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The man who cycled from India to Sweden ... for love

Updated 1059 GMT (1859 HKT) February 11, 2016
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Swedish traveler Charlotte Von Schedvin and Indian art student PK Mahanandia fell in love in India in late 1975. She was a descendant of Swedish nobility; he a member of India's "untouchable" Dalit caste. Courtesy PK Mahanandia
They met in Delhi's central square, when Von Schedvin asked the talented artist to paint her portrait. "She was looking at me, her eyes blue and big. I felt like they were like x-ray machines," he remembers. Courtesy PK Mahanandia
While Mahanandia was convinced of his destiny to marry a western woman, Von Schedvin hungered for the East. "When I was about 10, I was dreaming about this film 'The Elephant Boy.' When I saw PK, he looked like that guy," Von Schedvin told CNN. Later, she discovered that he had helped his grandfather look after the local Maharaja's elephants. Courtesy PK Mahanandia
After Von Schedvin returned to Scandinavia, Mahanandia embarked on a 3,600km bicycle journey from Delhi, India to Boras, Sweden. On some days he cycled up to 70km, though on others he admits taking many lifts -- even being gifted a train ticket. Following the famous "Hippie Trail", the journey took over four months to complete. Aaron Darveniza/CNN
Mahanandia's portrait of Soviet astronaut Valentina Tereshkova had launched his illustrious career painting Delhi's politicians. Courtesy PK Mahanandia
He painted the portrait of Indian Vice President B.D. Jatti, pictured, as well as Prime Minister Indira Ghandi. When he discovered that the talented artist was often sleeping rough, a kindly Member of Parliament paid for his flat on an affluent Delhi street. Courtesy PK Mahanandia
Mahanandia's skilled portraits got him noticed by the press. Courtesy PK Mahanandia
In their year of separation before Mahanandia reached Sweden, the young couple kept their romance burning through letters. During his four month bicycle journey, Von Schedvin had to communicate with him via "Poste Restante" -- an old system of writing letters to a post office for collection. Courtesy PK Mahanandia
"They would get out a container with the letter of your last name, where there would be hundreds of thousands of letters," said Mahanandia. "It would take a few hours to pick up my own letters!" Courtesy PK Mahanandia
Though he left India with only $80, Mahanandia said he arrived in Sweden with over $800, painting portraits for money along the way. Courtesy PK Mahanandia
Mahanandia and Von Schedvin got married after his long-awaited arrival in Sweden. The couple have been together for nearly 40 years and have two children, Sid and Emelie. Pictured, on a Skype interview from their home in Sweden. Courtesy PK Mahanandia