Books by Giles Tillotson

1. taj mahal

Taj Mahal

Profile Books, London/Harvard University Press/Penguin India, 2008

UK paperback 2010, Chinese edition 2010

ISBN 978-1-86197-890-5 (UK hardback); 978-1-86197-875-2 (UK paperback)

This book tells the story of changing perceptions of India’s most famous building. It recounts the human drama behind the original construction of the Taj Mahal, particularly the relationship between Shah Jahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who are buried there. It then explores the building’s reputation through history and its representation in art and other architecture. It concludes with the troubled story of its conservation and records recent disputes about its ownership, treatment and exploitation.

‘This wry, brisk book is a delightful and fascinating excavation of the Taj Mahal’s many layers of meanings. Giles Tillotson deploys his formidable knowledge of India’s artistic and cultural history to create a kaleidoscopic interpretation of the Taj.’ – Sunil Khilnani

‘Witty and authoritative, this book achieves the remarkable feat of making us look again at a building we might otherwise think all too familiar.’ – Daily Telegraph

‘A much-needed and eminently readable book that is likely to remain a standard work for may years to come.’ – The Times

‘A little gem of a book about India’s best-known monument’ – The Telegraph (Kolkata)


2. Jaipur city palaceJaipur City Palace (co-authored with Vibhuti Sachdev)

Roli Books, New Delhi, 2008

ISBN 978-81-7436-569-9

Historically one of India’s most important royal complexes, Jaipur City Palace was always more than the residence of a maharaja. It was also a site of religious ritual, a place of entertainment, a centre of politics and court ceremony, and a source of patronage for music, literature, dance and painting. This book, a study of a royal institution, describes and illustrates not only the palace buildings but also the many activities that they housed. Based on fresh archival research, and breaking new ground in the study of Rajasthan’s history and court culture, it is written and published in a manner to appeal to non-specialists.

‘Must read’ – Hindustan Times

3. JaipurnamaJaipur Nama: Tales from the Pink City

Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2006

ISBN 0-14-400100-4

This is the story of one of India’s most fascinating cities, as seen through the eyes of both its residents and its visitors, who witnessed and recorded different moments in Jaipur’s history between the 18th and 20th centuries. Each reflects a different aspect of Jaipur, together creating a captivating, kaleidoscopic portrait of the Pink City.

Jaipur Nama is full of characters, at times it reads like a novel.’ – Dawn

‘Evocative history writing based on research and scholarship’ – The Telegraph (Kolkata)

‘This book has the rare distinction of making history interesting and appealing’ – The Tribune

‘I must thank Tillotson for finally putting the city in perspective for me … He really does understand it.’ – Biblio


4. Building JaipurBuilding Jaipur: The Making of an Indian City, (co-authored with Vibhuti Sachdev)

Reaktion Books, London/OUP Delhi, 2002

ISBN 1-86189-137-7 (UK); 019566353-5 (India)

This book examines vastu shastra – the indigenous Indian system of architectural design and planning that prevailed in the pre-colonial era – and then traces the influence of successive Western methodologies. It is thus a history of architectural theory from pre-colonial to post-modern. It focuses on a single site – the city of Jaipur – where all phases are represented. It proposes a revised and culturally more relevant analytical model for the study of all Indian sites and buildings. It was critically well received and citations indicate a steadily growing impact.

‘An engaging story of a great city’ – The Hindu

‘With the prose managing to flow through discussions of some complexity, the book is still a jolly good read’ – Building Design

‘An extraordinarily well-researched document … [The authors] present a highly readable story that is, indeed, difficult to put down’ – South Asian Studies


5. Artificial EmpireThe Artificial Empire: The Indian Landscapes of William Hodges

Curzon Press, Richmond, 2000

ISBN 0-7007-1282-8

This book explores the relationship between the visual arts – especially landscape painting – and Orientalism, thus contributing to an ongoing debate in art history. While the main ground for discussion is the work of the pioneering artist and architectural theorist William Hodges (1744-97), the book also covers his successors in the 19th century and Indian artists and writers of the same period. This book was among the starting points for an exhibition on Hodges’s work organised by the National Maritime Museum, London, and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, in 2004-5.

‘[An] engaging book … [with] rich and fascinating detail… an important addition to art history books about India’ – Times Higher Education Supplement

‘A broad discussion of the complex cultural and historical setting … illuminating and filled with new insights’ – Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society


6. Mughal IndiaMughal India

Viking Penguin, London/ Chronicle USA, 1990

paperback ed. 1991; Dutch, Spanish and Italian editions, 1992

ISBN 0-670-82642-1

The wealth and splendour of the Mughals – the Islamic dynasty which governed India in the 16th and 17th centuries – are legendary. These powerful rulers bequeathed an astonishing architectural legacy of palaces, tombs and mosques, to which this book is a guide. Fully illustrated with photographs, plans and contemporary paintings, it focuses on the Mughal buildings of Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.

‘Superb … weaves strands of history, biography and aesthetics … fascinating reading for armchair travellers as well’ – Far Eastern Economic Review

‘Full marks. … Tillotson’s achievement is to write about his subject without condescension for the lay reader and to inform his text with some much appreciated gleams of humour.’  – Indian Express


7. tradition of indian architecture

The Tradition of Indian Architecture: Continuity, Controversy and Change since 1850 Yale University Press, New Haven & London/OUP Delhi, 1989

ISBN 0-300-04636-7

This book explores the impact on Indian architectural design, first of British colonial rule (its policies and its buildings) and then of international modernism in the post-Independence era. Written at a time when international architectural debate was focused on matters of regional identity and post-modernism, it proved influential, especially in the profession – it was widely read by Indian architects and is still used as a course-book in some Indian schools of architecture – because of the thematic links it established between that debate and colonial-era discourse.

‘A lively and scholarly contribution to the cultural history of modern India’ – American Historical Review

‘I would recommend this book even to architects not especially drawn to its title because of the relevance of its concerns to the current debate’ – RIBA Journal


8. fan kwae pictures Fan Kwae Pictures: Paintings and Drawings by George Chinnery and Other Artists in the Collection of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

Spink, London, 1987

ISBN 0-907605-21-4


Commissioned by HSBC (and involving research in their archive department in Hong Kong), this book represents the core of the collection by focusing on George Chinnery and on the relations between Western and Chinese art practice on the South China coast in the 19th century. It also considers Chinnery’s work in the context of English aesthetics, particularly Reynolds’s Discourses.

‘A very succinct and often witty description of the whole China Trade … a fine book’ – South China Morning Post

‘Tillotson’s book is clearly organised and highly readable; he illuminates the (often turbulent) history of the South China coast in the 19th century’ – Octagon


9. the rajput palaces

The Rajput Palaces: The Development of an Architectural Style, 1450-1750 

Yale University Press, New Haven & London/OUP Delhi, 1987, reprinted 1999

ISBN 0-300-03738-4


The palace complexes in cities such as Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur have long been favourite tourist destinations but this book was the first extensive academic study of them. It shows how the palaces together constitute a distinct regional architectural movement or style, and defines the relations of that style to its antecedents and its contemporaries in India, especially Mughal architecture. Widely recognised as field-defining, the book has still not been superseded, and is frequently cited in scholarly and popular publications.

‘An absorbing and magnificent study’ – The Spectator

‘A very important book which makes a significant contribution to the architectural history of India … scholarly but accessible … A noble and elegant work, which is as captivating as the subject it covers.  Strongly recommended’ – Architects Journal

‘Lucid, readable and well-argued’ – Times Literary Supplement

‘Dr Tillotson’s work provides the fulcrum for any further commentary on the subject’ – Apollo.