Hyderabad, Residency Complex: Restoration of Rang Mahal Pavilion and Garden at Osmania Women's University

This project is supported by a generous grant from Sonata Software Technology Limited. The DHF is grateful to Sonata for this contribution towards the conservation of the heritage of the Deccan

The Residency complex in the middle of Hyderabad represents the moment when the English East India Company began to exert its pernicious influence on the local Nizams. At the end of the 18th century, the British “Resident” James Achilles Kirkpatrick built an opulent mansion with a magnificent, European styled darbar hall in the middle of an extensive garden with pavilions and pools, and an adjacent cemetery for Europeans. The DHF has joined the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA) in the rehabilitation of the complex. In 2015, the DHF restored the outdoor plaster model of the darbar hall, which Kirkpatrick had built for the enjoyment of his wife, Begum Khair un-Nissa. The DHF is now seeking funds to restore the Rang Mahal, a charming pleasure pavilion with its surrounding garden used by the Begum and her entourage, which have now fallen into ruin.

The Rang Mahal project fulfils the DHF mission of education and adaptive re-use. The Residency complex today serves as a campus for the Osmania Women’s University, so the restoration of the Rang Mahal will instil in students a suitable sense of history, bringing the past alive. Courses on heritage management and museology are being developed. The complex is now open to Hyderabad’s citizens and visitors. Entrance fees contribute to the upkeep of the buildings and gardens: pre-booking is recommended, especially for the Heritage walks that are proving popular. When restored, the Rang Mahal will be an attractive venue for concerts, thereby keeping the memory of the Begum alive -- surely a suitable mission for a place of education for women.