Wildlife expert Liz Bonnin, actor Freida Pinto and mountaineer Jon Gupta reveal the hidden wonders of India's surprising natural world.
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A vibrant, bustling world.
Home to over a billion people.
But if you know where to look, the most spectacular wildlife...
..and extreme landscapes can be found.
I'm Liz Bonnin.
I'm here to explore India's spectacular
wildlife in one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth.
I've spent years studying wildlife,
but every time I return to India, I discover something new.
I completely underestimated
how extraordinary and eye-opening this was going to be.
Actor Frieda Pinto was born here.
She wants to share the remarkable bond between India's people
and the natural world.
You always see that there is a connection between man and animal.
And from the highest peaks on Earth,
mountaineer Jon Gupta explores India's most extreme landscapes.
My passion is mountains.
And there is nowhere in the world like the Himalayas.
We're travelling the length and breadth of this subcontinent
to reveal the hidden wonders of India's natural world.
-ALL: The wonders of India.
India is a place that's captivated me ever since my first visit.
And I suppose it's made all the more special
because I have a family connection.
My great-grandparents came from India.
And every time I return, I know I'm going to discover something new
that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
'I want to start this journey with one of India's biggest surprises.
'It comes in the form of one of this country's most iconic animals.
'The big cats.'
India may be known as the land of the tiger, but up until 1970,
another big cat was the national animal of this country - the lion.
'India is home to the world's last Asiatic lions.
'A rare subspecies that once ranged from here to the Mediterranean.
'I've tracked tigers across India, but I've never seen an Asiatic lion.
'This is the only place I have the chance to do so.'
This is the home of India's last remaining Asiatic lions -
the Gir Forest.
'A national park that's 580 square miles of broadleaf scrub
'in the northwest of the country.
'At one time, there were said to be as few as 12 lions left.
'Park director Dr Sandeep Kumar and his team have worked
'tirelessly to ensure the number is now over 500 and rising.
'After two hours on the road, I get my first sight.
'Two young males soaking up the early-morning sun.'
Look at that! Look at that!
They are just beautiful.
So immediately, you can see two of the main features that
differentiate the Asiatic to the African lion.
The belly fold, and the mane is much shorter, isn't it?
-And it doesn't surround the face in the same way?
'The belly fold is one of the best ways to identify Asiatic lions.
'It serves no purpose, but is a trait that was retained
'in those lions that travelled here from Africa.
'At three to four years old, these males are not quite adult yet.
'They've only recently left their mother.
'And they must now display their own strength and independence.'
What are they doing?
Basically, they are telling how,
"If there is anybody want to challenge me, please come."
Yeah. They are beginning to assert themselves.
GENTLE ROAR GRUNT
Basically, they will not compete with each other.
Both of them will try to fight with the other lion.
'African lions can form coalitions like this, too.
'Working together to protect their territory
'and the prides they can associate with for several years.
'But these two will never live with a pride.
'For Asiatic males, it's all about protecting territory.
'But what about the females?
'If we can find them, we might even see cubs.
'In Africa, they would be in prides up to 30 strong.
'They have to be to take down large prey, like wildebeest.
'But here, we're looking for a smaller group,
'since their prey is usually smaller.'
-Now, you can see there are cubs and lioness.
Just in front of this tree here.
Oh, wow! How old are the cubs?
They are just four months old.
'This is typical of lions in India.
'A couple of females with a few cubs.'
The cub in the middle is passed out. He is not budging.
-These two are the males.
-OK. The two awake ones.
And the sleeping one is a female.
-Basically, male cubs will keep on behaving like a smart guy.
-Moving head and...
-They're more active, curious.
They're more foolish, probably.
I now understand what you mean about Asiatic females.
'These lionesses are incredibly muscular and powerful.'
And so, it's all about how they have to hunt their prey.
'In this dense-forested habitat,
'the females don't need to chase their prey any great distance.
'They're built to take them down quickly.
'Not that these lions show any interest in anything more
'than keeping out of the sun.
'But in an instant, everything changes.
'And these remarkable hunters become opportunist ambush predators.
'A large Indian antelope called a nilgai has unwittingly
'strayed a little too close.
'The females are on the alert.
'The lions are using the terrain to their advantage.
'Creeping into a dry riverbed, hoping to ambush the nilgai.
