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To persuade the memsahibs of Calcutta to adopt the sari; and Sir David Ochterlony Kirkpatrick's counterpart in Delhi who took all thirteen of his wives out for evening promenades each on the back of their own elephantIn White Mughals William Dalrymple discovers a world almost entirely unexplored by history and places at its centre a compelling tale of love seduction and betrayal It possesses all the sweep and resonance of a great nineteenth century novel set against a background of shifting alliances and the manoeuvring of the great powers the mercantile ambitions of the British and the imperial dreams of Napoleon White Mughals the product of five years' writing and research triumphantly confirms Dalrymple's reputation as one of the finest writers at work today. The White Mughals Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India by William Dalrymple is a tour de force of historical writing Packed with the results of an unbelievably enormous amount of research and detective work it is highly detailed yet it flows like a good novel It gave me great pleasure reading itUntil the first decade of the 19th century Europeans living in India had no difficulties with cohabiting and having sexual relations with the local Indians whom they encountered Many of them often abandoned their European habits and adopted the oriental lifestyle of the people with whom they were living This interracial mixing and cultural interchange is the subject of Dalrymple s masterpieceThe author centres his study on the life and loves of James Kirkpatrick 1764 1805 who became the British Resident at the Nizam s court in Hyderabad Having already had one child by the mysterious Dark Girl Kirkpatrick was clearly attracted to the Indian female One of these females of aristocratic descent became attracted to the young Resident Kirkpatrick reciprocated Khair un Nissa s amorous interest in him and by 1801 not only had they married but also he had become a Muslim They had a son and a daughter Kirkpatrick s marriage to an Indian and his going native was not an isolated incident Many of his peers in the East India Company started multi racial families as well as adopting wholly or partially the Indian ways of life At first this was not much frowned upon by the Company officials in their headuarters in Calcutta but with the arrival of Richard Wellesley in Calcutta as Governor General at the very end of the 18th century things began to change He was concerned that Kirkpatrick s amorous liaison with someone so closely connected to the Nizam s court in Hyderabad might damage the Resident s loyalty to the Company especially at a time when the Company was struggling to gain control of the Deccan the part of southern India in which Hyderabad is locatedJames Kirkpatrick s life ended soon after his happy marriage to Khair un Nissa began He lived long enough to oversee the construction of his magnificent Palladian Residency in Hyderabad and its zenana in which his Moslem wife could live separated from men as her religion dictatedDalrymple traces the tragic life of Kirkpatrick s widow who lived in exile in a coastal port on the east coast of India with her mother but bereft of her two children They had been sent to England to live with Kirkpatrick s father and later his brother Their fate during a period when the British began to develop their prejudice against their Indian subjects is also described in the book This review only touches a tiny part of the tip of the iceberg There is so much to this encyclopaedic book that only by reading it can one truly appreciate its greatness Some have criticised the excessive use of footnotes claiming that they distract the reader from the flow of the book Far from it not only is each and every footnote fascinating on its own but also they enhance what is already an excellent account of the history of the relationships between two dramatically contrasting cultures See for pictures of this wonderful buildingPS I can fully understand Kirkpatrick s attraction to Indian women having married one myself Devoted to Drew years' writing and research triumphantly confirms Dalrymple's reputation as one of the finest writers at work today. The White Mughals Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India by William Dalrymple is a tour de force of historical writing Packed with the results of an unbelievably enormous amount of research and detective work it is highly detailed Marriage by Deception young Resident Kirkpatrick reciprocated Khair un Nissa s amorous interest in him and by 1801 not only had they married but also he had become a Muslim They had a son and a daughter Kirkpatrick s marriage to an Indian and his going native was not an isolated incident Many of his peers in the East India Company started multi racial families as well as adopting wholly or partially the Indian ways of life At first this was not much frowned upon by the Company officials in their headuarters in Calcutta but with the arrival of Richard Wellesley in Calcutta as Governor General at the very end of the 18th century things began to change He was concerned that Kirkpatrick s amorous liaison with someone so closely connected to the Nizam s court in Hyderabad might damage the Resident s loyalty to the Company especially at a time when the Company was struggling to gain control of the Deccan the part of southern India in which Hyderabad is locatedJames Kirkpatrick s life ended soon after his happy marriage to Khair un Nissa began He lived long enough to oversee the construction of his magnificent Palladian Residency in Hyderabad and its zenana in which his Moslem wife could live separated from men as her religion dictatedDalrymple traces the tragic life of Kirkpatrick s widow who lived in exile in a coastal port on the east coast of India with her mother but bereft of her two children They had been sent to England to live with Kirkpatrick s father and later his brother Their fate during a period when the British began to develop their prejudice against their Indian subjects is also described in the book This review only touches a tiny part of the tip of the iceberg There is so much to this encyclopaedic book that only by reading it can one truly appreciate its greatness Some have criticised the excessive use of footnotes claiming that they distract the reader from the flow of the book Far from it not only is each and every footnote fascinating on its own but also they enhance what is already an excellent account of the history of the relationships between two dramatically contrasting cultures See for pictures of this wonderful buildingPS I can fully understand Kirkpatrick s attraction to Indian women having married one myself

