Heading North VII – Amritsar and Wagah Border

At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair should be messy and your eyes sparkling. – Shanti

My last stop was Amritsar, where I reached after another exhausting 17 hours journey, including two different sleeper trains, until I finally arrived at my hostel around 6 or 7 pm. Amritsar itself is famous for the so called Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), considered as the holiest religious complex of the Sikh religion that is surrounded by the sacred Amrit Sarovar lake, in which pilgrims take a bath. Continue reading

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Heading North V – Jaisalmer, the Golden City

This creed of the desert seemed inexpressible in words, and indeed in thought. – T. E. Lawrence

Sunrise in the desert
Sunrise in the desert

I arrived in Jaisalmer around 11.30 pm, waved goodbye to my dearest French train companions that I would meet two days later in Jaisalmer itself as well as on the platform again and got picked up by a local guy who I found on Couchsurfing and who organised a nice place for me to stay, namely the hotel The Golden House (best place to sleep I had during the whole trip). Apparently, Couchsurfing in India is often not about staying at someone’s home, but at the hotel or guesthouse that a friend or relative owns. Looking back this is an awesome system, but I have to admit that before coming there, I was a bit worried that they would charge me loads of money afterwards, which was not the case. Thumbs up for Indian hospitality! 🙂 Continue reading

Heading North IV – Jodphur, the Blue City

If you’re not lost, you haven’t traveled far enough away from home. – Frank Lenz

I arrived in Jodhpur after a six hours ride in a sleeper bus, which is always exciting in the sense that usually neither the driver nor the conductor will speak English, combined with the fact that you never know the point where they’ll drop you off in advance – and even the announcements of the next stop are Continue reading

Heading North III – Udaipur, City of Azure Water Lakes

Water is the softest thing yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness. – Lao Tzu

Once I arrived in Udaipur I had to say goodbye to my unexpected train companions and found myself lost at the train station. I was supposed to meet a friend of a friend, Yogesh, who would help me to get around in the city, but somehow he overslept a little so I started walking towards… the city palace? At least towards the point google maps was indicating me as such. 😀 However, this adventure lasted about 10 minutes until I received a phone call from Yogesh who came to pick me up a few minutes later – and as it turned out he was a super funny, nice guy and the best company I could have wished for during my short stay in Udaipur, a city famous for its history, culture, scenic locations – and voted as the best city in the World in 2009 by the Travel + Leisure magazine. 1 Continue reading

Heading North II – Agra, City of Taj Mahal

So this is love. So this is what makes life divine. – Cinderella

Love is powerful, no doubt about that. One proof for it can be found in Agra – meaning the Taj Mahal, an amazingly beautiful building that was only built due to the tremendous power of this feeling. Standing in front of it made me feel small and happy at the same time. Because I saw it, I stood in front of it, one of the new seven wonders of the earth… Continue reading

Heading North I – Megacity Delhi

Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience. – Paulo Coelho

Sooo… finally it was time for me to leave for my first solo-travel through India, counting in total twelve days, six trains (five of them Sleeper class), three flights and one bus. Only five nights I would spend in hostels/hotels, one under the Milky Way in the desert and all the remaining ones at least partially in public transport. I chose to explore seven different destinations, whose choice was the most difficult task during the whole planning process, which in turn involved an extensive amount of research. One person – Dustin – would support me during the preparation stage, while the majority chose to point out dangers and risks involved, trying to convince me not to go. Continue reading

Satara – Survival Training

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. – Seneca

As we have been early birds during the past whole week already, starting work between 6 to 7 am every day, the decision to book a train at 4.50 am on a Saturday morning didn’t appear very tempting anymore when we were sitting together with friends Friday night, enjoying some drinks and talks. However, we managed to get up at 3 am, knowing that we could continue sleeping in the sleeper train we booked – the train supposed to bring us to Satara, a city in Maharashtra 22km away from the so called Kaas Plateau. Also known as the “Kaas Pathar”, the plateau is situated in the western Ghat Sahyadri range and is known for the various types of wild flowers which bloom during August to beginning of October every year. Continue reading

Pune & Ganpati – Out of Control

Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated. – Osho

Apart from the fact that Osho lived in Pune, where you can still visit his meditation resort in exchange for a certain amount of money, I chose this quote as during the past two weeks whole Pune was celebrating as if the world would come to an end tomorrow. The reason was a Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the elephant-headed god Ganesha – so called Ganesha Chaturthi or Ganpati. It is celebrated for ten days, publicly as well as privately at home, and one will find plenty of Ganesh-idols all over the place, in varying sizes and shades. Continue reading