Story of India – The Golden Age

Settling in comfortably on our well used recliner with a warm throw K and I tuned in to watch the next two episodes of The Story of India on PBS. The third episode showed the period of the Kushan rule and Emperor Kanishka. Colorful images of Mathura and Ayodhya were a visual assault on the eye. Watching Michael Wood speak lovingly about India we felt goosebumps.

The next hour however, which was aptly titled India – The Golden Age showed the reign of the Chola Kings down south. K and I sat mesmerized by the images of the fertile paddy fields in Thanjavur, the imposing Periya Kovil and the generation of stapathi’s working on bronze images of Nataraja. Interviewing the average person on the street, Wood interspersed images from modern and medieval India that was simply lovely. As the camera zoomed in on a woman bending over drawing pure white kolams on freshly cleaned homefront, it panned out to show a moped ride over it effortlessly. The images of Annamalai deepam in Tiruvannamalai, the rustic images from Tiruvisalur all touched me in a manner no TV program ever has.

Few images have drawn me as the episode that aired yesterday. Long after the program was done, I was wondering what about it impressed me so much. Like the Bud Lite ad talks of “Drinkability”, I wonder if it is the “Relatability” of it all. Watching the cameras fondly focus on the giant Nandi in the Periya Kovil, I remembered walking along the length of its prakaram with my family in tow not too long ago. As the images flashed on TV I imagined King Rajarajan arriving at the temple with great pomp and splendor. There is something about the lush paddy fields that evokes images from a childhood past. Hearing about the 1000 plus year History of the place where my roots are made me cosmically linked through time with my ancestors. It sure was a transcendantal experience.

Embedded is a clip from the episode that aired yesterday.

3 comments

  1. Hey Laksh.. did you get to see the new episodes? Yesterday I turned it on, and it was repeating what I saw last week. So I turned it off. He started off with bird song in Kerala and all that – that was the first episode right? Don’t tell me I missed it!

    @Rekha: It was the new episodes. Looks like you missed. I hope you catch the retelecast. The episode four was real good.

  2. I was actually pleasantly surprised that he devoted half an episode on the Chozha empire – for whatever reason the history of India as written in many books is so very focussed on North India, the great South Indian empires, dynasties and kings are not given enough importance. Be it the Chozhas who conquered other kingdoms or Krishna Devaraya and so on… Was an interesting series, for sure!

    @Akay: I know. I was thrilled!

  3. I missed it this week too Laksh. I start A’s bedtime routine at 8.15pm and somehow it extends until 9/9.30, by which I totally forgot it. Even I used to wonder how it would have been living in the era of kings.

    @Madhuram: Must have been royal I would assume 🙂

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