'This time, the nilgai escapes.
'This has been a fascinating trip.
'I wasn't sure I'd even see Asiatic lions,
'let alone get close to them, or witness them in action.'
They are absolutely perfect.
Such a privilege to get so close to these extremely-rare animals.
'With Sandeep and his team dedicated to helping them, these lions,
'once the symbol of India, will continue to have a home here.
'Freida Pinto is almost 2,000 miles away, heading to meet another
'animal you wouldn't necessarily expect to find in India.
'And the people dedicated to protecting it.'
In the far-east of India, the state of Assam holds another surprise.
'I'm not here to see India's cheeky monkeys,
'but another member of the primate family.
'One of our closer relatives and India's only ape,
'the hoolock gibbon.'
I did not know apes actually existed in India.
'But more people need to hear about these endangered animals
'because they have an enchanting skill.
'Every morning, they sing.
'Their sanctuary is only eight square miles.
'For just over 100 gibbons, it's a tiny semi-evergreen forest island
'surrounded by the modern world - tea plantations and towns.
'I've come to meet Deben Borah, a warden here.
'He has dedicated his life
'to protecting this one small gibbon population.'
THEY SPEAK IN NATIVE TONGUE
Deben has been here since 1985.
And he's been working in the forest right since that time.
So no wonder he's our man, he's our expert.
'I'm travelling with wildlife cameraman, Sandesh Kadur.
'He and Deben have collaborated to film these gibbons for years.
'Sandesh's camera is the best way for me to get a close look
'at these gibbons, as they live high in the canopy.'
You're going to see a great view right here.
'Gibbons are the only apes that sing.
'this forest comes alive with a complex range of calls.
'Deben knows every one.'
'Hoolock gibbons are monogamous.
'This is a family with a three-year-old.
'The babies are born pure white.
'They turn brown and darken to black if they are males, like this one.
'Females stay golden brown, like his mother.'
And the gibbons also recognise him.
He's part of the family!
'Before the gibbons sing, they have breakfast.
'Feeding off the fruits at the top of the trees.
'When this family notice us, they swing over.
'They may regard Deben as one of the family...
'..but they'd still like us to give them space.'
Oh, it did poop on you!
DEBEN SPEAKS IN NATIVE TONGUE
Don't be grossed out, this is gibbon poo. And guess what?
It's all vegetarian. It's only fruit.
'Hoolocks spent their lives up to 100-feet high in the canopy.
'They have specially-adapted joints for gripping and swinging.
'They are the fastest non-flying animals in the forest.
'They can move through the trees at 35mph.
'So when they set off to find other fruit trees,
'it's a struggle just to keep up.'
We're following the gibbons now.
They're taking us for a little bit of a walk.
They're really making us work very hard for their singing.
'Across the northeast, forests have made way for homes,
'industry and roads.
'The number of gibbons has fallen to 2,600.
'But Deben's forest has been protected for over 100 years.
'In 1997, it became the only sanctuary named after gibbons.
'It's the mother who's easiest to spot.'
There she is.
'It just needs one family to start singing
'and the others will all join in.
'Deben and I decide to try and get them going.'
'Our gibbons choose to ignore us.
'Just a few minutes later, something quite extraordinary happens.'
CACOPHONY OF SOUND
'The forest starts to fill
'with the sound of other gibbon families singing.'
(It's a crescendo.)
'Locals call this the Singing Forest.
'It's thanks to Deben and his colleagues
'that India continues to hear the songs of her only ape.'
A thousand miles to the northwest, it's like being in another world.
I'm in the middle of a collision of continents.
This is where the Indian subcontinent crashed into Asia
40 million years ago, pushing the seabed up.
It's the world's biggest crumple zone.
'I'm 4,000 metres up in the air, and these are just the foothills.
'When I climbed Everest, I was almost 9,000 metres above the sea.'
This range is the roof of the world
and its winds and waters touch every part of the Indian subcontinent.
It is the youngest and the highest mountain range in the entire world.
'I've climbed the Himalayas many times in Nepal.
'But I've never visited the Indian side.
'There's a reason I needed to come here.'
My grandfather was born in Shimla, a town further along the Himalayas.
For me to finally be here, seeing what he would've seen
growing up as a child, is really special to me.
'So for my first visit to India, I want to see how these mountains
'have a dramatic effect on its natural wonders
'and shape life across the whole subcontinent.
'The word Himalaya means, "the abode of snow".
'It's a good name.
'These mountains bestow a precious gift upon India.
'This is the source of fresh water
'for a fifth of the entire population of the world.
'15,000 glaciers feed five of the largest rivers in Asia.
'For millions of Indians, one stands above all others.'
Over there is Chakumba, which means, "Four Pillars".
It lies at the head of the Gangotri Glacier,
which feeds the River Ganges.
'If the mountains are the driving force of India,
'the Ganges is its engine.
'The River Ganges originates in the highest mountain range on Earth
'and ends in the world's largest river delta, at the Bay of Bengal.
'Almost half-a-billion people depend on its life-giving waters
'and countless species of animals would perish without it.
'No wonder Hindus worship the river.
'Millions flock to holy places all along her banks.
'Varanasi is considered the most sacred.
'This holy river has its humble origins in the countless tiny streams
'formed by the melting snow and ice of the Himalayas.
'But as the streams grow, the power of the water begins to exert itself.
'This is truly a force of nature.'
I'm just sat here and I'm getting buffeted by the wind
and absolutely drenched.
'The waters cut paths through the Himalayan rock,
'shaping this landscape.
'But these waters do not yet carry the name Ganges.
'Each time one river joins another, it's marked as a holy place.
'These sacred confluences are called Prayags.
'The most important of all is here.'
This place is called Devprayag, and it means, "God's confluence".
These two rivers either side of me
come together just here to start the beginning of the River Ganges.
'It is a lifelong ambition of every Hindu to bathe in the Ganges.'
The water here is holy.
People come from all around the country to swim here,
to purify their soul and get rid of their sins.
'So I think I should give it a go, too.'
Whoo! It's pretty chilly, but it's actually incredibly refreshing.
And it feels wonderful.
'This is how Indians prepare for a journey - by washing.
'For Hindus, the Ganges connects India's past and present.
'It's a place where they can pay homage to their ancestors.
'Many people scatter the ashes of relatives in the river.
'Others make offerings of petals as a mark of gratitude.'
But the Himalayas aren't India's only mountains.
I'm travelling far to the south to India's other great range.
The Western Ghats.
These lower, forested hills stretch from Mumbai, all the way south.
They peak at just under 2,700 metres above sea level,
but they're one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth.
India is well-known for its tea.
Assam and Darjeeling are household names.
It produces over a million tonnes of it a year.
A quarter of all Indian tea grows here.
Thousands work in the plantations that carpet these slopes.
But this part of the Western Ghats is called the Anaimalai.
It means, "Elephant Hills".
For centuries, the forests here
have provided a safe home to India's largest land animal.
'I've come to discover what happens when one of India's iconic animals
'has to share this land with the demands of the tea industry.'
There's elephant droppings all over this road.
'Asian elephants are easily distinguished by their smaller ears,
'dented foreheads and the fact that only the males have tusks.
'The Western Ghats are home to
'the largest population of elephants in India. Around 10,000.
'But as trees have made way for tea, so the forest has become fragmented.
'The elephants still need to get from one patch of forest
'to the next to find food.
'Which gives rise to one of India's unique sites.
'Something I've wanted to see from the moment I first heard about it.
'Elephants in the tea.'
-I think I see one.
-Look there, to the left. The swap is here.
You see that there?
No. Yes! Elephant! Ha-ha-ha-ha!
There she is.
'My guide is Ganesh Raghunathan.
'He's been working with the elephants here for three years.
'We need to approach this elephant carefully.
'She seems calm, but if we startle her, it could be very dangerous.'
(We've been upwind of her,
(but the wind is just changing direction,
(so we've got to be really careful that once
(she figures out we're here, that she doesn't get stressed.)
-(Ah, she's a beauty!)
So, the elephants don't destroy the tea plantations, do they?
-They don't feed on the tea?
-No, they don't feed on the tea.
They walk along these paths.
In fact, you look at these paths that are here,
it's something the elephants have walked on for a long time.
Elephants have fixed travel routes to source food and water,
using tracks established long before the tea plantations appeared.
This is a landscape that these elephants have been moving
through for hundreds of years and they haven't changed their
habits, they've, sort of, adapted to how the landscape has changed?
The elephants do this every day and wherever they appear,
people keep a watchful eye.
Their migration routes are so firmly established in a herd,
passed on from the elder individuals to the youngest.
It's not something that's going to change.
Ganesh is part of a team tracking the movement of the elephants
that live in several herds around the tea.
The more they understand their behaviour,
the more they can keep elephants and people apart.
Is she the matriarch?
-Yes, she's the matriarch.
-How hold is she?
Definitely over 40 years of age.
How old is he, then?
He's about seven to ten years of age.
So, where are the rest of the herd, right now?
They're about a kilometre and a half in this direction.
Do they often separate?
-They do that very often.
-Why is that?
It's because...see, again, these are all fragments of forest, right?
So this herd is about 23 in number - the place wouldn't be able to
-provide for all of them to forage in one place.
So, they break up, they go in different directions
but they regroup very soon, as well.
-Look, she's nudging him, she's nudging him.
-"Get into that forest!"
But I want to know what happens when elephants and people do meet.
Thousands work here.
If they know where the elephants are, they can stay out of their way.
The problems are caused by unexpected encounters.
A startled elephant can charge and attack...they've even killed people.
This happened mostly after sundown,
so people would walk back home from the bus stop, like a bus stop that
we have here and they didn't have any clue where the elephants were.
It was mostly a surprise encounter.
Since 1994, we've had about 41 people who've lost their lives here.
But there's a determination to make co-habitation work.
So, Ganesh and organisation called The Nature Conservation Foundation
have devised an elephant warning system.
It uses the mobile phone network to send group texts instantly to
everyone that's signed up to the service.
So, that's a facility where you can send out one single text
message to a large number of people.
So, right now, I can send out about 1,500 messages
to about 1,500 people in a span of one second or so.
And just as vital is the up to the minute information on elephant
sightings they can send him every day.
So, how long has this system been up and running
and have you noticed a difference in the fatalities?
There used to be an average of about three people who used to
lose their lives to elephants every year.
Now, I think that's dropped to about 1.5,
which is half of it.
-When you started, did you anticipate it would be such a success?
-No, we didn't anticipate anything since we started.
Ganesh and the project he's working on are proof of how modern
India is learning to live in harmony with its natural world.
Elephants are complex and intelligent animals.
Despite their size, they can be incredibly delicate and gentle.
This is their home and thanks to the passion of the people here,
these hills can continue to carry the name of Elephant Hills.
Not all elephant stories involve conflict.
I've come to Kaziranga, 160 square miles of protected wilderness.
The largest national park in Assam,
for a once in a lifetime opportunity.
One of the most wonderful things about Indian wildlife is that
you never know when you're going to be surprised with something new.
I just found out that a baby was born, just a month ago,
and I am going to see it right now.
Elephants have been working animals in India for 4,000 years,
hauling lumber and carrying heavy goods.
In Kaziranga, they're used to help people to see the park.
They're almost part of the family.
One of Kaziranga's working mothers is willing to share her
family with me.
I'm accompanied once more by wildlife cameraman Sandesh Kadur.
His knowledge will help me
understand how best to approach the mother and her infant.
Just let her come to you, let her come to you.
Baby's name is Rapogi...beautiful one.
She's coming, the mother's coming.
She knows you have bananas, so now you can probably feed her.
-Just give her one?
-Yeah, give her one at a time, go ahead.
OK. There you go, Mummy.
Just keep giving her one.
Look, look...and she lifts her legs, so she doesn't trample the baby.
Let's see if we can get the baby close to you.
Come around me, on my right.
-On your right?
The gestation period for a baby elephant is 18 to 22 months.
The calf will actually be fully developed by the 19th month but it
needs to stay in the womb,
so it can grow tall enough to reach its mother to feed.
They are dependent on their mother's milk for three to four years.
-Oh, they're walking.
-They're ready to go to the water now.
Elephants are not just part of work...
..they're also part of worship.
All over India, you see evidence of how important they are.
For Hindus, the god Ganesha has the head of an elephant.
He's a symbol of strength and the remover of obstacles.
You see his likeness everywhere.
There is even one in my Jeep.
It's a constant reminder of just how important animals
and the natural world are to the culture of India.
To me, elephants are the best example of the ancient
relationship with animals.
This is why getting to meet this mother's precious newborn is
I know you want to come!
