madurai meenakshi

Few years back, when I came to India for the first time, travelled the north route and visited famous locations from Dili to Jaipur, popular Agra, religious Varanasi, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Mumbai and Goa, it was a pretty good lesson at travelling – a bit challenging but definitely worth it. That's why I decided to go back to India and visit south this time and I was ready for another rough challenge. I thought to myself that I could no longer be surprised by the chaos, filth, ubiquitous poverty, lot of homeless people, crazy traffic, noise and heat. But in the end, I was surprised. There are two faces of India.



'Rough' north

That there's not going to be any 'northern wilderness' this time, was confirmed to me by the locals straight away...' North is totally different', I heard many times. Indeed, India comprises of 29 states on an area almost as big as European Union and their money notes have epigraphs in 15 main languages, but the biggest difference is probably in the huge concentration of population in the north. Especially enormous agglomeration such as Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, as well as Jaipur, Agra and Varanasi offer shelter for the poorest people in India, in the belief that they will lead better lives in a busy economy.

So I stumbled across homeless people on every corner, train stations were surrounded and occupied by sleeping people, untouchables could be recognized from mile away, the place was filled with beggars. Social diversity is very clear in the north and the caste system is being used in full power. You can see huge contrast right on the street, on one side there are Indian families in colorful saris buying tickets for various landmarks and on the other side there are half naked, barefoot and dirty members of the lowest caste picking up garbage on the street corners. Some are going for a meal to a restaurant and some are sleeping in the middle of a busy street right there on the concrete.

I was weaving in and out of the crowds of people on a street full of shops and cars, rickshaws and bikes and everyone was trying to prove to the other that their horn is louder. And in the midst of that there were cows.

Homeless people and beggars are desperately annoying in their despair.

Dilli madurai

Delhi versus Madurai

There were no bins anywhere and cows walking on the street were munching all the stuff they could find. One had to be very careful not to step in anything nasty.

I also had to check what I eat and every time I bought a bottle of water that the seal on the cap is not broken.



'Serene' south

However, the minute you get to the south away from Goa beaches, everything changes as with a wave of a magic wand. Yes, even here is a lot of chaos, traffic, noise and beggars but it's way less of it than in the north. Population density here is much lower and it's also a lot cleaner here, there are bins on the streets and people are cleaning. People are more easygoing and tuk tuk drivers are not as annoying.

Weather is more pleasant due to higher humidity, you can't feel the glare of dry north.

People in south generally have higher education, higher pay and don't feel the need to escape to big cities to live in slums.


Even though, it doesn't really matter if you travel in south or north, India has its own unique and irresistible atmosphere. But one of the journeys was better than the other, you can guess which one...



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