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tv   The Travel Show India Episode...  BBC News  August 7, 2021 5:30am-6:01am BST

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the headlines: afghan officials say the taliban have seized the south—west city of zaranj, the first provincial capital to fall to the militants for five years. during a un emergency meeting to discuss the worsening violence, its envoy to the region demanded the militants end their offensive. the greek government has put almost half of the country's regions on high alert as wildfires continue to spread. huge clouds of smoke are billowing over the outskirts of athens. a man has been killed in a village north of the city after being hit by a falling electricity pole. the penultimate day of action at the olympics is underway in tokyo. kenya's peresjepchirchir won the women's marathon, claiming the country's second consecutive gold medal in the event. later, medals will also be up for grabs in diving, volleyball and golf.
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now on bbc news, the travel show. india. a vast country, home to over a billion people, birthplace of illustrious ancient civilisations, and today, a fast—emerging global power. and 70 years after independence, india is still a diverse, ever—evolving assortment of cultures, creeds, religions and languages. heading off the well—worn tourist path, we're on a journey that spans this vast subcontinent from east to west. travelling from one of the driest places on earth... it is quite incredible, the sand. i mean, it'sjust crystal, hard crystals. white salt. you can probably taste it. one of the wettest.
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these are areas, really, for the adventurous traveller. this isn't india on tap. i'm on a quest to find out how history, religion and politics have shaped india. and also meet the people who call this intriguing and sometimes overwhelming country home. it's going to be an amazing journey. for thousands of years, india found its riches and influence through international trade. and at the heart of this enterprise was the sea. and the state of gujarat, with 1,000 miles of coastline, served as a shipping gateway to africa, arabia and beyond. this is as far west as you can get in india.
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and it is the mingling of all the influences from overseas that have helped make gujarat what it is today. the region is known as kutch, and its beaches, like here, are a popular domestic tourist attraction. but this ancient port town's economy is still anchored in a much older maritime tradition. this is genuinely incredible. i'm in heaven — a huge shipyard, with boats and ships at various stage of construction, all made from wood. in an industry dominated by bulky and expensive container ships, these smaller, more agile vessels are still in huge demand. so here we are really close up
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to these incredible hulks, really. and this one is in mid—construction. we can actually go inside, which i'm going to go in and see how they actually make these things. apparently, each of these dows takes about 2.5 years to make. for many of the workers, ship building is a family tradition. this ancient craft is now attracting unexpected new admirers.
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the region of kutch was home to one of the world's earliest civilisations and can be traced back to prehistoric times. its old royal capital is the city of bujh. and its glory days — well, they're kind of over. it was badly hit by
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the 2001 earthquake. there's a kind of melancholy, i suppose, about this area because obviously this was once the real opulent centre of a rich empire, trading empire anyway, and the hub was here. but what is still flourishing is bujh's aso—year—old market, just a few minutes away, where the trading tradition continues. what do they sell here? they sell everything — fruit, vegetables, fabric, grocery. you see all sorts of community, all cultural background can be seen in one marketplace. here, as you can see, they're like all different community, ethnic groups comes here. but kutch�*s natural harmony was disrupted 70 years ago when the british left.
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the country was divided on religious grounds, with muslims partitioned to the north in pakistan and hindus to the south in india. we drove out of the city towards the border with pakistan. along the way encountering some kutch herdsmen. they've been living here for 400, 500 years, since they migrated down south into kutch from an area which is now part of pakistan. ever since the split, there has been tension between the two governments. but to these herdsmen, national borders and religious differences mean little. for the people, when we say india, pakistan or like hindu, muslim — it's not that important. people are religious, of course. but they are like living in harmony and relationship between these two different groups is brotherly.
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when two countries were created from one, indelible scars were left on the psyche of the subcontinent. archive: independence has not yet brought them peace. - rejoicing turned quickly into horror and mourning. in traumatic scenes, more than a million people died in religious rioting. many millions more were displaced. this all used to be one. but now, it's, like, divided in two. and now the border itself has become a tourist attraction. that way is pakistan. that way is pakistan, about 70 kilometres up north. that's where the india—pakistan border is, which lies in the middle of the area, which is of geographical value. at nearly 500 metres above sea level, the highest point allows us a dramatic view of this geological phenomenon, the rann, or desert of kutch, which continues into pakistan. i wanted to get up closer
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to this natural wonder. it is quite incredible, the sand. i mean, it'sjust crystals, it's hard crystals — white salt. you can probably taste it. really unusual to see something like this. the further out i walked, the less lovely it became. it's actually quite incredible! it's more like snow or sludge than white sand or white crystals. when it gets wet around here, i'm getting really deep into it. whoa! today, this shimmering wilderness is a healthy source of income for the region, thanks mainly to a three—month—long festival throughout the winter.
