Books on Delhi – 50 Plus books for You to Read


I got this list of 50 Books on Delhi from Outlook India Website. And I have added books that I know of and are not included in the Outlook list. I believe this is a list that I am going to keep expanding.

Books on Delhi

50 Plus Books on Delhi


  1. Above Average (2006) by Amitabha Bagchi. A touching coming-of-age story that moves between the IIT Campus and Mayur Vihar–with some surprisingly good descriptions of the latter.
  2. The Bride’s Mirror (2004) by Nazir Ahmad. First published in 1869 as Mirat-ul-Urus, and arguably the first novel written in Urdu, this tale of family life in the walled city was certainly a bestseller. First translated into English in 1903 it’s still in print.
  3. Corridor (2004) by Sarnath Banerjee. CP looms large in ‘the first Indian graphic novel’.
  4. Delhi: A Novel (1990) by Khushwant Singh. A sprawling, erotic novel that moves between the modern and the ancient city.
  5. East into Upper East (1998) by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Twelve short stories tackle the human condition in New Delhi and New York.
  6. The Gin Drinkers (1998) by Sagarika Ghose. A comedy of manners set in Delhi’s high society.
  7. The Heart Has its Reasons (2005) by Krishna Sobti. Family life and a love triangle in a 1920s Chandni Chowk setting.
  8. In Custody (1984) by Anita Desai. A small-town professor tries to interview a once-great Urdu poet; marvellous descriptions of a decrepit Chandni Chowk, populated by ghosts from the past.
  9. The Life and Times of Altu Faltu (2001) by Ranjit Lal. An allegory about social alliances and political skullduggery, with monkeys as the principal characters.
  10. Looking Through Glass (1996) by Mukul Kesavan. A richly imagined novel of time travel back to the Delhi (and Lucknow and Banaras) of the tumultuous 1940s.
  11. The Peacock Throne (2007) by Sujit Saraf. A giant of a novel, set almost entirely in Chandni Chowk between the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the present day.
  12. A Rag Called Happiness (1993) by Nirmal Verma. Delhi is the stage for this novel of theatrewallas in search of real life.
  13. Rich Like Us (1985) by Nayantara Sahgal. A clear-eyed look at the ongoing drama of power and powerlessness in New Delhi from the freedom struggle to the Emergency.
  14. Twilight in Delhi (1940) by Ahmed Ali. A depiction of an entire culture and a way of life in the years leading up to Partition.
  15. We Weren’t Lovers Like That (2003) by Navtej Sarna. Midlife crisis strikes a South Delhi middleman.



  1. Ancient Delhi (1999) by Upinder Singh – Back to the beginning. A fine scholarly study of our past from the stone age to the Rajputs.
  2. The Delhi Omnibus (2002) – This omnibus edition puts together four classic works on the history of Delhi through the ages – Percival Spear’s Delhi: A Historical Sketch and Twilight of the Mughuls: Studies in Late Mughal Delhi, Narayani Gupta’s Delhi between Two Empires 1803-1931 and the R.E. Frykenburg-edited anthology Delhi Through the Ages: Selected Essays in Urban History, Culture and Society.
  3. Historic Delhi: An Anthology (1997) by H.K. Kaul (ed.). Vivid accounts of Delhi from ancient times to the early 20th century, taken from hundreds of books and documents, some long out of print.
  4. The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 (2006) by William Dalrymple. Wonderfully researched account of the Indian Mutiny, and life in Delhi during the end of one empire and the birth of another.
  5. The Seven Cities of Delhi (2005) by Gordon Risley Hearn. Originally published in 1906, long out of print but recently reissued; an excellent account of the history and architecture of Delhi.
  6. Shahjahanabad: A City of Delhi 1638-1857 (1998) by Shama Mitra Chenoy. The urban fabric of the Old City in its heyday.
  7. Zaka Ullah of Delhi (2003) by C.F. Andrews (edited by Mushirul Hasan and Margrit Pernau). Originally published in 1929 as a personal tribute to a 19th-century scholar and citizen of the city, this little-known book offers a fascinating insight into the intellectual life of Delhi in the Mughal twilight.


