Famous Indian Writers

India boasts of a rich literary history dating from the ancient times. The Hindu sage and Sanskrit poet Valmiki, the author of the epic ‘Ramayana’, played a crucial role in the development of Classical Sanskrit literature in the first millennium BCE. Over the next few centuries, accomplished writers in several other regional languages came up, further enriching Indian literature. The 5th century playwright Kalidasa is widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language, while 15th century poets Kabir and Tulsidas were major figures in Hindi literature. Devaki Nandan Khatri, a 19th century writer belonged to the first generation of popular novelists in the modern Hindi language. Early in the 20th century, Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore became India's first Nobel laureate. India has 22 officially recognized languages, and each language has produced its own talented writers who have done the country proud. Coming to the contemporary era, Indian writers are making a mark in not only traditional Indian languages, but in English literature as well. Writers like R. K. Narayan, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Raja Rao, and Amitav Ghosh are among the more popular writers of the late 20th and early 21st century. Read on to discover about the life and works of famous Indian writers.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Chanakya

Chanakya.
5
Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian
Birthdate: 0371 BC
Birthplace: India
Died: 0283 BC

Chanakya was an ancient Indian philosopher, teacher, jurist, economist, and royal advisor. Widely regarded as the pioneer of economics and political science in India, Chanakya is believed to have played a key role in the formation of the great Maurya Empire. He authored the ancient Indian political treatise, the Arthashastra, which is considered as one of the seminal texts on statecraft.

 2 Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond.
11
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 19, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kasauli
Sahitya Akademi Award-winning children’s author Ruskin Bond is best known for creating the protagonist Rusty, modeled on his childhood in Dehradun and found in his books such as The Room on the Roof. Many of his books, such as The Blue Umbrella have been made into films. 

 3 R. K. Narayan

R. K. Narayan.
12
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 10, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Died: May 13, 2001

Remembered as one of the greatest authors of Indian literature in English, R. K. Narayan created the iconic character Swami and related his experiences set in the fictional town of Malgudi. The Sahitya Akademi and Padma Vibhushan winner was also the brother of cartoonist R.K. Laxman.

 4 Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore.
65
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 7, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: August 7, 1941

Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian polymath who contributed greatly to the fields of literature, art, and philosophy. Referred to as the Bard of Bengal, Tagore is credited with reshaping Bengali literature and music. The first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore is also credited with composing the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.

 5 Munshi Premchand

Munshi Premchand.
4
Famous As: Novelist and Author
Birthdate: July 31, 1880
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lamhi, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: October 8, 1936
Indian author Dhanpat Rai Srivastava, better known by his pseudonym, Munshi Premchand, was one of the most celebrated Hindi-language writers of the 20th century. He initially wrote as Nawab Rai. Some of his greatest works include the novels Godaan, Idgah, and Karmabhoomi. He also wrote short stories and plays. 

 6 Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat.
6
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 22, 1974
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Delhi, India
Indian investment banker-turned-writer Chetan Bhagat is known for his bestselling novels such as Five Point Someone and One Night @ the Call Center. Many Bollywood movies, such as Kai Po Che! and 3 Idiots, have been adapted from his novels, with the former winning him a Filmfare Award.

 7 Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu.
7
Famous As: Poet and Freedom Fighter
Birthdate: February 13, 1879
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: India
Died: March 2, 1949

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poet and political activist. An important figure in the Indian Independence Movement, she was a proponent of anti-imperialistic ideas, women's rights, and civil rights. Her illustrious career as a poet earned her the nickname Nightingale of India. After India became independent, she became the first woman to hold the office of Governor in the Dominion of India.

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 8 Tulsidas

Tulsidas.
4
Famous As: Poet & Saint
Birthdate: 1497 AD
Birthplace: Rajapur
Died: 1623 AD
Tulsidas was a 16th-century Vaishnava saint and poet, who was devoted to the Hindu deity Rama. His most popular works are the Ramcharitmanas, which retells the Sanskrit Ramayana in Awadhi, and the Hanuman Chalisa. He established the Sankatmochan Temple in Varanasi and also began the tradition of Ramlila plays. 
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 9 Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy
13
Famous As: Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter, Essayist
Birthdate: November 24, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Assam

Apart from her bestselling books such as The God of Small Things, Man Booker Prize-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy is also known for her left-wing political activism. Born to a Syrian Christian mother and an Indian Hindu father, Roy had initially studied architecture and worked as a script writer.

