September 26, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Top 10 Bookstores of India by Joseph Sunny

6 min read

Joseph Sunny shares a curated list of the top 10 bookstores of India.

        “To walk into a modern-day bookstore is a little bit like studying a single photograph out of the infinite number of photographs that cold be taken of the world: It offers the reader a frame.”
                                                     

Nicole Krauss 

A bookstore is a magical place that can help us travel into another world inhabited by our favourite writers, characters, and stories. The stories within these walls are too beautiful to be left unheard and ignored. Let’s take a virtual walk to the 10 best book stories in India:

Kitab Khana, Mumbai

  • Address – 45, 47 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Ground Floor, Somaiya Bhavan, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
  • Email – enquire@kitabkhana.in
  • Phone – +91 8879540538, +91 02261702276/77/78/79
  • Instagram handle – @kitabkhanabooks
  • Web Address – https://www.kitabkhana.in/
  • This 5000 square feet big bookstore located in the Fort area of Mumbai, the first part to be developed by the British, is often hailed as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Scroll defined Kitab Khana’s ambience as a spectacular combination of a spacious modern bookstore & an intimate old-world library. With the motive of celebrating world literature as well as promoting books in Indian languages, the store has a collection of over 50,000 books & also had an average of 450 customers per day in the pre-corona period. In view of the ongoing pandemic, the shop currently allows about 10 people to sit & read books while maintaining social distance.

Sapna Book House, Bangalore

  • Address – No: 24, 2nd Cross Gandhinagar, Bangalore, Karnataka 560009
  • Email – cs@sapnaonline.com, customercare@sapnaretail.com
  • Phone – +91 8040114411, +91 8040114455
  • Instagram handle – @sapna_book_house
  • Web Address – https://www.sapnaonline.com/
  • Sapna Book House is recognized as the largest book mall in India by Limca & India book of records. In 2008, the Karnataka government presented them with the ‘Karnataka Rajyotsava Award,’ describing them as the largest Kannada book publisher.

Rachna Books, Gangtok

  • Address – Jeewan Theeng Marg, Upper Sichey, Development area, Gangtok, Sikkim 737101
  • Email – rachnabooks@gmail.com, mail@rachnabooks.com
  • Phone – +91 3592204336, +91 9733-102304
  • Instagram handle – @rachnabooks
  • Web Address – https://rachnabooks.com/
  • ‘Rachna Books’ is well known for its carefully curated collection of books. Founded in 1979, the bookshop has emerged as an important cultural landmark of Gangtok over the years. ‘The Lonely Planet’ describes Rachna as Gangtok’s best-stocked & convivial bookshop. They won the ‘Publishing Next’s’ bookstore of the year award in 2015. Rachna, however, is more than a bookshop. Through these years, they have nurtured a community of book lovers, who would meet there & read to each other, often their own compositions & those who aren’t into books strummed their guitars or use this place to exhibit their creativity.

Cambridge Book Depot, Mussoorie

  • Address – The Mall Rd, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand 248179
  • Email – cambridge.book.depot@gmail.com
  • Phone – +91 8171263123, 0135 263 2224
  • Instagram handle – @cambridgebookdepot
  • Established in 1952, Cambridge Book Depot is Mussoorie’s oldest & only general book store. Times of India described the bookstore as Mussoorie’s favourite hangout. For the past 14 years, every Saturday evening, the shop hosts Mussoorie’s own Ruskin Bond, who meets his fans & readers & sign copies of his books for them here.

Atta Galatta, Bangalore

  • Address – 134, KHB Colony, 17th H Main Road, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560095
  • Email – thebookstore@attagalatta.com
  • Phone – +91 80 4160 0677, +91 96325 10126
  • Instagram handle – @attagalatta
  • Web Address – http://www.attagalatta.com/
  • Atta Galatta, which, in the words of its owners, was started with the motive to showcase & celebrate the treasure trove of Indian writing, is very famous for the ambiance it provides. The store has over 10,000 books in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali & English. The bookshop hosts events like poetry, storytelling, theatre, film screenings & children’s workshops every weekend. The music-filled evenings make Atta Galatta one of the best hangout spots in Bangalore.

