagine our excitement when The Belgadia Palace and Mayurbhanj were part of TIME magazine’s list of ‘The World’s Greatest
Places of 2023’!

Giving Back to Our Roots

Sometimes, mother nature’s plans are different than ours. Through the years, Odisha has been prone to natural disasters and we wanted to ensure we put sustainable practices in place at our home to protect the fragile ecosystem and reduce our carbon footprint. From preserving local flora to waste segregation and composting, we encourage the use of environment-friendly methods as far as possible. Energy-efficient lighting, linen and towel reuse programs, banning of single-use plastic in the palace, and nutrition farming are other ways we foster sustainability at our property. After all, our home is a symbol that links us with past generations, and we go to great lengths to ensure that bond doesn’t break.

Individual Aesthetics

Mrinalika: My personal style changes with the seasons. During the Mayurbhanj summer, I spend my days in linen dresses, ethnic wear, and comfy co-ord sets. When it comes to décor, however,
I’m a maximalist!
Akshita: I prefer classic styles with strong silhouettes in natural fabrics. I also like androgynous fashion, and despite having an affinity for minimalism, I am drawn to statement accessories! I also love the Mayurbhanj Harta Beauty Box, a brand of beauty essentials inspired by the region, co-designed by Mrinalika.

Travel Tales

Mrinalika: We both have an adventurous side. My most memorable trips include a month-long yoga teachers’ training course in Ubud, Bali, skydiving in Nevada, USA with Akshita, and bungee jumping in Rishikesh. We both also did a ten-day skiing course in Kashmir last year, and have the Machu Picchu trek next on our bucket list.
Akshita: I absolutely loved exploring Rio de Janeiro and nearby
islands in Brazil.

The Gourmand Spirit

Mrinalika: I enjoy the fare at Clear Cafe in Bali, La Esquina in New York City, and Sienna Store & Cafe in Kolkata.
Akshita: We’re both foodies! I love Orixas in Brazil, 6 Ballygunge Place in Kolkata, and Masque Labs in Mumbai.

Life Beyond the Palace…

Mrinalika: Apart from working on the Harta Beauty Box, I am a yoga practitioner and facilitate wellness retreats in India and
around the world.
Akshita: I am a manager at Dasra, a firm that catalyses funds for NGOs, where I build conversations around strategic philanthropy in India. I’m also part of the leadership team at Giving Pi, an invite-only network for India’s most eminent families to accelerate philanthropy. And that’s our life for now!


Which cities do you admire for their architecture?
Mrinalika: Marrakesh and Rome.
Akshita: Athens and Hanoi.

Three words to describe yourself.
Mrinalika: Spontaneous, optimistic, and driven.
Akshita: Curious, passionate, and adventurous.

Your favourite shopping destination?
Mrinalika: Milan.
Akshita: Hong Kong.

Your most prized possession.
Mrinalika: A handmade scarf from Paris.
Akshita: An exquisite 19th-century antique dagger
mainland China.

Mountains or beaches?
Mrinalika: Beaches.
Akshita: Mountains.

A make-up staple you can’t live without?
Mrinalika: Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Brag Volumizing Mascara.
Akshita: N°1 De Chanel Revitalizing Essence Lotion.

Your guilty pleasure is…
Mrinalika: Royce chocolates.
Akshita: Waffle Mill’s millet toaster waffles with Koraput coffee.


PC: Image 1: Diva’ni, Photographer: Santosh Mishra; Image 2: Talib Chitalwala; Image 3: Upahar Biswas; Image 4: Talib Chitalwala

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