EPISODE 1 -
Joanna Lumley travels back to the country of her birth to celebrate the great nation that it is today. A year older than Independent India itself, Joanna was born in India into the last days of The Raj and India was home to both sides of her family for several generations.
Joanna travels the length and breadth of India, beginning her epic journey in Tamil Nadu - on the tip of the continent - and working her way up to the north. She travels over 5000 miles, exploring its diverse landscapes, its different cultural traditions, and its extraordinary spirit, discovering how independence has changed and shaped it into the great evolving country it is today. From meeting a diverse mix of people, Joanna experiences the mind-blowing mix of industry, ingenuity, imagination and humanity that India, the world’s largest democracy, has to offer.
In this episode, Joanna witnesses religious ceremonies in glorious temples; learns how scientists are enabling people in tea plantations to live alongside wild elephants and with the help of computers is turned into a multi-limbed indian goddess. In Kolkata Joanna takes to the streets at night with a local guide and meets some members of India’s transgender community. Finally Joanna journeys high into the Himalaya’s to visit Gangtok in Sikkim where her mother lived as a child, and so holds a strong family connection for Joanna.
EPISODE 2 -
Joanna Lumley travels back to the country of her birth to celebrate the great nation that it is today.
Braving the roads of MumbaiJoanna takes a ride in the city’s only all-female taxi company and visits the Times of India, where her uncle was editor of the paper in the 1930s and 40s. Money and development are pouring into Mumbai and Joanna overcomes her vertigo to explore the World One Tower - soon to be Mumbai’s tallest luxury residential building. In this metropolis there are plenty of buyers for these and other luxury apartments…
Joanna is amazed by the Ellora Caves, over 100 caves dating from AD 600 to 1000 carved from solid rock to form spectacular temples.
Joanna joins in a Hindu house warming ceremony, where a cow and calf are brought into the new house for luck.
In stark contrast, Joanna visits a Dalit community in Gujarat, considered to be India’s lowest caste. We hear of the everyday discrimination these people experience under India’s still deeply entrenched 3000 year old caste system.
India continues to be a country of extremes. Joanna meets the Maharaja of Dungapur who shows her around his lakeside palace which has been home to 23 generations of his family. She explores the Pleasure Pavilion, the mirrored floors (good for looking up ladies’ skirts apparently!), and his collection of vintage cars.
EPISODE 3 -
Joanna’s final leg of her journey through India takes her first to Ranthambhore National Park, where she hopes to spot a tiger in the wild. Here she meets Belinda Wright, a prominent figures in Indian tiger conservation today, and also sees the work of local NGO Tiger Watch when she visits a school
that is helping to break the cycle of poaching and poverty through education.
Joanna’s next stop is the mighty city of Delhi, home to over 18 million. She begins her exploration the capital at Humayun’s Tomb – a place that has a very personal family connection for her.
Delhi is a city of many faces, and Joanna sees some extreme sides of it. She visits a community of 10,000 homeless men living under a fly-over, where a basic cinema offers some much-needed escapism. In stark contrast, she tries her hand at working in a hi-tech call centre in a smart new area of the city.
Moving north from Delhi Joanna travels to Dharamsala, as she has been granted a private audience with his Holiness the Dalai Lama, before finishing her incredible 5000 mile journey by revisiting the place where she was born – Srinagar in Kashmi. Here Joanna stays on a houseboat moored on Dal Lake - as her parents did during their honeymoon in 1941.