Travel

7 Charming Bookstore Cafes In India To Add To Your Travel Bucketlist

We believe reading is best over a cup of coffee or chai, at a nice cosy space. These are a few of our favourite bookstore cafes around India. Some of them are bookstores with in-house cafes, others are vice versa.

Bookstore cafes are cosy spaces, perfect for browsing
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Located in the Development Area in Gangtok, this is one of the best independent bookstores in India. They have won Publishing Next’s Bookstore of the Year award in 2015 -16 in the South East Asia category. Owner Raman Shresta carefully curates the collection – the shelf section on the Northeast books has excellent books on Sikkimese, Nepal and Tibetan history, culture, folklore and arts. You will love browsing around the store.

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Quirky touches add to the charm at Rachna Books in Gangtok, Sikkim Anuradha Sengupta

Apart from the treasure trove of books, Shresta has collected many interesting ephemera that are displayed across the store - old black-and-white photos of the hills, figurines, posters, and postcards. Of special interest are the retro cameras. The best part? They have a cosy cafe, Cafe Fiction, attached to the store which is located on the ground floor. You can make your purchase, and go down to Café Fiction to fuel up. The coffee here is locally sourced from small farm holdings, and roasted in-house. We loved the decor which included a retro pop-colour television set.

Information: Jeewan Theeng Marg, Development Area, Gangtok; phone: +91 3592 204 336; timings: 9am to 7pm.

This charming bookstore with a metal staircase is located on the rooftop of a bungalow. The large windows here let in sunlight, and a view of the lush green trees outside. Named after the magnolia champaca, it was founded by a trained ecologist and conservationist. The space also houses a library for children. They have a monthly themed book subscription package which you can sign up for. The cafe serves fresh salads, sandwiches, soups, tea cakes, juices, and tea and coffee. It has free WiFi too.

Information: 7/1, Edward Road, Vasanth Nagar; phone: +91-93536-08989, timing: 11 am to 7 pm, from Tuesday to Sunday, Mondays are holidays. 

This bookstore with a wraparound verandah is probably one of the better things in the busy beachside Calangute. It's located inside a Portuguese villa whose rooms have been given over to books - stacked on shelves, tables, floor... They have a section devoted to old editions and antique books. The store also runs a book club and holds literary meetings, film shows etc. You can spend hours with a book sitting outside in the verandah café with a beverage and sandwiches. 

Information: E/1-282, Gauravaddo, Calangute, Bardez; in the lane opposite Queen B, next to ABC Farms and Farmer's Inn; phone: 0832 2277740, 7447437768; timing: 10am to 6.30pm (closed on Sundays).

If you are looking for some atmospheric charm, head to this bookstore inside a 150-year-old building in Fort, Mumbai. Browsing and reading books inside this Raj-era building with high ceilings and Corinthian columns will be a memorable experience.

Spread over two floors, Kitab Khana also has an in-house cafe with a vegetarian menu. Look out for book readings, meetings with authors and other literary events which are held here on a regular basis. 

Information: 45-47, Ground Floor, Somaiya Bhavan, MG Road, Flora Fountain, Next To Davars College, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai; phone: 022 6170 2277; timing: 10.30am to 7.30pm (closed on Jan 26, May 1, Aug 15, Oct 2). 

Gulshan Bookstore, Srinagar
Blessed with an evening to spare in Srinagar? There’s a bookstore you might like to visit.  

Lovers of literature will be taken aback by the stock of fiction and poetry here, and even those with a mild interest in Kashmir will love the big photography books and coffee table books on the state available here. To top it off, there’s an open-air reading room for some quiet time. Did anyone say ‘heavenly’?

Information: Residency Road, Regal Chowk, Munshi Bagh, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 190001, timing: 10:30am to 8:30pm, phone: 095966 00055.

The wildly popular Illiterati Bookstore near McLeodganj is temporarily closed, and 'going through a transition', as their Insta page says.  Meanwhile, you can visit their sister cafe and art gallery which also has a co-working space where basic amenities to run an 'office space' is provided at a nominal charge. They also host book readings, author and artist meet-ups, and other events. It has become a nurturing space for writers and artists in the region. For instance, they had hosted a book launch of Copper Mountain by author Thupten Samphel in 2021.

Information: Jogiwara Rd, Sudher, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219, India, timings: 9am to 8pm, phone: 7018735787. 

This iconic bookstore and cafe had broken many hearts in June 2021 when they announced that they were closing down their Khan Market space due to mounting bills. However, they were back some months later. And now have two other outlets in Nizamuddin East and Greater Kailash I. Both the menu at the cafe and the collection at the bookstore are worth a visit. Their children's books collection is quite vast and varied. Complementing the bookstore is the quiet and pleasant Cafe Turtle, located on the floor above.

Information: The Full Circle Bookstore and Café Turtle, 24, 1st and 2nd Floor, Middle Lane, Khan Market, timing: 10am to 8pm, phone: 011-24655641/011-24655642, 70 651 05 939, 84 471 88 417.

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