The Archaeology Channel – Timeless India

TAC have made available a 25-minute promotional film produced and directed by Zafar Hai on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism in India, and narrated by no less a luminary than Michael York.

Featuring many historic locations and exotic sights such as temples, this film is aimed more at the visitor to India keen on exploring her multi-faceted past, much of which has survived intact to the present day, and which can often be found resting gracefully amongst the modern cities that have sprung up in what has become one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies. India has long been attracting traders and merchants from afar, from the Romans, the Chinese and Europeans and many more, bringing back a cornucopia of spices and luxury goods with them, further relating tales of the incredible lands and peoples that had greeted them.

Major religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, plus a host of others, have long roots in India, aspects of which are celebrated in one of the world’s richest traditions in architecture, statuary, sculpture and art, conceived and executed by some of the most skilled, innovative and adept craftsmen of their day.

The film itself presents India in a subtle and serene focus, rather than going for a glitzy all-singing-all-dancing shindig, which at once emphasises the spiritual character of its heritage from a meditative perspective, whilst allowing the eyes to feast on a sumptuous riot of colours, shapes and forms, accompanied to a soundtrack of the diverse music, dance and resplendent costumery we have come to associate with these oriental lands, boasting a civilisation going back over 5,000 years.

Of course, India’s past hasn’t always been bathed in peaceful solitude, riven like most major nations of the present day, by conflicts down through the ages, and in her case, more recently subject to the predations of British imperial rule, artifacts of which are still in evidence today, not the least of which is the influence of the English language on millions of people alive today, which indirectly has led to the birth of one of the greatest cricketing nations on Earth.

As we hear later in the presentation, the recent history of India might have been entirely different had Nelson not stopped Napoleon Bonaparte in his tracks in Egypt – we can only wonder for instance, how French cuisine would have coped with the influx of what has in effect become Britain’s national dish of late, the ubiquitous curry, or whether the French population today would be a nation of tea-drinkers. Perhaps too, Calcutta would have become a second Paris instead of a proxy London.

But even where conflict ruled in the past, as visited upon India by the Moguls, who conquered far and wide, ( at about 14 minutes in) a flowering of creativity mixed with a liberal mix of religions and cultures sprang up thereafter, and as we see from the film, some of the surviving architecture would alone make for a worthwhile trip. In any case, if you want a whistle-stop tour round scenic India, this is an ideal film to watch, but for the full experience of course, you’ll need to visit India in person, and preferably for an extended tour.

‘Timeless India’ is here brought to us by the Archaeology Channel, who have over the past 10 years provided we the online viewing public with a fantastic archive of footage from all over the world, delving here into the past, stopping too in the present as efforts to rescue and preserve crumbling and damaged sites are documented. All these films are freely accessible at the TAC website.

To continue their outstanding project, the Archaeology Channel relies heavily on the kindness of strangers – or more specifically, paid-up members  – for financial support, so if you’d like to help out you can do so either by becoming a member, or ensuring that you renew your membership on an annual basis. Details of how to participate in the Membership programme can be found here.

image of Varanasi from here.

Web links:

Archaeological Survey of India

Archaeology of India, Sources of History of India (Indianetzone.com)

History of India (Wikipedia)

Incredible India (India Ministry of Tourism)

Indian History (WebIndia123.com)

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