tv The Travel Show BBC News August 14, 2021 10:30am-11:01am BST
when the decision was announced months ago i said they feared they would come to regret this decision. this is a nightmare. the plymouth shootings — devon and cornwall police face an investigation over the decision to return a shotgun licence to the man who killed five people. flash flooding in turkey kills at least 31 people — as southern europe records one of the hottest summers ever. the nhs warns that tens of thousands of people are risking their lives in england because they're unable to spot the first warning signs of cancer. now on bbc news — the travel show... india. 70 years after independence, this emerging world power of more than a billion people, is still changing.
i'm on a journey to two extremes of this vast subcontinent. it is crystals. it's hard crystal. white salt. you can taste it. i began in gujarat, in the far west. this is genuinely incredible. i'm in heaven. it's pretty crowded. and this week i have travelled 2,000 miles over to the north—east. i am on the banks of the mighty river brahmaputra and i am about to go to a very spiritual place. it is one of india's lesser—known regions. we're really high up, and just to my right is the border with bangladesh. a part of the country that prides itself on its traditions. he makes it look so easy. but it's incredibly difficult. but it is also looking forward and embracing progress.
so now i am on my way to go and see assam's very own eco—warrior. it is going to be an incredible adventure. india's north—east. a collection of eight states almost cut off from the rest of this vast country, but for a tiny strip of land. at partition, a large swathe of the region was sectioned off to become east pakistan which later became bangladesh, leaving the indian area landlocked. it is geographically and culturally out on a limb. this is frontier country, little known to tourists and other indians alike. they call it the land of clouds but that is because of
the severe monsoon season. hilly, remote and the air is so crisp and fresh and the views... well, simply spectacular. it is this cool climate that made the state of meghalaya and its capital shillong a popular retreat for the british during the colonial era. they dubbed it the scotland of the east. it is pretty crowded. but what about the city today? there is only one way to find out. we can get on. i took a bus into the city centre. it is a modern industrial town
these days, shillong. bus engine grinds alarmingly i think those brakes may need some work. tell me, what do you think about shillong. this is your home city. what do you think? more than half of meghalaya's population belong to the khasi tribe. and here at shillong's british—built polo ground, a traditional local sport is thriving here. but it sure ain't polo.
every afternoon, hundreds of people gather from all around to take part in a really interesting daily ritual. this is called teer, derivee from the hindi word for arrow. a target is mounted and 50 archers have a few minutes to hit it as many times as possible. the significance of the sport dates back to the early 1800s when khasi warriors defended their homelands and not with guns nor swords, but with bows and arrows. i am aiming for the target, obviously, which is? the small one. the small one there? 0k. why is it going to the ground?
show me. get out of the way, everyone. here we go. don't move. now we're getting there! spectators get involved by taking bets on the number of arrows that hit the target. and, crucially, it is only the last two numbers of the total score that matter. they are all added up and the last two digits will be the result. 695 arrows. so 95 is the result. meghalaya became one of the few states to legalise gambling in 1982. people here are very superstitious. they dream about their family, a dog, cat and they try
to make it into numbers. so i have 200 rupees of my hard—earned money here. i want to gamble. can you show me how to do it? let's go to one of these counters. namaste. hello. i want to gamble on a lucky number, yeah? two digits. i want to go for... 39. and i will put 100 rupees on 39 and on my other bet i will bet on 77. can you fix it so i win? it depends on your fortune. it depends on my fortune? i did have a dream last night that a strange dog walked past me and that dog had the number 39. is that the kind of dreams we all have?
who knows. wish me luck. it is a tense moment as the numbers are counted. 310, 320... and my dream turns out to be a shaggy dog story. 77 was my number. 97 was the result. still, two of my lucky numbers, nine and seven. next i head out of the city to explore the region's famed khasi hills and villages. incredible to think that despite landscapes like this, the north—east is one of the least visited areas of india. but things are slowly changing.
we have been travelling out of shillong into the countryside towards the bangladesh border for about two hours now and it has been bumpy and rough roads until suddenly we reached this bit and it is beautifully smooth road. it would not look out of place in a major town. and we're heading towards a village with an interesting reputation. the khasi hills are the only place in the world where you find bridges grown from the roots of the india rubber tree, or ficus elastica. we learnt how to construct them during the 1840s. this bridge was meant for the villagers to cross the river when they came back to their daily life, mainly agriculture. during that time there was no partition, no bangladesh, no pakistan so we had that link.
