Naga Chokkanathan

An amazing book!

Posted on: February 2, 2012

Travel books are boring.

And, Google + Smart Phones combination is slowly replacing them. When you can get updates about literally any tourist spot on click (or touch) of a button, who needs travel books anyway?

Of course, once in a while, a rare gem comes and changes your opinion about tourist books in general. Swapna Liddle’s “Delhi: 14 Historic Walks” is one such book.

As the title suggests, this book is a mini travel guide to walk around the city of Delhi and learn a bit of history in the process. Swapna Liddle has chosen 14 important areas in Delhi and explains (with wonderful pictures) what is special there and how you can see it all.

I never thought I would read a travel book from page 1 to page 250 without missing even a single word in between. That is the kind of thrill that each walk in this book creates.

Main reason for this, the author doesn’t bore you with just facts or geography of the area. She mixes them in a very good style and before you know it, you are on the walk with her. She explains the history of each place, what we should look there, specific notes about construction styles and why certain things are built that way. She even tells us what that place would have looked like, if we visited it few centuries before!

Delhi has a rich history and many great emperors, poets and other noblemen lived here. This book introduces almost all of them to us via the places they built or used. What a nice way to learn history. (This may look very obvious, but you should read the book to understand why I am so excited about this book, If you can’t read the whole book, at least try the chapter about Red Fort, it is THE very best!)

For each walk, this book gives useful information such as the time it takes to complete the walk, how difficult is the path, when to take it, how much it is going to cost, where to park your car, if you are traveling by public transport, where is the nearest metro and most important, if you don’t have time for a full walk (Each walk takes around 2 to 3 hours), what are the most important places you need to see in that area.

Also, this book follows a chronological order, So it reads more like a story book, than a travel book. Anyone visiting Delhi (or even living there for many years) will find this book very very interesting and useful!

Now, for the negatives. As the book is organized into various ‘walks’, the same history, same people keep repeating in many places. This won’t look like a huge problem if you are only reading one article at a time, but I read it as a whole and felt same things repeat again and again.

Also, for each walk it would have been nice if they gave a table (along with the big article) which simply says the names of each place and what is most important there. Would have helped as a quick reference.

Apart from these small issues, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I wish someone writes such a book about my city (Bangalore), and I can learn its history by walking around!

(Delhi : 14 Historic Walks : Swapna Liddle : Westland : Rs 495/-)


N. Chokkan …

02 02 2012

Note: This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


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