Babur Nama by Dilip Hiro


I bought this book Babur Nama after reading a wonderful review of this book in the Times of India a few months back. And I think apart from everything else I need to stop trusting them on book reviews too.

Babur Nama by Dilip Hiro

Babur Nama by Dilip Hiro

I am not sure how Babur would have written his journal. And what kind of language he would have used. But the translation seems to be not so great. It looks like an encyclopedia of names and names and who was sent where and when. All you get to know after reading the whole book Babur Nama is that the only thing that Babur did in his lifetime was to keep moving and conquering the kingdoms as he moved east from his place of birth. There is no insight into what was going on in his mind when he was fighting all these battles. What is it that he wanted to achieve by always being on the march and by living a rough and tough life, full of dangers at every moment?

Fond of Watermelons

He does come out as someone fond of fruits, especially watermelons. And he describes the quality of melons in detail wherever he goes. To the extent, at times it seems that he is judging the quality of the place by judging the quality of the watermelons found there. His description of Kabul almost makes you feel like packing your bags and going there. That is the place that he liked the most. He did all his prayers every day. When he describes any activity, time is always referenced from the prayer time.

You appreciate his grit when you read about how many times he had fallen ill with various kinds of diseases. But never gave up on what he had set out to achieve.


A strange revelation that I came across after reading this book is that when Babur came to Hindustan, he was not very impressed with the place. He says the place has no charm. The buildings had no aesthetic sense, they did not dress well, and they had very fertile land. This made me think that most of the known monuments in north India are actually from or after the Mughal period.

I think this book Babur Nama could have been written more interestingly. In the current format, it made a very boring reading. I would have liked to learn more about that period, the mindset of Babur, and his motivation for going and conquering the world. Which even if it was there got missed in the narrative. Read it only if you are too keen to know about Babur.


Babur Nama, or Tuzk-i-Baburi, is the autobiography of Zahir Uddin Muhammad Babur. Considered to be one of the finest examples of autobiography in literature.

Written in Chagatai Turkic, which was Babur’s mother tongue. Translated into Persian by Babur’s grandson, Abu’l Fazl, and then into English by several scholars, including Dilip Hiro.

The original manuscript is in the collection of the British Museum.

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  1. Hi nice to read ur review on a boring book…more interesting than the book itself.If u know to read liitle bit of Kannada pick and read ‘teeke -tippani’ of P.Lankesh,noted kannda writer ,journalist.He is one of our cherished Indian writer who gives lots of insight on anything that he writes.Of course he has written on Babur also.



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