H is for Higginbothams & The Heat #BlogchatterA2Z

If you are a book lover like I am, it is unlikely that you haven’t heard of Higginbothams. If you are a bibliophile and haven’t heard of this name, crawl back under that rock, you!

Long before familiar sounding bookstores like Landmark made their presence felt, Higginbothams was already a 100 years old. Yes, this iconic store on Mount  Road was founded in 1844, making it 175 years old this year!


The bookstore in Chennai is the oldest standalone bookstore in India. Added bonus, it is housed in a building that is classified as a heritage structure, which means it stays as it does.

Higginbothams was founded by an English Librarian, Abel Joshua Higginbotham. When the British arrived in India the store was appointed as official booksellers to the Prince of Wales.


The store may be 175 years old, but it keeps up with the times. You’ll find a large collection of the latest books here, even the ones you may not find in any other bookstore.  If you’re looking for Children’s Book this is the place to head to, as you are sure to be spoilt for choice. A large collection of Tamil Books and Magazines were an impressive find.


View from the 1st Floor

Don’t miss the beautiful checkerboard floor and the 100+ year old Grandfather Clock in perfect condition.



If you ever visit any one in Chennai the ice breaker for a conversation is most likely to be the Heat. The locals rarely realise just how much they tend to talk about the heat!

‘It’s sooo hot this year!’ is something you’ll hear often. ‘Even A/C not helping ma!’, is another refrain. The conversation will proceed to how hot it used to be in the past and hot how it will probably get in the future.

If I remember my Geography lessons from school well, Chennai has always been a hot and humid place. Even if I don’t remember them well, the past few years have made me realise that the only seasons in Chennai are Hot, Hotter and Hottest.

I am usually a mute listener to these conversations as at such times I have just one question in my mind, ‘When has Chennai ever been a cool place?’ (no pun intended, hand on my heart!)

Written for the theme

My A to Z of Chennai: The City Viewed Through An Outsiders Eye


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21 thoughts on “H is for Higginbothams & The Heat #BlogchatterA2Z

  1. Super. I have been to chennai only once however i think by the time this series gets over I will know more than many of the chennai residents. The library for sure deserves a visit.

    1. The last line was truly hilarious, Mayuri 🙂 🙂 True – when was Chennai cool? Even if the temp drops by 1-2 degrees, there will be remarks such as ‘ Pani adikuthu’!! 🙂

  2. Higginbothams is simply beautiful. I visit the shop very often when I am in Chennai. Every time I go to the shop, even if I fail to find the book I am looking for I end up buying a few books that I never had any intention of purchasing. They have such a great collection. And the shop is so olde worlde that it reminds me of the British Raj. And as far as the heat in Chennai is concerned, honestly I have always found the summers in New Delhi much more scorching. In fact, I have always felt the summers of Delhi are hotter than those of Chennai. But yes Chennai is never a cool place throughout the year. Delhi, on the other hand, has extreme weather. Very hot summers and very cold winters.

  3. In 2004, I had reached Chennai from Kolkata through Coromandel express early morning. Our train to Bangalore was in the night. Since we had the whole day, my friend and I decided to explore the city for the day. We went to Marina Beach, ate at Saravana Bhavan and discovered Higginbothams. I spent the whole afternoon there carrying 9 books from the shop. In fact seeing my interest in reading Indian authors, an old lady volunteered for some more book recommendations. I went to Bangalore with an extra bag filled with books as my friend kept calling me insane. After that, whenever I have visited the city, I have always made it a point to carry an extra bag go bring back books from my purchase at Higginbothams. Thank you for bringing those memories alive

  4. Wow, my fav bookstore! We use to cycle all the way from Guindy to this place. And the sight of the books around, will give us a new josh! You can get any books here, tech, fiction and what not. Sweet memories!

  5. I have never been to Chennai but through your daily blog I am having a visual treat This is an amazing book store, like a library.
    I think Mumbai and Chennai are almost same in terms humid climate, its getting worse

  6. Hahaha! You’re certainly making Chennai seem cool 🙂
    Higginbotham’s looks fantastic, I’d visit the city just for that!

  7. Higginbothams is our family’s favorite book shop after their own. I have few photos of mine in the shop when I was even younger than my kid. Thanks for bringing out our favorite haunt.

  8. You know dear, when I was in grade 3, I was taken to Higginbothams in a school trip but earnestly it got buried somewhere in my memory lane. Thank you for sharing it, I am totally nostalgic

  9. Hahahha crawl under the rock… funny you M.
    Higginbothams, well this was my mom’s favorite word whenever she taunts me on losing books at home. She would say – “Kaha rakhdi book, aise kaunsi badi Higginbotham library hai ghar mein, jo ek book nahi milti’.
    I once pledged to visit this ‘highbottom place one day and burn it to ashes. Lol, glad I never kept upto that promise.

  10. I am fe4eling greedy after reading this post….seeing the collection of the books, good to know its history…if you know it the place becomes more attractive.
    About heat…India is basically a country where summers stays for nine months almost, discussion on Heat is very common and logically it is never a fritful one cause there is no solution of heat. Being situated in the sea side Chennai is more humid than my place.

  11. Higginbotham….not the store in Chennai but every platform had one and I always made a beeline for it. And u cannot compare Chennai heat to Vijayawada. It is known as Blazewada! We are ablaze 🙂 I say we have only two seasons…Summer and More Summer!

  12. Ah, I knew of Higginbothams at Mout Road but didn’t get to visit during my so-called IT life! And don’t get me started with the heat. I remember giving a call to my Mom and crying, cos’ I just couldn’t take the humidity. To top it all, the power cuts! Phew! It was one hell of a nasty summer!

  13. The book store looks like a paradise for book lovers. I have seen the Higginbothams here in Bangalore but I haven’t visited it properly yet. But I think it isn’t as iconic as the Chennai one.
    Well, Bangalore is getting hotter too! Summers are bad 🙁

  14. M, I need to crawl under that rock because I haven’t yet visited the iconic Asiatic Society in Fort either. Higginbothams is gorgeous and very beautifully maintained. I hope they have a reading area because that would be a truly awesome experience.
    Chennai heat, well, when I was there I couldn’t help compare it with Mumbai heat and proclaim Chennai’s worse. It is really scorching.

  15. Higginbotham surely looks like book lovers paradise and I am sure my daughters would love to visit it. Chennai and heat are synonyms and I still remember the humid weather on our last visit to the city.

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