Cycling in India.

Pelotome –
around India on a bicycle.

~ Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1888).

My Life and Times

by Jerome K. Jerome

From £4,75

August 1886 – Published 1888.

Around the World on a Bicycle.

“From Teheran to Yokohama” was the second illustrated volume of Tom Steven’s pioneering ride around the globe and covers the second half of his journey on a fifty-inch Pope “Columbia” high-wheeler, from Persia to Japan, complete with observations presumably even deemed racist at the time.

After leaving modern day Pakistan at Lahore, which is also, “as the crow flies,” nearer to Farah – where he was turned back in Afghanistan – he crosses into modern day India at Amritsar, in Punjab, and cycles along the Grand Trunk Road – “beyond a doubt, the finest highway in the whole world” – to Jandiala Guru, Jalandhar, Phillaur, and Ludhiana, “through the territory of the Rajah of Sirhind”, “into low, flat jungle” to Rajpura, Ambala, Pipli, Karnal – “old beyond the records of history,” – the even “more ancient” Panipat, Rai, and “the old Mogul capital” of Delhi – “the Rome of Asia.”

While “waiting the arrival of a small bicycle-camera from Calcutta, which has been forwarded from America,” he takes “a spin out” to the Qutb Minar – “conceded to be the most beautiful minar-monument in the world,” – before continuing his journey through Palwal, Hodal, Mathura and Agra, “visiting that wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal.”

Continuing on, he cycles through Shikohabad, Mainpuri and Bhogaon, where he rejoins the Grand Trunk Road to Bewar, Miran-Serai (near Kenauj), Kanpur, Allahabad (now Prayagraj), Benares (or Varanasi), Mughalsarai, Sasaram, Dehri, Sherghati, Bagodar, Raniganj, Bardhaman, and Hooghly-Chinsura before reaching “The City of Palaces”, Calcutta (named Kolkata since 2001), on 13th September 1886.

As “to cross overland from India to China with a bicycle is not to be thought of”, he continued his journey around the globe by catching an opium steamer to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Canton (Guangzhou).

  • By Thomas Stevens.
  • Published by Sampson, Lowe, Marston, Searle and Rivington, London.


“I wheel through the beautifully shaded suburban streets of Lahore, past dense thickets of fruitful plantains, across the broad switch-yard of the Seinde, Delhi & Punjab Railway, and out on to the smooth, level surface of the Grand Trunk Road.

This road is, beyond a doubt, the finest highway in the whole world.

It extends for nearly sixteen hundred miles, an unbroken highway of marvellous perfection, from Peshawur on the Afghan frontier to Calcutta.

It is metalled for much of its length with a substance peculiar to the country, known as kunkah.

Kunkah is obtained almost anywhere throughout the Land of the Five Rivers, underlying the surface soil.

It is a sort of loose nodular limestone, which when wetted and rolled cements together and forms a road-surface smooth and compact as an asphaltum pavement, and of excellent wearing quality.

It is a magnificent road to bicycle over ; not only is it broad, level, and smooth, but for much of the way it is converted into a veritable avenue by spreading shade-trees on either side.”

~ Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1888).

%d bloggers like this: