British Residency, Hyderabad

Koti Residency or British Residency or “Hyderabad Residency” is an opulent mansion built by James Achilles Kirkpatrick who was British Resident of Hyderabad state between 1798–1805. It was once the embassy of the East India Company to the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad . Now it is a minor tourist attraction located in Koti, Hyderabad.

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The villa is in the palladian style and similar in design to its near-contemporary in the United States, the White House. It features in the 2002 William Dalrymple book White Mughals. The house was designed by Lieutenant Samuel Russell of the Madras Engineers and construction began in 1803.

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The building is outstanding in its own right: a grand mansion, built in the European neo-classical style, reminiscent of the White House in Washington DC. It was intended to signify the power and grandeur of the British, and in this sense, the building outlasted the colonial power who built it. Hyderabad was an independent state but the British East India Company maintained its influence by appointing a Resident to the Hyderabadi court, who would spy, scheme, and protect British interests.

There is also an interesting love story associated with the residency. Kirkpatrick who stayed in Hyderabad for nine years as a resident created a stir in European and Indian social circles by falling in love with a Muslim girl, Khair un Nissa Begum. It is said that the girl was being forced into a marriage against her wishes and therefore she took refuge in the Resident’s house. Kirkpatrick fell in love with her and they were finally married. The resident built a palace for her within the residency and named it ‘Rang Mahal’ or ‘palace of colour’.

She bore him two surviving children who were sent to England by the age of five and never saw them again due to the early deaths of their parents.

Within the compound was a miniature of the building- legend has it that this was so Kirkpatrick’s wife, who remained in purdah, could see the entire mansion, including the front. This scale model is now in ruins.

Once inside, the grandeur of the building just blows you away. A dramatic double staircase leads up to a magnificent ballroom, replete with massive chandeliers. The ballroom is two stories high and has a balcony so guests could watch the dancing and music downstairs. (A similar set-up can be found in the Salon de Musique of the Jacquemart-André mansion in Paris)

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In 1949 it was converted into a women’s college, Osmania University College for Women.

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More photos of Brtish Residency here

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