 10 Javed Akhtar

Javed Akhtar
4
Famous As: Screenwriter, Politician, Writer, Poet, Lyricist, Songwriter
Birthdate: January 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India

Born into a family of Urdu poets from Gwalior, renowned Indian lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar had initially been a screenwriter, along with Salim Khan, for films such as Sholay and Deewaar. The Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan winner has also been a Rajya Sabha MP.

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 11 Harivansh Rai Bachchan

Harivansh Rai Bachchan
6
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 27, 1907
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Prayagraj, India
Died: January 18, 2003

A pioneer of Hindi romantic poetry and the Chhayavaad movement, Harivanshrai Bachchan is best remembered for his book of 135 quatrains, Madhushala. He was the first Indian to earn a PhD in English literature from Cambridge University. He was also the father of legendary Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan.

 12 Mirza Ghalib

Mirza Ghalib.
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 27, 1797
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Agra, Mughal Empire
Died: February 15, 1869

Mirza Ghalib was an Indian poet whose works give a detailed description of the beginning of British rule and the subsequent events in India. A respected poet, who wrote in Urdu and Persian languages, Ghalib remains popular among the Hindustani diaspora across the world. Several films and TV shows have been made in his honor.

 13 Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi.
5
Famous As: Model
Birthdate: September 1, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chennai

Padma Lakshmi is a model, television host and author. She has hosted cooking competition program Top Chef and has published cookbooks. She has acted in films and television too and is also an activist working for immigration and women’s rights and is a critic of skin-lightening creams. She was married to novelist Salman Rushdie for a little over three years.

 14 Mammootty

Mammootty
5
Famous As: actor, film producer, screenwriter, film actor
Birthdate: September 7, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chempu

National Film Award- and Padma Shri-winning Indian Malyali actor Muhammad Kutty Panaparambil Ismail, or Mammootty, is a superstar in Southern India. Initially a lawyer, he later soared to fame with films such as Vidheyan and Mathilukal. He also chairs Malayalam Communications and is devoted to medical and other charitable causes.

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 15 Valmiki

Valmiki
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 0000 BC
Birthplace: India

Born Ratnakara at birth, Valimiki grew up to be a bandit. Eventually realizing his sins, he meditated, while an ant-hill, or Valmika in Sanskrit, grew around him. He later came out of the ant-hill, to pen the Indian epic Ramayana, which narrates the tale of the Hindu god Rama.

 16 Kabir

Kabir.
7
Famous As: Saint and Mystic Poet
Birthdate: 1440 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: 1518 AD

Kabir was an Indian saint and mystic poet whose works influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement, which in turn played a key role in the formation of Sikhism, the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. Kabir is an important figure in both Hinduism and Islam and his legacy continues to live through a religious community known as the Kabir panth.

 17 Shreya Ghoshal

Shreya Ghoshal
4
Famous As: Singer, Writer, Actor, Composer
Birthdate: March 12, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Durgapur

National Award-winning singer Shreya Ghoshal grew up in Rajasthan and later moved to Mumbai, where her electrical engineer father was posted. After gaining attention with the talent show Sa Re Ga Ma, the classically trained artist was catapulted to fame with her playback singing in Devdas, and never looked back.

 18 Meena Kumari

Meena Kumari
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 1, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bombay, Bombay Presidency, India
Died: March 31, 1972

Known as Hindi cinema’s “Tragedy Queen,” Meena Kumari is remembered for her stellar performances in films such as Pakeezah and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. The four-time Filmfare-winning actor sank into alcoholism after her separation from her abusive husband, director Kamal Amrohi, and died of liver cirrhosis.

 19 Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule.
4
Famous As: Social Reformer, Poet
Birthdate: January 3, 1831
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Naigaon, British India (now in Satara district, Maharashtra)
Died: March 10, 1887

Savitribai Phule was a revolutionary social reformer who dedicated her life to educate girls and bring about gender equality in the face of resistance from the conservative Indian society. Phule, who was illiterate till her marriage, went on to become a teacher, a feat considered first by an Indian woman. With her husband, she established schools for girls in Maharashtra.

 20 Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh.
5
Famous As: Novelist, Lawyer, Journalist & Politician
Birthdate: February 2, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hadali, British India (now in Khushab District, Punjab, Pakistan)
Died: March 20, 1999

 21 Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria.
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: January 20, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Fareed Zakaria is an Indian-American journalist, author, and political commentator. He has been serving as an editor-at-large for Time and editor for Newsweek International. He has also been serving as a columnist for Newsweek. His show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, which he hosts for CNN, has won a Peabody Award

 22 Amrita Pritam

Amrita Pritam.
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 31, 1919
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gujranwala
Died: October 31, 2005

Amrita Pritam was an Indian poet, essayist, and novelist who wrote in Hindi and Punjabi languages. She is widely regarded as the first major female Punjabi poet and the leading Punjabi-language poet of the 20th century. In 1956, she was honored with the Sahitya Akademi Award, becoming the first woman to receive the prestigious award.

