Saturday, 26 May 2018

Koti Womens College Hyderabad: Epitome of Love of a British Resident Officer and a Hyderabadi Princess.

Hyderabad keeps on surprising me with its jewels spread across the city.One among these jewels is College for Women in Koti. Many Hyderabadi women have right to boast that they were the student of college of love,”Koti Women's College” which is not just a grand building, but was purpose built for love.
Lieutenant Colonel James Achilles Kirkpatrick ,his wife Khair-un-Nissa with Children 
When the British left Hyderabad in 1949, the Koti residency was converted into Women’s college.Now Koti Womens College lies in the heart of the most favorite commercial and busiest market of Hyderabad.
The man who built it, had come India to conquer the country, but it was he who was conquered, not by an army… but by a Hyderabadi woman.
Koti Womens College College-Hyderabad 
For some strange reason, most love stories do not have a happy fairy-tale ending. Very rarely we come across a story that ends with “and they all lived happily ever after”.
This love story is between British Resident Officer James Achilles Kirkpatrick (1764-1805),  a high-ranking diplomat from the East India Company at the court of Hyderabad and Khair un-Nissa (1786-1813), the great niece of the Prime Minister in court of Nizam of Hyderabad state).

Students and Professors of Koti Womens College-Hyderabad
Koti Womens college began its life as the residence of the British Resident in the Deccan region on the the land provided by the Nizam in 1803. Both wanted to be as far away from each other yet with the ability to keep an eye on the other.  Hence this place was chosen across the River Musi.
British officer of East India Company drinking Hukka
And the Love story of James Achilles Kirkpatrick (British resident Officer in court of Nizam Hyderabad) and  Princess Khair-u-nissa goes on

Love is said to be the strongest emotion that a human can possess. It is the very emotion that connects two souls with an unbreakable bond. It not only connects you with the fellow beings but will help you realize your purpose on earth and gives you strength to do things you could never imagine.
v  James Achilles Kirkpatrick was a high-ranking diplomat from the East India Company at the court of Hyderabad, who was so captivated by Indo-Persian culture after travelling to India with imperialist intentions? He quickly gave up his English habits and wardrobe and replaced them with nauch parties and Mughal-style outfits.
v   Kirkpatrick, who likes many other British, went completely native, adopting the native dress and social ways. He smoked a hookah, wore Indian style mustachios and had his fingers dyed in henna. Moreover James had taken on the Eastern habit of belching appreciatively after meals.

A Nauch girl in a mehfil of Britishers
v  With fluent Hindustani and Persian, he openly mingled with the elite of Hyderabad. Kirkpatrick was adopted by the Nizam of Hyderabad, who invested him with many titles: mutamin ul mulk ('Safeguard of the kingdom'), hushmat Jung ('Valiant in battle'), nawab fakhr-ud-dowlah bahadur ('Governor, pride of the state, and hero').
Princess Khair-un-Nissa
v  He fell in love with the grand-daughter Khair-un-Nissa of the Prime Minister of Hyderabad.The union, however, would not be so easy, as she was a Sayyadi and he was part of the East India Company, who hated the Nizams’ guts. 

A British Resident in court of Nawab
v  Though ostensibly the mission of British Resident Kirkpatrick was to build political bridges with the Nizam, while hidden agenda was to expand British territory, but he was vanquished by the bewitching beauty of Khair un-Nissa — ‘most excellent among women’.


v  In a picture of Khair un-Nissa, dated 1806, "she still looks, a little more than a child: a graceful, delicate shy creature with porcelain skin, an oval face and dark brown eyes". No wonder she stole the heart of the young Resident, who first saw her at a royal wedding from behind a curtain.

v  Then the love story takes the course of a legendary ballad, with the hero overcoming many obstacles, including breaking off the heroine’s engagement to a local nobleman and facing stern reprimands and wrath of his ‘superiors’. But as true love knows no impediments, Kirkpatrick converts to Islam and marries his lady love.

  Local officials said they would allow the marriage only on the condition that he “strives for the best interests of the Hyderabadi government.” He accepted the conditions, and they got married in 1801. James thus became a double agent for the Nizam Government.



Now here tragedy is waiting for Young Lovers
v  Upon hearing of the marriage, and James’ conversion into Islam, the newly appointed governor of India Lord Rickard Wessesley summoned him to Calcutta, where he was reprimanded and dismissed from his position. Wellesley strongly disapproved British-Indian liaisons.

v  Kirkpatrick later fell ill and died in Calcutta, in 1805. Khair became a widow at a young age of 19. Despite the tragic ending, the estate that he constructed for her, the Residency building, which later became the Koti Women’s College, still remains as an epitome of their love.


v  Although she, as a disgraced woman consequent to the love affair, she was not allowed by her family to return to Hyderabad for some years, with the death of a senior male relative she was eventually allowed to return, and in Hyderabad on 22 September 1813 aged 27.

v  Kirkpatrick and Khair-un-Nissa together had two children: a son, Mir Ghulam Ali Sahib Allum and a daughter, Noor-un-Nissa Sahib Begum. Their father sent them to England to live with their grandfather Colonel James Kirkpatrick, in London and Keston, Kent, shortly before his own, unexpected death at a young age.


 The colourful romance ends on a tragic note with Kirkpatrick deciding to send their children to Britain and he himself dying alone in Calcutta on way to his homeland.

 "James had died among strangers… and far from everyone he loved… he was laid in the muddy monsoon ground. In place of tears, there was a cold military salute." And finally Khair, too, died alone on September 22, 1813, aged only 27, in Hyderabad

And that is the story of Koti Women’s College Hyderabad, and the man who built it. Someone who had come to India to conquer the country, but it was he who was conquered, not by an army… but by a Hyderabadi woman. 
Khair, the lovely princess, is still remembered by the Telangana Government. They named a tourist boat after her.
Painting of Residency.
Present Koti market chauraha Hyderabad



   After death of James Achilles Kirkpatrick , Khair-un-Nissa was seduced by James's assistant, Henry Russel who replaced him as resident in Hyderabad. She remained his mistress at Masulipatnam, after being banned from returning to Hyderabad. Later on a visit to Madras, Russel fell for a half-Portuguese beauty and married her. Ultimately, the ban was lifted and Khair-un-Nissa returned to Hyderabad where she died on September 22, 1813 aged 27.
    This story is set to come alive in a movie based on a novel by Scottish author William Dalrymple.

     Written and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram, with the help of Wikipedia and other materials available on Net  with thanks.













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