Par Sasch
After the guided tour through Rajasthan I took my backpack and continued the journey to Varanasi, McLeod Ganj, Vadodara and Pondicherry. A mix of buzzing places and calm family life expected me.
Décembre 2017
2 semaines
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After two lovely weeks in Rajasthan with our international group it was time to continue the journey on my own. And after the vibrant Delhi experience I thought it couldn’t get more crazy, but it did. After the taxi driver picked me up at Varanasi airport, driving to the hotel was the wildest traffic experience I’ve ever had. He told me: “No rules in Varanasi”. Crisscross driving, pedestrians everywhere on the road, bikes, animals, wrong way drivers, honking, etc. Somehow we went with the traffic flow downtown. Even waking to the guest house after the ride was like finding your way in a narrow street labyrinth packed with people who constantly wanted to sell you things and kept talking to you. What an experience. What a craziness.

After checking in at a cozy guest house I went on the sacred Ganga river for a boat tour at night. First stop: The crematorium area. Bodies were burned in public and it is believed that when you’re cremated in Varanasi you go directly to heaven. So I saw people spreading ashes and even throwing two hands which didn’t burn properly in the river. Then our little boat headed to the Ganga Aarti, a traditional daily ceremony. It is a devotional ritual that uses fire as an offering. Candles and flowers float down the river. The offering is made to the Goddess Ganga. You can hear songs and prayers to praise “Mother Ganga”. Ganga Aarti is celebrated at Dashashwamedh Ghat. According to the legend, Lord Brahma created the ghat to welcome Lord Shiva. Lord Brahma is said to be the creator and Lord Shiva the destroyer. Varanasi is the city of Shiva, that’s why people come here to “end their lives on earth” and be cremated in this sacred city. In addition to Brahma and Shiva, Vishnu is the preserver of life between creation and destruction. Full of impressions and tired I went back to the guest house to enjoy some local food and get rest.

The next day was completely unplanned. I walked around in the narrow streets of downtown, watched people, saw temples and suddenly I found myself in the middle of the crematorium. Because I still couldn’t believe that a place like this exists I decided on observing it for a while. I don’t want to describe closer what I saw, but it was a very interesting morning. I decided on walking alongside the Ganga from ghat to ghat when an old, special looking man accompanied me. He tried to explain me the area in English, but it was quiet difficult to understand him. Later I figured out that the guy was a Sadhu, an ascetic holy person in Hinduism who renounces the worldly life and having no possessions at all. Sadhus are about to reach Moksa through their lifestyle and meditation which means they will leave the circle of rebirth soon.

Unplanned days have space for surprises and while talking to the Sadhu I ran into a lovely group of people from France, Colombia and Australia. We talked a lot about traveling and photography and spent a great afternoon together. After all the Varanasi impressions I felt very tired and decided to relax for the rest of the evening. I just went one more time to the Ganga where I met two young guys from Varanasi. We had an interesting discussion about their way of life and life in general. One wants to become a civil servant to have secure life, the other wants to become a holy person, a Sadhu. The next day I left Varanasi to head to the peaceful mountain region of Dharmsala.


Dec 20, 2017. After a two hour flight to Delhi, a one hour Uber ride in town and a eleven hour night bus ride I arrived in McLeod Ganj which is in the mountains in North India. It’s the place where the Tibetans among the Dalai Lama found exile. I was curious and asked my taxi driver if he's Buddhist because I wanted to learn more about Buddhism. He just replied: "I’m human. My religion is humanity." So we talked about human kindness instead about religions. After arriving at my hostel in a rural area at 7am I enjoyed the stunning sunrise in the mountains accompanied by the sound of wind chimes. It felt very peaceful, calm and I loved to breath the fresh air. I saw the village life awakening in the morning. Cows walked around, horse carts delivered goods and food and the little market in the neighborhood prepared fruits for the day. I met some people in the morning and felt that no one was judging, everyone was very kind. Life was slow and it felt balanced.