  1. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (1993) by William Dalrymple. The title everyone knows. In which a still anonymous young Scotsman, recently moved to Delhi with his wife, becomes fascinated by and explores the city’s centuries-old history.
  2. Delhi: Light, Shades, Shadows (2005) by D.N. Chaudhuri. A charming memoir of a lifetime in the city by Nirad C. Chaudhuri’s son, illustrated with a treasury of photographs by the author.
  3. The Delhi That No One Knows (2005) by R.V. Smith. A collection of writings about the legends and myths surrounding the city’s monuments, by a journalist who came to Delhi in the 1950s and became one of the city’s most intrepid explorers.
  4. Muraqqa’-e-Dehli: The Mughal Capital in Muhammad Shah’s Time (1989) by Dargah Quli Khan (translated by Chander Shekhar and Shama Mitra Chenoy). A colourful diary of Delhi in Muhammad Shah Rangila’s days.
  5. Nizam Ad-Din Awliya: Morals for the Heart (Fawa’id al-Fu’ad of Amir Hasan) (1992) by Bruce B. Lawrence.  A 14th-century account of daily life with Delhi’s patron saint.
  6. Zikr-i- Mir: The Autobiography of the Eighteenth Century Mughal Poet: Mir Muhammad Taqi ‘Mir’ (2002) by C.M. Naim (trans.). Rich with sarcasm, risque detail and the perils of Delhi in interesting times.


  1. Birds of Delhi (2004) by Ranjit Lal. An introduction to over 150 species of Delhi’s birds as well as birding areas in and around the city.
  2. Delhi: A Thousand Years of Building (2005) by Lucy Peck. An accessible guide to Delhi’s rich architectural heritage, with photographs, line drawings and maps of all areas covered.
  3. Delhi: Its Monuments and History (1997) by Percival Spear. A comprehensive guidebook to Delhi’s many scattered monuments by the Grand Old Man and sometime Stephen’s don. First published in 1949; recently updated by Narayani Gupta and Laura Sykes.
  4. Delhi: The Built Heritage–A Listing (1999) by Ratish Nanda, Narayani Gupta, O.P. Jain – The Bible. INTACH’s unwieldy but comprehensive listing of over 1,200 buildings of archaeological, historical and architectural importance.
  5. Eicher City Map Delhi (2005) by S.M. Chadha. Here’s a book that changed our lives when it first appeared in 1996. Still the Delhi A-Z. Don’t leave home without it.
  6. A Guide to the Birds of the Delhi Area (1975) by Usha Ganguli. A comprehensive nature study, now sadly out of print, that lists over 400 avian species which can be seen in Delhi.
  7. Lost Monuments of Delhi (1997) by Sarah Sainty. A fine guide for the adventurous tourist who likes to do a lot of walking around.
  8. Old Delhi: 10 Easy Walks (2006) by Gaynor Barton and Laurraine Malone. Exactly what the title says. Written by two British ladies living in India. First published in 1988, still walking.
  9. Rediscovering Delhi (1975) by Maheshwar Dayal. A classic heritage guidebook. Everyone had it in the 1970s. Today you’ll have to steal it.
  10. Trees of Delhi: A Field Guide (2007) by Pradip Krishen. A beautifully illustrated, very user-friendly guide for tree-lovers.

Pictorial Books on Delhi

  1. Delhi, A Portrait (1983) by Raghu Rai. A photographic testimony to a city at the crossroads between old and new.
  2. Delhi, Stones, and Streets (1990) by C.S.H. Jhabvala. Fifty gorgeous pencil sketches of the city by the architect husband of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
  3. The Golden Calm: An English Lady’s Life in Moghul Delhi: Reminiscences by Emily, Lady Clive Bayley, and by her father Sir Thomas Metcalfe (1980) by M.M. Kaye (ed.). M.M. Kaye milking Raj nostalgia on the back of The Far Pavilions but the ‘company school’ illustrations of early 19th century Delhi are irresistible.
  4. Mehrauli: A View from the Qutb (2002) by Charles Lewis. Photographs by Karoki Lewis. A flavour of Mehrauli’s historic past and modern character, with photographs, interviews with residents and archival records.

