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. It was originally aired on the BBC in six episodes in August and September 2007 as part of the BBC season "India and Pakistan 07", which marked the 60 years independence of India and Pakistan. In the United States, PBS broadcast the series on three Mondays, January 5, 12 and 19, 2009 from 9 to 11 PM. An accompanying text was published by BBC Books.
As in most of his documentaries, Wood explains historical events by travelling to the places where they took place, examining archeological and historical evidence at first hand and interviewing historians and archaeologists, as well as chatting with local people.
Episode 1 - Beginnings
Michael Wood travels throughout the subcontinent, tracing the 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.In Turkmenistan, there they find a civilisation named "Zorashtrian", and there they also find horse drawn carts or chariots called Raths which are mentioned in the Rig Veda.
Wood also attempts to re-create soma, an ancient drink recorded in the Rig Veda.
Episode 2 - The Power of Ideas
The second episode in Michael Wood’s 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 down Pakistan's Khyber Pass, he shows how Alexander the Great’s invasion of India inspired her first empire. The Rise of Maurya kingdom.
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 empire, the(Kushan Empire) of Northern Pakistan that opened up the Silk Route and at Peshawar built a lost Wonder of the World. That wonder nowadays people known as "Bare Raja Ka Tila". Also offers an interesting theory about the death of Emperor Kanishka at Mathura.
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 and traditional bronze casters, working as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago are shown.
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.