The amazing love story of 24-year old P. K. Mahanandia became the subject of an international best-selling book by Swedish author Per J. Andersson.
Andersson’s book is based on the famous India-born Swedish painter Dr. P. K. Mahanandia’s real life story and his 4 months and 3 weeks journey by a second hand bicycle from New Delhi to Gothenburg in 1977 to meet his love Charlotte von Schedvin.
Charlotte von Schedvin (Lotta) from Sweden was visiting India as a tourist in 1975 when she completely by chance met Mahanandia, who was working as a sketch artist in a shopping and business hub in Delhi. His sign “a portrait in 10 minutes for 10 rupees” tempted her to test the claim. However, she was disappointed with the result but intrigued by the man.
Mahanandia shot into fame when studied fine arts at Delhi College of Art and drew a portrait of Indira Gandhi under the holy fountain at Connaught Place. When drawing Charlotte, Mahanandia was very nervous, since his mother had once said that his bride to be would “come from a far-away land, born in the Zyriah sign of Taurus, would be musical and own a jungle”. He immediately knew that Charlotte was the one.
She came back the next day to have another portrait made, but the result was no better. However, the making of these portraits changed the life of both as they fell in love with each other and married according to Odishian tribal tradition.
When Charlotte had to return to Sweden and asked Mahanandia to come with her, he decided to stay in India, even if she tried to leave him money for a plane ticket.
They kept in touch through letters while the proud young Mahanandia tried to get his financial status better so he could afford a plane ride to Sweden. He didn’t succeed, but in 1979 he refused to give up his love of his life, sold all his belongings and bought a bike for 60 rupees and cycled all the way on the popular “hippie trail” to Sweden (7,000 km).
They are now living in Charlotte’s home town Borås together with their son Siddharth (Karle) and their daughter Emelie. In honor of their love the Swedish Government has made films to document this immortal love of the century.
P. K. Mahanandia’s paintings have been exhibited in major cities of the world and have also been printed on prestigious UNICEF greeting cards. On 4 January 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree (Degree of Honoris Causa) from Utkal University of Culture (UUC) in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha state, India. He was also designated as the Oriya Cultural ambassador to Sweden by the Government of Odisha.
This fantastic love story has been published in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, French and German and last year in English by the British Oneworld Publications, distributed in India by PanMacmillian. So far, there are also publishing rights for Chinese/Mandarin, Korean, Icelandic and Polish.
The author is still waiting for a publisher keen to make a Hindi
version – or even a version in Oriyah.
“This story makes me believe in the goodness of humans and the power of love.”
“PK’s life story has what it takes to make a brilliant page turner.”
– Svenska Dagbladet
Indian Cycled to Sweden for Love, written by Tor Kjolberg
Daily Scandinavian thanks the author for giving us the right to use the photos in this article.