We were slated to start at ten, but by the time everyone gathered, bicycles got adjusted, tuned, exchanged, etc, it was past eleven. To get our tempo up, we rolled through the hostels, yelling slogans like "cycling ka tempo high hai"...

click on pictures to enlarge

all lined up and ready to roll (nearly!).

Exiting IIT through the gate opposite the HC, we turned right at Bara Sirohi village and went up Shiwali Road to the bridge over the lower ganga canal. We pedaled along the east canal road past the IITK boundary, crossing Nankari in the distance. It was a pleasant ride along the full waters of the canal. We crossed the small village of Lodhar and after 5km, reached Kursaoli where we turned east along a bumpy road. We stopped at a mustard field to taste the flowers (yes, really!) and then we were at Mandhana.

The red line going up to the left is along the canal. (click on image for rest of route on gmap)

From here, it was 8 km to Bithoor along rolling country roads.

Note: You can follow the route interactively on this gmap-pedometer route, which also gives distances, satellite maps, kilometer markers, calories, etc.

At Bithoor we headed to Brahmavart ghat. brahma + Avart) is literally the axis of the universe's rotation, and there is a small temple at the ghat, with a little brass stub which indicates this axis. When this became known everyone in the group started gawking at the temple, but unfortunately for the priest, the religious sentiments were not strong enough to translate into donations.

A number of boats are always lined up at the ghat, and people wanted to go for a boat ride so we piled into three boats and went across to the sand banks.

Boats one and two launching from the ghats. You can see the pontoon bridge in the distance. It wasn't finished -- the landing on the other side wasn't quite ready. Else one can even cycle across.

Boat three which I was on, had the elderly Jayant Kumar as boatman. He told us stories of how the 450 crores that had been assigned to develop tourism in Bithoor were being wasted in constructions like a projection into the river, which was sure to be covered up by sand in the coming rainy season itself. Later, we would visit the useless Nana Rao park, which had also been built out of this largesse.

This little sandpiper flew in very near us as we were approaching Rani Lakshmibai Ghat. On the other side, I saw the other chap, probing the mudflats.

Common sandpipers. Left bank, and Right bank mudflats.

the ruins from this area (from an earlier 2002, visit)

By the time we got back it was well past two. Lunchtime. We headed for the restaurant at the new Nana Rao park built by the UPTDC. Surprise!! The restaurant there turned out to be more of a snackstall. They had no lunch, and even for snacks, they were in no position to cater to 24 people. Also, the complex was completely artificial and there were no historical associations. While crores have been spent on this lavish commercial tinsel park, the actual ruins of the Rajmahal of Nana Rao Peshwa lie in benign neglect beyond the mercenary ambitions of this project.

After we complained to the manager that it shouldn't have been called a "restaurant", they agreed to refund our entry fee and the bicycle parking charge - at best a pyrrhic victory.

A brown rock chat just outside the dhaba where we finally had lunch

After lunch we visited Dhruv Tila, which is where Dhruv is said to have done his fierce tapasya. The mud cliffs here can be dangerous, especially during the rains. But it was dry and everyone had a good look at the river vista from the top.

We headed back via the Bithoor-Kalianpur road. For some reason, this road is perpetually in a terrible condition, though right now it was bad because of extensive re-surfacing work.

sarus crane couple in the winter landscape

Although it was barely four pm, the sun was low as we reached a marsh area along the kalianpur road. This area was quite rich in birdlife, with sarus, purple heron, grebe, sandpiper, pond heron, egrets, etc.

a purple heron peeping out of the grass: on the marshes off the kalianpur-bithoor road

By the time we reached IIT, the groups had splintered, and people drifted off to their rooms.

Mass ride announcement (date change): 20 Feb: We are planning for at least 100 riders to go on a 65km ride. Most likely route: IITK - Shiwali- Chowbepur - Bithoor - Mandhana - IITK. Mark your calendars from now. [9AM, Saturday Feb 20].

See other IITK bicycling links and other announcements at http://www.cse.iitk.ac.in/~amit/bicycling/.

Other photos

group photo from dhruv tila

group photo from UPTDC Nana Rao park, Bithoor


boat1 | boat2 | dhruv tila | sarus crane | pond heron | cycles at start |

If you have pictures of this trip you would like to contribute, feel free to edit this page or send me a link. I have set up a tentative group page at http://sites.google.com/site/iitkcycling/ which has a starter page for this trip. Ravi Kiran, pls post the list of people there, maybe users can directly upload...

Amit Mukerjee with 24 year old
					  Nishiki Pueblo: click to enlargeAmitabha Mukerjee Dec 2009