Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cycling down Elkington Road in Mhow (MP); India

Elkington Road in Mhow is one of few roads which still retains its original name. The only other road I can remember which hasn't been renamed is Gillespie Road near Swarg Mandir. A few years ago when a journalist friend from Pune was visiting Mhow and I was showing her the old British graves in Mhow we came upon Major General Gillespie's grave. Talking of roads, Dennis Road has become Shivaji Marg, Middlesex Road is Vikram Path, Plowden Road is Dr. Rajendra Singh Road, Peyton Road is Naurarang Path, Montieth Road is now Bhaya Road.... The British had named these roads after their generals and those who had helped make India the jewel in the crown. It is right that these names be gradually renamed. They are an embarrassment to the present day Britisher though many an Indian would like these names to remain. Elkington Road isn't very far from where I live and it connects General's Road to the AB Road. The AB Road is a national highway and connects Agra to Mumbai. The interesting thing about Elkington Road is that it isn't a road anymore, just a dirt track. But it has a history of its own.

The road marker on General's Road. You can read 'Elkington Road' written on the stone.

The other day I cycled down Elkington Road. Till 2001 a nullah used to run parallel to this road and after crossing the AB Road from under a small bridge it would merge with the Gambhir river not far from the Khadey Hanuman temple. The Gambhir is in infancy in Mhow as it is born in the hills near the temple of Janapao 15 kms from Mhow. It joins the Kshipra near Ujjain. Many a pilgrim who bathes in the Kshipra during the Kumbh Mela in Ujjain doesn't know that the waters are often of the Gambhir.

In 2001 the Indian Army dug up two lakes near this road. Overnight this area became a mini natural sanctuary with a drastic increase in the number of birds visiting it. I have seen lapwings, darters, egrets, partridge and peafowl in this area. I have also seen mongoose, cobras and wild hares. But along with the wildlife this area also started attracting visitors and the odd courting couple. At times the crowd here in the evenings does tend to be a bit noisy. It is interesting how a body of water can change a place from a dull to an interesting place or from a quiet place to a noisy one.

As I cycled down that day I saw an Army guard deflating the tyres of a cycle. A young man on a milk delivery round had decided to use the area as a public lavatory. The guard was livid and sought my psychological support. "Why did you have to use this area?" I asked the young man, "Consider yourself lucky that you haven't been arrested." He folded his hands and apologised to the guard and sped away. Had it not been for the guards this area could well have become a public toilet. Sad how we leave our mark in places of beauty.

In 1979 I and my classmate Gurdip Singh Chimni used to ycle down this road on the way to Government Degree College Mhow. Walking down this road was fun even before the lakes were created. In August 1995 I was walking in this area during heavy rains and I saw a snake getting into the water - my presence and the noise I made had disturbed it. The day I took these pictures I happened to see a peahen and its chick. But she had seen me before I had seen them so they vanished into the undergrowth before I could click a picture.

A few weeks ago a good friend had visited Mhow and I had walked with her down this road till the Khadey Hanuman temple. It was a lovely walk and it gave her an idea of the countryside around Mhow. I dedicate this blog entry to her.

Here are some of the pictures I clicked that day:

The view as we walk down from General's Road

A glimpse of the water as I get closer and go off the road a little to the left.

Wild plants growing by the roadside.

A profusion of grass and reeds.

Real close. The waters are calm as winter approaches.

Calm and quiet. I look back at the path I have travelled down.

My bicycle looks good if seen from far!

I can see some date palms as I near the end of the road.

The view from the Agra Bombay Road.

It should be interesting to see how the area changes as winter progresses. Will keep all of you out there posted.


Post a Comment

<< Home