During the days in McLeod Ganj I met wonderful people from all over the world but mostly from India. We talked about life in India, the traditions here and how the young generation changes the country. One evening we weren’t provided with electricity in our hostel so we sat together and talked, laughed and listened to wonderful live guitar and trumpet sounds while candles where shining in the background. It was a simple, perfect evening with wonderful company.

McLeod Ganj will also stay in my memory as the place which gave refuge to so many Tibetans who were forced to flee from the Chinese occupation in the 1950s. We went to the monastery of the Dalai Lama and visited the Tibetan Museum to learn more about Tibet and its (also very tragic) history and Buddhism.


After my new friends from India drove me to the airport in Dharmsala I flew to Vadodara where I was invited by the Bhatt family for the Christmas days. They are friends from Canada who have their origins in India and visit their family in India annually. I was amazed by the very their very warm welcome. It was lovely how Malvika and Amit and his parents took care of me. On the first evening (22nd of December) I "moved in" at the grand parents house where we all lived. We had some drinks and good conversations together.

On the next day Amit showed me around in Vadodara and explained where he spent his youth and studied. We got to see the Laxmi Vilas Palace which is a former Maharaja Palace and which still is residence of the Royal Family. It has the size of the Buckingham Palace and is a symbiosis of Indian and European architectural style and art. It isn't allowed to take pictures in it so I can't show photos of the magnificent art shown. Walking through the hallways was like a travel back in Indian and European history. In the evening we were invited by family members to have dinner at their house and we spent a delightful evening together.

On the 24th we went on a day trip with other family members to UNESCO world heritage Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park. There are palaces, arches, mosques, tombs, temples and water installations like step-wells dating from the 8th to the 14th centuries.

On Christmas Day I went to a church in Vadodara but didn't understand a word during the service. Lucky I could imagine what they were talking about 😉 After church we visited Malvika’s family at home followed by a visit of Amit’s friends in their fancy apartment. I was amazed by the art peaces they collected from all over the world. The day was rounded up with a delicious Indian family dinner together with the grand parents and a cousin visiting from Orlando, Florida.

After wonderful days in Vadodara it was time to say good-bye on the 26th to fly down south to Chennai to participate in a wedding.


The 26th of December was the day when I headed from North-West to South India. Somehow the flights got delayed a couple of times and it felt like there was a lot confusion at Mumbai airport so I arrived with an seven hour delay in Chennai. Don't make too many plans in India and adopt 😉 So I enjoyed what the Mumbai airport had to offer.

In Chennai I met Raj (India), Miriam and Jan (Germany) and later on in Pondicherry the group met Ola (Poland) and Aiza (Philippines). We all where Invited to a friend's wedding. If you are interested how a Christian wedding in India looks like please send me a personal message.

After the wedding day on the 27th our little international group spent the evening in a beach resort with Ana and her brother Rich from India. We got to know them at the wedding. We jumped in the gulf of bengal for a swim, played snooker and enjoyed the evening program at the resort.

The 28th was our exploration day in Pondicherry so went to the old town district called Ville Blanche. Many of the buildings there are in French colonial style. We enjoyed the colorful architecture and went to one of the Hindu temples before spending the evening on the beach for a sunset walk.


After Pondicherry my time in India came to an end. I definitely want to come back one day. Especially to spend some time in an Ashram. I experienced India as a country full of life, colorful, inspirational, spiritual, but also loud, hectic and polluted. It is a very tolerant country when it comes to religious freedom. I will always remember Manu's sentence from Hinduism: "We all come from the same source and we will all return the this source. The journey in-between is up to us. Everyone of us has his own journey and we have to decide how we create it" We can walk on this journey as Hindus, Buddhists, non-religious people, Muslims, Christians, etc. What helps us most to become the "best" and most loving version of ourselves to be able to live in love towards us and others is what we should chose. Because everyone of us has to find and walk his own way on his life journey (sometimes alone, sometimes together with other people) we shouldn't blame or judge others. Or in the word's of my taxi driver in McLeod Ganj: "We should always remember our common humanity".

I want to close my blog posts about India with a quote about this topic: