How far would you go to reunite with the person you love most? Pradyumna Kumar “PK” Mahanandia would travel any distance and by any means. This is the story of the man who biked from India to Sweden, all in the name of love. (1)
This Man Biked From India to Sweden To Be With His One True Love
PK Mahanandia was born in a remote village in Eastern Indian. Due to the country’s harsh caste system, society considered Mahanandia an “untouchable”. Though he had a loving family and a happy life, going to school made him realize that because of his caste, he was not like the other kids. (3)
“Every time I touched someone, they ran away to the river to wash themselves. I was considered impure by the society. I was labeled untouchable, a Dalit.” he recalled. (2)
He was forced to sit outside of the classroom at school, and if he came too close to the temple, people threw rocks at him. (3)
His caste meant that escaping poverty in India was nearly impossible. (1)
The Visit That Changed Everything
One day, a British school inspector and his wife were coming to visit Mahanandia’s school. For this day, the teacher allowed him to sit in the back of the classroom, as long as he did not touch anyone. (3)
The inspector and his wife both had a garland of flowers to give out to a student of their choice. The man gave his to a girl at the front, but his wife strode confidently to the back of the room and gave hers to Mhanandia. (3)
“She could see I was an outcast,” he remembers. “She touched my head and said: ‘Your lovely curly hair!'” (3)
Overjoyed, he went home and told his mom about the encounter, proclaiming that he was in love with the inspector’s wife. It was then that his mother informed him of a prophecy made about him when he was a baby. (3)
The prophecy stated that he would marry a white woman from a faraway land. (3)
“My parents were also told that my wife would be from a faraway land and born under the zodiac sign of Taurus, that she would be the owner of a jungle or forest, and that she would be a musician, playing the flute,” he told The National Geographic. “I believed strongly in the prophecy and now know that everything is planned on this planet.” (1)
For this reason, his parents were choosing not to arrange a marriage for him. (3)
His Love Of Art Allowed The Prophecy To Come True
In 1975, Mahanandia was a broke art student in Delhi. Though he was often homeless, his love and passion for art allowed him to truly hone his craft. He had begun to make quite the name for himself by painting portraits of politicians and celebrities. However, one day, he painted someone far more important than any politician or celebrity would ever be for his life. (3)
A young, blue-eyed, blond-haired Swedish girl approached him, asking if he could paint her portrait. She had driven with friends from Sweden to India on what was then called “the hippie trail.” This path followed much of what used to be the silk road but no longer exists due to conflicts in certain countries. (1)
This woman was Charlotte Von Schedvin, his future wife. He remembers the day he met her as if it were yesterday:
“ It was December 17, 1975. A woman with long beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes approached me. It was evening. When she appeared before my easel, I felt as though I didn’t have any weight. Words are not accurate enough to express such a feeling.” (1)
As he painted he began asking her questions about herself. Very quickly, he realized that she had all the qualities that the prophecy said she would (1):
- A white lady from a faraway land
- Her star sign is Taurus
- She plays the flute
- Her family owns a portion of forest in Sweden
He couldn’t believe it. He was shaking so badly from nerves he had to paint her three times before he got it right. From there, the couple spent more time together and quickly fell in love. A month later, however, she had to go back to Sweden. (1)
A Love Of India
Charlotte, for her part, had a desire to travel to India since she was a young girl.
“I had a longing since I was a child to go to India. When I was about 11, I had a teacher who showed us black and white films about India, like Elephant Boy,” she recalled. “Later, I went to work in London, where I got in touch with many Indian people and with Indian culture.” (1)
She says when she saw PK sitting there doing portraits, she felt drawn to the spot. (1)
Biking from India to Sweden: Long Distance Love
The pair exchanged many letters back and forth. Finally, after a year and a half of writing to each other, Mahanandia decided that he couldn’t bear being apart from Charlotte any longer. He sold everything he owned, bought a bicycle, and set off on the hippie trail. (1)
Though he did do some hitch-hiking along the way, he primarily biked from India to Sweden. Charlotte sent him letters of encouragement along the way. When he finally arrived, he and Charlotte embraced one another and just cried. Now, they’ve been married for more than four decades and have two children together. (3)
The Secret To A Happy Marriage
Charlotte and PK are just as in love as they were when he biked all that way. The secret, they say, is that there is no secret at all.
“Marriage is a union not only physically but also spiritually. Recognizing that allows love to grow like ripples on water,” he says. “When I enter the house, I park my ego outside. Ego is connected to the mind. I call my human mind a mad monkey. But when you park your ego outside, on the inside of the house there is only openness.” (3)
Love has provided Mahanandia with many opportunities throughout his life. It has also allowed him to heal and forgive those who outcast him and threw rocks. To him, love is the most powerful thing in the universe and can change lives forever. (3)
- “This Man Rode a Bike From India to Sweden—for Love.” National Geographic. Simon Worall. April 2, 2017.
- “The Man Who Biked From India to Sweden for Love.” Tree Hugger. Michael d’Estries. May 17, 2019.
- “From India to Sweden by bike — an international love story.” CNN. Sophie Eastaugh. February 11, 2016.