India: Pre-trip reading and viewing suggestions

Textile Reading

Embroidered & Stitched Textile Fragments from Kashmir (2017) –  Anne Morrell. Published by the Calico Museum of Textiles – Sarabhai Foundation  

Handmade in India: A Geographic Encylopedia of Indian Handcrafts – Aditi Ranjan and M P Ranjan

Indian textile motifs –

Indian Textiles –  John Gillow

Inspiration Kantha: Creative Stitchery and Quilting with Asia’s Ancient Technique – Anna Hergert

Quilts of India:  Timeless Textiles – Patrick J Finn

Quilt Story: The Cultural Heritage – India, Bangladesh, Nepal & Pakistan – Patrick J Finn

Suraiya Hasan Bose: Weaving a Legacy – Radhika Singh: The life of Suraiya apa, as she is lovingly called, has been an expression of passion and commitment to the cause of handloom from pre-Independence India to the present day. This book documents the life story of the unsung legend, who is responsible for bringing back forgotten weaves like himru and mashru.

Textiles of the Banjara: Cloth and Culture of a Wandering Tribe  – Charlotte Kwon and Tim McLaughlin

The Art of the Dyer in Kutch: Traditional Block Printed Textiles – Culture and Technique – Dr Ismail Khatri, Judy Frater and Latha Tummuru

The Fabric of India – Rosemary Crill   (V&A Museum)

Traditional Indian textiles – John Gillow and Nicholas Barnard

General Reading

Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire – Alex von Tunzelmann – A re-creation of one of the key moments of twentieth-century history: the partition and independence of India, and the final days of the Raj.

Twilight in Delhi – Ahmed Ali – Published in 1940 and set in nineteenth-century India between two revolutionary moments of change, Twilight in Delhi brings history alive, depicting most movingly the loss of an entire culture and way of life. As Bonamy Dobree said, “It releases us into a different and quite complete world. Mr. Ahmed Ali makes us hear and smell Delhi…hear the flutter of pigeons’ wings, the cries of itinerant vendors, the calls to prayer, the howls of mourners, the chants of qawwals, smell jasmine and sewage, frying ghee and burning wood.”

Kingdom’s End – Selected stories,
Bitter Fruit – The very best of Saadat Hasan Manto,
Mottled Dawn:  Fifty Sketches and Stories of Partition
And other works by Saadat Hasan Manto, the most widely read and the most controversial short-story writer in Urdu. Several of his works have been translated into English (including those listed above).  Manto’s stories were mostly written against the milieu of the Partition. Born on 11 May 1912 at Sambrala in Punjab’s Ludhiana District, his writing career spanned over two decades. He died a few months short of his forty-third birthday, in January 1955, in Lahore. Manto produced twenty-two collections of short stories, one novel, five collections of radio plays, three collections of essays, two collections of reminiscences and many scripts for films.

What the body remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin

More great suggestions may be found at the following links

10 Must read books by Indian women authors

10 of the best novels set in India

10 best Indian novels and travel books

Best books about India


Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Lunchbox

Monsoon Wedding

Darjeeling Limited

Midnight’s Children


Slumdog Millionaire

The Ganges with Sue Perkins – BBC series

Great Indian Railway Journeys (with Michael Portillo) – BBC series

Joanna Lumley’s India


Satyagraha  – an opera by Philip Glass with libretto in Sanskrit

Note: The above list is by no means exhaustive.  If you’d like to recommend a book or movie that you’ve enjoyed or found informative and inspiring, please email us at