Book Review – Land of Seven Rivers

Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If you’re someone who wants to start reading and knowing more about the Indian civilisation this book is a great starter. Written in a very lucid manner this book takes you on a journey of a few thousand years starting from the Harappan civilisation and the story of the mighty Saraswati. It explains how even in those times the urban nature of the Harappan city’s was very pronounced. After that it moves into an era where probably story of Mahabharat had taken place and talks about how a thriving trade prevailed on the two key routes of Uttar Path and Dakshin Path. It talks about the overseas voyages of Indians and their expansion in the south-east Asia and how we still have remnants of that in today’s Malaysia and Indonesia. The book explains the impact of invasions from Turks and Mongols which which later turned into the Mughal Empire. How the city of Delhi got inhabited again and again by its invaders? Finally it throws light on the the British Raj and how it impacted the geography of India the way we knew it today.

There are, in this book, a lot of interesting facts and anecdotes about things which we take for granted today. For instance the map of India. Two centuries ago it had taken the British six decades and a good amount of money to map the hinterland of the subcontinent. An activity which culminated in the naming of Peak XV as Mount Everest. An act of tribute to George Everest who had persevered and completed the full survey of India. Aptly the book in the closing chapters sheds light on how the boundaries of India got defined in 1947 and how our current geography took a few wars and more than two decades since independence to come into place.

For someone curious about opening the peels of what we call Indian history this is a more than palatable read, a tasty starter and must have in their personal library.

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