Higginbothams Bookstore, Chennai

  • Address – LIC Building, 116, Anna Salai, near Regional Passport Office, Chennai, Anna Salai, Triplicane, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600002
  • Phone – +91 4428521841, +91 44 28520640
  • Instagram handle – @higginbothamsbookstore
  • This 177-year-old bookstore, displaying the beauty of colonial architecture, established by an English librarian, Abel Joshua Higginbotham, is the oldest existing bookshop in India. In his guidebook to the Presidencies of Bombay & Madras, John Murray describes Higginbothams as the premier bookshop of Madras. Only a few institutions would have a history like that of Higginbothams. In 1875, when King Edward visited Madras as the Prince of Wales, they were appointed as the official booksellers to his royal highness. The customer list of Higginbothams had some prominent names like that of Clement Attlee, S. Radhakrishnan, C. Rajagopalachari, etc. The company has managed to carry along its fame to the post-colonial period, which helped them in this ongoing long run.

Bahrisons Booksellers, Delhi

  • Address – Opposite Main Gate, Khan Market, New Delhi, Delhi 110003
  • Email – bahrisons@outlook.com
  • Phone – +91 1141757112
  • Instagram handle – @bahrisons_booksellers
  • Web Address – https://www.booksatbahri.com/
  • Bahrisons opened its doors in 1953 at the then newly found Khan Market in Delhi. The growth of Bahrisons corresponds with the growth of India. An establishment with its history deeply rooted in post-partition struggles of the country, the success of Bahrisons is a result of the intimate connection between the owner & customers throughout all these years. Right from its inception, the proprietors have made sure to update their stocks based on the customers’ interests. In the words of Balraj Bahri Malhotra, the founder, Bahrisons is all about relationships, trust & thirst for the written word.

Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata

  • Address – Apeejay House, 15 Park Street, Kolkata 700016, India
  • Email – feedback@apeejaygroup.com, neetasreedharan@apeejaygroup.com
  • Phone – +91 93300 20986, +91 9810257717
  • Instagram handle – @oxfordbookstores
  • Web Address – https://oxfordbookstore.com/
  • Established in 1920, Oxford bookstore is one of the oldest bookstores in Kolkata. Right from the colonial period, this has been a niche for the book lovers in the city & its clientele list includes some of the prominent British & Indian figures of the 20th century. The trip planning websites describe the store as one of the best places to chill out with a chai/coffee & book. Various events like slam poetry make the weekends here quite exuberant.

Seagull Books, Kolkata

  • Address – 36C S.P. Mukherjee Road (Rupchand Mukherjee Lane), first left after Bijoli cinema, Calcutta, 700025
  • Email – info@seagullbooks.org, bishan.seagull@gmail.com
  • Phone – 033 2476 5869, +91 8583058214
  • Instagram handle – @seagullbooks
  • Web Address – https://www.seagullbooks.org/
  • ‘Seagull books’ was started in 1982 as a publishing venture by Naveen Kishore. Today it’s widely considered one of the world’s most respected publishers of literature in English translation. Seagull books, says The Hindu, bucked the U.S & U.K publisher’s sway over the translated books by commissioning translations directly for both global & local markets. In the last 15 years, they have acquired around 600 international titles & their world rights, including the works of Nobel laureates.

Gulshan Books, Kashmir

  • Address – Residency Road, Regal Chowk, Munshi Bagh, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 190001
  • Email – chairmangulshan@gmail.com
  • Phone – +91 9596600055
  • Instagram handle – @gulshan_books_kashmir
  • Gulshan Books is the leading publishing house & bookshop in Kashmir. Located in the middle of Dal Lake, this is the only bookshop on a lake & has a collection of over 80,000 books, which took it to the Limca book of records in 2018

How many of these have you visited? Spot any favourites? Or have we missed them completely?

Let us know in comments below.


BIO

Joseph Sunny completed his graduation in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. He is currently living in Kerala.

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