Architecture/Urban Planning

  1. Delhi: The Deepening Urban Crisis (1989) by Patwant Singh. Essays and editorials (from Design magazine) about aspects of the city’s development and mismanagement.
  2. Delhi: Urban Space and Human Destinies (2000) by Veronique Dupont, Emma Tarlo, Denis Vidal (eds). Contemporary Delhi gets the PoMo treatment in this eclectic collection.
  3. Dome Over India: Rashtrapati Bhavan (2002) by Aman Nath. A fresh interpretation of the controversies that surround the legacy of Edwin Lutyens, the principal designer of New Delhi.
  4. Havelis of Old Delhi (1992) by Pavan K Varma and Sondeep Shankar. An enduring document of a lost era, about mansions built in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
  5. Imperial Delhi: The British Capital of the Indian Empire (2002) by Andreas Volwahsen. An expensive book but worth it for the gorgeous archival photographs and maps alone.
  6. Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi (1981) by Robert Grant Irving. A superbly illustrated description of the building of Lutyens’ Delhi.
  7. New Delhi (1931) by Robert Byron. Lutyens’ biggest fan celebrated his work in progress in a special number of the Architectural Review. It’s still in print in a fine facsimile edition.
  8. Punjabi Baroque (1994) by Gautam Bhatia. A practicing architect’s response to the primary building style, post-independence, of Delhi and other metros.

More Books on Delhi

I am adding few more books to this list:

  1. Adventures in a Megacity by Sam Miller. Memoirs of the author’s exploration of the city by walking around.
  2. Capital Vignettes by R V Smith Tales, legends and Myths about the city and its monuments and culture.
  3. Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat. A bestselling fiction based in IIT Delhi.
  4. Delhi Mostly Harmless by Elizabeth Chatterjee
  5. Explore Delhi Yasmeen Van Baugh & Yamini Puri
  6. Delhi 101 by Ajay Jain.
  7. Delhi 14 Historic Walks by Swapna Liddle
  8. The Environmental Crisis of Delhi by Sanjay Yadav
  9. Finding Delhi – Loss & Renewal in the Megacity by Bharati Chaturvedi
  10. Celebrating Delhi edited by Maya Dalal
  11. Delhi City of Yoginis by Suphal Kumar
  12. Delhi Durbar by Krishan Partap Singh
  13. Durbar by Tavleen Singh
  14. The War Ministry by Krishan Partap Singh
  15. The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries by Madhulika Liddle
  16. The Sunset Club by Khushwant Singh
  17. Indian Mansions by Sarah Tillotson
  18. Young Turks by Krishan Partap Singh
  19. Dilli Ki Galiyan by Amrita Pritam
  20. Grey Hornbill at Dusk by Bulbul Sharma

I think Delhi definitely deserves more books than this. Books on Delhi I have read are highlighted, recommend you may read my review.

If you know of any more Books on Delhi, do share the name and the author. Happy reading…

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  1. Anuradha

    This is a fantastic list.

    You don't mention your favourites ? and have you read 'Delhi Noir' ? I think it is a collection of short stories based in Delhi.

  2. And have you read

    Delhi – An Emperor's City by Vijay Goel

    Its got wonderful pictures of the Old Delhi area, history of some of the old buildings in that area.

    I dont think I have seen a book like that on Old Delhi.

  3. I am so glad I chanced upon your blog, its positively lovely 🙂

    This ia great list, and I love Indian authors, and there are many for me to read here 🙂

  4. Another great Delhi novel is Himani Dalmia's 'Life is Perfect'. Centers around a joint family in Lutyen's Delhi and modern Delhi high society. A brilliant portrayal.

  5. I am currently reading "Delhi: Adventures in a Mega city" by Sam Miller. It has started off well with the author desfribing everything he sees as he explores Delhi on foot. Alot of interesting facts about Delhi.

  6. these are really good books but not easily available:
    here are links if you wanna buy-
    4. Historic Delhi- h k kaul
    5. Delhi that no one knows- r v smith


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