 23 Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth.
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 20, 1952
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kolkata

Vikram Seth is an Indian poet and novelist. He is credited with increasing the readership of the English language in India. A revered and celebrated writer, Vikram Seth has been honored with several prestigious awards, such as the Sahitya Academy Award, WH Smith Literary Award, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, Crossword Book Award, Padma Shri, Commonwealth Poetry Prize, and Commonwealth Writers Prize.

 24 Mirabai

Mirabai.
11
Famous As: Bhakti Saint
Birthdate: 1498 AD
Birthplace: Kudki
Died: 1557 AD

The 16th-century Hindu mystic poet, Mirabai, was a devotee of Lord Krishna. In the North Indian Hindu tradition, she is a celebrated Bhakti saint. While millions of devotional hymns in praise of Lord Krishna are attributed to Mirabai, only a few hundreds are believed to be actually composed by her. Several temples are dedicated to her memory.

 25 Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor
6
Famous As: Writer, Politician, Diplomat
Birthdate: March 9, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London

Born in London, to an Indian couple, Shashi Tharoor is known for his award-winning books such as the The Great Indian Novel and his over-the-top English vocabulary. Tharoor is also a Congress MP. He made headlines when his wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a luxury hotel.

 26 Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo.
4
Famous As: Philosopher, Spiritual Leader
Birthdate: August 15, 1872
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: December 5, 1950

Sri Aurobindo was an Indian philosopher, poet, yogi, teacher, and nationalist. He was one of the most influential leaders of the Indian independence movement before becoming a spiritual reformer, focusing on spiritual evolution and human progress. He is credited with founding the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, which continues to serve spiritual aspirants from all over the world.

 27 Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
4
Famous As: Social Reformer, Philosopher
Birthdate: September 26, 1820
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paschim Midnapore District, West Bengal, India
Died: July 29, 1891

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was an Indian social reformer and educator. He is best remembered for his efforts to modernize and simplify Bengali prose for which he is widely regarded as the father of Bengali prose. As a social reformer, Vidyasagar played a crucial role in enacting the Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act, which legalized the remarriage of Hindu widows in India. 

 28 Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
10
Famous As: Independence Activist, Reformer
Birthdate: May 28, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bhagur
Died: February 26, 1966

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.

 29 Kalki Koechlin

Kalki Koechlin
5
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 10, 1983
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pondicherry, India

National Film Award-winning Indian actor Kalki Koechlin was born to French parents, who were followers of Sri Aurobindo, in Pondicherry. Though she initially aspired to be a criminal psychologist, she later studied drama in London. She soared to fame with films such as Dev.D and That Girl in Yellow Boots.

 30 Girish Karnad

Girish Karnad
4
Famous As: Linguist, Author, Film director, Actor, Translator, Screenwriter
Birthdate: May 19, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Matheran, Maharashtra, India

Actor, film director and playwright, Girish Karnad was also a Rhodes Scholar with a Masters degree in philosophy, political science and economics. A prolific writer, he authored scores of plays in Kannada, which were later translated into other languages. Also an eminent actor, film director and screenwriter, he was conferred with numerous awards including the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.

 31 Nagarjuna

Nagarjuna.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 0150 AD
Birthplace: Andhra Pradesh
Died: 0250 AD

 32 Mahasweta Devi

Mahasweta Devi
5
Famous As: Human rights activist, Writer, Poet, Novelist, Educator, Short story writer
Birthdate: January 14, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dhaka
Died: July 28, 2016

Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning Indian author Mahasweta Devi is regarded as a gem of the Bengali literary world. She had also been a left-wing social activist, and her works such as Hajar Churashir Maa and Rudali have either tribals or people from the marginalized communities as their protagonists.

 33 Mulk Raj Anand

Mulk Raj Anand.
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Peshawar, Pakistan
Died: September 28, 2004

 34 Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh
3
Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Journalist
Birthdate: July 11, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kolkata

 35 Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi
4
Famous As: Police officer
Birthdate: June 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Amritsar, India

 36 Jnanadeva

Jnanadeva
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1275 AD
Birthplace: Alandi, India
Died: 1296 AD

Jnanadeva was an Indian poet, philosopher, saint, and yogi who lived in the 13th century AD. He is credited with authoring Dnyaneshwari, the oldest surviving work in the Marathi language. He is also credited with co-founding the Varkari Bhakti movement tradition of Hinduism. Over the years, Jnanadeva's legacy has inspired several saint-poets, including Tukaram and Eknath.  

