Exploring India's Treasures With Bettany Hughes | Preview (Channel 4)
India is home to cultures, traditions and sites as old as the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Chinese dynasties. This vast country with a population of 1.32 billion people has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
It's a spiritual heartland and a hotbed of constant genesis and invention, with one foot squarely in the past and another firmly in the future. Seasoned adventurer, author and historian Professor Bettany Hughes - alongside local experts and academics - guides viewers through her curated selection of the treasures of India.
Her journey starts in one of the subcontinent's holiest cities: Varanasi. Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi and being cremated on the Ganges riverbank allows the cycle of rebirth to be broken and salvation to become possible.
Bettany is given a unique opportunity to take part in a Hindu ritual, and can process her own recent bereavement. Fatehpur Sikri was conceived as the Imperial capital for the Mughal Emperor Akbar. His new city was larger than London but was only occupied for 14 years. Bettany explores its empty palaces, temples and private pavilions.
She takes a boat out to the Lake Palace, an extraordinary royal residence on an island in shimmering Lake Pichola. It's decorated with massive marble slabs inlaid with rubies, onyx, jade and carnelian, which are said to be the inspiration for the decorations inside the Taj Mahal.
Begins Sunday 9th July on Channel 4.