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White Mughals Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India

White Mughals is the romantic and ultimately tragic tale of a passionate love affair that crossed and transcended all the cultural religious and political boundaries of its timeJames Achilles Kirkpatrick was the British Resident at the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad when in 1798 he glimpsed Kahir un Nissa 'Most excellent among Women' the great niece of the Nizam's Prime Minister and a descendant of the Prophet Kirkpatrick had gone out to India as an ambitious soldier in the army of the East India Company eager to make his name in the conuest and subjection of the subcontinent Instead he fell in love with Khair and overcame many obstacles to marry her not least of which was the fact that she was locked away in purdah and engaged to a local nobleman Eventually w. A grand slow moving procession through 18th century IndiaStately processions are a leit motif in William Dalrymple s epic account of a doomed love affair between James Kirkpatrick a British East India Company resident and Khair un Nissa great niece of Hyderabad s chief minister Midway through the book for example he uotes a source describing the massive pilgrimage for the annual festival of Mawlah Ali Some 3000 elephants as well as some 50000 horses and load bearing camels with stalls selling fresh and dried fruit clothes and fine woolen pashmina shawls as far as the eye can see immense crowds appear of buyers and sellers riders and dancers glorious tents and mountainous elephants and with tall buildings erected continuously on either side from the Musi River to the foot of Koh e Sharif Elsewhere he describes the departure of William and Fyze Palmer an East India Company official and his Muslim wife Their convoy moved slowly down through the then thickly wooded foothills of the Western Ghats even by the standards of the time the Palmers traveled heavily and James was astonished by the sheer number of bullock carts transport cattle elephants baggage camels syces sepoys bearers and Fyze s dozen females presumably her attendants In many ways this book is just such an unwieldy procession Encompassing a vast sweep of cultures and events the book plods forward at an even unhurried pace This allows the reader to take in all the sights en route but at times I confess I hankered for a swifter means of transportation through a terrain that became almost monotonous in its splendor Dalrymple s account is ostensibly a story of the love affair between James and Khair but their relationship unfolds before the great tapestry of politics and intrigue that was late 18th century India As such there are dozens of major and minor personages to keep track of Even with the help of an introductory eleven page list of dramatis personae and two complete family trees one for the Kirkpatrick s and the other for Khair s Shustari family the reader may find keeping all the names and alliances straight to be a daunting task My chief complaint however is that Dalrymple seems to have been unable or unwilling to sufficiently distill four years of research to make his book accessible Almost every page is festooned with references nearly a thousand all told and copious footnotes He introduces a subject any subject regardless of how trifling and then rather than concisely summing up what the reader needs to know or skipping it altogether if it has no direct bearing on the tale he hares off whatever line he was originally taking and expounds at length upon a new topic Pages later he returns to his original theme but by that time the reader has forgotten what it was Thus the reader is treated to sometimes fascinating but often tedious treatises on the major Mughal festivals methods of abortion in 18th century India Mughal gardening methods rites of passage for Mughal children pigeon keeping British colonial architecture Islamic astronomy and dozens of other topics of peripheral importance to the tale Likewise with the introduction of each new East India Company or Mughal court official the author digresses to give a full account of that person s life and character up to that point Dalrymple obviously loved researching the book and as he makes it clear in his introduction he was most fortunate to unearth previously unknown sources and in particular to find