5 Independent Bookstores Where Time Stands Still

5 Independent Bookstores Where Time Stands Still
Independent book stores a bibliophile should not miss, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Here are 5 iconic bookstores that have stood the test of time in the era of Kindle

Roshni Subramanian
October 16 , 2019
12 Min Read

The feeling of rustic parchment between your fingers as you physically turn each page over. Ah! What a lovely place to be. “That’s the thing about books. They let you travel the world without moving your feet.” Jhumpa Lahiri wasn’t far from the truth when she said this in The Namesake. The pleasure of reading transports you to a world free from the worries of reality. A world where frequenting places like Hogwarts and Narnia is the norm. Or one where nerdy chics are saving the hour and maybe even the world.  Deep down a bibliophile would agree that there is no joy comparable to that of revisiting a childhood classic or a fragrance more intoxicating than that of a new book.

But in an age where Kindle, e-books and audiobooks have become the order of the day and our obsession with technology has hit an all new low, it makes you wonder whether the art of reading a traditional paperback is dying a slow death? Is the relevance of bookshops fading away with every click online?  While some have succumbed to the surmounting pressures, others have managed to stand the test of time. With a rich history, one-of-a-kind collection and a loyal fanbase, these iconic bookstores are testament to the fact that old habits die hard.


Higginbothams, Chennai

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Higginbothams, India’s oldest bookstore chain wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for sheer luck. Established by Abel Joshua Higginbotham in 1844 in Madras, Higginbothams is a landmark structure today on Mount Road, Anna Salai. With a legacy of 175 years and still counting, this bookstore has served the royalty, a long list of ministers and other such institutions. With Abel Higginbotham’s ability to source rare and in demand books, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this bookstore enjoys an iconic status today. Popular for its quality and variety of books, it also has an outlet in MG Road, Bengaluru, set up by Abel’s son in 1905. Once a frequent hangout spot for the bookworms in the city, a step into this century old bookstore will take you back in time. 

Blossom Book House, Bengaluru

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If there’s one place that booklovers in Bengaluru swear by, it’s Blossoms. Just a little disclaimer, as you walk in, do not expect a swanky decor, brand new hardcover copies or collector’s edition. Keeping the art of reading alive in Bengaluru, this second hand bookshop is any bibliophile’s dream come true. With hundreds of shelves decked up with thousands of books, Blossoms on Church Street has rapidly grown over the years, since its inception in 2001. For most Bengalureans, a visit to Blossom has now become a Sunday ritual of sorts. Keeping in view the increasing popularity and the lack of space, proprietor Mayi Gowda opened a second outlet on Church Street a few years ago. From classic comics to travelogues to books on gardening, one can find more 200,000 books here from across varied genres. 

Read | An Ode To Blossom Book House In Bengaluru

Select Bookshop, Bengaluru

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Another diamond in the rough located just off Brigade road, Select Bookshop is older than independent India. Believed to be Bengaluru’s oldest bookstore, it was founded in 1945 by lawyer KBK Rao. But ever since the 1970's, it is being managed by KKS Murthy. With shelves overflowing with early editions of rare titles, Select bookshop has been frequented by the likes of  CV Raman, Ramachandra Guha, Ruskin Bond and Girish Karnad. From magazines to railway maps, it might be a herculean task to search through the ocean of books here but this treasure chest won’t disappoint you.

Bahrisons, Delhi

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One of the most renowned names in the indie bookstore circuit, Bahrisons is an institution in itself. Responsible for kindling  the love for literature in most Delhiites, this book store is a classic example of rags to riches. Started just after independence in the ‘refugee area’ of Khan Market, this quaint little store today boasts of 4 other branches across the Delhi NCR region. Be it coffee tables or trendy stationery, the family run Bahrisons has been a second home for its patrons since 1953. The 65 year old store offers an insight into post partition struggles and the struggles of setting up a business in the backdrop of displacement. Today, it’s managed by the second and  third generation of the Bahri Malhotra family and is a mecca for voracious readers.

Read about Delhi's best libraries here

Maria Brothers, Shimla

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If there’s one place that has kept its regal charm intact in his age of commercialisation, it’s the  iconic bookshop Maria Brothers. The first antiquarian book store in Shimla, it deals in the rarest of rare books and artifacts. From their decor to their collections, Maria brothers is a step into antiquity. It is one of the few bookstores across the country that house first editions and books that have gone out of print. An absolute treasure trove for booklovers, this landmark establishment nestled in Shimla’s Mall Road is hard to miss. Home to some of the most exclusive maps, the bookshop mainly focuses on history and travelogues. With a collection of over 8,000 titles, Maria Brothers is a collectors delight.


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