By Pranjal Begwani:
What better way to utilize sultry afternoons than to read some good books? Here is a list of some books worth looking out for this summer.
The Argumentative Indian
Amartya Sen is someone who needs no introduction. A 1998 Nobel Prize winner, this book from him explores the past and weaves through the present to bring out India’s rich diversity, culture and ‘argumentative tradition’. It makes for a riveting read and is compulsive reading for all you Indians out there.
Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan
One of the most authentic, authoritative, exhaustive and extensive books to have been written on Rajasthan. It is an amalgamation of the author’s personal experiences and various native historical sources. Through its two volumes, it brings out the culture and history of India’s fiercely independent warrior community – the Rajputs. Even though the second volume is sweeping in its take on the history of all the states of Rajputana, the first volume is insightful as it uses India’s longest ruling dynastic state of Mewar as a microcosm to explore its architecture, religious establishments, festivals, traditions and long-standing customs. It is minutely-detailed and through this microcosm of the erstwhile Mewar state we achieve a fair sense of India’s and specifically Rajasthan’s cultural depth and antiquity, and the richness of its culture and architecture which today are there for all to see.
Great Monuments of India
What better way to explore India’s art and culture than to take a sneak peek into its architectural landmarks and monuments. This book is a photographer’s delight with breathtaking visuals complementing the beauty of centuries old forts, temples, palaces and tombs.
Indian Painting: The Great Mural Tradition
A sweeping and incisive overview of India’s classical wall painting traditions, it covers the length and breadth of India’s landscapes putting forth its different schools of painting, intertwining it with its sister fields of sculpture and architecture.
William Dalrymple of ‘The Last Mughal’ fame, stitches together nine separate accounts of individuals in India and through their personal tales brings out India’s age-old traditions and its cultural prodigality. It talks about Jain traditions, age-old Tantric practices and the Tibetan influx into India amongst others. Critically acclaimed, it is a book difficult to put down once you start.