the key to deciphering encoded letters between James Kirkpatrick and his brother William However in his zeal for the chase he too often makes his uest for the story part of the central narrative It s intrusive He s also much given to uoting at great length from his sources Almost every other page seems to have a great chunk of correspondence inserted into it I couldn t help but wish a firmer editorial hand had been applied With all its faults however this is a beguiling book in many ways Dalrymple s central thesis is that before the 19th century British and Indian cultures were closely interwoven and hybridized than previously thought James Kirkpatrick was one of a number of notable White Mughals British East India officials so sympathetic to local customs and Indian cultures that often they converted to Islam or Hinduism usually before wedding Indian women However James and Khair were ultimately victims of a growing hardening stance of the British who came to look upon India less in terms of a rich culture met on eual footing and from the vantage point of an imperial power greedily exploiting a resource As Dalrymple makes abundantly clear the personalities and failings of certain East India Company officials most notably Lord Wellesley the Governor General from 1798 1803 were responsible for this hardening stance In many ways the exploration of the complex workings of the British East India Company s policies military campaigns and economics is just as central to the book as the similarly complex fate of James and Khair the star crossed lovers Let Sleeping Dogs Lie years of research to make his book accessible Almost every page is festooned with references nearly a thousand all told and copious footnotes He introduces a subject any subject regardless of how trifling and then rather than concisely summing up what the reader needs to know or skipping it altogether if it has no direct bearing on the tale he hares off whatever line he was originally taking and expounds at length upon a new topic Pages later he returns to his original theme but by that time the reader has forgotten what it was Thus the reader is treated to sometimes fascinating but often tedious treatises on the major Mughal festivals methods of abortion in 18th century India Mughal gardening methods rites of passage for Mughal children pigeon keeping British colonial architecture Islamic astronomy and dozens of other topics of peripheral importance to the tale Likewise with the introduction of each new East India Company or Mughal court official the author digresses to give a full account of that person s life and character up to that point Dalrymple obviously loved researching the book and as he makes it clear in his introduction he was most fortunate to unearth previously unknown sources and in particular to find the key to deciphering encoded letters between James Kirkpatrick and his brother William However in his zeal for the chase he too often makes his uest for the story part of the central narrative It s intrusive He s also much given to uoting at great length from his sources Almost every other page seems to have a great chunk of correspondence inserted into it I couldn t help but wish a firmer editorial hand had been applied With all its faults however this is a beguiling book in many ways Dalrymple s central thesis is that before the 19th century British and Indian cultures were closely interwoven and hybridized than previously thought James Kirkpatrick was one of a number of notable White Mughals British East India officials so sympathetic to local customs and Indian cultures that often they converted to Islam or Hinduism usually before wedding Indian women However James and Khair were ultimately victims of a growing hardening stance of the British who came to look upon India less in terms of a rich culture met on eual footing and from the vantage point of an imperial power greedily exploiting a resource As Dalrymple makes abundantly clear the personalities and failings of certain East India Company officials most notably Lord Wellesley the Governor General from 1798 1803 were responsible for this hardening stance In many ways the exploration of the complex workings of the British East India Company s policies military campaigns and economics is just as central to the book as the similarly complex fate of James and Khair the star crossed lovers