 37 Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 15, 1876
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bandel
Died: January 16, 1938

 38 Sahir Ludhianvi

Sahir Ludhianvi
3
Famous As: Poet, Lyricist, Songwriter
Birthdate: March 8, 1921
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Q25628431
Died: October 25, 1980

Sahir Ludhianvi was an Indian poet and film lyricist best remembered for his works written in the Hindi and Urdu languages. He wrote lyrics for a number of memorable Hindi film songs. He was a member of the Progressive Writers’ Movement. Sahir was a staunch secularist, and he did not practise any religion

 39 Ramdhari Singh Dinkar

Ramdhari Singh Dinkar.
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 23, 1908
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Simaria
Died: April 24, 1974

Ramdhari Singh Dinkar was an Indian poet, academic, patriot, and essayist. Regarded as one of the most prominent modern Hindi poets, Dinkar played an important role during the Indian independence movement,; writing poems that sparked nationalism. In 1959, he was honored with the prestigious Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award. The same year, he also received the Sahitya Akademi Award.

 40 Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana

Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana.
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 17, 1556
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Delhi, Mughal empire
Died: October 1, 1627

Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khana was an Indian poet who served in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was counted among the Navaratnas, Akbar's nine important ministers. Rahim is best remembered for his couplets and books on astrology.

 41 Ashutosh Rana

Ashutosh Rana
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 10, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Gadarwara, Madhya Pradesh, India

While he initially played Ravana in local Ramleela productions of his native state Madhya Pradesh, Indian actor Ashutosh Rana later soared to fame with the series Swabhimaan. The NSD alumnus later won Filmfare awards for his roles in Dushman and Sangharsh. He is married to actor Renuka Shahane.

 42 Gulzar

Gulzar.
4
Famous As: Lyricist
Birthdate: August 18, 1934
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dina, Punjab

Famed Indian lyricist, poet, author, screenwriter, and film director Gulzar has been a major figure in Bollywood for over six decades. He started doing odd jobs as a teenager and eventually entered films, where he made a name for himself as a lyricist and screenwriter. He soon started directing films as well. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards.

 43 Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 27, 1838
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kanthalpara, Bengal
Died: April 8, 1894

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was an Indian poet, novelist, and journalist. He is credited with composing India's national song, Vande Mataram, which personifies India as a mother goddess. The song played a major role in inspiring revolutionaries during India's struggle for independence. Dubbed Emperor of Literature, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote 14 novels alongside several poems.

 44 Vyasa

Vyasa
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: 0000 BC
Birthplace: Kalpi

Indian sage Vyasa, also known as Vedavyasa, is regarded as the author of one of the most significant Indian epics, the Mahabharata. Considered one of the seven immortals of Hinduism, he is also credited with dividing the Vedas into four parts and penned the eighteen Puranas.

 45 Tiruvalluvar

Tiruvalluvar
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Uncertain: Madurai,Chennai, India

Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar, also known as Valluvar, had written some of the finest masterpieces of Tamil literature, such as his collection of couplets, Tirukkural. His towering statue adorns the coast of Kanyakumari, the southern-most tip of India. He is also known as the patron saint of bus drivers in Chennai.

 46 Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
5
Famous As: Founder of Aligarh Muslim University
Birthdate: October 17, 1817
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Delhi, India
Died: March 27, 1898
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University. He is accredited as the father of Two-Nation Theory and is regarded as the originator of Muslim nationalism in India. A proponent of freedom of speech and democratic ideals, he propelled social and educational reforms.

 47 Namdev

Namdev
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 26, 1270
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Narasi, India
Died: July 3, 1350

Namdev was an Indian saint and poet best remembered for his devotion to Lord Vitthal of Pandharpur. He is credited with popularizing the Vithoba faith, which first emerged in the 12th century. Along with Ravidas, Kabir, Hardas, and Dadu, Namdev is revered as a guru (teacher) in the Dadupanth tradition of Hinduism.

 48 Palak Muchhal

Palak Muchhal
5
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 30, 1992
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Indore

 49 Surdas

Surdas
3
Famous As: poet
Birthdate: 1478 AD
Birthplace: India
Died: 1583 AD

Surdas was an Indian poet and singer best remembered for his devotion to Lord Krishna. He is credited with writing the popular book, Sur Sagar. He was blind by birth and was neglected by his family. Surdas was inspired by the teachings of Vallabha Acharya, who he met while going on a pilgrimage to Vrindavan.

 50 Anita Desai

Anita Desai
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 24, 1937
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mussoorie, India