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Book Categories: History, Ancient & Medieval, Deccan Sultanates, Kashmir, Ladakh, Manipur, Asoka, Razia, Mughals, Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries, Sikh Empire, Palaces, Sikkim, Royal Life, Hinduism & Epics, Jainism
India: A History by John Keay. Traces the growth of states and kingdoms throughout antiquity and the medieval period, and continues to 1998. (Review © Amazon.com)
India by Stanley A. Wolpert. A concise overview of Indian history and culture.
The Indian Princes and Their States by Barbara N. Ramusack. Describes the pre-colonial origins of the Indian princes, and how they adapted to survive as political leaders and cultural icons.
In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India edited by Andrew Topsfield. Illustrated volume on Indian art from 1000 BC to the 20th century. Includes short background essays on topics including courtly life and royal portraits.
Royal Tombs of India by A.S. Bhalla. A look at Islamic royal tombs of India from the 13th century to the 18th century.
The Maharaja and the Princely States of India by Sharada Dwivedi. Illustrated guide to India's royal families.
Kingship in Indian History edited by Noboru Karashima. A collection of essays.
African Elites in India: Habshi Amarat edited by Kenneth X. Robbins and John McLeod. Essays about Africans who rose to power as officers, nobles, and rulers in India between the 13th and 20th centuries, including the Abyssinian sultans of Bengal (1487-1493), Malik Ambar of Ahmadnagar (1600-1626), the Sidi nawabs of Janjira (1618-1648), and the Sidi nawabs of Sachin (1791-1948).
Colonial Hegemony and Popular Resistance: Princes, Peasants, and Paramount Power by Hira Singh. Royalty and rural conditions in historical India.
Royalty in Fiction and Legend
Thirty-Two Tales of the Throne of Vikramaditya by Simhasana Dvatrimsika, translated by A. N. D. Haksar. Stories from the late 13th or early 14th century about the fabled Indian monarch Vikramaditya, considered to be a model of kingly virtues.
The Many Lives of a Rajput Queen: Heroic Pasts in India, C. 1500-1900 by Ramya Sreenivasan. How elites, caste groups, and mystical and monastic communities refashioned the legend of the medieval queen Padmini.
Casting Kings: Bards and Indian Modernity by Jeffrey G. Snodgrass. Bhats (bards) entertain with ballads and puppet plays detailing the exploits of Rajasthan's long-dead kings.
Royalty in Medieval India by Khaliq Ahmad Nizami. History of the Delhi Sultanate, including public and private lives of the sultans.
The Emergence of Monarchy in North India: Eighth - Fourth Centuries BC, as Reflected in the Brahmanical Tradition by Kumkum Roy. Examines the social changes that brought about the rise of the monarchy.
The Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava translated by Sangye Khandro and Lama Chonam. The story of an 8th century Indian princess who was the consort of the Indian master Padmasambhava before he introduced tantric Buddhism to Tibet.
The Last Hindu Emperor: Prithviraj Chauhan and the Indian Past, 1200-2000 by Cynthia Talbot. This study traces traditions about 12th century Indian ruler Prithviraj Chauhan, ruler of Ajmer and Delhi, who was overthrown by Muslim armies from Afghanistan.
Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights, and the History of Kashmir by Mridu Rai. Examines the 100-year period before the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, during which Kashmir was ruled by Hindu Dogra kings.
Rajatarangini: A Chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir by Kalhana. Written in the 12th century.
The Jammu Fox by Bawa Satinder Singh. Biography of Maharaja Gulab Singh of Kashmir, 1792-1857.
Heir Apparent by Karan Singh. The 1983 autobiography of the heir to the throne of Jammu and Kashmir.
Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy by Navina Najat Haidar and Marika Sardar. This catalogue of Deccani works includes site photographs and landscape images, essays, maps, and illustrated appendices.
The Architecture of a Deccan Sultanate: Courtly Practice and Royal Authority in Late Medieval India by Pushkar Sohoni. The first analysis of the architecture of the Nizam Shah dynasty of India's Ahmadnagar kingdom.
Ladakh: Past and Present by Prem Singh Jina. This study of Ladakh, India's loftiest and remotest region, covers its history, tradition, and culture.
Ladakh: Culture, History, and Development Between Himalaya and Karakoram edited by Martijn van Beek, Kristoffer Brix Bertelsen, and Poul Pedersen. Covers anthropology, archaeology, history and architecture, and more.
So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas by Barbara Crossette. About Ladakh, and the neighboring kingdoms of Bhutan, Sikkim, and Tibet.
