The zenana palace complex known as Rang Mahal inside the Residency building is set to be restored by early next year. The restoration is being steered by Deccan Heritage Foundation. “Yes., we will be carrying out the restoration. We have begun the work on the entrance and the Rang Mahal’s entrance would be restored by January next year,” informed conservation architect Sharat Chandra, who has earlier worked on the Residency building. Sonata Software is financing the restoration effort. “This is a three-year grant from Sonata and the project will be completed in 2025,” said Srikara on behalf of DHF.
The Residency building with its palladian columns, a wide flight of stairs, and guarding sphinxes on either side of the entrance was among the first examples of European architecture in Hyderabad in 1802. In contrast, the Rang Mahal built at the same behind the imposing building, shared architectural continuity with delicate tapering pillars, latticework, and intricate stucco work that were the hallmarks of Qutb Shahi and Asaf Jahi era.
The restoration will throw in sharp relief the contrasting architectural styles at the beginning of the 19th century where the romance of the British Resident James Achilles Kirkpatrick and Hyderabadi noblewoman Khairunnissa triggered much heartburn and scandal. The Rang Mahal was surrounded by a manicured garden with aligned fountains. Currently, the Rang Mahal is barely accessible due to overgrown weeds between the British cemetery and the Model Residency building with a trench in the middle.
“DHF India has begun the restoration of the Rang Mahal pavilion and its garden, which were used by the Begum and her entourage,” said a message shared by DHF which has earlier helped restored the outdoor plaster model of the Residency in 2015. In tandem with the British Association for the Cemeteries of South Asia, the DHF restored the cemetery area inside the complex in 2020.
The restored Rang Mahal is being billed as an attractive venue for concerts to keep the memory of the Begum Khairunnissa alive.