On one hot June afternoon, my husband went to visit an ancient monument of Hyderabad to take its photographs. He was to give a power point presentation before a group of historians and other knowledgeable people at Salarjung Museum. The subject for presentation is “Important Monumental Buidings of Hyderabad”. Since he wanted to make the work more authentic he decided to visit all these monuments in person.
That particular day he planned to visit Koti, where there is a magnificent building ‘Residency”. Right in the middle of Koti area is a large estate of 65 acres which once was the abode of English Residents of East India Company.
“The Residents” are envoys appointed by the East India Company to guide and help Nizam, and at the same time to keep a watchful eye on him to establish a friendly and confidential communication between the Nizam and the company. During the 169 years of Nizam’s rule, 79 Residents were appointed.
This was designed by P Russel of Royal Engineers and was completed in 1808. This Residency built in European style, consists of a Durbar hall which is the main part retaining the old grandeur. Two marble lions flank the sweeping staircase and six tall dazzling Grecian columns hold the sloping roof aloft. Though the interiors have faded, much of the enamel and stucco work remains on the ceiling.
Also of interest near the outer walls are what seem to be the remnants of the ‘Rang Mahal’, where one of the residents, Kirk Patricks’ Muslim wife Khairunnisa Begum lived. The area is still called the ‘Begum’s Gardens’. The Residency now houses the University for Women and is in a much neglected condition.
The two lions near the last step attracted my husband’s attention, and he took a close up photograph of one of the lions. He stood there for sometime totally engrossed looking at the lion and marvelling at the beauty and imagining the glory of that place which it could have enjoyed during the British Raj. He came back very excited with full of stories of that place. In his opinion this Residency might have seen the Residents and diplomats of the bygone era strutting in their resplendent uniform, with their lady wives in flowing gowns. Nawabs, begums, Rajas and Ranis, nobles with their wives might have assembled there on special occasions in full regalia.
That night I was woken up by the rumbling sounds made by my husband in his sleep. I thought as he was always fascinated by history, may be he is dreaming about the past glory of the Nizams and the Residents, and he is having a conversation with them in his dreams. It didn’t stop at that. He suddenly got up agitated, and after sometime settled down into deep sleep.
When enquired next morning about his previous night’s strange behaviour, he told me that he had a nightmare wherein he was followed by a lion, and when he increased his speed of walking, the beast also increased its speed. As he ran for his life, the lion also galloped and chased him.
On consulting a friend who is knowledgeable about dreams, he advised my husband never to visit that place again.
My husband wonders if somebody else who has been taking photographs of such old monuments has had such an experience too!