during monsoon, the khasi hills are hit by record—breaking downpours, more than 20 feet of rain in a month. these are some of the wettest places on the planet. but people here have found an ingenious way to harness nature in order to prevent the village from being cut off by floods. what are they doing? now they are tying bamboo to cross on both sides of the river so that the roots of this tree will be woven along these bamboo. bamboo act as a scaffolding which helps to connect roots from trees growing on opposite riverbanks. this is skilled and occasionally dangerous work. thanks to continuous repairs, bridges like this have stood firm for generations.
and will probably remain for many more to come. so we leave meghalaya and head to assam, passing through some of the 25,000 tea plantations that have made this region world—famous. we are on our way tojorhat, a few hundred kilometres from india's border with china, and thejumping—off point for our next adventure. i am on the banks of the mighty river brahmaputra and am about to go to a very spiritual place, the island of majuli, one of the biggest river islands in the world. there are 150,000 people on the island and only six ferries each day, so each one is really crammed. looking at the list of prices for all the different categories,
passengers, 15 rupees. that's ok, reasonable. you go down past vehicles and animals have to pay. a buffalo has to pay a5. a bull, cow, 30. an elephant has to fork out 907 rupees. perhaps, fortunately, none of these creatures were travelling with us today. and, incredibly, after a few last minute panics, we are set to go. i climb onto the corrugated aluminium roof tojoin men who do this trip day in and day out. starting in tibet, the brahmaputra river is nearly 2,000 miles long. it is second only to the amazon in the volume of water that rushes through it.
there is an interesting game of cards going on here. i think we are playing whist. i feel like we should join in, but it may be a private game with high stakes. we arrive at majuli and it is turmoil again trying to get off the boat. to avoid a queue, there is a sneaky way out which involves climbing onto another boat and going down the steps that way. do you know what? i think i will take that one. here we are on land. it doesn't look quite as spiritual as i imagined, but if you look away into the distance it is just one big, flat land of desert. let's see.
majuli island is home to 22 monasteries, or satras, initially established in the 16th century by the assamese guru sankardeva. boys are instructed from a very young age in the religion he preached, vaishnavism, an offshoot of hinduism. the monks are celibate, and according to their beliefs they worship only one god, follow a vegetarian diet and reject the caste system. and here at uttar kamalabari, the doctrine includes this special artform.
this form of classical dance is now recognised by the authorities as a genre in its own right, and many of these monks have performed around the world. plays drums and percussion that was amazing — thank you very much indeed. i know you spend a lifetime learning the skills of this, but can i have a go? can i try? like this? arm is through here. yeah? yeah. 0k. first place, here. hits drum here? wrong one.
very good! thank you. one, two, three, four. it's very difficult. one, two... there are 64 positions in this classical dance, and i'm having trouble with the first two. plays drum without the grace as well — no grace whatsoever. he makes it look so easy, but it is incredibly difficult. and i don't think — i am going to leave it to the experts. you know, sometimes you just have to give up and let them carry on. playing drums and percussion an exquisite performance.
but there is one problem, one very big problem, and that is that this island may simply not exist in just a few decades�* time. hard to believe at the moment, but there is a genuine worry that majuli will be submerged and destroyed within 20 years. in the last 70 years it has shrunk in size by two—thirds, and a majority of the original 65 monasteries have gone. every monsoon, the brahmaputra river swells, eroding the terrain around it. bit by bit, the land is disappearing. but there is hope.
so now, i'm on my way in a tractor to go and see a man whose life's mission has been to try and tackle the flooding that's afflicting majuli. he is basically assam's very own eco—warrior. sadly these are areas that get completely deluged when the monsoon hits. there's some water there that we have to cross. for the last 36 years, jadev payeng has taken on an extraordinary challenge — to save this land from vanishing.
and so his lifelong calling began. jadev is known today as the forest man of india. he began planting trees so the roots would bind the soil, soak up excess water and prevent the land from being eroded by flooding. from a barren landscape he has created a forest the size of new york's central park. and he feels this will be more effective in saving nearby majuli than following government flood protection schemes.
