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Bernie Schmieding - Home Travel Kitesurfing Gallery Personal



From June to July 2005 I traveled extensively in the Indian Himalaya. I arrived in Delhi and continued to Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj, Bhagsu & Triund. In Manali I caught a local bus to Leh in Ladakh. This journey took 3 days in high-altitude desert.

India, a place to expect the unexpected. With a population of more than one billion people it embraces diversity as passionately as few other countries of earth would be able to. Traveling India can be very frustrating and rewarding at the same time. Love it or leave it. The poverty is confronting and getting around is not as easy going as in other countries. Be prepared to wait hours in a queue to get a train ticket and expect bus journeys on pothole-riddled roads. A challenge for even the most experienced travelers amongst us. I am traveling for almost 20 years now and haven't seen anything like it, yet I fell instantly in love with the beauty of the Himalayas and the Indians friendliness.

Friendly Indians

When I write about India this time I refer mainly to the Northern part along the Himalayan mountain chain. Here you will find the Tibetan-influenced region of Ladakh, the area around McLeod Ganj, where the headquarter of the Tibetian Government in Exile and the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is. I am going to explore the stunning mountainous areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.

India's first major civilisation flourished around 2500 BC in the Indus-Valley. Most of the valley lies within today's Pakistan. India is the world's largest democracy but the Indians had to pay a high toll for the bloody partition in 1947. The country split along religious lines. The country faced a rapid industrialisation and a fast post-independece population-growth. Many people moved from rural to urban areas, forming some of the largest cities on earth.

India is so vast that it has three different climatic conditions. India has a three-season-year. The hot, the wet and the cool. In general the best time to visit the country is from November to February. The hot season (May to October) is the time to leave the plains and retreat to the Himalayan hill stations (this does not count for Darjeeling as the monsoon kicks in here during the hot season and it gets quite wet). The monsoon starts around 1 June in the south and has covered the north by mid July. It doesn't cool the temperatures down but humidity rises.

Jama Masjid

India - with its 330 million Hindu gods and goddesses - is a land of records. It has the world's biggest film industry (Bolliwood vs. Hollywood), the world's highest civil airport is at Leh, Ladakh (3256m) and the world's longest train platform with its 833m at Kharagpur. One resident of Kerala crushes a coconut in 25 seconds with his bare teeth and finally there is one Indian fellow who managed to balance on one foot for more than 65 hours.

India is a very spiritual country and around 82% of the population are Hindus. Along with Buddhism it is one of the oldest extant religions, dating back beyond 1000 BC. There is no founder, central authority or hierarchy in Hinduism. One of the most important signs is 'om', pronounced "aum", which is an important mantra. The 3-shape symbolises the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe. The inverted chandra (half-moon) represents the discursive mind and the dot within it (bindhu), Brahman (The One; the ultimate reality. Brahman is formless, eternal and the source of all existence). Buddhists believe that, if the mantra is repeated often enough with complete concentration, it will lead to a state of total emptiness.

Namaskar...enjoy India.

View India pictures.
Watch India (Ladakh) video.

  The statue of Maitreya, the Buddha to come

Collection for an Ashram with 500 kids

Beas River