Oh, that's what you want to do?
Break time. Time out.
-Is the baby peeing?
Time out, she needs a little pee.
A little pee!
I can only get this close because the mother has decided to
trust me and Rapogi is so young her trunk can't hurt me.
If only she'd take my hand.
This is clearly one of the most beautiful mother, baby experiences
I've ever had, this up close.
To have the baby just trust you
and to come and wrap its little trunk around you, you know
that it's going to accept you as its play mate for a little while.
In Kaziranga, the working elephants live almost like wild elephants.
When they're not working they're free to roam.
It provides a wonderful example of the quality that bonds
people to the wildlife here...
Respect is something you have to show when entering India's mountains too.
Many of the wonders that India offers vary with the seasons.
Spring, in the Himalayas,
is a time when shepherds bring their flocks to high altitude pastures.
As the sun warms the hillsides and temperatures rise to 30 degrees,
a unique valley bursts into life.
It lies hidden amongst India's tallest peaks.
Over there is India's second highest mountain, Nanda Devi, it is
believed to be the home to Shiva's wife, Parvati.
The name Nanda Devi means Goddess of Bliss.
The peaks that surround the mountain are said to protect her.
They also conceal a hidden wonder, few have been able to witness.
Roads towards it can be washed away
and it takes days of trekking to reach it.
In winter, it's snowbound...
..but in spring, when the snows retreat,
this valley is unique.
Rolling meadows of alpine blooms.
This is the Valley of Flowers.
From June to September, around 500 species of wild flower bloom here,
33 square miles of them.
Orchids, poppies, primulas, marigold, daisies and anemones.
A cacophony of colour carpeting slopes
that are 3,600 metres above sea level.
Many of the plants are endemic to these mountains.
As with so much of India's natural world,
there's a Hindu legend associated with the creation of this valley.
Herbs, found here, saved the life of the god Rama's brother.
To celebrate, the gods showered flowers from heaven...
..giving the valley its unique appearance.
This place of Hindu legend is now a World Heritage Site.
But this hidden treasure was not easily
revealed to the world outside India.
Expeditions tried to reach it but the valley remained hidden
until 1931, when three British mountaineers stumbled across it,
returning from an expedition.
They wrote, "Others will visit it, analyse it and probe it...
"But whatever their opinions, to me, it will remain a valley of flowers."
"A valley of peace and perfect beauty, where the
"human spirit may find repose."
From unexpected Alpine blooms to the animal everyone associates
One that has always carried with it a deep cultural significance.
The tiger is the guardian of the forest.
He created the rains, regenerates life, brings fertility.
No other animal has quite so much attributed to it.
And perhaps that's because, unlike much of her wildlife,
tigers can be found across almost the whole of India.
India has 48 tiger reserves but the
tiger is an endangered animal.
There are just over 2,000 Bengal Tigers left in the wild.
There is no greater sight than seeing one hunt.
It's no secret that I'm somewhat obsessed with tigers
and there is nothing like seeing one in the wild but when it comes to
emulating the spirit of the tiger, South India is the place to be.
Southern India is home to a spectacular celebration,
the Puli Kali, the Tiger Dance.
As someone who is so passionate about tigers,
I simple have to see it!
No-one's quite sure how this local tradition started but some say
it began over 200 years ago,
when a maharaja wanted a dance to celebrate the spirit of the wild.
And there's no animal that embodies that better for Indians than
So, how many painters in total get the honour of making these
wonderful works of art.
-25, 30 people.
A-ha, and how long have you been doing it, how many years?
-I have ten years.
-Ten years...and is it difficult?
When you started, was it like, oooh!
-I was shaking, body shaking.
-The wobbly belly!
And do you develop your own style to be distinct from the other artists?
So, this is different to the other mouth because the belly's bigger?
So you make the mouth bigger. I see.
I knew the belly was important!
The bigger the belly, the better the tiger.
I even get the chance to have a go myself.
So beautifully done.
I don't want to let the side down.
I get to paint a tiger on someone's belly!
We're performing in the ground of a temple, so it's
important that we receive a blessing before going ahead with the dance.
Limbered up, painted up, looking the part.
I think we're ready for the dance.
I've seen tigers hunt, I've seen them prowl
but I've never seen them quite like this.
