Ten Books to read before travelling to India

Before the advent of the Internet, books inspired and guided travelers to explore the far and wide corners of the world. The times may have changed, as now there is no dearth of information on the Internet, but books haven’t lost their relevance in helping travelers to make the right decisions. Nothing in the world can prepare you for a country like India, which has so many contradictions, but books can expand your capacity for discernment about India and other important aspects ­related to this colourful country. Here is a collection of top books; you should read before travelling to India.

“A Passage to India” by E.M. Forster

The English novelist E.M. Forster visited India during the 1920s and penned down his experiences in the form of this novel. This classic piece of literature sheds light on the lives of the Indians under the British Raj and the underlying tension between them.

9 Lives by William Dalrymple

India is home to many cultures, creeds, and customs. As an outsider, you would get a simple classification of all of these in the form of three religions – Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. However, there is a lot to talk and discuss about these three important religions and their aspects. William Dalrymple’s book unravels those intricacies and delves deep into the facts to bring forth a broader picture through nine different stories, set in different parts of India. Beautifully written, this book gives you an insight about India’s deep ties with religion.

Maximum City by Suketu Mehta

This amazing book tells you the story of India’s financial capital – Mumbai through the eyes of its inhabitants. A city, which is typically associated with the mounting hopes and aspirations of common Indians. Mehta’s detective-style portrayal lucidly captures the various hues and fortitude of Mumbai as you find yourself in the centre of the action – filled with impossibilities, glamour, frustrations, and grit.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Written in 1922 by German novelist Hermann Hesse, this book is based on the life of Gautama Buddha and his voyage of self-discovery. This epic book not only talks about the spiritual discovery of the Buddha, but also elucidates the crucial details about those turbulent times when the religious movement was about to start in India. Written in a lyrical style in German, this book is a must read for those who want to trace the roots and culmination of Buddhism.

India Becoming by Akash Kapur

This book focuses on the challenges and extremes faced by the modern India. It is a precise and unbiased take on the transition of India into a modern society, which has been still inundated with many social challenges. Overall, it is a heartening account of the transformation of India.

Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

This book is a personal account of the British journalist Monisha Rajesh, who explored India’s awe-inspiring train transport system. This book talks about a poignant and thrilling journey taken on the Indian trains. The author touches upon the important points related to Indian Railways based on her journey through ordinary trains, local trains, toy trains and luxury trains. Magnificently described, one would certainly like to explore India’s trains after reading this book.

In Spite of the Gods by Edward Luce

Renowned journalist Edward Luce travelled throughout India to explore its many regions, religions, and cultures. Written with the knack of a reporter, Edward Luce deals with the ironies and achievements of the contemporary India. This is an invigorating read about the caste system of India and how it has been related to the progress of the country.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

This book is based on the real-life events of the author Gregory David Roberts. It is a stunning tale of a turbulent life, human endeavour and a relentless struggle for survival in Bombay, now known as Mumbai.

The God of small things by Arundhati Roy

This book unearths the natural beauty of Kerala. It deals with the childhood experiences of a Keralite family and two fraternal twins. While focussing on the small things in our lives, this brilliant work of literature, gives a truly remarkable account of human emotions and pathos.

Lonely Planet travel guide

A detailed travel guide that has all the information, one needs before travelling to India – itineraries, maps, reviews and important facts. It also has mini guides comprising of all the important topics, i.e. travelling with children, travelling solo and climate of India etc.

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