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it really is amazing. what was a vast, barren landscape has been transformed into this colourful complex, where by night there's live music and other performances and by day there's plenty of other activities. and just here, what you might call the glamping headquarters. 50,000 people have come here in the last couple of months alone. i guess this is like a cross between a weekend festival and a holiday resort. it's basically a honey pot for the booming middle classes in india, in what has been one of the fastest—growing economies in the world. the revival of interest in kutch culture boosted by the festival has been a lifeline for one group of locals in particular — folk musicians. now, music in particular, and it's very, very
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rich over here. previously they used to perform with their kettles, then afterwards, when they come home, they'd get together and the spiritual songs are being performed. it's a practice. one person plays two flutes at the same time? yes, yes. now, for example, 500 kettles are there and only one zither is there. what he will do is he will sit below a tree, start playing this and whatever this musical notes, the kettles will not go out of that range. wow. and they enjoy the music, so the digestive system — the milk output increases. this is the beauty of it. it's almost like meditation for the cows. yeah, yeah. things are changing definitely, as you say, tourism. so many music festivals are there. so they are invited in various parts of india and abroad.
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and of course, they are very well—paid. music and singing and not only do i get a demonstration, but also the privilege of playing along... lead tinkler. and yet again, i'm made aware that kutch culture is all about a sense of community, and certainly not about religious segregation. from the bottom of my heart, i am telling you till today, in spiritual, in music forms, hindus and muslims, they sit together and perform till today. music and singing continues. for the next part of my
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journey i'm heading to the south—east of gujarat, to the town ofjunagadh. ah, the classic indian railway station. to me, nothing sums up this country better than the indian railway network. more than any political act, they say that this is what unifies this country. i remember as a small child being on an indian train and being totally overwhelmed by it. but i love it. horn blares. ah, this feels imminent! who knows when this was made, this train. it looks pretty damn old to me! but wow, look at that! horn blares. it's a network that ferries millions of passengers daily across tens of thousands of track to nearly 7,000 stations.
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it's one of the world's biggest employers. if there is one defining legacy of british rule, it's the vast, sprawling, creaking indian railway network. it's still the lifeblood of the country today. all sing. i'll tell you this. you wouldn't get this on a suburban train on a cold wednesday morning in london, or any other western city. this is unique. singing continues you know everyone on this carriage? yeah. yeah, from the train journey? trainjourney, yeah. ah! train friends. you are train friends! excellent! you have a community! very good. is it lucky to have a seat on the train? yes. very lucky. she's very lucky. very lucky — ok!
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like you! like me? so here we are, the ancient fortified city ofjunagadh. horn blares crowded and noisy, as i expected. let's go explore. just a few minutes from the station, along a dusty, busy road stands this jaw—dropping and little—known architectural wonder.
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built in the late 19th century, this is mahabat maqbara, an elaborate mausoleum blending indian and european architecture. the intricate carvings took over a decade to complete and the whole structure reflects the opulence and influences of the time. back in the day, under the british raj, there were hundreds of so—called princely states run by maharajas and nawabs, powerful and wealthy men. there was one such character here, who made decisions which still has ramifications for relations between india and pakistan, even today. these nawabs led lavish lifestyles, in stark contrast to ordinary indians.
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the nawab ofjunagadh, muhammad mahabat khanji iii, was no different. archive: the state celebrates the marriage of all the pomp l and splendour of a princely wedding. one man would be sitting on the... harish was ten in 1946 and recalls the splendour of the ceremony. archive: escorted by the royal guard, the bride groom drivesl in state through the streets. before him in the procession is a profusion of wedding gifts. all princes were there. princely patrons with turbans on their heads. dance girls used to be brought there, musicians and all that. that lasted for several days. and he recalls getting his first taste of this other world. for the first time, i saw bread, butter, sandwich, everything. because that was not known to us here. my father said "you eat this.
