India does not boast many printing museums. Aside from lithographic stones and some old nineteenth century newspapers, that is about it.

Jesuits were responsible for pioneering the printing press in India. Francis Xavier is known to have taught Bible in Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu during 1540s. Additionally, Viceroy Goa of Portugal opened schools exclusively for Indians under Joao III’s orders.


People living in today’s digitalized society may be unaware that books were once printed using an ancient process called block-printing, where books were produced using hard stamps with reverse designs carved onto them and then pressed against softer materials like clay, metal or wax in order to form images.

In 1556, Jesuit missionaries in Goa’s St Paul’s College established India’s inaugural printing press; its initial success led other Christian missionaries to establish their own printing presses across India; these presses revolutionised Indian languages by printing in regional Indian tongues for publication, while simultaneously spreading Western ideas and culture into India.

Indian printing firms were first established along the peninsular coast. Printers could be found in Goa, Cochin, Tharangambadi (Tranquebar), Punnnikkyal Amblakkadu Vaipincota Madras and Calcutta.

Initial printing presses were mostly used for religious texts; they also printed secular works such as medical and economic reports. Today, India’s printing industry accounts for an enormous share of GDP and has experienced remarkable growth thanks to liberalized regimes and advances in automation technology.

Early days of India’s printing industry consisted primarily of producing books in European languages; however, later stages saw more and more Indian-language books being printed alongside regional newspapers that provided greater access to information and promoted literacy within India.

India’s early printing industry played a critical role in shaping Hindi. Some of the first books printed in Hindi included Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana – works which encouraged Hindus to think critically about religion while providing a sense of identity among Indians. Since its conception, printing in India has flourished exponentially to become an integral component of global economies.


The First Printing Press Brought to India

Printing is a very important industry in India. It has helped preserve many languages in the country. It has also contributed to the development of science and literature in many languages. Moreover, printing has enabled people to communicate more easily with one another. This industry has also influenced the growth of other industries in India. It has also had a significant impact on the development of Indian culture.

The first printing press in Kerala was started by Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century. They used the printing press to spread Christianity in Kerala. The first book printed by these missionaries was a Tamil translation of the Doctrina Christum, which was written by St. Francis Xavier. It was published in 1578. The print business in Kerala was later expanded by Jesuits to Kochi, Ambazhakkad, and Vaippikkottu.

During the second half of the 19th century, the industry expanded and more and more printing houses were opened. This led to the formation of a number of printing and publishing companies in various parts of the country. These companies helped with the dissemination of information and were instrumental in bringing about a revolutionary change in India.

While the earliest printing presses in India were built by Europeans, a few Indians were also involved in the industry. One of them was Bhimji Parekh, a Jain and Bania merchant who was able to accumulate immense wealth from his multifarious activities. He was also a leader of the non-violent mercantile strike against the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. He was able to convince 8,000 Jain and Bania merchants to leave Surat for Bombay in protest against Aurangzeb’s destruction of temples and other places of worship.

After independence, printing in India saw a boom in many sectors. In the printing business, the largest collection of machinery and memorabilia are in the hands of printers. Thousands of small and large printers across the country have saved, collected, or acquired items that take us back to the history of printing. However, these collections are not accessible to the public nor have they been curated or contextualised.


Printing Press in Bengal

The printing press is one of the greatest innovations ever developed, providing tremendous assistance and transformational change to humanity and society as a whole. Printing presses have also played a pivotal role in India’s history; from spreading literacy and culture through religious texts printed to newspapers printed with nationalist propaganda in 19th-century India’s independence movement using printing presses as key facilitators.

European missionaries first brought the printing press to India through Francis Xavier. Francis ordered Portuguese ship printing presses across Africa, Japan and India – starting off with Goa where Jesuits began using it to produce Christian books and documents before eventually moving it on to Quilon and other European centers throughout India.

European print houses facilitated the study of Hindu religion and vernacular languages by publishing religious texts such as Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas. Such publications made Sanskrit accessible to a wider audience while encouraging debate within and among Indian religions.

Indians were allowed to operate print shops under British rule during its later years, often privately owned but sometimes even corporately formed companies. These print shops played an instrumental role in spreading Western ideas and culture throughout India while publishing newspapers critical of the East India Company.

Indian printing centers have quickly become some of the finest worldwide. Their production capabilities span multiple languages and include producing large amounts of magazines, maps and documents – some even employ rotogravure printing machines which have significantly enhanced product quality.

Generalist museums throughout India feature exhibits about printing presses. For instance, Goa State Museum in Panaji features a display that illustrates how they operate; other museums in Goa and Ahmednagar also house old printing presses as part of their collections.


Printing is one of the greatest inventions ever in human history, providing access to knowledge and information. Although books are now more readily available on mobile phones and computers than ever before, printing continues to thrive across India despite this development. Bibliophiles today can take advantage of exploring oceans of fine texts while true book lovers always appreciate tracing a printed page’s edges with their fingers.

James Augustus Hicky built the first-known Calcutta printing press in 1777. A businessman who traded ships’ cargoes, it remains difficult to reconstruct how he acquired two thousand rupees to construct it. Following initial financial difficulties, Hicky eventually began printing calendars and advertising posters for East India Company as well as batta documents which required expensive paper and ink.

Hicky was instrumental in the democratization of vernacular commercial publications despite the challenges presented by his times, employing Indian textile workers to color prints using natural Bengali dyes such as indigo and cinnabar. By 1830s ALP had established offices in Serampore and Kanpur with publications, newspaper publication, nationalistic political activities such as Arun Chandra Guha publishing a Bengali version of Constitution of Bengal as part of nationalistic political activities.

Historical accounts of the printing press often emphasize Bengal and North India; unfortunately, Odisha’s democratisation of vernacular commercial publishing via ALP often goes overlooked despite having had such an outsized effect on regional development.

Early on, ALP founders found it challenging to keep the press operating. High establishment costs combined with customers being unwilling or unable to make payments presented a serious hurdle for this new venture; yet their determination paid off as they managed to bring it online and promote progressive ideas against conservative religious followers, later using its platform to spread Gandhian beliefs of anti-untouchability.

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