Departure for this truly relaxing spot situated at a distance of 57 kms. is at 7:45 am. It is not a clear day, but not a cold one either. Tension free Etawah residents are seen gradually leaving their bed to resume their daily chores. A drive of 20 kms on six lane National Highway towards Kanpur (160 kms) takes us to Bakewar.
It is nice undulating terrain through the ravines, a part of which was a happy hunting ground to famous dacoits: Mohar Singh, Madhav Singh, Malkhan Singh etc. before they laid their arms. Landscape and forest cover ahead reminds one of JNU campus in Delhi. Within half an hour of drive, we come across a beautiful Peacock comfortably seated atop a high mound. I am tempted to ‘shoot’ with my repaired 5.5 megapixels Canon Camera. Next, we hit Chakar Nagar, a small but dense Kasba. Very soon Yamuna river appears. It is wider and cleaner than at Sumer Hill, our exorbitant temporary abode overlooking road to Bhind (40 kms) and Gwalior (125 Kms).
After barely five kms, we see Chambal river. It is awesome. After all, it has a history behind it. It looks fabulous in morning. One learns that there is an impressive Crocodile sanctuary on its southern bank. I promise to come again. Further drive of a few kilometers on the well-maintained district road leads to Hanumantpur. One turns left and begins the last part of drive of 20 kms to Panchnada.
There is a slight change in terrain. It now looks like a plateau. Not every portion of land appears cultivated. Mostly one sees Mustard, Wheat and Sihuwah (cooking oil extracted from it). Birds are not that many, for want of wetlands. A striking feature is a ‘Scare Machan’, located in far flung corner of a wheat field. A rope is tied to pull it when animals intrude to have a free ‘feast’. Reportedly, the rope is also tied to a drum to produce sufficient noise. Thana Bitholi, a sort of ‘Kala Pani’ for Policemen emerges at 9:00am. It is the last Govt. or private establishment of the District.
Typical earth mounds of ravines having several huts with low roofs are located here and there. Cultivation is being carried out in small plots mainly in the depression areas. It is Babool vegetation that is all pervading.
Suddenly we see a beautiful 0.5 km. long high RCC bridge inaugurated barely six months ago. Looking at the scenario we have the reason to believe that our destination is at a stone’s throw. Underneath flows a river that has amalgamated waters of Sindh, Kuari and Pahuj streams. On the left is the mighty Yamuna in which the Chambal river has already merged two to three kms behind. Thus, contrary to the popular perception, five rivers do not actually meet each other, rather, they may have joined ‘hands’ at more than two places prior to the main confluence point at Panchnada.
A gentle walk over the bridge enables us a soothing glimpse of plenty of Peacocks, Parrots and other birds flying cheerfully over Wheat and Mustard fields situated close to river. A good photo opportunity of both sides slips away as a mild fog refuses to subside. A few shots are, nevertheless taken both from static and mobile cameras for posterity. We walk next to Rampura village of Jalaun District. The infamous Gudapurva village associated with the legend of Phoolan Devi is reported to be 65 kms away. One or two Babri kind of structures dominate the upper land overlooking amazing Yamuna.
Also visible is the vast beach on the other side, to be precisely falling in Auraiya District. The fog clears up by the time we reach a Temple to get a commanding view of the river. A ruin of hundred Satis also attracts attention. We attempt to soak into the overall pleasant experience by walking down to river through the green Gram fields. We feel sorry for the concerned authorities for not having ‘sold’ this beautiful destination to the tourists by providing basic information together with infrastructure.
Boating for twenty minutes gives us immense pleasure. We see four or five varieties of birds, all enjoying the pleasant and serene atmosphere of confluence. The water of Yamuna river is clear while slightly muddy water is seen flowing from the group of 3 rivers. Little bit of stench too is experienced on one side. It is quite a contrast from the Sangam at Allahabad. As per Shiv Pal, the tough boatman, depth of Yamuna over here varies from 20 to 30 meters. No wonder, she looks changed, fairly wide and calm.
While we turn finally, we recount what an exhilarating experience we had on seeing bunches of fish taking jump after jump, like professional swimmers. Equally memorable was the balancing act Vinay Kumar, the helper to boatman displayed while fiddling with two mobiles in a standing posture on the moving boat.
Visibility is again bad when we return to banks. Sun, however, is showing a rising trend. Ringing of temple bell reminds me of my remaining duties as Observer. I barely utter a thanksgiving word to the boatman as a welcome call comes from Professor Prabhakar from Japan. He seems to have liked my last night E-mail account of Etawah District. To him, it was not a message, it had all the ingredients of a full-fledged article.
After finishing conversation, I manage to ‘shoot’ a Neelkantha. She is contemplating in isolation. Thereafter, I enter the comfortable and reliable Innova on a satisfying note. We cross over the RCC bridge once again. On partial restoration of visibility, a few snaps of ‘T’ point are taken. The Chambal, however, continues to evade. We hit the road again in full speed, this time through the ravines facing Bhind to catch up with the hustle and bustle of electioneering.