Now Reading
British Residency

British Residency

British Residency

Hyderabad has monuments other than the Charminar and Falaknuma Palace. Mallik Thatipalli details the doomed love story behind one of the best British Era structures in India, The Residency building…

A walk through the past

While Taj Mahal is famously referred to as the greatest testament of love (justifiably so), Indian history is littered with mammoth complexes which were built on the edifice of love. The British Residency Building in Hyderabad has a riveting story to share, which has all the makings of a bestseller – a majestic mansion built to house a doomed tale of love and its lapse into ruin only to be resurrected by painstaking restoration. 

Built in 1805 as a symbol of opulence, the British Residency building was literally hidden away in the premises of the Koti Women’s college till a novel (The White Mughals by William Dalrymple) which detailed the love story at the heart of the building brought it back into the limelight in 2002. Few, including the students who study there, know the full extent of the rich story their premises store in its lavish staircases and luxurious galleries. 

While Hyderabad is no stranger to opulent mansions, the Residency Building stands out even in the exacting completion it faces. Designed by Lieutenant Samuel Russell of Madras Engineers, it was built to impress and induce awe even amongst its grand visitors which included the then Nizam of Hyderabad, one of the richest men in the world. 

Built in the neoclassical architectural style popular at the time, it’s massive scale (originally 60 acres, now reduced to 42 acres) combined with the fact that its location was on the banks of the River Musi ensured that it was the most sought after setting for social events. Garden parties, soirees and music mehfils by the stalwart artists of the day were held in its landscaped garden overseen by the memsahibs of the house. 

The love story which inspired the building

Colonel James Achilles Kirkpatrick was the British Resident or Ambassador at the Indian court of Hyderabad between 1797 and 1805. Kirkpatrick had come to India full of ambition, intent on making his name in the subjugation of a nation; but instead it was he who was conquered, not by an army but by a Hyderabadi noblewoman called Khair un-Nissa. 

An exceptionally good-looking man (his portrait was recently discovered in the store room of Salar Jung museum) his courtship of Kahir-un-Nissa was frowned upon both by his countrymen and the Hyderabadi aristocracy. Braving opposition the couple married in 1800 and Kirkpatrick not only adopted Mughal clothes and ways of living, but had actually converted to Islam, wrote Urdu poetry and became a double agent working against the East India Company and for the Hyderabadis.

Besotted by his wife, he started building an opulent mansion for her which even included a separate zenana quarters. Within the compound is a miniature model of the building and many believe that this was so Kirkpatrick’s wife, who remained in purdah, could see the entire mansion, including the front. 

While the couple lived happily during the short duration of their marriage, their turbulent love story came to an end very soon owing to their early deaths. Since Kirkpatrick’s death, their erstwhile home was designated as the official residence of the British Residents to Hyderabad. 

The opulence of the building        

A vast villa surrounded by ancient trees, it attracts attention at first glance with an imposing edifice which boast of massive Corinthian pillars 40 feet in height. Sprawled at either ends are a posse of two lions at 60 feet space of 21 marble stairs. 

As a former British Residency, it weaved its own magic with galleried halls and drawing rooms, a Durbar Hall of astounding proportions with chandeliers from King William IV’s Palace, painted ceilings, parquet floors of inlaid wood flanked by giant mirrors. It boasted of dungeons in the basement and oval ball rooms signifying the luxury and opulence the British Residents in India were accustomed to. 

Generally recognized as one of the important British era buildings, others being the one in Calcutta and Fort George of Madras, it is a perfect Palladian building, and not many know that it is extremely similar in design to the White House in Washington DC. 

The Story of its decay

When the British left Hyderabad in 1949, the Koti residency was converted into a women’s college, established in 1924. It is interesting to note that till the handover, the premises were maintained by the Nizam’s government. Between 1949 and 1952, the Residency buildings were modified and modernized for the use of Women’s college. 

Neglect, coupled with the passage of time, proved detrimental to the very foundations of the centuries-old building. Due to World War-II and the ensuing Independence struggle, regular repair works which were the norm were ignored, and once it was converted into a college, regulations were thrown out of the window and buildings in the complex were modified as per need with no regard to the structural requirements. 

