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Rediscovery of India

Embarking on an exhilarating journey across the Indian subcontinent to unravel its sights, sounds and achievements is Discovery Channel’s new six-part series beginning this Wednesday.

“The Story of India” will explore who were the first Indians and how the world’s first civilisation vanished. It will highlight the fact that despite India being the world’s largest democracy, a nuclear power and a rising econ omic giant, it is one of the few civilisations still in touch with its ancient past.

Stating that the series will reveal the diversity and richness of its people and some of the most momentous events in its history, Deepak Shourie of Discovery Networks (India) says viewers will witness the intense journey of a nation which has over the centuries regenerated itself several times. The series will show geneticists from Madurai University testing the DNA of tribal villagers in Tamil Nadu to get a clue about their migration history. In a nondescript village in Kerala, an ancient clan of Brahmins perform a 12-day-long religious ritual for the god of fire. For centuries these mantras have been faithfully passed down from father to son but some of the mantras are not in any known language. Using all the tools available to the historical detective from DNA to climate science, ancient manuscripts, archaeology and exploration of living cultures of the subcontinent, the series will cover the age of the Buddha, the coming of the Greeks and the rule of the emperor Ashoka. The series will take the audience to the time when India became a great player in the first global economy. As the spice routes and the silk roads opened up, the Indian civilisation grew enriched by contact and exchange.

Besides telling the story of the forgotten empire of the Kushans that once ruled the country, the series will also bring to light some of the amazing achievements of medieval India including the discovery of the heliocentric universe, absolute zero, the circumference of the earth and the world’s first large-scale wrought iron technology — the Ashoka Pillar. History lovers will get a glimpse of the desert cities of Rajasthan and travel among the fabulous cities of Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. It will also offer a startling new theory about the construction of the Taj Mahal.

The last episode tells how the East India Company gradually and almost by chance took power over great swathes of the Indian subcontinent. It will show how after the horrendous shock of the 1857 war of independence, the British imperialists took over the reins of the country and turned this supremacy into the Raj and how the freedom movement delivered Independence to India in 1947, albeit a divided one.

Madhur Tankha

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