William Dalrymple plays a role in world’s largest Commonwealth heritage conservation programme
Yesterday, on January 15, Scottish art historian and writer William Dalrymple informed through his Instagram account that the 216-year-old building of the former British Residency of Hyderabad (also known as Koti Residency or Hyderabad Residency) has been fully restored after a remodelling work of nearly 20 years.
The building will now be part of Osmania Women's University College, which teaches Science, Commerce and Arts to over 2,500 women in Hyderabad. The restoration—of a site that was previously one of the most at-risk in the world—is the first of 20 projects making up a £4.5million Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme. It is being funded by UK charity organisations including the Hamish Ogston Foundation, the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme, and the World Monuments Fund, an organisation that works towards "safeguarding the world's most treasured places" such as this.
Dalrymple wrote that the building was previously close to a collapse when he made an open appeal for funds in the front papers of his book, White Mughals (Penguin, 2002), to save the building in Hyderabad. It had been built for the White Mughal, James Achilles Kirkpatrick, by Nizam Ali Khan, Asaf Jah II.
"Some generous readers kindly responded", the author wrote, "One wrote a cheque for close to a million pounds".
Also among the individuals and teams behind the project are Indian conservation architect Sharath Chandra and his team from Hyderabad, the Department of Heritage of Osmania University, and the Government of Telegana.
The restoration includes a late 19th century Kashmiri papier mache ceiling, a doll house in Kirkpatrick's wife, Khair un-Nissa's Rang Mahal garden (reconstructed entirely by Deccan Heritage Foundation), the Residency Cemetery, and an interpretation centre designed by Siddharth Das in the upstairs gallery.
"One of the wonderful outcomes of the project has been the clarification of the history of the Residency building and a fabulous new book by Anuradha S Naik which outlines in great detail the Residency's architectural history", he added.
Naik's book, An Architectural Masterpiece in Hyderabad: From British Residency to Osmania University College for Women, will be published by Scala Arts Publishers Inc. in April 2023. It reveals details suggesting that the building was partially designed by Henry Holland, the architect who rebuilt the East India Company headquarters in Leadenhall Street.
Dalrymple has also made a discovery of his own: an image that "shows the villain of White Mughals, Henry Russell, who seduced & betrayed Khair un-Nissa, dressed in Hyderabadi dress in front of Khair un-Nissa's Rang Mahal."
"It's the only surviving picture of the lost building", Dalrymple wrote.
The building was restored and unveiled in a grand opening ceremony yesterday.