The dance is a seasonal event, performed once a year
at the harvest festival of Onam, around the beginning of September.
The biggest can have up to 900 dancers
and they can dance for hours on end.
I fell under the spell of a tiger on my first visit to India.
The female I set eyes on then had such an impact on me that
when I returned home I took up my studies in wild animal biology.
Tigers have been part of my life ever since.
They're clearly a part of the lives of these dancers too.
That was incredible!
It's just so lovely to see so much dedication, so much passion,
so much energy in a dance like this.
And when you think the tiger is on the brink of extinction, it's so
heart-warming to see people who are so dedicated to revering,
celebrating and protecting the tiger here.
This is a celebration with animals at its heart
and finally there may be real cause for celebration,
some studies are reporting that tiger numbers seem to be recovering.
Back in the northeast of the country,
I've come to a land that's famous for its climate throughout India.
A place I've known about since I was a seven-year-old schoolgirl,
When I was in school,
in India, I learnt about this little town in the northeast of India,
in the state of Meghalaya, called Cherrapunji and the interesting fact
of this place was that it rained almost every day of the year.
My geography textbook would proudly tell me that Cherrapunji
holds the world record for most rain in a calendar month...
..over 30 feet.
Cherrapunji can get more rain in a month than Britain gets in a year.
Of course, it doesn't rain every day
but this a land carved out by water, full of chasms and raging torrents.
You'd think that no-one could live here but Indians have always
worked with nature, using what is available to overcome obstacles.
So, this is home to a wonder that dates back hundreds of years,
yet is still in daily use...
..living bridges made from the roots of trees.
By the way, this is one single tree.
Not just this, this and this, one single tree.
It's hard to believe, right?
The trees are fig trees, chosen because of the way
they produce a series of secondary roots from higher up the trunk.
These act as added supports for the trunk.
The roots grow quickly, taking hold in thin soil and around rocks.
They are ideal trees for these bridges.
There are quite simply more roots to use.
I don't think I've seen anything like this before.
This is probably one of the most spectacular things nature has
ever shown to me.
I don't think I have stood on a bridge that is made
out of the roots of a tree that is 400 years old.
In Meghalaya, you have these root bridges almost everywhere
and it was actually grown by man in order to overcome
the challenge of crossing the raging rivers, the raging torrents,
to get from one place to the other, for trade, for example.
Unlike the bridges I know of, it is a very, very strong bridge
and it's only going to get stronger in time.
As the tree grows, the roots that form the bridge get thicker
New roots are used to maintain the bridge.
This skill may be ancient but the local villagers still use it
to maintain old bridges and even grow new ones.
It's a skill they proudly pass on to the younger generation,
like Vaskam Walang who grew up in the local village
and was taught by the elders.
Vaskam, my friend, I hear you're an expert
at training the roots of these living bridges. How long have
you been doing this for?
I've been doing it no less than five, six years.
I learnt from the villagers and first of all,
the villagers have to plant the tree first and when the roots come
out they train the roots to come outside of the river.
-You say, they plant the tree first?
They don't just pick a tree that already would already have the
-roots that they could train?
That's a lot of dedication.
OK, so they plant the tree, the roots start growing,
then what's the next phase?
What do they do next?
They direct it by putting this beetle nut trunk...
-This is a beetle nut trunk?
-Yes, this is a beetle nut trunk.
And because it's hollow, it's useful to pass the roots...Wow,
-So, these are beetle nut trees right here, right?
By using beetle nut trunks to train the roots in the right direction,
the structure of the bridge is brought to life.
It takes skill but most of all it takes patience.
And how long does it take to become this.
Maybe around ten, 15 years to become.
-Wow, maybe then I should try one, right?
-Yeah, you can do it.
So, let's take the thin one, like this one's good? OK.
-Keep it inside.
-Keep it inside. All the way through, right?
Yeah, all the way through.
-That's safe and secure now?
OK, ten years, I'll be back in ten years.
These bridges have been a vital part of what's known
locally as the beetle nut trade.
It's ground into a powder called paan and chewed.
A delicacy of the Northeast that reached the rest of India,
thanks to these bridges.
But there is something puzzling me about this particular bridge.
I wondered why they needed two bridges.
It took 400 years to train and grow the first one, so why spend another
200, 300 years to build the second one or simply because in the
monsoon season, which is June to October,
the lower part of the bridge is
actually fully submerged, it's under water.