so we are now going to do the ritual that every guest that comes here is asked to do, which is to plant a tree. what kind of tree is this? so i'm going to put this in here, yeah, that's good. jadev has spoken at environmental summits all around the world, and his roll—call of guests is equally international. and i do know that everyone who plants a tree, when it grows, they put a plaque down with their name on it, so i will have that privilege. fantastic, thank you.
and so to my final day in assam, and a different kind of ritualistic celebration of nature. if there is one recurring theme throughout my trip in the north—east, it's the sense of community, kind of everywhere really, and there is nothing better to illustrate that than this. a local village going down to the river to celebrate harvest. this community was started in 1939 by a young woman who came from the mountains in search of food. she founded this place
because it was better for her, because it was closer to the water and civilisation, so finally she brings herfamily here, followed by her brother and this particular village is the entire family, her own clan... they all come from that one woman? really. fascinating, wow. this is a much—loved annual celebration, and people of all ages gather to muck in, using fishing methods that have been passed down through generations. dig it in, yeah. stamping, stamping. then you put it towards you... you have to pull the stick, yeah. and look! laughs you can't see it, that is just full of fish, it's full of fish. this is today's catch? wow! that is pretty good! and this, you will cook now?
speaks in local language yeah? excellent. so my track across india, from border to border, is almost over, and it has been a realjourney of discovery for me off the beaten track. this isn't india on tap, the kind of instant gratification which some people are accustomed to. but the rewards, if you make the effort, are immense. asnake! can they bite? yeah, it does. it bites — is it poisonous? no, not much. not much? can i get out now?
hello. we have quite a lot of dry, quiet weather through the weekend but it is a weekend of mixed fortunes. for some of us it will stay dry with a bit of sunshine all weekend but for other areas there is some rain in the forecast. that is all courtesy of an area of low pressure which is slow—moving but heading its way in from the atlantic from the west, gradually pushing east across the uk. higher pressure in charge across much of continental europe and it stays very very hot in the south, especially for spain today where we could see 48 celsius. here in the uk, cooler than average in fact. increasing amounts of cloud moving in from the west. for scotland today, scattered showers. they should be confined to the northern half of scotland, sunshine through the central belt, clouding overfor northern ireland and northern england this afternoon with the arrival of patchy rain. perhaps one or two spots of rain for north wales, the midlands as well. much of southern and south—eastern england remains dry today with temperatures 23 or 2a degrees in the warmest spots. typically the high teens further north.
this evening and overnight, that rain pushes across northern ireland and northern england and perhaps sourthern scotland later in the night. further showers across the far north of scotland and a few spots of rain for wales in the south—west as well, but south—east england stays dry and quite humid, 15 degrees here but single figures across the far north of england and for scotland. tomorrow, we have this area of low pressure, slow—moving, ambling east, with quite a few different weather fronts around tomorrow. one of them producing heavy showers across northern and north—eastern scotland, quite blustery here. a little bit of rain clearing out of northern ireland and northern england, affecting parts of wales, perhaps the midlands later in the day. but again east anglia and the south—east largely dry, around 23 degrees. things are turning cooler from the north—west. so, through sunday and into monday we have this north—westerly wind starting to develop, so that pushes cooler air across the uk, keeping those high temperatures further south into spain. into monday for the uk, it's not a bad day, a lot of places largely dry, just one or two showers, a lot of cloud feeding
in on the north—west breeze. eastern areas getting the best of the sunshine but temperatures around 15—20 degrees. if you have plans for the week ahead, a lot of dry, settled weather. one or two isolated showers at times. quite a bit of cloud in general and temperatures a little bit cool for the time of year. bye— bye.
this is bbc news, these are the latest headlines in the uk and around the world. taliban insurgents continue their advance in afghanistan, as us troops prepare for a massive airlift of civilians from kabul. in the last hour, the afghan president said he was working with international partners to prevent further violence in the country. the plymouth shootings — devon and cornwall police face an investigation over the decision to return a shotgun licence to the man who killed five people. flash flooding in turkey kills at least 31 people — as southern europe records one of the hottest summers ever. the nhs warns that tens of thousands of people are risking their lives in england because they're unable to spot the first warning signs of cancer.
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