the ganga flowing past mud cliffs in the early morning light, with flocks of black-winged stilts and river lapwings

voyage of discovery: banks of the ganga


we set off to discover the mythic road along the ganga

but like columbus,
we find other treasures...

the route to bandimata and back, ~60km. bithur-bandimata-chaubepur segment is approximate. there are no good maps of the area, and google hasn't gotten around to it, and anyhow some parts (e.g. along the canal) are kacchA so these are my best estimates :)

saw this kite on a tree outside joydeep's house, while the troops were gathering...

the heat has been building up since end of march, and bicycling activities need to be restricted to about three hours very early in the morning.

every now and then someone tells me of a road that runs "right beside the ganga." so the goal of today's adventure was to explore the routes along the ganga upstream from bithoor. most recently, we heard there was such a road between bithoor and bandimata. so we set off to explore the region. via the early morning GT road to mandhana and then to bithoor (14km). bandimata would be another 11km.

puncture at bithoor

joydeep ran into a puncture near the chungi at bithur; while it was getting fixed, atul and i went around taking pictures...

while joydeep's bike was getting fixed, i found this large green barbet on a side lane

atul was impressed with this statue of laxmibai, who spent some pre-teen years at at bithur. somehow, every image of laxmibai shows her wielding a sword - yet perhaps she actually fought in person on only one occasion - the very last stages of the fall of jhansi. married at 14, stillborn son at 16, widowed at 18, and dead at 22. a common enough trajectory for thousands of indian women even today.

laxmibai's life:
married at 14, stillborn son at 16, widowed at 18, dead by 22...
these days, that's when we finish college

laxmibai at bithoor: forever charging on her noble steed, sword upraised

Bandi Mata

bandimata is a small non-descript village on the ganga between shivrajpur and bithoor. the name comes from the temple, which has a deity of a goddess, apparently in chains (bandi = imprisoned). we'd heard of it only because we once mistakenly took the chaubepur-bandimata road from chaubepur.

perhaps the ganga is shifting south around here, so the right bank is often eroded into sharp mud cliffs, while the left bank is a treacherous sandbank which in the non-rainy season grows some of the best cucumber and gourd and watermelon.

at bandimata, a flock of black-winged had gathered in the lee side, along with river lapwings, and what looked like wood sandpipers. a large flock of openbills were foraging in the distance.

river sands. joydeep and atul - and my bicycle!

black-winged stilts foraging in the shallows

a flock of stilts and a river lapwing by the water. stilts in flight. water's edge

river crossings. driving through the water can't be good for the hub bearings

arpit's t-shirt says: "hyperactive kid inside"
perhaps he has no one
who can read him that message

atul was quite taken by this boy's t-shirt. his name is arpit, and we met him again on another trip a few days later

can't identify this one - probably a kind of wagtail

wagtails, white and yellow

it was a great morning for observing the reclusive river lapwing

atul the intrepid. the white temple in the background was built by the shobhan maharaj.

yours sincerely, photo by atul. note the neat mud staircase in the background - they must be re-sculpting it every year...

landscape at bandimata, earthen temples with flags and neatly-cut stairways going down to the river

heading back

a yellow-throated sparrow or petronia - the bird that got salim ali interested in birding - seen at raigopalpur.

after bandimata, we took the road to chaubepur (9km), and then we went by the Chaubepur-Shiwali road to the canal at Pratappur (6km), and then back home (17km) with a mandatory stop at Manish Tripathi's ricemill. The last bit went off at a good pace, thanks to a domestic pressures - and also the heat was building up... the entire trip was about 58km, and it took us just over four hours, despite a one hour halt at Bandimata.

by 10am, the sun was quite fierce...

atul rushing to catch up with us near manish tripathi's rice mill at Raigopalpur.
it was 10 am by now, and we were already past our deadline for getting back.

Approximate route map:
Note: the unmarked roads from bithoor - bandimata - chaubepur is pure guesswork. probably bandimata is a bit higher than the point i marked.

amitabha mukerjee Mon Apr 26 mukerjee [at] gmail