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Inspiration 3 - India & Nepal

Over two months of life with spice!

India is indeed a wonder-land. Huge, majestic, friendly & delicious!

Many people

And so we landed in Tiruchirapalli (a.k.a. Trichy) in Tamil Nadu, and the rollercoaster ride began. We travelled as much as we could throughout India in trains, planes, buses, cabs and rickshaws... Hold on to something if you want to live!

Crazy long train rides, crowded cities, beautiful temples all over the place, death-defying traffic with cows serenely wandering around, delicious food but often leaving our mouths on fire, new languages, scripts and peoples every time we crossed a state border…

Huge Hindu Temple complex in Tamil Nadu, it used to be white but they got funding to paint it in a more recent style over a decade ago.


We were immensely fortunate to volunteer at an Eco-Camp for over a week, with 66 youngsters arriving for a visit, and getting into nature and doing adventure activities with them for a whole weekend.

Outing with lovely children who were at the camp

The hosts at Kodai Camp were wonderful. Like family from the word go. With some we simply couldn't communicate through spoken language since we didn't speak any of the local languages, but still the friendliness and goodwill was more powerful than anything else.

Local sheep grazing :-)

After Tamil Nadu we went west into Kerala, and visited a few beautiful places, including a long hike into an area covered with tea plantations.

Some of the highest tea plantations in the world

Vedanta Academy

Moving towards the center of the Indian subcontinent, in Bangalore, we stayed for a few days at a friend’s place near a large ashram first. We hadn’t seen so many foreigners in a long time! Lots of swamis and spiritual activities on offer, which was fun, but the real deal came next on our travels...

We were incredibly fortunate to be allowed to participate at a Vedanta Academy (Indian Philosophy) near Bombay and to join in their activities ourselves for nine days. It was magnificent. There were lots of young students doing a 3 year intensive course (up at 4.15 am every day!)

The atmosphere was truly inspiring, as well as relaxed and very friendly. We were also fortunate to have Swami Parthasarathy lead a number of sessions.

Dressed for study session and meals
Wonderful people at the Academy

One morning we visited a nearby ancient buddhist temple carved into the rock.

Returning to the Academy from our visit, it was almost the date for the famous Diwali festival and preparations were happening all over, even on the streets.


Admittedly, we avoided cities. Our only contact with them was in order to travel, and therefore we needed stations and airports now and again. So, when in a city, we usually had a quick visit of any interesting attractions and then promptly headed out into the countryside.

Lovely organic architecture at the airport, we decided to fly to the North instead of taking yet another 14+ hour train journey!
A christian church in Bombay (now Mumbai)
A frequent sight on the streets in India.

One city we did plan to visit was Rishikesh. It is now famous as a yoga hub, Beatles fans hang out, etc. but it ended up being too full of tourists. Even crossing a pedestrian bridge (along with the cows, motorcyclists etc.), was so intense...

At a lovely small vegan restaurant there we saw a sign that summed up our trip.

We only stayed for a few days and decided to catch a train South to Agra!

One of the wonders was beckoning...


This is why we went to Agra. A small and very expensive piece of perfection, heaven on earth.

A beautiful fusion of Islamic architectural genius and Indian decorative styles, it took 22 years, 20,000 people, camels, elephants, boats, carts, working day and night, tax payer's money, all for housing the molecular remains of a Persian lady who had already died and never got to see it.

We really loved drinking in the beauty though… a few moments of bliss.

At the entrance, you get this magnificent view of the Taj Mahal

We went in just after daybreak, so we got all sorts of lighting situations on the walls.

As for the rest of Agra, it was overcrowded, dirty, smelly, noisy, with the usual intense traffic… so we moved on asap!

Wherever we went in India, you could sense the devotion that imbues life, in all its aspects.

We stayed in Delhi just long enough to catch a plane to somewhere greener, and to visit this Lotus Bahai Temple in it's mini oasis of orderliness and silence.
On one of our many rides, Ganesha presiding and taking care of our vehicle.

Daily life

It was awesome to just walk and visit the markets throughout India. All the towns and cities are bustling with people everywhere.

What else do you expect, with 1.2 BILLION inhabitants!

So there naturally is food everywhere. On the streets, sellers all over india offer fresh produce. In stalls, small shops, large supermarkets, restaurants, etc. there is food to be purchased.

So much of the population is vegetarian that we had it easy in terms of getting good food we could consume.

What we struggled with a bit, was getting food which wasn't too hot! Especially the ladies...

So guess who ended up eating the most?!

Hint: it's the one taking the picture... happy with his Thali waiting for him at the table. Probably one of the best meals ever this lifetime.

Although the street food often looked tempting, we were very careful not to risk an upset stomach.

Just driving around on any Indian road is an experience you are likely not to forget.

In the Darjeeling area, we also enjoyed meeting lovely people and seeing the beautiful countryside.

We love nature. and always make a point of visiting natural areas. India was exceptional of course. The sheer variety of places we visited and the tropical climate make for incredible spots to visit.

Meghalaya, wet forests with the amazing living root bridges. The roots are trained along a rope or cable structure by the locals and then left to grow for 15-20 years until they are transitable! Soooo cool.


Whilst still officially in India, we spent a few days on the border between India and Nepal, going up by jeep to the highest point (Sandakhpu) in a national park, and then walking most of the way back down again. That's where the view of the Sleeping Buddha (top image on page) was taken, and where we had a freezing refuge hut where we spent one night. ¡We even got a glimpse of Everest!

The Black Lake. An elderly man had died recently and his children erected 108 of these prayer flags. It's was freezing up here but apparently this lake never freezes over.

Eventually we crossed by foot to Nepal, and travelled several hours West on an overnight bus, reaching Pokhara, the starting point for several trekking routes close to the Annapurna range. We did a lovely, short, four-day trek up Mardi Himal, which had less traffic than some of the other more popular treks. We heard tales and saw photos of amazing two week routes up into the Himalayas from other trekkers.

The sacred "fishtail" mountain was fairly close and we got amazing views of it. Since it is holy for several religions, no-one is allowed to climb it! It was so beautiful up there, although lots of people started having altitude sickness.

The gorgeous Fish Tail, a never-climbed peak

The way down was much faster, only 24 hours, with the last couple of hours via jeep through a beautiful valley. The road was extremely bumpy - and we weren't even on the roof!

One of the few parts of the world where seeing passengers travelling on top of vehicles is commonplace.
Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, one of the largest in the world, now surrounded by urban sprawl.
Bhaktapur, a lovely city to visit, just before we left Nepal.
These buddhist mandala thankas are full of philosophical significance and are used for meditation and as teaching tools. The master artists draw them in minute detail, and then these apprentices take days or weeks to paint them, some parts with a brush made of a single hair!

Up next: Thailand.

Just some nice little pics to intrigue you...