The Residency complex further shrunk over the years and poor maintenance led to the collapse of structures – the sociology block and the Principal’s lodge were pulled down and replaced with new buildings. Newer buildings that did not complement the complex’s heritage status cropped up with blatant disregard of any norms.

It was ironic that the erstwhile British Residency needed a British citizen in author William Dalrymple to attract attention. The author embarked on a five year research which resulted in his influential bestseller, The White Mughals, which traced the doomed love story of Kirkpatrick and Khair-un-Nissa and brought the spotlight back on the gorgeous building tucked away in the folds of the fortress-like walls of the women’s college. 

See Also
Rajasthan Studio

Restoration efforts

The path to conservation began from a White Mughals fan – an anonymous British donor who wrote a cheque for £1 million soon after the book was released. In 2001, the Residency was put on the 2002 and 2004 World Monuments Watch List as ‘Osmania Women’s College’. Soon after, thanks to the donation and the attention it received from Dalrymple’s work, a new story of conservation began. 

It took 12 long years mired in red tape and activism for the restoration process to finally begin in 2013. Under the aegis of Government of Telangana and World Monuments Fund, the first phase of restoration was completed.  The original structure underwent a lot of changes – dummy windows were added on elevations and the roof needed reinforcements. The first phase was an endeavor to safeguard the foundation so that further work could be carried on. 

The first phase took four years of painstaking work and has made a world of difference to the structure. The work concentrated on restoring the ground floor which had a grand staircase flanked by oval rooms on both sides. The dungeons or treasury (the use of the rooms in the basement is unclear) apart from the oval rooms and ballroom in the first level were also meticulously restored, peeling away centuries of damage.

The restoration work wasn’t an easy task considering the scale and size of the project. A massive piece of wooden beam in the roof (weighing a couple of tonnes) was unstable and needed to be carefully modified, a mammoth task, considering the narrow openings. Each and every corner has similar stories to tell. 

Reviving the Residency

The restoration of the Residency is still a work in progress. While the first phase of restoration concentrated on structural enhancement, the second puts onus on art conservation and restoration of the paper mache work in the premises

The Residency building was a testament to the power of Hyderabad during the British Era. It was in its lush gardens that legendary gatherings were once held which saw performances by famous courtesan/poetess of Hyderabad of the time, Mah Laqa Chanda Bai, and the landscaped precincts were witness to the nobility of the city, reciting verses penned by Ibrahim Adil Shah and Quli Qutb Shah. 

It would also symbolically ensure that the monument of love which stood as a silent witness to one of the greatest love stories in India will be available for future generations in all its gargantuan glory. 

Entry inside the building is restricted as it is a women’s college, but Hyderabad Trails conducts regular Heritage walks inside the premises and is a great way to learn more about this majestic structure

  • Housing the incredible love story of a British Ambassador and a Hyderabadi noblewoman, the magnificent building has lived through years of pomp, ruin and restoration
  • The White Mughals by William Darymple brought the limelight back onto the monument after years of gradual decay
  • Bolstered by massive Corinthian pillars 40 feet in height, the building hosted Garden parties, soirees and music mehfils in its galleried halls and drawing rooms, a Durbar Hall of astounding proportions, painted ceilings, parquet floors, and landscaped gardens.

Ad

View Comments (3)
  • How To Master Internet Lead Conversion?

    I spent the last 10+ years generating, calling and closing Internet leads. I will be sharing my decade long conversion code for you to copy during this new, free webinar!
    During the webinar, I will show you:

    Every business needs to capture more leads, create more appointments, and close more deals.

    If you commit to mastering the content in this session, you will earn more money immediately– not in six months or a year, but literally as soon as you put your new knowledge to work. I have used this method on 1,000’s of Internet leads of all price points.

    If you want Internet leads, I have the key to CONVERTING them. Hope you can make it… https://TalkWithWebTraffic.com/Webinar

    If getting more Hot Phone Leads is a part of your business plan (and why wouldn’t it be?), I’ve got great news for you.

    1. 12 ways to generate seller leads
    2. How to get seller leads on the phone
    3. What to say on the phone so you get instant sales
    4. The Key to SMS Marketing
    5 Never Cold Call Again
    6. Better leads = Faster conversions
    7. The four keys to inside sales success
    8. The 10 steps to a perfect sales call with an Internet lead

    More than 7,000 people have already registered. The last time I did a webinar with Top Producers, hundreds of people got locked out and could only watch the replay. Get your spot now and tune in early!

