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The Story of India

Season 1 2007
TV-G

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  • 2007-08-23T23:00:00Z on BBC Two
  • 60 mins
  • 6 hours, 0 mins (6 episodes)
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary
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For over two millennia, India has been at the centre of world history. But how did India come to be? What is India? These are the big questions behind this intrepid journey around the contemporary subcontinent. In this landmark series, historian and acclaimed writer Michael Wood embarks on a dazzling and exciting expedition through today's India, looking to the present for clues to her past, and to the past for clues to her future. The journey takes the viewer through majestic landscapes and reveals some of the greatest monuments and artistic treasures on Earth. From Buddhism to Bollywood, from mathematics to outsourcing, Michael Wood discovers India's impact on history - and on us.

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6 episodes

1x01 Beginnings (50,000 BCE - 1000 BCE)

  • Series Premiere

    2007-08-23T23:00:00Z — 60 mins

Michael Wood journeys through the subcontinent, tracing the incredible richness and diversity of its peoples, cultures and landscapes. Through ancient manuscripts and oral tales Michael 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. In Turkmenistan dramatic archaeological discoveries cast new light on India's past.

Michael Wood’s epic series moves on to the revolutionary years after 500BC - the Age of the Buddha. Travelling by rail to the ancient cities of the Ganges plain, by army convoy through Northern Iraq, and on down the Khyber Pass, he shows how Alexander the Great’s invasion of India inspired her first empire.

In this episode Michael Wood 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. From the deserts of Turkmenistan Michael travels down the Khyber Pass to Pakistan to discover a forgotten Indian Empire that opened up the Silk Road and at Peshawar built a lost Wonder of the World.

Michael Wood seeks out the achievements of the country's golden age, discovering how India discovered zero, calculated the circumference of the Earth and wrote the world’s first sex guide, the Kama Sutra. In the south, he visits the giant temple of Tanjore and sees traditional bronze casters, working as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago.

This episode charts the coming of Islam to the subcontinent and one of the greatest ages of world civilisation: the Mughals. Michael Wood visits Sufi shrines in Old Delhi, desert fortresses in Rajasthan and the cities of Lahore and Agra, where he offers a new theory on the design of the Taj Mahal. He also looks at the life of Akbar, a Muslim emperor who decreed that no one religion could hold the ultimate truth, but whose dream of unity ended in civil war.

1x06 Freedom (1700 CE - 2009 CE)

  • 2007-09-27T23:00:00Z — 60 mins

This episode examines the British Raj and India's struggle for freedom. Michael Wood reveals how in 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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