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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Mystical India

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

Item EXIDA259. Buy these 5 items as a set for $96 including shipping, 15% off the retail price.
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India

India

by Stanley Wolpert

  • HISTORY
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 281 PAGES

Wolpert's reflections on India -- its religion and philosophy, its art, culture and politics -- make for a literate, succinct primer. (IDA04, $29.95)

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

by Giles Tillotson | Mary Beard

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 190 PAGES

An enlightening pocket guide to the myth, meaning and legends of the celebrated tomb, "the queen of architecture." (IDA528, $14.95)

Mirrorwork, 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997

Mirrorwork, 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997

by Salman Rushdie | Elizabeth West

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 554 PAGES

A selection of 20th-century Indian prose, both fiction and non-fiction, compiled by Salman Rushdie and featuring work by Jawaharlal Nehru, R.K. Narayan, Satyajit Ray, Amit Chaudhuri and Vikram Seth. Published in celebration of India's 50 years of independence. (IDA293, $22.99)

Eyewitness Guide Delhi, Agra and Jaipur

Eyewitness Guide Delhi, Agra and Jaipur

by Anuradha Chaturvedi

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 320 PAGES

With chapters on Taj Mahal, Amber Fort Palace, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Red Fort and dozens of other highlights for the traveler, this compact, gorgeously illustrated guide to Delhi and its environs features 900 color photographs, maps and site plans. (IDA151, $25.00)

India Northwest Adventure Map

India Northwest Adventure Map

by National Geographic Maps

  • 2011
  • MAP

A double-sided full color map of Northwest India at a scale of 1:1,400,000 with good shaded relief, topographic detail, roads, waterways and basic travel information. Printed on waterproof, tear-resistant paper. Two sides. 20 x 31 inches. (IDA73, $11.95)

 
Lonely Planet India Phrasebook

Lonely Planet India Phrasebook


by Omkar Koul

  • LANGUAGE & PHRASEBOOKS
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 400 PAGES

A palm-sized handy guide to pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler. (IDA538, $12.99)

Love Delhi

Love Delhi


by Fiona Caulfield

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • BOXED
  • 184 PAGES

Packaged in very fashionable locally woven cloth, this beautifully made, discerning guide captures the soul of the city, pointing with authority to neighborhoods, shops, markets, restaurants and attractions. A labor of love by the Bangalore-based Fiona Caulfield and friends. Third edition. (IDA403, $50.00)

Love Jaipur, Rajasthan

Love Jaipur, Rajasthan


by Fiona Caulfield

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2012
  • BOXED
  • 172 PAGES

The exuberant Caulfield includes her favorite palaces and places, experiences, get-aways, markets, shops and must-sees in this rather remarkable, carefully curated hand-crafted guide. With sections on Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Agra and Rajasthan. Second edition. (IDA590, $50.00)

A Traveller's History of India

A Traveller's History of India


by Sinharaja Tammita-Delgoda

  • HISTORY
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

A condensed introduction to the themes and events that have shaped India from prehistory to Rajiv Gandhi's rule. (IDA57, $14.95)

Capital, The Eruption of Delhi

Capital, The Eruption of Delhi


by Rana Dasgupta

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2014
  • HARD COVER
  • 496 PAGES

A fascinating look at sweeping economic changes in Delhi. Dasgupta examines how the influx of wealth into the city has spawned excess and gangsterism. (IDA698, $28.95)

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi


by William Dalrymple

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 350 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Dalrymple infectiously interweaves his own experiences over a year in Delhi with its art, architecture, history and literature. (IDA06, $17.00)

In Spite of the Gods

In Spite of the Gods


by Edward Luce

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 346 PAGES

Luce tackles the challenges and reality of the world's largest democracy with insight and balance in this portrait of a nation in transition. (IDA349, $16.95)

India, A Short History

India, A Short History


by Andrew Robinson

  • HISTORY
  • 2014
  • HARD COVER
  • 248 PAGES

Robinson's inviting introduction to India chronicles the rise and fall of the India's kingdoms and its eventual economic decline, which led to the British subjugation of the Mughal Empire in the mid-19th century. (IDA701, $24.95)

Kaleidoscope City, A Year in Varanasi

Kaleidoscope City, A Year in Varanasi


by Piers Moore Ede

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2015
  • HARD COVER
  • 224 PAGES
  • COMING IN APRIL

