Freephone an expert 01306 744 656

Send Enquiry
Opening Times
10am - 6pm
10am - 6pm
10am - 6pm
10am - 6pm
10am - 6pm
10am - 2pm

Call 01306 744 656 or

For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

On the trail of the White Mughals

Whether or not people have read the book, they’re always curious about where this tragic love story took place …

By Jayanti Rajagopalan
Founder of Detours

For the author, William Dalrymple, the White Mughals came to him almost by accident. He stumbled across the story by chance and then began to dig deeper and deeper into Hyderabad’s history. I keep joking with him about how on some of the pages, the footnote is actually longer than the actual text.

The White Mughals excursion is either a half-day tour or we can turn it into a full day activity. On both, we spend a significant amount of time in the former British Residency building featured in Dalrymple’s book, which has now been converted into a women’s college. Much of the building has thankfully been restored to its former glory. We cover the very opulent and imposing Durbar Hall focusing on this tragic love story between British diplomat, James Achilles Kirkpatrick, and Khair-un-Nissa Begum, a Hyderabadi noblewoman of royal Mughal descent.

Throughout the architecture, you can see a fusion of British and Mughal style. At the back there’s a small graveyard overgrown with trees where dignitaries such as the Military Secretary were buried. I’ve had people crying when they see certain parts of the residency – it’s very powerful if you’ve read the book.

The most nostalgic remnant is a little dolls house built at the end of Kirkpatrick’s garden which leads onto Begum’s. The story (apocryphal in my opinion yet romantic) goes that because she was in purdah (a religious practise of female seclusion), she was not allowed to enter or even admire the front portico of her husband’s residency. In order for her to enjoy the building, Kirkpatrick built an exact replica for her. It’s probably around my height and I’m about 5 ft 3 inches.

We also cover Raymond’s Tomb, on top of a hillock, dedicated to a French mercenary under the employment of the Nizam (ruler of Hyderabad), and visit the memorial of Mah Laqa Bai, a courtesan known for her beauty and the first female poet to have a diwan (poetry collection) published. We drive around the Secunderabad area also known as White Town, where only the British and favoured nobility were allowed. Here you’ll see plenty of colonial architecture and notice how different it is from that of Hyderabad’s old city resplendent with its rich Islamic design. There are still British-named roads and railway stations. The old military barracks gives you a sense of the kind of presence the British had in Hyderabad, a city not always associated with India’s colonial past.


  • History
  • Trips to take

Available in these itineraries…

Alfred & Jayanti Rajagopalan

Jayanti, affectionately known as Jonty, worked in the corporate sector for over 13 years before starting Detours, her experiential tour company in Hyderabad. An avid traveller, she strives to widen her knowledge of people, traditions and most importantly the regional food of any place that she visits. She wants visitors to experience some of India’s lesser-known locations and the hidden parts of Hyderabad. Jonty is passionate about artisanal crafts and is also a council member of Telangana WICCI which helps entrepreneurs to run successful businesses.
Jayanti Rajagopalan, Founder of Detours

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Malcolm, who's travelled extensively in India. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656

Subscribe to Newsletter

Let us inspire you with holiday ideas, exclusive event invites and travel offers from our network of contacts around the world.