    ==> Save my spot https://TalkWithWebTraffic.com/Webinar

    We’ve become obsessed with making sure our clients are converting the leads we generate for them.

    How much are you getting back in commissions compared to how much are you spending on advertising? But what is even better than a great ROI is a quick ROI. During this live webinar I will show you how we can help you generate higher quality leads that are easier to convert, fast.

    ==> Register at https://TalkWithWebTraffic.com/Webinar

    Your #1 Fan,
    Linda Miller
    Be there or be square.

    If you’d like to unsubscribe click here http://talkwithwebtraffic.com/unsubscribe.aspx?d=hashtagmagazine.in

  • Hi, my name is Eric and I’m betting you’d like your website hashtagmagazine.in to generate more leads.

    Here’s how:
    Talk With Web Visitor is a software widget that’s works on your site, ready to capture any visitor’s Name, Email address and Phone Number. It signals you as soon as they say they’re interested – so that you can talk to that lead while they’re still there at hashtagmagazine.in.

    Talk With Web Visitor – CLICK HERE http://talkwithcustomer.com for a live demo now.

    And now that you’ve got their phone number, our new SMS Text With Lead feature enables you to start a text (SMS) conversation – answer questions, provide more info, and close a deal that way.

    If they don’t take you up on your offer then, just follow up with text messages for new offers, content links, even just “how you doing?” notes to build a relationship.

    CLICK HERE http://talkwithcustomer.com to discover what Talk With Web Visitor can do for your business.

    The difference between contacting someone within 5 minutes versus a half-hour means you could be converting up to 100X more leads today!

    Try Talk With Web Visitor and get more leads now.

    Eric
    PS: The studies show 7 out of 10 visitors don’t hang around – you can’t afford to lose them!
    Talk With Web Visitor offers a FREE 14 days trial – and it even includes International Long Distance Calling.
    You have customers waiting to talk with you right now… don’t keep them waiting.
    CLICK HERE http://talkwithcustomer.com to try Talk With Web Visitor now.

    If you’d like to unsubscribe click here http://talkwithcustomer.com/unsubscribe.aspx?d=hashtagmagazine.in

  • My name’s Eric and I just came across your website – hashtagmagazine.in – in the search results.

    Here’s what that means to me…

    Your SEO’s working.

    You’re getting eyeballs – mine at least.

    Your content’s pretty good, wouldn’t change a thing.

    BUT…

    Eyeballs don’t pay the bills.

    CUSTOMERS do.

    And studies show that 7 out of 10 visitors to a site like hashtagmagazine.in will drop by, take a gander, and then head for the hills without doing anything else.

    It’s like they never were even there.

    You can fix this.

    You can make it super-simple for them to raise their hand, say, “okay, let’s talk” without requiring them to even pull their cell phone from their pocket… thanks to Talk With Web Visitor.

    Talk With Web Visitor is a software widget that sits on your site, ready and waiting to capture any visitor’s Name, Email address and Phone Number. It lets you know immediately – so you can talk to that lead immediately… without delay… BEFORE they head for those hills.

    CLICK HERE https://talkwithwebvisitors.com to try out a Live Demo with Talk With Web Visitor now to see exactly how it works.

    Now it’s also true that when reaching out to hot leads, you MUST act fast – the difference between contacting someone within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes later is huge – like 100 times better!

    That’s what makes our new SMS Text With Lead feature so powerful… you’ve got their phone number, so now you can start a text message (SMS) conversation with them… so even if they don’t take you up on your offer right away, you continue to text them new offers, new content, and new reasons to do business with you.

    This could change everything for you and your business.

    CLICK HERE https://talkwithwebvisitors.com to learn more about everything Talk With Web Visitor can do and start turing eyeballs into money.

    Eric
    PS: Talk With Web Visitor offers a FREE 14 days trial – you could be converting up to 100x more leads immediately!
    It even includes International Long Distance Calling.
    Paying customers are out there waiting.
    Starting connecting today by CLICKING HERE https://talkwithwebvisitors.com to try Talk With Web Visitor now.

    If you’d like to unsubscribe click here http://talkwithwebvisitors.com/unsubscribe.aspx?d=hashtagmagazine.in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 Hashtag India Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top