Whether he is attending Ramalila -- the city's annual performance of the Ramayana, talking to members of the caste who man the cremation ghats along the Ganges or simply searching for the best mithai, or sweet, in town, Ede presents a vibrant, kaleidoscopic portrait of contemporary Varanasi. (IDA725, $26.00)

May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons, A Journey Among the Women of India

May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons, A Journey Among the Women of India


by Elisabeth Bumiller

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 1991
  • PAPER
  • 220 PAGES

A wonderfully written and fascinating portrayal of Indian women from Bollywood stars to Indira Gandhi to prostitutes. It's an insightful portrait of the country as seen through the eyes of its women. (IDA37, $16.00)

Rogue Elephant, Harnessing the Power of India's Unruly Democracy

Rogue Elephant, Harnessing the Power of India's Unruly Democracy


by Simon Denyer

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2014
  • HARD COVER
  • 384 PAGES

An astute examination of contemporary Indian politics and economics. Simon Denyer, former Indian bureau chief for the Washington Post, writes on the crisis of confidence in the world's largest democracy. (IDA700, $30.00)

Darsan, Seeing the Divine Image in India

Darsan, Seeing the Divine Image in India


by Diana L. Eck

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 1998
  • PAPER
  • 115 PAGES

Tremendously useful for the traveler, this rigorous guide explains the significance and meaning of Hindu temples, festivals and ritual. Darsan, which translates as "seeing," reveals religious expression in India. (IDA75, $25.00)

From the Observatory

From the Observatory


by Anne McLean | Julio Cortazar

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 79 PAGES

Cortazar explores the relationship between the sea and the cosmos and waxes poetic about humanity, using black-and-white photographs of an 18th century observatory in Jaipur as a launch pad for his musings. (IDA703, $18.00)

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal


by M.C. Joshi | Jean-Louis Nou | Amina Okada

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 1993
  • HARD COVER
  • 231 PAGES

This lavish portrait features 158 full-color photographs (including four magnificent foldout panels) by the extraordinary Jean-Louis Nou. With grand exterior views, filigreed inscriptions and bejeweled floral mosaics. (IDA108, $75.00)

Along the Ganges

Along the Ganges


by Ilija Trojanow

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 160 PAGES

In this colorful travelogue, Trojanow follows the Ganges from its source in the Himalayas to the cities that it feeds, using the holy river as a means to ponder Hinduism, culture, ecology and the tension between ancient and modern India. (IDA294, $11.95)

Around India in 80 Trains

Around India in 80 Trains


by Monisha Rajesh

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 248 PAGES

A terrific account of Rajesh's epic four-month, 25,000-mile journey to the India of her youth. She begins in her hometown of Chennai, chugs up the Konkan Coast, watches for tigers in Ranthambore and survives Mumbai's chaotic local lines. (IDA691, $17.95)

Gandhi, An Autobiography, or the Story of My Experiments with Truth

Gandhi, An Autobiography, or the Story of My Experiments with Truth


by Mohandas K. Gandhi

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 1993
  • PAPER
  • 528 PAGES

There is no substitute for reading Gandhi in his own simple, direct prose. A highly recommended glimpse into the personality and life of this remarkable figure. (IDA163, $16.00)

Slowly Down the Ganges

Slowly Down the Ganges


by Eric Newby

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

In 1963, the author and his wife set out an 1,200-mile voyage down the Ganges River. The title could apply as easily to the ruminative attitude Newby takes towards his journey as to the many mishaps which bedevil the quest. (IDA179, $18.95)

India, A Traveler's Literary Companion

India, A Traveler's Literary Companion


by Chandrahas Choudhury

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

Each of these 14 stories evokes place and landscape, providing an excellent introduction both to contemporary writers and to India's diverse cultures and history. (IDA598, $14.95)

Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children


by Salman Rushdie

  • LITERATURE
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 533 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Crowned Best of the Booker in 2008, Rushdie's greatest novel is a madcap, comic take on the birth of modern India in all its splendid and unexpected manifestations. (IDA12, $16.00)

Tiger, Soul of India

Tiger, Soul of India


by Valmik Thapar

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 2011
  • HARD COVER
  • 184 PAGES

This lavish tribute features 250 color photographs, examples of art over the ages and engaging essays by tiger wallah Thapar, who has spent 30 years observing tigers. (IDA246, $55.00)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.