Avid readers can often be seen standing in front of bookstores, intently admiring the jewels that they may find within. Stephen King rightly described books as uniquely portable magic. Bangalore’s Church Street, located parallel to the Brigade Road, it is said to be one of the busiest and commercial streets in Karnataka, India. The Church Street is known for its abundance of literary magic and is renowned for being home to some of the most unique bookstores in the world. This Street is the domain of all sorts of shops, with eateries in its every nook and cranny, to tattoo parlours, bowling alleys and pubs. Boasting more than hundreds of thousands of books, Church Street inevitably is an integral part of the city’s reading culture and deserves to belong on the bucket-list of every reader.
Here’s a look at some of the best bookstores in this street.
Blossom Book House
Mayi Gowda’s Blossom Book House is the largest second-hand bookstore in India. Started as a small bookstore in 2001, this book house has now become a wonder in itself having three floors devoted to all kinds of books and novels. Blossom Book House hardly ever disappoints, the moment one steps inside, they are sure to be engulfed by books of different genre and different languages too- ranging from books written in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Hindi, other than English. One can never step inside this bibliophile’s dream and come out empty-handed. Known for its second-hand and used books, Blossom’s makes for a must-visit bookstore for anyone who enjoys talking to people, likes books, or simply being amazed.
Sapna Book House
Scattered in different locations all throughout Bangalore, Sapna Book House Pvt. Ltd. is India’s largest showroom for books. Its claim to fame lies in the fact that its biggest branch and head office located in Gandhinagar, near Church Street, is a double-storied book mall. One can spend hours looking at books, organised perfectly in different categories, or grab a stool and read through as many books as they may wish to in comfortable air conditioning. While it hosts several other products, varying with the branch one chooses to visit, its mainly known for showcasing fictional and non-fictional novels from well-known authors, children’s books, textbooks for graduate courses and competitive exams, books on cookery, art, and more.
The Bookworm, founded in 2002, is another bookstore which is popular for its second hand novels. Initially started as a small shop selling only second hand and used books at cheap rates, the owners have also started sourcing fresh and new copies of books since 2007. A visit to this store is recommended to those who have been searching for a book but have not been able to find it. It has recently opened a bigger branch, also located in Church Street, which is at walking distance from the old branch. The Bookworm is definitely a big name with the readers of Bangalore and is deeply immersed in its literary culture.
Gangaram’s Book Bureau
Rife with familial history of bookselling in Bangalore, Gangarams’ was founded by Nanumal Gangaram in 1977 and has majorly evolved and moved to different places in the city. One of the city’s favourite bookshops, it was first started off as “The Bangalore Bureau” in 1965 near Kapali Theatre. The Gangarams are considered to be the pioneer in book-selling of all kinds in the state of Karnataka. They also opened an outlet in Church Street in 2013, much to the delight of the readers of Bangalore, and have recently also started their practice online.
The Select Bookshop is one of the most charming and oldest bookshops in the city of Bangalore. Often referred to as one of Bangalore’s most guarded secrets, it is the place that escapes most people’s notice in the hustle and bustle of Brigade Road, right next to Church Street, where it is located. Run by the 70-year old KKS Murthy and his son, visiting the Select Bookshop is not less than a spiritual experience for bibliophiles as it contains the rarest of titles, novels in multiple editions and books that are decades old.
Higginbothams was built on M.G. Road, near Church Street, in 1905 and has been around since the days of the Raj. Situated in the location which was earlier called South Parade, the history and origins of this bookstore remind one of the charm of paperbacks and how they were never replaced or rendered irrelevant despite the availability of e-books, which are easily accessible in today’s day and age. Higginbothams is the oldest bookstore in the city, and is one of the last few remnants of Bangalore’s glorious heritage.
Church Street is one of the biggest and busiest commercial centres of the capital city of Karnataka. One of the most significant things, however, which makes this street and its multiple attractions worthy of visit are the people managing all these bookstores and other shops. Most of them are extremely friendly and welcoming, and are at the visitor’s beck and call. They make sure that no customer leaves the store without a smile on their face and a book or two in their hands.