The ornate façade with marvelous arches, minarets, large windows, spires and towers built in the palace of parla khemundi replicate European and Greek style of architecture in Odisha. Architects consider it as a perfect structure of Indo-sarascenic design. In the front entrance, there are two lions structured in both sides of the main gate on raised platforms. These lions mirror the past beliefs of the faith and responsibility. Accordingly the main entrance is called as the Singhadwar or the Lion’s gate.
On these raised platforms you can find one lion seated calmly with opened eyes like a sentry and the other is in sleeping mode. The morale in this architecture says that, it is needful to give complete rest to anybody who works for you, so that he can tender a better service when he gets up. On the other hand it is also needful to depute somebody who will secure the sleeping one and his duty.
The height of the front entrance gate is not less than 22feet high. This height helped the king on the royal elephant to enter into the palace without any disturbance. The gate carries a royal seal with two English words “Strong” and “Faithfull”; this was the main motto of the king during the rule.
I felt much excited while walking into the palace. I tried to recall the old traditions, administration and admiration during the king’s era as seen on different TV serials, like blowing of conventional horns, beating of drums, the dress pattern of the kings and courtiers etc…etc..For a while I was in the peak of my imagination, but the guard of the Clock room suddenly beat the Bell and forced to come again to the real time and says it’s 12o’clock now.
The “Ghanta Ghara” or the time house is situated just after the main entrance. Here one guard is always ready to beat the bell in every hour to maintain the custom till date. The Bell is of foreign origin and it is struck by heavy wooden mallet to indicate the actual time.
On both sides to the entrance you can have a glimpse of the entire town by going up to the guard room with a narrow staircase. This is made to keep a vigilant eye on the surrounding, protect the palace and hint the king about any disturbance or attack.
Then, a vacant place or courtyard or “Angaan” approaches to the most attractive Durbar Hall of the Parlakhemundi. It is the only of its kind in the entire state of Odisha, built on an area of 7200 square feet, roofed by asbestos tile. The Hall is walled by well polished red bricks and stone carvings. You’ll be amazed in the first look- it is guaranteed.
The Durbar Hall is located in the middle of the Palace consisting of two main wings, the Raja Mahal and the Rani Mahal. So symmetrical is the construction that when one stands on the axis (centre line) of the Place and makes comparison of both the wings, he will find one half appears to be exactly the mirror image of the other. Main functions, Council meetings and Royal Family celebrations were being held in the Durbar Hall with much pomp and gaiety said the present heir Gajapati Gopinath Dev.
Beautiful paintings lie on the wall, high rise roof with well ventilated systems. Six large doors are there on both the sides. Systematic arrangements are made to light the Darbar with decorated lights like sandelliors that run with direct current ( DC). A kerosene generator was placed inside the Palace at that time to supply power. Though these sandelliors are not found now a days but the provisions for hanging them are still indicate all those things.
On the wall, trophies of six Indian Bison and four deer heads with large thrones are found. The paintings might have been drawn by the folk painters of Parlakhemundi as it reflects traditional South Indian Style. But it is actively directed by Robert Fellous Chesolm, the architect of the Palace.
Robert was a British architect and as per the Samasthanam (trust) Office of Parlakhemundi he has been assigned the job to construct the palace in 1835AD. He along with other team members and laborers from local periphery completed the construction on 1843.
The Durbar Hall was last decorated during the rule of Maharaja Krushnachandra Gajapati. He has also imported furniture’s made up of Burma teak wood and polished by gold dust. The Gaddi (royal throne) is placed in a remarkable place and surrounded by photos of the past rulers, trophies of two Leopard and two Royal Bengal tigers. These animals were gunshot by the kings of Parla khemundi at different times in the forests of Kurlunda and Jhadpoili, said Gopinath Gajapati- the present heir of Gajapati.
The stunned trellis or Jali work in front of the Gaddi throne is a marvelous design might have been influenced by Moghul architecture and tradition. Women members of the family were used to witness the Durbar through this Jali. There are some un-used antiquities placed beneath the trellis balcony includes a grandfather’s clock, 2 Tamzons,some seals, Trophis and imported marble sculptures.
Right behind the Durbar Hall, there is a stone-ornate kalyan mandap, where sacred-thread ceremonies, marriage functions of royal family were performed. Strong earthlings were made to protect the buildings and the Kalyan Mandap. To light the entire Palace stand posts were made with strong iron pillar at that time. Some of them still exist. Now these posts are converted to electrical light posts as lighting through kerosene pumps is outdated.
The Palace is surrounded with well-appointed bedrooms attached with bathrooms, drawing rooms, dining halls, kitchens, puja rooms as well as spacious store rooms. The Gantaghar (strong-room) as well as an armory room are the other prime sections of the Gajapathi Palace. Beside the Durbar hall there is the temples of the Ishta devi ( prime deity) Ramaswamy and Manikeswari. The Rani mahal part is given to some Govt and private offices on rent.