Guided by a century-old Bradshaw’s Handbook of Indian, Foreign and Colonial Travel, Michael Portillo embarks on a railway adventure across India and takes in the extraordinary variety of the Indian landscape.
Beginning in the Sikh holy city, Michael is dazzled by the beauty of the Golden Temple and awed by the scale of its langar - the world's largest free kitchen. His route then takes him through the Punjab, India's breadbasket. Michael samples traditional chapattis, has a colourful kurta made up in one of the Punjab's biggest cloth markets, and can't resist the foot-tapping rhythms of Punjabi bhangra dancing, made famous by Bollywood. Portillo's journey also reveals surprises. He uncovers a pioneering women's medical college in Ludhiana, before plunging into Chandigarh, designed by Le Corbusier as a modernist expression of India's post-independence future. At Kalka, Michael glimpses the Himalayas for the first time and joins the 1906-built mountain railway for a stunning climb to Shimla. There, he relives the days when the crème de la crème of expatriate society went to socialise and rule - their exploits recorded by a young Rudyard Kipling.
Michael Portillo embarks on a stunning rail journey from the Thar Desert in Rajasthan to the Indian capital, taking in desert landscapes and dazzling historic palaces.
Michael Portillo takes a railway journey through the modern south Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, from the former princely state of Mysore to the first stronghold of the East India Company in Chennai, formerly Madras.
On an epic railway journey from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh to Kolkata in West Bengal, Michael Portillo uses his Bradshaw's 1913 Handbook of Indian, Foreign and Colonial Travel, published when the British Raj was 55 years old, to chart a course through India's history from the days of The East India Company to the dawn of independence.