The Story of India (A BBC Documentary)

The world’s largest democracy and a rising economic giant, India is now as well known across the globe for its mastery of computer technology as it is for its many-armed gods and its famous spiritual traditions. But India is also the world’s most ancient surviving civilisation, with unbroken continuity back into prehistory.
… This series sets out for the first time to do that: to show a world audience the wonders of India; the incredible richness and diversity of its peoples, cultures and landscapes; and the intense drama of its past, including some of the most momentous, exciting and moving events in world history.

I happened to come across this wonderful series sometime back (during my final semester exams) and I truly believe this is one of the best stories I have ever watched. I watched these six-part series each after my six final semester exams, and I think this helped me even to get over some of the crazy exams I had :-).

Historian, writer and television presenter Michael Wood presents this as a six-part series where he embarks on a dazzling and exciting journey through today’s India, ‘seeking in the present for clues to her past, and in the past for clues to her future’. This series aired on for BBC during later part of 2007 is also available on DVD or Blu-ray along with a companion book by Michael Wood.

I would encourage everyone who can afford to buy a DVD of this, but if you are someone like me who can’t afford to buy, you can watch these online from the following links.

Episode 1 – Beginnings

Michael Wood journeys through the subcontinent, tracing the incredible richness and diversity of its people, 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.

Episode 2 – The Power of Ideas

Michael Wood’s epic series moves on to the revolutionary years after 500 BC – 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.

Episode 3 – Spice Routes and Silk Roads

In this episode he 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 Route and at Peshawar built a lost Wonder of the World.

Episode 4 – Ages of Gold

Documentary series about the history of India. Presenter 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.

Episode 5 – The Meeting of Two Oceans

The documentary series about the history of India 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.

Episode 6 – Freedom and Liberation

This episode examines the British Raj and India’s struggle for freedom. 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.

Few more links:

One thought on “The Story of India (A BBC Documentary)”

  1. This is a wonderfully informative and beautifully presented labor of love by all involved. Thanks so much for posting – may many more see and appreciate it.

    LJR, NM

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