India can boast to be one of the oldest civilisations in the world. The written history of India can be traced back to the Vedas. So, writing a book on Indian history which can cover the subject in its entirety can be an impossible task.
The history of India has seen the influence of many kings. It was also shaped by many queens, countless empires, religions and finally, its people.
Unsurprisingly, thousands of books, academic and otherwise, are written on the history of India. As a result, finding books on this ancient civilization and its history can prove to be a difficult task.
So, to help and guide our readers, we have compiled this list of books on Indian history. The list contains 53 books.
We have divided the list into the 5 major eras of our history. They are:
- Ancient History,
- Medieval History,
- Modern History and
- Post-Independence History.
Each era is again divided into 2 parts:
- Must-read Indian history books and
- Subject-specific books.
The list of 10 must-read books is given at the top. It is followed by an era-wise list of the subject-specific book.
The must-reads give a general overview of that particular era. The subject-specific books deal with individual subjects – kings, cultures, dynasties, tax-systems etc.
So go on and enjoy this detailed list on Indian history books. We hope that you like it and find it useful.
Most Important books on Indian History – 10 Books
1. Prehistory and Protohistory of India – An Appraisal by VK Jain
This book talks about many wide-ranging topics. Some of them are – tools, technologies, settlements, existence patterns and ecological background.
The Megalithic Cultures of peninsular India are also discussed in detail. Maps, line-drawings and descriptive notes on individual sites are also included.
2. Ancient India by RC Majumdar
This book is a comprehensive and interesting account of Ancient Indian History.
The author explains the religious, literary and cultural aspects of ancient India and its people in great detail. Political and administrative conditions are also discussed.
3. Ancient History of India by Charles J. Naegele
This book provides a fresh look at the history of Ancient India. It centres on Manusmriti and its relationship to the Rigveda.
It explores its possible relationship to the Indus Civilisation of 4000 to 5000 years ago.
It also throws light on Aryan society, culture, castes and the use of technology in the Indus Valley Civilisation.
4. A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations by Noboru Karashima
This book covers a wide range of topics. They include the origins and creation of the ancient kingdoms. It also includes the development of agriculture in ancient India.
This book also provides an overview of socio-cultural development of South India. It is done through a comprehensive examination of its historical trajectory.
5. History of Medieval India: From 1000 A. D. To 1707 A. D. by R.S. Chaurasia
This book deals with all aspects of medieval Indian history in detail to meet the requirements of the students and common readers. The book is divided into three parts.
The first part covers the Saltanat period from 1206 to 1526.
The second part deals with the Mughal period from 1526 to 1760 A.D. in detail.
The third part covers the period up to 1857 in brief.
Bhakti movement, Society and Culture, Art and Architecture, and Economic aspects are described in a very simple and lucid style.
6. A Textbook of Medieval Indian History by Sailendra Nath Sen
This book provides a picture of the political history of medieval India. It covers the period from the 8th to the 18th century.
It examines the socio-economic changes, administrative innovations and cultural revolutions of this period. The author gives special reference to literature, religion, art and architecture.
It provides a valuable introduction to many important topics. It explains the invasion of the Turks, the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate and the rise of the Vijayanagar kingdom.
The rule of the Mughals, the progress of Maratha power and the advent of the Europeans are also explained.
7. A History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
This book provides a comprehensive overview of the history of medieval India.
It covers the thousand-year period between the eighth and the eighteenth century.
It deals with the histories of many known and lesser-known kingdoms. Kingdoms included are the Cholas, Rajputs, Turks, Vijayanagara, Bahmanis, Mughals, Marathas etc.
8. History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra
This is a book on the history of British rule in India. It coincides with modern Indian history. It is not a political narrative of the British rule, the freedom struggle and Independence.
Rather, this book is an explanation of the factors that allowed the British to rule over India for such a long time. It deals with the economic, religious, and social history of modern India.
9. From Plassey To Partition: A History Of Modern India by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
This book on modern Indian history begins with the disintegration and downfall of the Mughal Empire.
It also narrates the parallel rise of the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent.
The book is unique in presenting the problems of Indians under British rule. It gives a detailed account of India’s freedom struggle. It also describes the cultural and social changes brought in by the foreign rulers.
It presents the entire history of the rise of various Indian freedom fighters. It also talks of the Partition that led to the creation of India and Pakistan.
10. India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha
Ramchandra Guha’s India After Gandhi provides a detailed history of independent India.
The book narrates the history of the various Prime Ministers of India. It particularly discusses the lives of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
It also discusses many lesser-known Indians.