And if you think about the force of the water during the monsoons, the
bridge still survives, the bridge still stands strong and just gets
stronger in time.
But of course, the people of these villages needed the second
bridge to continue their day today activities.
Another important fact to know is that none of this has been
written down, it's just been passed on by word of mouth,
through family traditions.
For all that you know, this could possibly be even 1,000 years old.
You don't know, you just know that it's very old.
This has been extraordinary, to see how inventive people are...
..how they work with nature to create solutions
has been incredible.
From the far reaches of the north to the very south of India...
..for the last of our natural wonders.
An iconic bird of the rainforest with an extraordinary
The best time to see it is in the spring.
The crack of dawn and we've come to a coffee plantation to try
and spot one of the most iconic, bizarre
and spectacular birds of the rainforest
and just as we were walking up this track we spotted the male,
that's now in that tree just ahead of me.
The bird I'm here to see is the Great Pied Hornbill.
Hornbills make a special nest.
To protect their eggs, they choose a hollow inner tree.
The female is sealed up, using dung.
She'll stay there for four months.
Twice a day, the male will bring food for her and their young.
Hornbills mate for life.
Their nests can be hard to find,
unless you've been studying them for 15 years, like Divya Mudappa.
They're such big birds!
I knew they were big but when you see them with your own eyes.
Look at that!
Their colourings are impossibly perfect
for something natural.
The shadings of yellow and then the black and white feathers
are just so beautiful.
He's on the move, he's going to go across to the nest.
Does he have food in his bill?
-In his gullet.
-In his gullet.
-So, he regurgitates it for the female?
-That's right, yeah.
I don't even need the binoculars, he's so big!
Once he flies over, there he is, there he is!
SHE GASPS AND EXHALES
So, how can you tell what he's regurgitating?
Just by watching it and looking at the shape of the fruit.
These are magnificent creatures.
Their wingspan can fully extend to five feet.
Each nest will normally contain one or two young.
They're not born with the distinctive
casques on their bills, theses take about five years to fully develop.
The bright yellow colour looks artificial
but it comes from a preen gland secretion, which the male spreads
onto his primary feathers, giving them their distinctive colour.
The male brings all sorts of fruits to the nest
but he'll also seek out small insects and other flying creatures.
This one even has a bat in its beak.
I can see the bill of the female.
-They close up the entrance...
..to protect from predators, that's something else, isn't it?
She doesn't get to stretch her wings for, like, months.
In fact, she might moult when she's sitting in there
and get a new set of feathers.
That's dedication for you!
This really unusual growth on top of the bill, it's hollow and it's very
lightweight, it's made of hollow cells, supported by two walls.
And it acts as an amplification chamber, so that
when they call, in the forest, the sound travels even further.
And just before mating season, sometimes you'll see males
butting or clashing their casques together in mid-air, so that they
can win the female.
It makes, for their name, the hornbill
and there's no question, it's quite a bizarre structure.
These magnificent birds are often called
"the gardeners of the rainforest",
because they play such a vital role in the eco-system
as seed dispersers.
They feed on so many of the fruit trees around the forest
and as they fly, they drop all of the seeds,
all across the landscape.
Oh, I can't get enough of his head!
The unusual casque, the shape of the beak, the shadings,
they're such stunning creatures!
Ah, he's off.
The sound of the wings through the forest at dawn, I mean,
there's nothing more glorious, is there?
No, my hair stands on end every time I hear it.
I got complete shivers as he soared across the sky!
This is a land that seems to have it all.
From the unexpected lions of the Gir Forest
and the people's intimate connection with the animals that live here...
..to the magnificent Himalayas that shape both the landscape
and its life.
These are the natural wonders of India...
..and we've only just scratched the surface.
It makes you emotional, right?
It's just, literally, popped out of a hole and it's just lovely to watch.
Beautiful female behind me.
This is unbelievable!
See you later!
THEY SPEAK IN NATIVE LANGUAGE
The Wonders of India.
OK, one, two, three...
-The wonders of India!
Wildlife expert Liz Bonnin, actor Freida Pinto and mountaineer Jon Gupta reveal the hidden wonders of India's surprising natural world. This is a land where the tea comes with added elephants, gibbons sing to greet the morning, tigers dance and lions roam.