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The Man Who Bicycled 5,000 Miles From India to Sweden For His Love

by Kamna Kirti 15 days ago in love

With a handful of paintbrushes and a secondhand Raleigh bicycle

PK Mahanandia traveled across continents to be with his wife Charlotte Von Schedvin in Sweden. They have been married for more than 40 years. Source-Public Domain

This story might seem unbelievable but it is a true tale of a young Indian man who bicycled across Asia and Europe through the "Hippie trail" in the 1970s to meet the woman he loved.

Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia, known as PK, an Indian artist, met a young Swedish woman, Charlotte Von Schedvin, while drawing portraits in a park - and the brief meeting changed the courses of their lives forever.

The early life of PK Mahanadia and his journey as an artist

PK was born into a lower-caste poor family in a rural village in eastern India. From a tender age, he faced discrimination and realized no hope to escape the injustice towards his caste and family.

At home, as a child, I didn't feel it, but when I came to school I came into contact with Hindus. There I felt I'm not the same as them. It's like a skyscraper without a lift. You're born on one floor and you die on the same floor.

In his school days, he had a knack for colors and art. And eventually, he got a full scholarship at a prestigious art institute in Delhi, India.

During his initial years, he painted portraits on the street which was often not allowed by the police. With literally no earnings, he lived a vagabond life between hope and despair.

In 1975, Valentina Tereshkova, the first and youngest woman to have flown in space, was invited by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Somehow he managed to sneak through the crowd and came face to face with Valentina on the roads of Delhi. That same day, he was invited to the Parliamentary Club by the Indo-Soviet Society. He painted various portraits of Valentina and the Prime Minister of India, and voila, became famous overnight.

PK's meeting with Charlotte

The first photo of PK and Charlotte together

After PK became a famous artist and he made a handful of portraits of politicians; he was allowed by the authorities to paint near the famous streets of Delhi.

In December 1975, a young beautiful Swedish girl, Charlotte, came to visit India through the "hippie trail" in a van. The hippie trail is the name given to the overland journey taken by members of the hippie subculture and others from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s between Europe and South Asia, mainly India, Pakistan and Nepal.

During her trip, she encountered PK and asked him for a portrait. At first glance, PK was mesmerized by her beauty and Charlotte ended up having three portraits from him. They started meeting regularly and PK recollected a prophecy which he believed in all his life.

PK kept a palm leaf bearing an astrologer's prophecy: "You will marry a girl who is not from the village, not from the district, not even from our country; she will be musical, own a jungle, and be born under the sign of the ox."

The prophecy became a reality; Charlotte and PK got married in a close ceremony at his village. They were together for 2–3 weeks and soon Charlotte had to leave for Sweden alone.

PK's incredible bicycle journey to Europe

After Charlotte left, the newlyweds did not meet for one and a half years. They kept in touch through letters, but finally, PK dared to take the first step.

With $80 in his pocket, a second-hand Raleigh bicycle, and a handful of paintbrushes, he started his journey from India on 22 January 1977 through the hippie trail. During the 1970s, the world was quite different and he did not need a visa to enter most countries.

He didn't just travel by bicycle, got rides with trucks, and was invited by strangers for shelter in exchange for sketches. Along the way, he got letters from Charlotte. He made hippie friends, who fed him and guided him in the unending journey he chose.

His journey was accelerated when one of his friends, who he helped, sent him a train ticket to Vienna. After 4 months of a rigorous ride and traveling across 8 countries, PK and Charlotte met and that was a moment of intense emotion.

Last thoughts

PK and Charlotte are married for more than 40 years and lives in Borås, Sweden with their two children. PK works as an artist in Sweden and in January 2012, he was awarded a doctorate degree by an esteemed university in Odisha, India.

The book Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson was published in 2017 that narrates the remarkable story of PK and Charlotte.

When people think it was a huge deal to cycle to Europe, he says, "I did what I had to, I had no money but I had to meet her. I was cycling for love but never loved cycling. It's simple."


1. This Man Rode a Bike From India to Sweden-for Love

2. I cycled from India to Europe for love

3. The man who cycled from India to Europe for love


Kamna Kirti

Art enthusiast. I engage with art at a deep level. I also share insights about entrepreneurship, founders & nascent technologies.

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