Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India
Date of publication: April 2003
Publisher: Harper Collins
'Dalrymple's India is as vivid as Naipaul's' Simon Jenkins, The Times
White Mughals is the romantic and ultimately tragic tale of a passionate love affair that transcended all the cultural, religious and political boundaries of its time. James Achilles Kirkpatrick was the British Resident at the court of Hyderabad when he met Khair un-Nissa -- 'Most Excellent among Women' -- the great niece of the Prime Minister of Hyderabad. He fell in love with her and overcame many obstacles to marry her, converting to Islam and according to Indian sources becoming a double-agent working against the East India Company.
It 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 Inquisition 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 embarrassment to successive colonial administrations. William Dalrymple unearths such colourful figures as 'Hindoo Stuart', who travelled with his own team of Brahmins to maintain his templeful of idols; and Sir David Auchterlony, who took all thirteen of his Indian wives out for evening promenades, each on the back of their own elephant.
In White Mughals, William Dalrymple discovers a world almost entirely unexplored by history, and places at its centre a compelling tale of seduction and betrayal. The product of five years' writing and research, triumphantly confirms Dalrymple's reputation as one of the finest writers at work today.