Three Kingdoms on the Roof of the World: Bhutan, Nepal, Ladakh by Robert Z. Apte. Photo-essay that brings these ancient lands to life using 144 images and text on each region.
A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters With Buddhism by Andrew Harvey. A spiritual travelogue of the author's journey to one of the most remote parts of the world -- the highest, least populated region in India, cut off by snow for six months each year.
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh by Helena Norberg-Hodge. Describes the land and culture of Ladakh, a remote region of India that is trying to protect itself from the effects of rapid modernization.
Trekking in Ladakh: India Trekking Guides by Charlie Loram. This practical guide includes 75 detailed walking maps plus information on getting to Ladakh.
The Court Chronicle of the Kings of Manipur: The Cheitharon Kumpapa - Original Text, Translation and Notes, 33-1763 CE by Saroj Nalini Arambam Parratt. Manipur was a small independent state on the Indian border with Myanmar. This court account of the state records events from the founding of the ruling dynasty in 33 CE. The volume contains a copy of the original text and an English translation, with explanatory notes and a glossary.
Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor by Charles Allen. Through his third century BC quest to govern the Indian subcontinent by moral force alone, Ashoka transformed Buddhism into a major world religion.
Ashoka in Ancient India by Nayanjot Lahiri. In the third century BC, Ashoka ruled much of modern-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Future generations saw him as the ideal Buddhist king. This biography disentangles his life from the legend that surrounds it.
Asoka. A 2001 movie on DVD, produced by and starring Shah Rukh Khan, about the legendary king who renounced war and embraced Buddhism.
The Biographical Scripture of King Asoka by Numata Center for Buddhist Translation & Research.
The Edicts of Asoka edited by N. A. Nikam and Richard McKeon.
Razia: Queen of India by Rafiq Zakaria. Fictionalized account of the life of Razia (also called Raziyya or Radiyya), who was sultana of Northern India during the 13th century. She was chosen by her father to succeed him as sultan because he felt she was more capable than her brothers, but her subjects would not accept a female ruler. She was overthrown and, according to different accounts, either died in battle or was murdered by a robber.
Razia - The People's Queen by Shahana Dasgupta. Children's book about the achievements of the only queen to reign in Delhi during the Sultanate era.
The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye. A long, entertaining novel about a 19th century Indian princess who falls in love with a British man. Worth reading.
Modern Indian Kingship: Tradition, Legitimacy & Power by Marzia Balzani. Examines how royal power has survived in modern India, focusing on the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan.
The Last King in India: Wajid Ali Shah by Rosie Llewellyn-Jones. Biography of the last king of Oudh (Awadh), who reigned from 1847 to 1856. He married over 350 women, directed theatrical events lasting a month, and built a fairytale palace. After his kingdom was annexed by the East India Company, he spent his life trying to recreate his lost paradise.
Once a Prince of Sarila: Of Palaces and Tiger Hunts, of Nehrus and Mountbattens by Narendra Singh Sarila. The author, who was heir apparent to the central Indian kingdom of Sarila, describes life in the marble palaces of princely India in the 1930s and '40s.
Posing for Posterity: Royal Indian Portraits by Pramod Kumar. The arrival of photography in India in 1840 began a rivalry between its practitioners and the painters of traditional miniatures and portraits. This book presents a wide range of photographs and portraits from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars by Gautam Sen. A full history of the automobile in India, including the Majarajas, who purchased many exotic cars. With 592 photos.
A Princely Imposter? by Partha Chatterjee. In 1921, a traveling religious man appeared in eastern British Bengal. Soon residents identified him as the second kumar (prince) of Bhawal -- a man believed to have died 12 years earlier. So began one of the most extraordinary legal cases in Indian history, which would rivet popular attention for decades.
Maharanis & Women
Maharanis: The Extraordinary Tale of Four Indian Queens and Their Journey From Purdah to Parliament by Lucy Moore. Follows the lives of four maharajas' wives from the final days of the British Empire to the present.
A Princess Remembers by Gayatri Devi. Memoirs of the last maharani of Jaipur (who died in 2009).
Passion India by Javier Moro. Nonfiction. In 1908, a 17-year-old Spanish girl married the incredibly wealthy Maharajah of Kapurthala, begining a great story of love and betrayal that took place over nearly two decades.
Royal Patronage, Power and Aesthetics in Princely India by Angma Dey Jhala. Architecture, fashion, jewelery and cuisine in the women's courts or female quarters of the palaces in princely Indian states during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Muslim Women, Reform and Princely Patronage by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley. Examines the emergence of a Muslim women's movement in India. The state of Bhopal, a Muslim principality in central India, was ruled by women throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, most notably the last Begam of Bhopal, Nawab Sultan Jahan Begam.
Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu. Biography of Noor Inayat Khan, a descendant of Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan. She became a British secret agent and died in a Nazi concentration camp.
Britain and India
The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire, 1917-1947 by Ian Copland. Explains that 20th century Indian royals were not mere puppets of the British, but important figures in their own right.
Sovereignty, Power, Control: Politics in the State of Western India, 1916-1947 by John McLeod. Examines the mechanics of political interaction in princely India. Topics include the princes' right to collect duty on imported goods, British policy toward youthful princes, and the honours system.
The Queen of Jhansi by Mahasweta Devi, translated by Sagaree and Mandira Sengupta. Lakshmibai, a young Indian queen, led her troops against the British in the uprising of 1857 and died on the battlefield. Based on extensive research, this book is simultaneously a history, a biography, and a work of fiction.
Queen of Glory by Christopher Nicole. In 1857, 23-year-old Lakshmi Bai, the recently deposed Rani of Jhansi, finds herself embroiled in the developing Indian Mutiny. (Fiction.)
Rebel Queen: A Novel by Michelle Moran. The story of India's Joan of Arc, Queen Lakshmi (Rani Lakshmibai). In the early 19th century she defied the mighty British invasion to defend her beloved kingdom of Jhansi.
Emperor of the Five Rivers: The Life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh by Mohamed Sheikh. Biography of the first maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who united the various Sikh factions and built a nation.
Empire of the Sikhs: The Life and Times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh by Patwant Singh and Jyoti M. Rai. One of the most powerful and charismatic Indian rulers of the early 19th century, Ranjit Singh unified the warring chiefdoms of the Punjab, gave employment to defeated foes, and honored others' religious faiths. This biography uses Indian and European eye-witness accounts.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Lord of the Five Rivers by Jean Marie Lafont. Biography of the ruler of Punjab, the last great Indian state, which successfully resisted British expansionism until 1849.
Ranjit Singh: A Secular Sikh Sovereign by K.S. Duggal. About Ranjit Singh, Maharaja of the Punjab, 1780-1839.
Sovereign, Squire & Rebel: Maharajah Duleep Singh by Peter Bance. The story of Maharajah Duleep Singh and his heirs is told with unseen photographs, rich Sikh art, and masterpieces commissioned by the Maharajah.
Queen Victoria's Maharajah: Duleep Singh, 1838-93 by Michael Alexander. Duleep Singh, deposed maharajah of the Sikh kingdom of Punjab, converted to Christianity and became a favorite of Queen Victoria, but eventually declared a holy war to recover his homeland from the British Empire. This account is based on the archives at Windsor and the India Office Library.
Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand. Born in 1876, Sophia Duleep Singh was the daughter of Duleep Singh, exiled maharaja the kingdom of the Sikhs. Sophia was raised a genteel Englishwoman, but joined the struggle for Indian independence and the fight for female suffrage.
Chasing the Mountain of Light by Kevin Rushby. Tells the story of the world's largest diamond, the Koh-i-Noor. Seized from Punjab by agents for Queen Victoria, it now lies in the Tower of London, where some say its curse controls the fate of the Windsor family.
Live Like a Maharaja: How to Turn Your Home Into a Palace by Amrita Gandhi. The author has been a guest to royal families all over India. In this book she offers royal lifestyle tips and secrets.
Courts of Pre-Colonial South India: Material Culture and Kingship by Jennifer Howes. Set against the background of the events which led to the formation of the Ramnad Kingdom, this book examines how the material culture of South Indian courts was perceived by those who lived there.
Royal Indian Cookery: A Taste of Palace Life by Manju Shivraj Singh. The niece of the last Maharani of Jaipur shares a collection of recipes drawn from her childhood memories of the City Palace of Jaipur, including recipes handed down from her mother and the Maharani.
Textiles and Costumes at Royal Court of Jaipur by Rahul Jain. The palace stores of Amber and Jaipur once housed spectacular royal tents and fine garments for the princes and other members of the royal household. This lavishly illustrated book is the first comprehensive overview of the court textiles of any princely Indian state.
Royal Ark: India
History and Politics of India
India - A Country Study
Wikipedia - Ladakh
World Statesmen - Ladakh
The Nizams of the Asif Jahi Dynasty
Maharaja of Jodhpur
Abida Sultaan - Reflections of a Princess