review White Mughals Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India

Hile remaining Resident Kirkpatrick converted to Islam and according to Indian sources even became a double agent working for the Hyderabadis against the East India CompanyIt is a remarkable story involving secret assignations court intrigue harem politics religious and family disputes But such things were not unknown; from the early sixteenth century when the Inuisition banned the Portuguese in Goa from wearing the dhoti to the eve of the Indian mutiny the 'white Mughals' who wore local dress and adopted Indian ways were a source of embarrassments to successive colonial administrations William Dalrymple unearths such colourful figures as 'Hindoo Stuart' who travelled with his own team of Brahmins to maintain his temple of idols and who spent many years trying. Its only because of the name of Willam Dalrymple that i picked this one But by God what a book hats off to the writer It builds on interestingly and like one of those Sydney Sheldon novels you just don t want to put it back Always intriguing and woven in the mysteries of the oriental EastThe book sheds a light on late eighteenth and nineteenth century life and politics of princely state of Hyderabad From the Nizam to the power brokering imperialist British to a commoner in the street one gets an overview of every thread of life The plot of the book is woven around a love tale of a British Colonel and a high born local Muslim lady its charming as well as tragic But the way the writer builds it is charming he leaves enough in a chapter to make you want Simply in love with this one A pure classic piece of historiography interestingly put on the table to devour Matthews Choice years trying. Its only because of the name of Willam Dalrymple that i picked this one But by God what a book hats off to the writer It builds on interestingly and like one of those Sydney Sheldon novels The Prince of Pleasure (The Wilde Brothers, you just don t want to put it back Always intriguing and woven in the mysteries of the oriental EastThe book sheds a light on late eighteenth and nineteenth century life and politics of princely state of Hyderabad From the Nizam to the power brokering imperialist British to a commoner in the street one gets an overview of every thread of life The plot of the book is woven around a love tale of a British Colonel and a high born local Muslim lady its charming as well as tragic But the way the writer builds it is charming he leaves enough in a chapter to make Hers to Protect you want Simply in love with this one A pure classic piece of historiography interestingly put on the table to devour


10 thoughts on “White Mughals Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India

  1. says:

    A grand slow moving procession through 18th century IndiaStately processions are a leit motif in William Dalrymple's epic ac

  2. says:

    White Mughals is the story of a romance but really it is the story of a moment in time when England and India explored each others' worlds and cultures with great delight and mutual admiration And sadly it is also the stor

  3. says:

    Finally I have finished reading this 500 page long historical romance I had tried to read it once but I admit that I abandoned it midway because I was apprehensive that I will ever finish reading the book But the book haunted me enough to make me pick it up again and I gave it another shot So here is my review of the book1 As always my recommendation is that ONLY if you are a history buff pick it up It is a detailed documentati

  4. says:

    I have a lot of admiration for this author’s Nine Lives and The Anarchy is highly informative But this book is supposedly a love story which isn't actually all that well documented and for which the author puts on heavily rose tinted glasses to ignore the fact that the participants were aged 35 and 13 and that we know almost nothing about her life thoughts or feelings In reality the book is in part a biography of East India Company offici

  5. says:

    Its only because of the name of Willam Dalrymple that i picked this one But by God what a book hats off to the writer It builds on interestingly and like one of those Sydney Sheldon novels you just don't want to put it back Always intriguing and woven in the mysteries of the oriental EastThe book sheds a light on late eighteenth and nineteenth century life and politics of princely state of Hyderabad From the N

  6. says:

    Description Conjuring all the sweep of a great nineteenth century novel acclaimed author William Dalrymple unearth

  7. says:

    The White Mughals Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India by William Dalrymple is a tour de force of historical writing Packed with the results of an unbelievably enormous amount of research and detective work it is highly detailed yet it flows like a good novel It gave me great pleasure reading itUntil the first decade of the 19th century Europeans living in India had no difficulties with cohabiting and having

  8. says:

    Without having any specific interest in India I seem to have read uite a few books about India over the last couple of years and William Dalrymple has a lot to do with it I really liked his City of Djinns A Year in

  9. says:

    Oh I loved this book I could hardly put it down I confess I know very little about the years before the Raj before the British Crown took over India from the East India Company so this book came as a delightful entrancing revelation During the

  10. says:

    Just arrived from Australia through BMThis is the story of James Achilles Kirkpatrick and Khair un Nissa who converted to

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