Tuesday, 1 December 2020

British Residency of Hyderabad, India - restoration of 215- year old famous colonial structure

The British Residency building. Image courtesy Lakshmi Prabhala

Above image:  215 year old British Residency, Hyderabad, India.  the vast villa, and the style of the front part of the building  appear to resemble the White House in Washington, DC.

British Residency. Hyderabad, India Image credit  Sanjay borra firstpost.com

British Residency. Hyderabad, India  firstpost.com

Above image: British Residency, Hyderabad, India.  The massive  40 foot tall Corinthian pillars, the   s two lions on either side overlooking 21 marble stairs  have striking similarity  with that of   Salon de Musique of the Jacquemart-André mansion in Paris ....................................

India is bestowed with thousands of monuments and heritage sites in the form of Hindu temples, churches, mosques,, Maharajahs' palaces and, of course, colonial buildings dating back to many centuries. They are found far and wide across the Indian land and invariably under the management of the ASI - the Archaeological Survey of India.  It is obvious that it is an Herculean task  for the government organization to keep all these structures of great antiquity in good shape in their pristine past glory. For various reasons,  thousands of them are in a  state of neglect or in ruins and far beyond  restoration back to their glorious past stature. 

Hyderabad, India, British Resident Kirkpatrick and his wife, Pinrest.com

Above image: Portraits of James Achilles Kirkpatrick (1764-1805), British Resident at the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, and his wife Begam Khair un-Nisa, a lady closely connected to the court.The man who was instrumental in the construction of a grand Residency in Hyderabad, British India..................

It was in September 2017 the iconic British Residency building in Hyderabad,  once where the British  Resident in the court of the ruler Nizam  lived  was restored.  It is a boon to the posterity if   other monuments are repaired and restored as Robert Musil said, ''There is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument.'' The builders of such monuments are dead, but their memory and legacy linger on.

White Mogul James Patrick. India Chai Bisket

This majestic residency built by the British  architect Samuel Russell of the Madras Presidency had been in a state of neglect for decades  for unknown reasons. But, it is obvious, the colonial structure was not given serious attention by the custodians presumably due to poor funds and lack of interest to keep the building in good condition. It feels like a time-warp. The wooden structures, etc on the first floor were rotting  and a fine colonial building was facing near death. The building and the vast surrounding area around stand as silent spectators of its past glory, joyful days  and its subsequent decline, reminding us of the transient nature of the natural process. Located  in an area called Koti, Osmania University's women's college  was functioning in some parts of the building.  At one point of time it became too dangerous to conduct classes  with leaky ceilings, pealing plaster coming off the   walls, rotting rafters with gaping holes,etc. The central block of the building was  very much damaged and closed down for the students, and most of the classes  were held  in  places that were once  elephant  and horse stables, according to the media report.
 
restoration works,  former British Residency at Koti; Hyderabad (India) deccanchronicle.com

Hyderabad city, telengana, India, Mps India.com

Why do lots of tourist evince interest to visit this colonial site? This structure, once the envy of many rulers, has an irresistible aura about it. During its heyday, it was a seat of British power and their influence on the Indian rulers like the Nizam, the Mysore Maharajah, and others.This structure  very much similar to the Greek style of design with pantheon type of  huge columns and stunning interior, is unique in this area. The  credit goes to  James  Kirkpatrick, the British Resident in the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad for the English company - East India Company. Landed in Hyderabad  Kirkpatrick  gave up his European customs and took keen interest in India's culture and developed a taste for Muslim way of traditions and customs.  He chose a Muslim woman as his partner  and she bore him a couple of children who were sent to England for higher education. The Hyderabad Residency in Neo classical style,  with its various unique features like  an overlooking observation balcony  in the ball room, tall ceiling with fine chandeliers  believed to  have been   procured from King William IV ’s palace,  the Durbar Hall of large  proportions, painted ceilings, parquet floors of inlaid wood, flanked by giant mirrors,  its vast green garden, etc., has its origin to the ingenuity of  the British Resident James Kirkpatrick, a man of different taste and the one who knew how to enjoy his life in a hot land far away from his ancestor's home.   Subsequent British Residents and their memsahibs  used this spacious building for their residential  purposes and weekly balls, etc. It is one of the best among the old monuments in  the erstwhile  Princely state of Hyderabad, and the other being the Falaknuma Palace.

That  this imposing  colonial   monument in the ever-busy area of Hyderabad that had been facing near death,  was at last, restored to its original glory needs appreciation as the restoration of  a highly damaged old structure  needs proper planning, raw materials, and correct execution without disturbing tits  heritage  elements. The 215 year old  Hyderabad Residency  was restored a few years ago, including  a  small model ( a sort of replica) of the same structure (15 foot square in plan and 4 foot high) within the confines  of the Residency and the  surrounding site; it was built  by Kirkpatrick for his wife  Begum Khair-un-Nissa,  so that she  could appreciate the beauty of the Residency mansion constructed in 1803 according to his plan. This model well barricaded by metal to avoid trespassers  was almost damaged in 1978 itself due to  fall of a big tree. The area around the model had over-grown bushes, wild grass, etc that slowly made the model structurally weak.

1947 photo of the Model from the private collection of N.Savithri

Thanks to the concerted efforts made by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) Osmania University and Telangana State Archaeology  who painstakingly  prepared a conservation  and restoration plan  at the University College of Women. The implementation of the project was done  in a phased manner. The total cost of restoration, etc was roughly Rs. 16 crores.  The US Friends of the DHF  came forward and made  the needed finance available  for the restoration of the Model and its protecting shell. The information provided by the model helped the conservationists to understand the  impressive Residency structure, its distinctive features  and, accordingly,  carry out the restoration work. A sum of US$ 32,000.00  had already  been funded by the DHF. The work on the restoration began in 2016 as it became a necessity to save it from total destruction. For details about James Kirkpatrick please refer to: https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2016/12/white-mogul-james-kirkpatrick-and-his.html

https://www.firstpost.com/living/as-iconic-british-residency-building-in-hyderabad-is-restored-a-look-back-at-its-monumental-history-4001499.html

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/invoking-the-muse-at-british-residency/articleshow/57963700.cms