Lucknow and the temperatures are already in the mid-30s. The heat is stifling. A group of college students, each carrying a backpack containing academic papers, some clothes, biscuits and water, trudge up to a security guard posted at the main gates of the city’s Ambedkar Park.
“How much further to the Sultanpur-Banaras highway,” Rohit Pandey, 21, asks the guard. “About 10 kilometres,” he answers.
Mr Pandey and his three friends, all of whom are students at Bareilly’s Rohilkhand University, sigh… a sigh born of resignation to hours more walking in this brutal sunshine.