The Royal Bhanjdeo Sisters Learn The Art Of Story Telling
Mayurbhanj, once known for mines, is now famous for for its culture, art, glory, history and architecture.
HYDERABAD, May 13 (The CONNECT) – Of the 565 royal families or princely states existed at the time of India’s Independence, just one family hit headlines for their hospitality project and put their place on the world map. That is the royal family of Bhanjdeo.
Royal descendant sisters Mrinalika and Akshita Bhanj Deo were in the city at the invitation of the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) and shared their journey from Palace to Boardrooms.
They are known for the restoration of their ancestral home into a boutique hotel. The idea struck during their communications stint in New York.
The 31 and 29-year old sisters candidly admitted it was tough for them to convince their father of their venture. But, eventually, they succeeded. “Our joy had no bounds when our father said, What a good time to start a hotel… Just then revenge travel was happening,” Mrinalika said.
The business venture is three years old now. “We don’t know if our story is a story of success or inspiration. We both got into it without having any experience in the hospitality industry,” she said.
“It is not rooms that we sell, we sell experience. We are into experiential tourism, which has now caught up well across world,” said, Mrinalika. “Through this venture we are showcasing our culture, heritage, community, and architecture, “ they said.
While we were on this project, Mrinalika had to cut off from my social connections to focus on the venture. But she focused on Yoga which helped them focus well, think well and have clarity, she said.
The Bhandeo sisters learnt a lot through storytelling which they would not have been able to do through books. “We learnt to differentiate our property through storytelling,” Akshita said.
Their family tree goes back to 697 AD. They opened our ancestral home to tourists. “We commenced restoration work in 2015 and it was opened to tourists in 2019. We had our own apprehensions. Rajasthan is known for its palaces. But how can The Belgadia Palace stands out and make it special? We had to work hard. We broke the illusion of a Royal family and got into the business of hospitality,” she explained.
Their mother started The Mayurbhanj Foundation. “We help local artisans of a 2000-year-old metal casting craft in Dhokra. We also support some who work with sabai grass, a plant that was imported by their ancestors from Madagascar and now generates income across three states. The tourists who stay are exposed to local art and culture. Artisans visit our property to showcase their works to our tourists,” Akshita said.
Not many people knew Mayurbhanj before 2019, even though it had so much history, heritage and culture. It was only known for mines. And now things have changed. Now it is known everywhere for its culture, art, glory, history and architecture.
Ritu Shah, Chairperson of FICCI Ladies Organisation said in her welcome address that sustainability has to be the way of life and business. Women lead change and the event was to recognise the inspiring journey of two royal sisters, their venture, sustainability practices in their business and revival of some dying art forms.
About 200 FLO members attended the session.