Poet Keki Daruwalla based his first novel on Vasco da Gama's landing on the Kerala coast
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It’s intended less as a work of scholarship, more as an entertainment” says Giles Tillotson of his new book. To his credit, he has achieved a near-perfect balance. Jaipur Nama fulfils all the requirements of a good history: its account of the growth of one of India’s most popular cities from the 1720s (when it was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II) onwards is erudite, well researched and meticulous. But it’s also a perceptively witty book that knows how to poke gentle fun at the many quirks of history. Tillotson has spent decades visiting and writing about India — he knows more about aspects of our history and architecture than most Indians do. But his approach is a pleasingly irreverent one, especially in the descriptions of rituals, political infighting and court intrigues. This makes Jaipur Nama more readable than many other treatises in its genre. In this book Tillotson does what he can to question accepted wisdom (like the belief that Jaipur’s famous pink wash was only introduced in 1876 to celebrate the visit of the Prince of Wales). Jaipur Nama is a noteworthy new look at a city about which much has been written — and entrenched in the imagination.
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