Subject-wise Indian History Books
43 Historical Books
Indian History Books – Pre-historic Era
Books on Ancient Indian History
|In Search of the Cradle of Civilization by Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak, David Frawley|
In this groundbreaking book, three renowned scholars show that there was no "Aryan invasion". They prove that India, not Sumer, was the cradle of human civilisation. This book also examines the wealth of India's spirituality and its relevance to today's world. It does so by exploring the rich symbols, metaphors, and myths of the Vedas. It covers topics like archaeology, astronomy, Yoga and geology.
|The Lost River: On The Trail of the Sarasvati by Michel Danino|
The Lost River is a book that talks about the existence, and eventual demise, of the Sarasvati River. The book puts forth the theories brought about by different explorers and archaeologists. This book is a narrative that insists on the idea that the river still exists, and speaks in favour of it. It combines spiritual evidence with archaeological evidence to prove its point. The book is a must-read for students, teachers and researchers.
|Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization by Jonathan Mark Kenoyer|
This illustrated book presents a simple account of the Indus Valley civilization that will appeal to everyone. The book draws on the latest archaeological information from the major Indus Valley sites.
The author addresses many important topics related to the Indus valley civilisation. Topics include - Indus writing system, the Indus religion, sculpture and architecture. Other important subjects discussed in the book are the administrative systems in Indus cities. Their trade systems are given due importance.
The daily life of the diverse inhabitants of the cities, towns, and villages of the region are also discussed.
|The Wonder that was India by A.L. Basham|
The book explores the rich cultural heritage of ancient India. It traces various time periods of Indian history beginning with Indus valley civilisation. This book is narrative, simple to understand and keeps the reader engaged. Furthermore, the book even talks about the evolution of the Hindu religion that has been followed from Harappan times.
|Lifestyle of the Vedic People by Pranati Ghosal|
The book deals with aspects of everyday life of the Vedic people - seers, elite and that of the common people. The book explains their housing, occupations, education, food and drink, entertainment, dress and cosmetics. It uses Vedic literature for its analysis.
|Discovering the Vedas by Frits Staal|
In this book, the author analyses information from oral tradition and archaeology. He uses this to explain the Vedic people and their language, what they thought and did, and where they went and when. He sheds light on the mantras and rituals that contributed to Hindu thought. He reveals the original forms of the Vedic sciences, as well as its wisdom for the modern reader.
|Age of the Nandas and Mauryas by K.A. Nilakantha Sastri|
The present work deals with the period 400-185 B.C. which saw great changes in the political, economic and artistic life of India. The author provides a clear understanding of the important events of the period.
Topics include Alexander's conquests, Mauryan rule, the overthrow of the Nandas and of the rule of Asoka and his successors. Other topics which the author discusses are - Mauryan Polity, Industry, Art, Religion, Language and Literature.
|Chandragupta Maurya and His Times by Radhakumud Mookherji|
This book deals with the life and times of India's first historical emperor, Chandragupta Maurya. It provides a picture of Indian civilisation in the early period of the fourth century BC. The book draws material from various sources - classical works in Sanskrit, Buddhist and Jaina texts and the inscriptions of Asoka.
It covers almost all aspects of administration including the king, ministers and officers. Other topics are - the justice system and the army and its management.
|A Concise History of Buddhism by Andrew Skilton|
This book is an ideal introduction to the history of Buddhism. It explains the development of the basic concepts of Buddhism. It explores its 2,500 years of history and describes its varied developments in India. It also describes its spread across Asia, from Mongolia to Sri Lanka and from Japan to the Middle East.
|Jainism - History, Society, Philosophy and Practice by Agustin Paniker|
This book traces the dynamics and development of Jainism. It explains Jainism's main features: its mythology, origins and its great figures. It also explains its main subdivisions and religious groups, its scriptures, practices. Other topics include - its rituals and its social, cultural and political interactions.
|Post-Mauryan India 200BC - AD300: A Political and Economic History by Irfan Habib|
This book deals with a five-hundred-year period of Indian history. This period is associated with the dominance of Indo-greeks, Sakas, Kushans and Satavahanas.
|A History of South India by K.A. Nilakantha Sastri|
This book offers a comprehensive account of the much-neglected history of South India. South India is treated as a single geographical entity in this book. It details the political history, social life, commerce, religion, literature and arts of South India.
|The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History by Sanjeev Sanyal|
This book narrates the history of the rim of the Indian Ocean. It stretches across East Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia and Australia. Sanjeev Sanyal explores archaeological sites, ancient inscriptions, and oral histories in this book. Many lesser-known historical figures have been brought to life in this book.
Books on Medieval Indian History
Books on Modern Indian History
Books on Indian History – Post-independence
Other lists in this series: