In this series - 'Books for the India Explorer', I will be listing travel books that would interest the compulsive travellers who are after the genuine expeience(cliche, admiited). Don't expect a Part II and Part III to follow soon; this will be an endless series that will go on as I get to read or get to know about new interesting titles. Here is a list of books that I personally appreciate for excellent travel writing on India. Here we go, five at a time.
1. City of Djinns
by William Dalrymple
. A book on the history of Delhi, it is no dry and boring history lesson but full of insights on its past mixed very well with the Delhi that is today. Read this without fail, Dalrymple will charm you so much that you will want to dump the book and instead head to all those sites he mentions for a personal visit.
2. Sacred Waters
by Stephen Alter
. Allow me to express some favouritism and prejudice I have for Alter. He is my most revered writer yet, and Sacred Waters the most revered book. This is a story of his wanderings on Gharwal on foot. While he explores the mountain, he tells the lores, culture and heritage so well that you become part of him, experiencing it yourself.
3. Into the High Ranges
. A collection of Anthropological stories and book extracts on the mountains and the people of the mountains. Published by Penguin Books, it has some excellent contributions and makes a great read. Look for names like Tenzing Norgay and Ruskin Bond in the list of contributions.
. Another good collection of stories from Penguin Books, this time on the rivers. The list of authors includes AK Ramanujan, Stephen Alter, Romulus Whitekar and Jim Corbett, only to name a few.
5. Chasing the Monsoon
by Alexander Frater
. A unique novel on travelling along with monsoon as it makes its journey starting from the southern end at Kerala, all the way to the north. Set in the seventies, a few things like requiring a recommendation just to get a seat in Indian Airlines feel dated. But the real story about people celebrating the monsoons, the science behind it and the way monsoon defines life in India is timeless.