the extraordinary story of a man who cycled almost 10,000 km for love

This is truly a modern fairy tale. Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia left his native India in 1977 and traveled the world by bicycle to join the love of his life, Charlotte von Schedvin, in Sweden. 40 years later, they have two beautiful children and still love each other.

Facebook Dr PK Mahanandia

Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia or PK for short was born in 1949 in a village in Angul, in eastern India. In the Indian caste system, he is an “untouchable”, meaning people outside his caste are considered impure. Charlotte von Schedvin came from a noble family in Sweden.

If everything seems to be going against these two creatures, it does so without relying on fate, which sometimes does its job very well. The two met in PK Mahanandia's hometown in December 1975. Charlotte, who was 19 years old at the time, had come straight from London for a trip. He then heard about a poor boy who studied at an art school and was known for drawing portraits in just 10 minutes. Therefore, the young woman went to meet the street artist so he could draw her portrait.

It was love at first sight between the two lovebirds. Their affair lasted for several weeks, enough for them to marry in a traditional ceremony in January 1976. The astrologer who saw PK's birthplace predicted: “You will marry a girl who is not from this tribe, or from this village, or from this province, or from this state, or even from our country”.

Then it was time to return to Sweden to meet the young woman. If a couple continues to communicate via love letters for more than a year, a sense of loss begins to set in. PK wants to go with his girlfriend but doesn't have enough money to buy a plane ticket.

That's when the idea of ​​the century came to his mind: going on a cycling trip. He sold everything he owned to buy a used bicycle and started this adventure on January 22, 1977, with 80 dollars in his pocket. Driving an average of 70 km per day, he finally reached Europe almost five months later, on 28 May.

More than 6,000 miles (approximately 9,650 km) journey for love. Between Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Yugoslavia and even Germany, this young Indian discovered many countries during his “hippie trail”, that is, the route taken by hippies in the 1960s and 1970s from Europe to Asia and vice versa.

He could easily cross the border: at that time, there were far fewer controls and very few countries required a visa upon entry.

Facebook Dr PK Mahanandia

That happened more than 40 years ago. The couple has remarried in Sweden and has two children together. Aged 69, PK is now a famous artist and Charlotte teaches music.

This beautiful story gave birth to a book, “The True Story of an Indian Who Cycled 7,000 Km for Love”, which was published in 2014. Indian director Sanjay Leela Bhansali also indicated that he wanted to adapt it into a film.

Serena Hoyles

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