‘We need more books on Bengaluru’

Documenting the city:This month, two new books on Bengaluru have been published within a span of less than 10 days.— Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar  

“Do you have any books on Bangalore (Bengaluru)?”

The cashier at Blossoms, among the city's bibliophiles’ preferred destinations, pointed to a stack on the table in front of him. There lay a brand new offering on top, below which was another title, a single row amidst all the bestsellers and new titles.

This month, two new books on the city have been published within a span of less than 10 days: Yashaswini Sharma’s Bangalore: The Early City AD 1537–1799 and Harini Nagendra’s Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future .

It prompted a probe into Bengaluru’s role as a muse. For centuries, story-tellers, historians and poets have been drawn to cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. In comparison, the nation’s IT capital seems nowhere in the league of cities that serve as a source of inspiration for writers. Publishers, authors, and booksellers say that while this is changing and new books on the city have been coming out, it is not enough.

Over the years, some writers have jotted down their musings on the city, but the numbers are woefully low.

Yashaswini Sharma said that she could mainly find historical material and gazetteers on the city during the course of her research. “I am from Bengaluru and wanted to see how the city came about; the architecture, town planning, the people and what prompted the founder to select this particular location. My book explores some of these aspects. But documentation was available only from the 18th century. Before that, we had to bank on folklore, legends and stories,” she said. Harini Nagendra, whose book was released on Friday, has attempted to look at it using ‘nature as the lens’. “It seems like there are more books than they used to be, but there are not enough. Some diversity is also needed. For example, there are not many children’s books, or on the heritage of the city,” she added.

Booksellers in Bengaluru agree with the authors, "We sell about 15 to 20 of books on the city every month. Demand has increased in recent years," said Mayi Gowda, the owner of Blossoms.

Though small, it looked like a varied collection. “What we found missing are books that tell people about what places to see in the city. A lot of people who are new to the city ask for those. The only ones we have, tell them what to see around Bengaluru, not in the city,” said his colleague. The scene is the same across the city’s other popular bookstores. Gangaram’s Book Bureau had five titles. Sapna Book House has nearly 100 titles, which include maps, tourism spot listings and the like. They all have more or less the same titles: ‘Bangalore Roots and Beyond’ by Maya Jayapal and ‘The Promise of the Metropolis - Bangalore's Twentieth Century’ by Janaki Nair.

Sales, nevertheless, are ‘good’, said a source in Gangaram’s, the figures matching that of Blossoms.


Bangalore Blue

Bangalore Swinging

in the 70s

The Promise of the

Metropolis: Bangalore’s Twentieth Century

Bangalore Roots

and Beyond


Peter Colaco's Bangalore

Multiple City: Writings on Bangalore

My Days in the

Underworld - Rise of

the Bangalore Mafia

Bangalore: The Early

City AD 1537–1799

Nature in the City:

Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 6:02:53 AM |

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