A billion people and a billion dreams. That is what India is. There is no better way to know India than a long journey and people have done it many times. When you travel you get to know the colors, culture, food and beliefs of this vast landscapes. It is always better to understand a little about this vast country before you embark your next journey. Many books have been written around this theme. here are some of the best Indian travel books to read before your next Indian journey.
- Chai, Chai – is a travelogue written by Ghosh Bishwanath, a 40ish Journalist from Kanpur. The book languidly explore the local areas lay beyond the major railway junctions in India. He starts his journey at Mughal Serai station in north India and ends at Shoranur, a station in Kerala. In every major station in between, he get down and get a feel of the local food and culture. The author has succeeded to transport the readers to the “railway junctions” and the life revolves around them. He also describes about the local food joints, bars, night stay options around. A light read for a laid back traveler.
- Around India in 80 trains – Perhaps we all know about the famous book “Around the world in 80 days”. Here comes the Indianized version from Monisha Rajesh, a British Journalist. She knows that there is no better way to understand India than a train journey and she does it in 80 train travels crisscrossing the vast landscape. By reading the much acclaimed book, we never get to know this is the debut book of the author. This is a right infotainment for those want to see India. May chapters are the example of her finest story weaving skills. She portrays many interesting characters she met during the long journey of 40,000 kilometers. The most positive part of this book is that it send a strong message that Indian railway is generally safe for a lone lady traveler, which it is.The Great railway bazar – Probably the best book you can read about train journeys. Written by the American novelist, Paul Theroux. This is not an India specific book. Here the author narrates the story of his travel through Europe, Middle East and Asian countries on a train during 70’s. The author focuses on people and their personalities and not on places. A must read for anyone who loves to tame the wanderlust within.
- Don’t ask any old block for directions – Written by an ex IAS officer PG Tenzing, this is a must read for any travel enthusiastic especially a biker or backpacker. This is his story of his ride from Kovalam to Nepal on his Royal Enfield Thunderbird in which he covered 25, 320 kms. He quit the glamourous world of civil service at the age of 43 just before the next promotion and embarked the long journey. He explores the meaning of life and karma. He spell out his views on life, love, death etc through some dark humor. This book would have helped Eicher Motors (The company who owns Royal Enfield motorcycles) to sell a little more bullets in India for sure. Sadly PG Tenzin is no more with us or he will never give us any more books like this.
- All roads leads to Ganga: A beautiful and poetic books from the master weaver of stories, Ruskin Bond. Unfortunately the book is not as famous as his other works. In this easy to read travel memoir, Bond takes us to the Himalyan Mountains and the sacred river Ganga. He evocatively narrates the stories about the places around the river and its people. That make you yearn for a travel to the snow covered mountain leaving behind the hustle bustle of the cities. Those who want a quick read, can try this out and you will not be disappointed.
- Traveler’s Tales India: True stories – This is a collection of true stories about travelling in India and is collected and edited by James O’Reilly. If you are looking to read the stories from the mainstream touristy spots, you will be disappointed. The essays (yes) collected from the works of great travel writers who experienced the chaotic and wonderful India. They tell us the stories of compassion, friendship,Penguin book of Indian railway stories – This book is a collection of short stories about Indian railways by many famous writers like RK Laxman, Ruskin Bond, Rudyard Kipling, Manok Das etc. Some stories dates back to colonial era and all stories are from British raj and some are from post-independence. Many stories evokes nostalgia in the minds of the readers. Think about reading these stories on the comfort of an armchair with a cup of black coffee in a rainy day. Nothing matches it. This book is a perfect gift for children and armchair travelers.
- Chasing the monsoon: A modern pilgrimage through India – The author Alexander Frater, as you can guess from the title, travels through length and breadth of India to feel the great showers – the monsoon of India. It is a half memoir & half travelogue. This can be classified as the first meteorological travelogue if any such genre exists. He starts his journey from the southernmost tip of India Cape Comorin and follows through many cities and end up at Cherrapunji. Probably this is the first book written about Indian monsoon in a poetic way. The writer teleport the readers to the exotic and alluring places he had been to. He is also successful in conveying the tense wait of farmers across India for the arrival of monsoon at different parts of the country and the joy it brings to them.