Thursday, January 13, 2011

BBC - The Story of India with Michael Wood

The Story of India is a BBC TV documentary series, written and presented by historian Michael Wood, about the 10,000-year history of the Indian subcontinent in six episodes.

Episode 1 - "Beginnings"

Travels through the subcontinent, tracing the richness and diversity of its peoples, cultures and landscapes. Through ancient manuscripts and oral tales Wood charts the first human migrations out of Africa. He travels from the tropical backwaters of South India through lost ancient cities in Pakistan to the vibrant landscapes of the Ganges plain, also attempts to re-create soma, an ancient drink recorded in the Rig Veda.

Episode 2 - "The Power of Ideas"

Episode moves on to the revolutionary years after 500BC - the Age of the Buddha and Mahavira. Travelling by rail to the ancient cities of the Ganges plain, by army convoy through Northern Iraq, and down Pakistan's Khyber Pass, how Alexander the Great’s invasion of India inspired its first major empire in the form of the Maurya kingdom.

Episode 3 - "Spice Routes and Silk Roads"

Episode traces India in the days of the Roman Empire. In Kerala the spice trade opened India to the world, whilst gold and silk bazaars in the ancient city of Madurai were a delight for visiting Greek traders. The Kushan Empire of Northern India that opened up the Silk Route and at Peshawar built a lost Wonder of the World.

Episode 4 - "Ages of Gold"

The achievements of the country’s golden age, including how India discovered zero, calculated the circumference of the Earth and wrote the world’s first sex guide, the Kama Sutra. In the south, the giant temple of Tanjore built by emperor Rajaraja Chola and traditional bronze casters, working as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago are shown. Michael Wood calls Tamil Nadu, "The only surviving 'Classical Civilization' in the world that’s the last living classical Indian language older than any modern European language.

Episode 5 - "The Meeting of Two Oceans"

Charts the coming of Islam to the subcontinent and one of the greatest ages of world civilisation: visits Sufi shrines in Old Delhi, desert fortresses in Rajasthan and the cities of Lahore and Agra, theory on the design of the Taj Mahal.

Episode 6 - "Freedom and Liberation"

South India a global corporation came to control much of the subcontinent, and explores the magical culture of Lucknow, discovering the enigmatic Briton who helped found the freedom movement. He traces the Amritsar massacre, the rise of Gandhi and Nehru, and the events that led to the Partition of India in 1947.

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