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October 5, 2022

Down memory lane with a Princess from the East-Nilgiri-Odisha

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As a six-year-old when I visited the Nilgiri Palace, I was awestruck seeing an architectural marvel as it. A beautiful mountain called “Swarnachuda” caught my attention with clouds floating on top of it. One of the most attractive part of the palace is the magnificent four storeyed clock tower, which was meant to remind the sense of punctuality during the olden era. The clock tower was instrumental in guiding merchant ships and boat along the Balasore coast in The Bay of Bengal. Here as a six-year-old, I was just admiring the palace, whereas in 1882 at a tender age of five my forefather Shyam chandra Mardaraj had ascended the throne and soon began making extensions to the palace by adding a residential wing as well as administration wing.








I came to know more interesting facts like umpteen years back, two brothers named Nila and Shankar from Chotanagpur royal family, came to visit the Jagannath temple in Puri. One of them (Nila) decided to stay back here, hence the origin of the name “Nilgiri” happened and the family started. The second interesting fact that I would love to share is that my ancestor the 13th chief “Narayan Basant Birat Mandhata” received the title of Harichandan from Gajapati Raja Purusottam Deb of Puri, for whom he was the Army Commander in Chief. I was sure about the fact that bravery does reside in our lineage, adding more to that I discovered that we were granted the title of “Mardaraj” by the Mughals for defending Northern Odisha against Pathans. The princely states of Odisha were never completely subjugated by the Mughals, the Marathas or the British.












Apart from being smart and brave leaders, my lineage comprises of art and literary lovers as well. My great grandfather Kishore Chandra Mardaraj Harichandan, was a great patron of the arts. My grandfather Rajendra Chandra Mardaraj was an avid reader and an eloquent speaker apart from being a M.A. and a L.L.B. He played a pivotal role in establishing a girl’s school at Nilgiri and also donned the hat of becoming a member of Legislative Assembly for three consecutive terms. Following his footsteps as well as her own wishes, my sister Kumari Akriti is a lawyer by profession. A princess from our family who made her mark in the political world during the 50’s era, was Rani Basant Manjari Devi. She was the first woman of the state to be included to the State Ministry as a M.L.A for two terms and later as the health minister of Odisha. My father Jagdish Mardaraj stepped out of his comfort zone and carved a niche for himself in the corporate world.

In the present times, we are and we will always be proud of our roots, our heritage and our lineage. As a descendant, I will continue evolving with the times, managing to maintain the legacy as well as growing it further.


Kumari Prakriti

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