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this is bread and this is butter." i liked it. there were small pastries. i still remember that made in england, london, there was one huntly and palmer biscuit. important thing is that the formal photograph of his highness, mahabat khanji iii. the nawab's own most legendary indulgence was was his love of animals. his main hobby was for dogs. he was mad after dogs. i think almost all brands and varieties of dogs from all the world were here. he used to arrange marriages for dogs and celebrated parties and then they were sent for honeymoon. sent for a honeymoon! yeah, he used to do it! horns blare with the advent
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of independence, the power and influence of india's royal rulers was coming to an end. horns blare come partition, the muslim nawab wanted to make junagadh part of the newly created islamic pakistan. even though the town is more than 80% hindu and hundreds of kilometres from the border. infuriated, the new indian government rallied its troops. the news started coming that army is coming. in his compound, huge tanks and trucks and jeeps and artillery and guns and everything is there. junagadh state was besieged on three sides also. an economic blockade was ordered, cutting off supplies of food and resources into the region. eventually, junagadh acceded to india and the nawab fled to pakistan. yet, to this day, 70 years on,
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his great—grandson still lays claim to junagadh. and the episode lingers as a reminder of the last days of the raj in india. and 65 kilometres down the road, the nawab's legacy as an animal lover extraordinaire continues with the most regal of creatures. lions may have iconic status here. they're a royal symbol. they're in hindu mythology. but at the beginning of the last century, they were threatened with extinction. i'm going somewhere now which is the only natural abode of the asiatic lion. the nawab preserved large tracts of this forest and banned hunting.
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the asiatic lion are smaller and more pale than their african relatives. and these are their modern—day protectors — india's first female forest rangers, the so—called �*lion queens of gir�*. now they're part of a team that performs more animal rescues than any other wildlife park in the world. on average, the unarmed rangers cover 25 kilometres a day and have to tackle venomous snakes, leopards and poachers, as well as lions. if they did get agitated, how would you be able to tell from the animal? how would you know if you're safe or not with being this close to the animal?
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and it did get dangerous forjayshree early on in her career here. applications from women for these posts have rocketed and the rangers are role models and trail blazers in the region today. oh, look!
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look at that mouth! the good news is that from once being in danger of extinction, numbers have climbed to over 500. the next much more welcome problem is if the sanctuary is actually big enough for their growing population. so the first part of my travels across india come to a close. but next week, i head to the north—east of the country. i'm on the banks of the mighty brahmaputra river and about to go to a very spiritual place. and the amount of people crammed on here as well — it's going to be an experience! a region that prides itself on tradition and creativity. and a passionate desire to protect this unique part of the world for future generations.
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hello there. the very unsettled august weather continues into this weekend. low pressure nearby will generate further showers, and again, like friday, we could see some thunderstorms which could lead to some localised flooding in places. but there will be some good spells of sunshine in between, particularly across more southern areas. so, here it is, this area of low pressure, which is going to stick around both saturday, sunday and indeed even into monday. lots of isobars on the charts, so it'll be quite breezy again, particularly across southern, south—western areas, and across the northern isles, gusts of 30—a0 mph. we'll have showers pretty much from the word go anywhere, but most of them will be across scotland, northern ireland, western england and wales.
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they will drift their way further eastwards into the afternoon, and again there'll be some torrential downpours in places. but some good spells of sunshine, particularly across the south—east. another breezy day, these are the mean wind speeds. temperatures will be a bit disappointing for august, particularly when the showers come along, it'll feel quite cool. but in the sunny spells, we could make 20 degrees or so across the south—east. otherwise, generally the mid to high teens celsius. as we head through saturday night, we continue with the breeze, further showers. again, some of them will be quite heavy, particularly across central, northern and western areas. perhaps turning a little bit quieter across the south east quadrant of the country. and again nowhere particularly cold, with overnight lows 12—14 degrees. so, into sunday, ourarea of low pressure still with us, drifting a little bit further northwards and weakening a little bit. there's fewer isobars on the charts, but there's still enough energy in the low pressure system to generate further showers, which again could be quite heavy in places throughout sunday. mainly across central and northern parts of the country, because i think as we head on into the afternoon, there may be a greater chance of seeing some sunnier, drier weather for wales, central and southern england. so, that mayjust bump up temperatures to 2! degrees,
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slightly lighter winds. again, for most, though, the high teens celsius. into next week, then, for monday, our area of low pressure's still with us, so it's going to be another day of sunshine and showers. but the winds will turn light, and the system continues to weaken. and as we head on into tuesday, we've got this bump of high pressure which will build in, and that should settle things down. but low pressure always close by to the north and the west of the uk. so, we'll have most of the showers through the new week across northern and western areas. greater chance of seeing some drier, sunnier and warmer weather in the south and east.
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this is bbc world news. i'm lewis vaughan—jones. our top stories: gunfire. the taliban seizes a provincial capital in southern afghanistan, as the un's envoy demands the militants end their offensive. we are extremely concerned about the safety and security of people in cities but the taliban attacks, and what brutality would await them. —— that the. nearly half the regions in greece are on high alert, as the worst wildfires in decades rage across the country. on the penultimate day of action at the tokyo olympics — kenya's peresjepchirchir has won the women's marathon. there are 33 other golds up for grabs. and from the charts to the stage — pop star lily allen makes her acting debut in the west end.


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