Hyderabad: The British Residency Building, located on the premises of Koti Women’s College, has finally been restored to its former glory. On Thursday, a memorandum of understanding was signed by four parties, including the state heritage department, Osmania University and the World Monument Fund (WMF), to protect and safeguard the 216-year-old heritage monument .
Built as the seat of British power between 1798 and 1806, the Residency Building (to which the Womens College of Osmania University moved after independence), the structure is an architectural beauty. It usually leaves visitors in awe. Restoration work included restoring the papier-mâché ceiling of the building’s Darbar Hall.
In fact, the architects working on the structure also discovered that it is not exactly papier-mâché but compressed paper that the ceiling is made of. Work had begun about (or more) seven years ago, after WMF stepped in to save the residential building. The monument is expected to open to the public in May and tickets will need to be purchased online a day in advance to limit the number of visitors per day.
History of the residence
It was built after the British and the second Nizam of Hyderabad (1762-1803) signed a treaty in 1798, officially allowing the British to settle here.
The residence building was essentially the first major British authority or building in Hyderabad. It remained so until 1947 when the British left and it was not until September 1948 (when the state of Hyderabad was annexed to India by the military offensive Operation Polo) that it came under the eventual state government, which decided to hand it over to Osmania University.
In fact, the structure was also where angry Rohilla (Afghan soldiers) working in Hyderabad attacked the British during the First Indian War of Independence on July 17, 1857. The charge was led by Maulvi Allauddin and Turrebaz Khan who led citizens of Hyderabad from Mecca Masjid to the residence building after Friday prayers.
The attack failed, however, as the British were able to counter them. The foreign powers had the backing of the state, and it was none other than Salar Jung-1 (Turab Ali Khan), who decided to stick with the British and informed them of the impending attack. In fact, the expression “Turram Khan”, used in Hyderabad, comes from the valor of Turrebaaz Khan, who refused to give up and was finally shot.
The British resident who signed the subsidiary alliance treaty with the Nizam was a Scot named James Achilles Kirkpatrick, who was married to Khairunnisa, daughter of a local nobleman. A scale model of the British residence in the premises is said to have been built by Kirpatrick for Khairunnisa who observed purdah. The scale model was also damaged in 1978 after a tree fell on it and has been restored.
Nizam of Hyderabad – background
The Nizams of Hyderabad originated from high-ranking Mughal commanders working under Emperor Aurangzeb. The father and grandfather of the first Nizam (Kamruddin Khan) were actually part of Aurangzeb’s army, which had descended on Hyderabad in 1687 to take control of King Golconda’s kingdom, led by the Qutb Shahi kings ( 1518-1687) who founded and ruled from Hyderabad.
The first Nizam in 1724 decided to settle officially in the Deccan and left the Mughal court in Delhi. He resumed his post as Subedar of the Deccan after killing the current governor of Aurangabad. However, it can be noted that the Nizams were never kings, as Kamruddin Khan promised to remain loyal to the Mughal throne.
Nizam Ali Khan was the 2nd monarch of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, who ruled the state of Hyderabad from 1724 to 1948. Raymond’s life in Hyderabad took place at a time when the British and French were trying to gain in influence, and fame of this particular gentleman Rose. He spent his life trying to stop growing British influence, but to no avail.
As the French eventually lost their grip on Hyderabad State under the Nizams, Raymond managed to become the favorite of the second Nizam, so much so that the latter bestowed on him elegant titles like “Dragon of War” , “Bravest in the State”, among others. The area where Raymond was buried after his death in 1798 became known as Moosarambagh.
The French, who had an army of around 15,000 in Hyderabad, were forced to leave after Nizam Ali Khan signed the subsidiary treaty of alliance here with the British in 1798 (under the then resident James Achilles Kirkpatrick). Under the treaty, the British agreed to extend their protection to the Nizam against any power in India with which he happened to be at war.
The treaty concluded in 1800, and it essentially reduced the Nizams to the position of a servile ally of the British. The rulers of Hyderabad not only lost their sovereignty, but also their internal suzerainty, which was significantly impaired.
Raymond, who was the commander of a French army, could not stop the increasing colonization by the British, and it is said that he was at the same time disillusioned with the state of affairs in France, which was witnessing a revolution while he was in Hyderabad. According to legend, in March 1798 he shot and buried his two dogs and his horse, then committed suicide. His tomb was marked with an obelisk, behind which is a beautiful pavilion.