There is no better alternative to travelling than taking a virtual tour through the pages of a well-documented travelogue. Here is a brief but diverse list of must-reads if you are bitten by the travel bug in this lockdown.
Nine Live: Search for Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple
Who better to chronicle the mysticism of India than a British historian who so fell in love with this incredible country that he decided to settle down here. Dalrymple takes us on a journey through the stranger paths of India through nine stories of lives dedicated to faith. Lives that the New York Times describes "belong to, or have found refuge in, a world of mystic extremes."
It's a book that paints a colourful and vivid picture of an India that the West usually celebrates but also the one we sometimes overlook with accustomed eyes.
India: A Million Mutinies Now by V S Naipaul
This book was third in the trilogy by author Naipaul, of Indian heritage, born and raised in Trinidad, on his ancestral country and uses an optimistic narration about its people and future. Published in 1990, when the country was going through magnanimous changes in its polity and economy, this book will link threads between India that was and is now, and make you want to take a cross-country road trip!
City of Djinns by William Dalrymple
Yes, another one by Dalrymple made it to this brief list but not without compelling reason. Whether you have visited, lived in, or even wondered about the enigma that is Delhi, this book will make you want to visit its nooks and corners brimming with rich history.
Reading City of Djinns might make you pity the current state of the national capital but it will fill you with a sweet nostalgic ache that forces you to backpack through the 'haunted' city.
Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
Around India in 80 Trains is a story of adventure and drama infused with sparkling wit and humour. The author is a British journalist of Indian decent who decided to pluck a page out of Jules Verne's classic Around the World in 80 Days to embark on a journey of her own using just Indian Railways as her mode of commute.
Trains in India are as full of stories as Mumbai locals and the ones in this book will inspire you to do exactly what Monisha did almost 20 years ago.
Bonus Read: Chai Chai by Bishwanath Ghosh
This is another ode to the Railways by yet another journalist. This one has a more rustic tone to it so give it read because honestly train journeys in India can never get boring!
Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater
A romantic adventure documenting the famous Indian monssons through the eyes of a curious foreigner. Frater follows the monsoon from its genesis in Kerala up to Cherrapunji in Assam, the wettest place on earth: in the process, he gives fascinating insights about India.