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December 2009 - January 2010


Book Review: Great Monuments of India

by Kanika Tandon

Great Monuments of India takes you on a visual tour of 11 most popular historical sites in India and discovers the story behind each monument while taking into consideration its historical, cultural and acrchitectural background

The rich landscape of Indian history is dotted with monuments and architectural marvels that inspire awe and even disbelief, if only for the sheer genius involved in constructing them. To understand and devour their true beauty, it is necessary that we are fully aware of the cultural, historical and architectural background of these monuments.

Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi

Great Monuments of India, published by Dorling Kindersley, is one such book which fulfils all these requirements to offer you an unadulterated indulgence in these glorious symbols of India’s past.

The book takes you on a visual tour of 11 incredible sites highly representative of the vastness and variation India has to offer. Sanchi, Khajuraho, Konark and Qutub Minar are just some of the many exotic places splendidly introduced and described in details to the reader.

What adds to the desire to have this book take a prominent place in your bookshelf is the way the story about the sites has been told -- it demands complete involvement from the reader. You share the legends, facts and fiction associated with these monuments. For example, did you know that Surya or the Sun God is the only god in Hindu iconography to be depicted wearing boots, or that the funerary symbols of a penstand (for men) and a writing tablet (for women) were traditionally used to mark the graves in the Mughal architecture. More such interesting bytes adorn the book as you slide through the pages.

Its visual appeal is enhanced by the 600 specially commissioned photographs sprinkled on its pages. The book lures you into exploring the mystical past while admiring the technical brilliance of the structures. So if it is the Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi, that you are reading about, you will not only get to know about the tomb, but also about the Mughal empire, Humayun’s character and interests, his rivals and even how he died. You will also get to know about the various architectural styles involved in the making of this tomb which eventually inspired the Taj Mahal of Agra. Complete with detailed sketches of the site, reading the book is as good as vicariously visiting the place.

The photography is excellent and so is the presentation. However, one wishes sometimes that the inset photographs were a bit bigger for a clearer view. But we should not complain as the book permits you to know the places inside out. Its amazing sense of detail captivates your interest and immerses you deeper into the world of these remarkable monuments.

These priceless symbols of precious cultural heritage and opulent history of India need to be cherished and be made familiar to the posterity. There can’t be a better way than to have them presented to you collectively in the form of a book.

If you dream of going to India, this book will only intensify your desire to go ahead with that tour. A must buy for all those who are interested in history, architecture or the cultural heritage of India.

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