A Tale of Two Worlds

Built at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the former British Residency in Hyderabad is considered one of the earliest examples of classical revival architecture in India. The building, which at the time of publication is home to Osmania Women’s College, was constructed for Colonel James Kirkpatrick, the British resident at the court of Hyderabad who had converted to Islam and adopted the Mughal way of life. Behind the main building is a separate bibi-ghar, or women’s house, where Kirkpatrick’s Hyderabadi wife Khair un-Nissa lived in the relative isolation of traditional purdah. When the complex fell into disrepair, suffering from water damage and lack of maintenance, its inclusion on the 2002 World Monuments Fund Watch List led to a grant of one hundred thousand dollars through American Express. The subsequent emergency repairs ensured that this building will continue to stand as a testament to an unusual chapter in colonial history as well as the tragic love story of Kirkpatrick, his wife and his children caught between two worlds.

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