South India

Vishnu granting Brahma the Vedas. Madurai Temple Paintings / Add 15504 A
Vishnu granting Brahma the Vedas. Madurai Temple Paintings / Add 15504 A

The South Indian language collections include a wide range of materials in the major and minor Dravidian languages of South India.

About the collection

The major languages represented in the collection are: Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. The collections also include from Sri Lanka: Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamil.

The minor South Indian language collections are several and these are either linguistically Dravidian or geographically located in the South of India: Arabi-Malayalam, Arabi-Tamil or Arwi, Badaga, Brahui, Gondi, Irula, Kasaba, Kolami, Konkani (in Kannada script), Koraga, Kota, Koya, Kui, Kandhi or Khond, Kurg (Kodagu), Malto or Maler, Olari, Oraon (Kurukh), Pengo, Saurashtra, Toda and Tulu.

The collections also include Sanskrit in the Grantha script and scripted in all the major South Indian languages. Because the collections in South Indian languages contain a significant amount of Sanskrit language and literature in our pre-1950s collections, entries for classical works will also be found in the Sanskrit catalogues.

The collections include a variety of formats and materials: paper and palm leaf manuscripts, copper plates, printed books, journals and newspapers, as well as a small collection of South Indian classical music on audio cassettes, and videos of interviews with eminent South Indian authors.

What is available online?

To find books, journals and newspapers acquired after 1983, you can consult our online catalogue, 
Explore the British Library

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

For catalogues and guides to the collections, see the pages for specific languages listed below.

Proscribed publications

These are publications banned by the pre-1947 Government of India. A number of publications in South Indian languages are listed in the catalogue by Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd: 

  • Publications proscribed by the Government of India: A catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, London, British Library Reference Division, 1985.


The Library’s holdings of periodicals in South Indian languages are included in the following catalogue:

  • Bibliography of South Asian periodicals: a union list of periodicals in South Asian languages, by Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982.

How to guides

Search the India Office Records for baptisms, marriages and burials

How to search the India Office Records for baptisms, marriages and burials

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