It’s almost impossible for bibliophiles to maintain their composure at the sight of a quaint, hole-in-the-wall bookstore. Usually stocked with rarest of books that would otherwise have been languishing with the local scrap collector, the collections at these antiquarian shops end up in a life-long relationship with their connoisseurs.
We’ve drawn up a list of places that you must visit where books are more cherished than people (#SorryNotSorry) in five cities:
1. Southex Books and Prints, New Delhi
One of the city’s favourite haunts for bookworms, this store has a secret time machine. One step into this store, and you’ll feel transported somewhere between the 16th and the 19th century, depending on the book you pick up. With wooden shelves, ornate chandeliers, and antique lamps, this store’s old world charm will make you swoon. The store, which was set up in 1984, even has dedicated sections of first or limited editions and has letters by the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Florence Nightingale.
2. College Street, Kolkata
If you’re a book lover in Kolkata and you haven’t been to College Street, consider it to be a cardinal sin. If you’ve had dreams of walking along a street with just rows of books on both sides for perusal, this city will make your dream come true. A kilometre-long stretch stacked with an eclectic collection where a Mills and Boons novel would find a place in the same shelf as a rare academic book. A few stores in College Street were established back in the 19th century like Das Gupta & Company Pvt Ltd, which has recently even started delivering books.
3. Haziq and Mozhi, Hyderabad
Tucked in a corner of Hyderabad’s Murgi Chowk, this establishment’s modest outward appeal wouldn’t give you the impression that it stores some of the rare books on Urdu and Persian poetry. With a stunning collection of books on subjects from history, philosophy, mysticism, to even Islamic art and architecture, this is probably Hyderabad’s best-kept secret. The store which is stocked with a collection that was inherited from the founder, Ahmed Bafanna’s, grandfather – was set up over 50 years ago.
4. Flora Fountain, Mumbai
A 60-year-old set up at the intersection near Mumbai’s Flora Fountain is a scene that’s straight out of a book lover’s idea of paradise. A section of the pavement in the middle of a bustling street houses every kind of book, from a rare classic to a modern bestseller. The booksellers are adept at spotting a connoisseur or a rookie and can help out both with expert guidance. They are even known to refund you for a book in case you want to return it.
5. Blossom Book House, Bengaluru
This store on Bengaluru’s Church Street can be THE go-to place for all literature fans. Rows of books will call out to you as you pass by shelves that house some of the most coveted books. The owner, Mayi Gowda, set up a small store in 2002 with a humble collection of second-hand books, but their collection grew by leaps and bounds with every passing year. Those who frequent the shop love the charm of the store that welcomes book lovers with open arms.