A crowded place, the sun is at its zenith, unfamiliar noises, people and tuk tuks crossing my way and a big truck colored in this happy-sunshine yellow, decorated with white jasmine. Yes, this is India.
We arrived in Bangalore early in the morning and started our 16-day trip through South India right away in the hectic downtown of Mysore. Standing in the middle of the busy food and flower market, I catch myself desperately looking for a film crew or at least a cameraman suddenly showing up and telling me to get out of their set. I feel like I’m standing in a perfect film set up for the next big Bollywood movie. Seconds later I pull out my camera to capture this surreal scenery where people sell flowers right next to a coconut stand.
Uniqueness is what makes this country extraordinary – A cow leaving its cattle manure, while a man is spitting red stuff onto the street. Beautiful women in elegant saari are buying fresh vegetables and homeless people try to find food for the upcoming day.
The sun has not yet risen when we start the day driving in a jeep on a rough road into the jungle to spot some wildlife. My heart was bumping when observing an elephant mum eating leaves from a tree and protecting her little clumsy baby. Only minutes after a leopard crossed our way, performing his morning routine.
Mystic clouds, twisting roads and deep green hills: The western Ghats and mountains at an altitude of about 2000 meters above sea level give space for endless landscape viewing while driving to Wayanad. After gazing the impressive tea plantations we decide to continue our journey to Cochin by train in order to experience the real Indian railway: A man hectically running through the small aisle singing „chai chaya chaya chai“ and selling the sweetest black tea with milk you can imagine. Just a moment later another man is holding a big tray with vegetable biryani (Vegetables with rice) right in front of me. Meanwhile a third salesman walks down the aisle. He is selling coffee (the sweetest coffee you can imagine, of course!). While observing the hustle and bustle inside the train we drive through the calming and hilly countryside.
Our next destination will be Kochi. Some call it the jewel in Kerala’s crown: A woman washes clothes in the water that is covered with green water lilies. Small houses colored in bright pink and petrol are build just right in front of the riverside. Silence. The first time during this trip I experience a moment of tranquility, while we slide through the Kerala backwaters on a houseboat. After travelling through the busy cities of South India and always being surrounded by the noises of trucks that sound their horn in countless varieties, I felt calm and enjoyed the panoramic view from the boat.
Imposing, colorful and majestic: The Madurai Meenakshi temple is covered in orange light as we take off our shoes and enter the Hindu lord’s house. Paintings on the floor, men threading garlands of jasmine, an elephant marching through the corridor. Yes, a real elephant. Yes, this is India!
Following our way to the east coast in order to reach Mamallapuram we stop in Pondicherry which used to be a French colony. We enjoy a quiche with a seaside view. Somehow it feels good to have something familiar while being surrounded by this unfamiliar yet exciting place.
After two weeks of chasing the world in India, meeting locals and experiencing the world of spices and Masala Chai I see India as one big colorful picture with many contrarieties, vivid cities and breathtaking landscapes.
Thanks to the team of iTravel, who organized this trip for us and a big thank you to my crew for those incredible weeks.
Photo credit: Moritz Dehler, Katharina Holl, Malik Wagner, Marko Roth