How we’ve been preparing for our upcoming trip to India

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In a few weeks, I will be going to India to lead a 14-day tour of mogul gardens as well as many of the iconic sites and other highlights of northern India followed by time cruising the Kerala backwaters around Alappuzha in the south.

Sir Edwin Luytens

In preparation for this tour, I’ve been suggesting that my group spend some time watching a few documentaries and listening to some words on the history of the Taj Mahal and the British in India as well as a little background on key figures such as Edwin Lutyens, the British architect who played a big part in the redesign of Dehli.

We will start the tour in New Delhi, then head to Agra, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Udaipur before flying south to the Kerala backwaters.

Here are some of the documentaries and talks I’ve recommended people see before we go.

This National Geographic documentary about the history of the Taj Mahal is both educational as well as entertaining. I was pleased to find that it steered safely away from a lot of the misinformation and myths about the building of the Taj and the false stories of events following its construction. 

Jeremy Paxman is famous in England as a broadcaster, journalist and author. His five-part BBC documentary on the British empire is a fascinating presentation. You can find more interesting commentaries and observations by Paxman on YouTube, but this series is particularly well done.

Edwin Lutyens was one of Britain’s finest architects, considered only second in importance to Christopher Wren. His life and work is fascinating, especially his contribution to the redesign of New Dehli. This documentary is a little dated but the presenter packs in a lot of quality information into a short space of time. Worth watching.

The British had a huge impact on India through the British East India Company. This documentary looks at the history of the company and its impact on India. It is uncomfortable viewing but necessary information if we are to understand the challenges that India has faced over the centuries.

Finally, this talk by Indian lecturer, intellectual, politician and author Dr. Shashi Tharoor was so powerful that it went “viral” on the Internet when it first was posted. You will find facts and insights that are surprisingly new to many people, even British people who probably never realized what was being done in their name in India in past centuries.

For more information about future tours, please contact me at swhysall@hotmail.com, although most of the upcoming tours – to Italy and Japan – are already featured here or will be in coming months.

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