History of India is a colourful tapestry of miniature threads woven at different points in time at different places. It is simultaneously a Pashmina, a Chanderi silk, a Khadi cotton, a Kalamkari pattern and a vibrant Paithani. Today, we’re looking at holistic accounts that attempt to chronicle it, from various angles, through 12 best books on Indian History.
History Of India: 12 Best Books On Indian History-
- The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru
- The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen
- India: A History by John Keay
- A History of India by Romila Thapar
- Reflections on Mughal Art and Culture edited by Roda Ahluwalia
- A Bend in the Ganges by Manohar Malgonkar
- The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor
- Jaya and Sita by Devdutt Pattanaik
- The Indus by Andrew Robinson
- Languages of Belonging by Chitralekha Zutshi
- Coromandel by Charles Allen
- The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan
The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru
What better way to understand Indian history than from the first prime minister of the country? Not only is the prose of this book indelible but also the content is engrossing – from art and literature to politics and statesmanship, this book has it all.
The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen
This is a collection of essays on Indian history and culture, in which Sen dives deep into the nuances of Indian thought. He writes extensively, with elaborate focus on individual figures such as Tagore and on global issues like global isolation. He also talks about the politics of history, including the existence of democracy in India even before the independence.
India: A History by John Keay
This book is an odyssey through three millenniums of Indian history. It chronicles the Indian experience right from the emergence of the Indus valley civilization to the contemporary events that have shaped history. With rich insights in culture, religion and society, what this book details is not merely events that took place in the past, but the creation of a nation by virtue of these events.
A History of India by Romila Thapar
Often used as a history textbook for graduates, this book is surprisingly accessible and interesting while also being informative. From the Vedic age to the advent of Mughals, Thapar creates an account of India in its vibrant variety. Indeed, she includes the histories of Indians all over the country – the Cholas of South India, Ashoka from the North and Buddha. The book also takes a multidisciplinary approach to history, looking at it from the perspective of astronomy, geology, religion, anthropology, art and even erotica.
Reflections on Mughal Art and Culture edited by Roda Ahluwalia
This book offers insight into the Mughal legacy in India by viewing from the perspective of an aesthete and culturist. Roda here has accumulated several scholarly and academic insights on the art and culture during the Mughal age, and has compiled them into one informative volume. From architecture and visual language to textile cultures and libraries, this book has it all.
A Bend in the Ganges by Manohar Malgonkar
This is the only historical fiction novel on this list, but it just as engrossing and informative as the non fiction ones. This book sheds light on the Indian struggle for independence, weaving individual narratives into a tapestry of rich political, cultural, violent and social history.
The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor
This novel likens the Indian historical and political scenario to the great epic Mahabharata, delving deep into the independence struggle and crafting a masterful satire. This novel is replete with information but will also incite belly laughter.
Jaya and Sita by Devdutt Pattanaik
These novels are concise yet informative accounts of the two Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana respectively. Although they aren’t strictly history, they’re important to the understanding of the Indian culture, and Pattanaik’s inclusion of regional and indigenous versions makes it all the more interesting.
The Indus by Andrew Robinson
This book is a comprehensive history of one of the earliest riverine civilizations of the world and the beginning of Indian history. It looks at all the various aspects of this great civilization from the arts, society and political structure to their science, language and scholarship.
Languages of Belonging by Chitralekha Zutshi
As a volatile and unique part of Indian history, a book on Kashmir had to be included on this list. This one examines the history of Kashmir individually as well as in relation to India. It looks at the impact of colonialism on the mountainous Valley of the Gods, and the history of Islamic thought and politics in the state. Thus, it presents a unified account of Kashmiri history, replete with political, cultural and linguistic influences on it.
Coromandel by Charles Allen
The Dravidian history is often neglected for the Aryan one, but not in this book. Acclaimed historian Allen has, here, journeyed through the culturally unique eastern coast of South India and captured its essence. Its glorious past – with its Chola dynasty and Vaishnava traditions – has been ensnared in this vibrant novel.
The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan
No list on the history of India is compete without mentioning the event that has defined it in the modern times – the partition. In this novel, Khan has chronicled the buildup, actualization and aftermath of this tremendous turbulent event in Indian history. With accounts from both sides and a neutral approach, this book is informative as well as poignant and sensitive.