A few years ago, when I visited the Residency at the Koti Womens College, I was told about the opulent Durbar Hall and the double stairways. I could hardly imagine the grandeur I would see, when I finally got the opportunity to visit the Residency during the event Reviving Residency.
The mansion weaves its own mystique with the Durbar Hall, painted ceiling, chandeliers, galleried halls, inlaid wood and drawing rooms. It was built in European neo-classical style, similar to the White House in Washington DC. It was intended to cement the power of the British East India Company, and maintain its influence over the independent state of Hyderabad and the Nizam. The Resident was appointed to protect the British interests in the Deccan region.
It was commissioned by the British Resident in Hyderabad, James Kirkpatrick, around 1803. Up until Independence this colonial building served as the seat of the British Resident after which, in 1949 it became part of Osmania College for Women.
The Residency was the backdrop of the romance between British Resident James Kirkpatrick (the protagonist of William Dalrymple’s ‘White Mughals’) and Khairunnisa. Kirkpatrick fell in love with and eventually married Khairunnisa, a local girl from an aristocratic Muslim family, and adopted the local customs and rituals.
The British Residency is now a protected monument under the control of Telangana State Department of Archaeology and Museums. An anonymous British donor had pledged $1 million to the World Monument Fund for its restoration. The ongoing conservation work is in collaboration with World Monuments Fund (WMF), National Culture Fund of Union Ministry of Culture and the State Department of Archaeology and Museums.
Reviving Residency was organised to commemorate the completion of phase I of the Restoration of the site and the commencement of phase II.
There are plans to convert the Residency to a museum once the restoration is complete.
I hope to revisit sometime soon, see it in natural light and experience it’s architectural beauty all over again.