Story of India

Ages Of Gold

Season 1, Episode 4 of 6

The fourth episode is the story of India in the Middle Ages. At the time of the fall of the Roman Empire and the European Dark Ages, India experienced a series of great flowerings of culture, both in the north and the south. In this episode, Michael Wood shows viewers some of the amazing achievements of medieval India: In astronomy, Indians discovered the heliocentric universe, absolute zero and the circumference of the earth; they mastered the world's first large-scale wrought iron technology -- the Delhi iron pillar; and their courtly culture was the setting of the world's first sex manual, the Kama Sutra. Meanwhile in the south, the rising power of the Cholan Empire spread Indian arms and culture to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the Andamans and to Java and the Malay peninsula. Wood visits the Cholan capital at Tanjore and takes viewers inside the greatest temple of that time (founded in 1010) to see ancient rituals still being performed. In one sequence, viewers see traditional bronze casters making religious images for the temples, just as their ancestors did 1,500 years ago. The program visits a traditional Tamil family in the temple city of Chidambaram, goes with them on pilgrimage and witnesses the ancient mountaintop festival of fire that was already famous in 700 AD. The story ends in Multan (Pakistan) in the early 11th century, with the first invasions by Turks and Afghans bearing the Muslim faith that will turn the subcontinent into the largest Muslim civilization in the world.

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