Cascoly Books: India Travel books

Cascoly Books - India Travel books

India is so diverse and challenging to a first time (or even repeat) traveler that you can never be too prepared for your exerience. Here are some of our recommended travel books and guides that can help you get started.

Arrow of the Blue Skinned God -- a retelling of the Ramayama as the author retraces the path of the story down the eastern coast of India to Sri Lanka

The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger - a  fascinating and controversial look at the history and development of Hinduism from the Rig Veda and Brahmanas through the Mahabharata and Ramayama through modern tiimes.

Chasing the Monsoon -- Alexander Frater -The author's fascination with monsoons and his quest to follow a monsoon season in its course thru India, working up the coast to Bombay and finishing at the wettest place in the world in Assam.

Into India by John Keay was written more than 30 years ago, and has not changed much in its reprinting. It's still the best introduction you can find to India. One of my most recent reads, this turns out to be one of the best. Recommended as a must read

Banaras - City of Light - Diana L. Eck -- shows the spiritual and historical aspects of this marvelous city

Slowly Down the Ganges - Eric Newby - one of the most readable travel writers describes his journey and adventures along the 1500 mile river.

"Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi


Darshan means seeing , especially in the religious sense experienced in the presence of a god, often at a tirtha, or sacred crossing between worlds. These are not idols - through the image, the deity presents itself and people 'receive' darshan. This reminds us that "India is visual and visionary culture one in which he eyes prominent role in the apprehension of the sacred. .. For most ordinary Hindus the notion of the divine as invisible would be foreign indeed. God is eminently visible, although human beings have not always had the refinement of sight to see. Furthermore, the divine is visible not only in Temple and shrine, but also in the whole continuum of life – in nature, and people, in birth and growth death... Much that has moved from public view in the modern West and taken into the privacy of rest homes, asylums, and institutions is open and visible in the city or village. ... In India, one sees everything. At work and at prayer; one sees plump, well endowed merchants, simple renouncers fraudulent 'holy' men, frail widows and emaciated lepers; one sees festival procession, marriage procession, and the funeral procession. whatever Hindus affirm from the meaning of life, death, suffering, they affirm with their eyes wide open" Diana L Eck Darshan- Seeing the Divine Image in India.

There's much more to India than India's famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal and these guides will help you find what interest you the most:

Recommended Guides - general suggestions on choosing a guidebook

Blue Guide -- South India - another in this excellent series - particularing useful for architrecture and archaological sites.

Doring Kindersley (DK) Eyewitness Travel Guides - India How can you cover the variety and complexity of India iin one book? Somehow this book almost does it. Like the other books in the DK Eyewitness series India is well organized, and color coded by region. The picture of Palitana in the Gujarat section became the inspiration for our 2003 trip to India, and the diversion we encountered formed one of the highlights of the entire 6 week trip. The only downside is these books are heavy.

The Traveler's Key to Northern India - a Guide to the Sacred Places of Northern India - Alistair Shearer The best of the TK series, this one keeps the newage pseudoscience to a minimum while providing detailed descriptions of Ellora, Khajuraho, Ajanta, Mount Abu and many other sites in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.
Rough guide - South India
Footprint South India
Footprint Goa

Discovering India John Keay

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