An expedition to Lonar
Updated: Sep 19, 2019
According to Indian mythology, once upon a time thousands of years ago during the 'Kretayuga' ,confined within his subterranean abode there lived a giant by the name of 'Lonasura'. Skandapurana(ancient Indian scripts) states that Lonasura had issued a diktat to devastate the surrounding country, even aspiring to wage wars against the mighty Gods themselves. Realizing the inevitable threat, the Gods petitioned none other than the Lord Vishnu to destroy him. Lord Vishnu pushed him into the ground and thus the crater was formed! Even now thousands of years later the Kalyuga this site remains unchanged. Its called Lonar lake located at the Buldhana district of Maharashtra in India.
The Gomukh temple
My dear friend Ramit, who is himself nothing less than a demon got exceedingly fascinated by this story. Since I am posted in Buldhana district currently, one fine morning he landed up at my humble abode. Meeting an old friend is a joy forever. But the roads in these areas are a pain in the ass , to spice it up further is the 40+ temperatures.
Nevertheless through the picturesque millet fields of Buldhana , me and my good old friend set off for a drive to the Lonar Lake.
Scientists claim that Lonar Lake is the result of a meteorite impact on a basalt surface some 50000 years ago. The water is saline and alkaline in nature, it has substantial quantity of sulfur and phosphorus too. A recent study found that the minerals in the lake soil, are very similar to the minerals found in moon rock brought back during the Apollo Program. The outer diameter of the lake is 1.83 kilometers and the circumference is around 6-7 Kms. Descent to lake i.e. distance from the rim to ground level is about 140 meters. It is one among the 4 known hyper-velocity, impact craters in Basalt anywhere on Earth, the other 3 being in Brazil.
Lonar Lake was created by the impact of either a comet or an asteroid and happens to be one and only known extra-terrestrial impact crater found in India. Existence of this lake finds mention in various ancient texts like the Skanda Purana ,the Padma Purana and Ain-e-Akbari. From the times of formally recorded history this place was ruled by the Maurya Empire ,the Satavahana Empire , the Chalukyas ,the Rashtrakuta,the Mughals ,the Nizam ,the British etc. Many of these dynasties have left their impact on the place by means of temples and other sculptural remains. Infact there are 12 temples around the lake. Though most of them are in ruins now , still they provide a welcome shade for the trekkers and never fail to mesmerize the travelers with their ingenious ancient architecture.
The place is very quite and lonely with not much of people frequenting particularly near the lake. The trek from the road down up to the lake is through a minuscule forest that is also home to snakes, monitor lizards, gazelles, mongoose, languors and apparently the occasional leopard. Devoid of fish, the lake is a bird watchers paradise with crow pheasants, blue jays, bee-eaters, ducks, lapwings, minivets, spot-bills, swallows, and woodpeckers, including some that migrate to the lake in winter from Ladakh.
Ramit da had a nice time trekking up and down the perimeter of the lake with the camera hanging from his shoulders and a stick in his hand to ward of emergence of unwarranted Lonasuras if any.
He has captured some fascinating moments in his camera which are reproduced.
Getting there: Since Lonar is a very small place, it does not have a railway station or an airport. The nearest city is Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
By Air: Nearest airport is at Aurangabad at a distance of 125 km from Lonar.
By rail: The nearest big railway station is Jalna on Mumbai-Nanded line at a distance of 90 kms. Buses and taxis from Jalna to Lonar are available..
By road: From Aurangabad there are several buses which ply regularly to Lonar. Travel time approx. 3 hrs.
Best Time to visit: The Vidharbha Marathwara area is known for its extreme summers. It is suggested to visit the place during monsoon and winter.
Lodging and Fooding : MTDC has a reasonably good resort at Lonar. Booking is possible online. This is by far the only place one can plan for. Fruits and tea shops are available nearby but not much beyond that.