We are always excited whenever there is a meteor shower. The sight of falling stars in the dark black night sky is a magical sight. Almost 55,000 years ago, a meteorite decided to land on earth with a high velocity impact. With its 2 million ton weight and a speed estimating to 90000kmph, it created a hole almost 150 meters deep and 2 km wide. The oval shaped meteor made a perfectly round shaped crater. The heat caused all the surroundings to melt and the result was the third largest salt water lake on earth and the only one of its kind which is made from basaltic rock. Today we know it as the ‘Lonar Crater’
Lonar Crater Lake is on the borders of Lonar village in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra state. It is almost a 3-4 hours drive from Aurangabad through picturesque paddy field bordering the route. Lonar derives its name from an ancient tale of a demon named Lonasura who was slayed by Lord Vishnu. Daityasudan temple in the heart of Lonar village is reminiscent of Khajuraho temples
The MTDC (Maharsahtra Tourism Development Corporation) Resort is the only logical option to stay in Lonar. We recommend looking no further. The resort rests on a small hillock just opposite the lake and you can get a serene view of the lake while dining from their restaurant. We reach the resort at lunch time and after a decent vegetarian thali lunch, rushed to view the lake from the topmost point. There are two gates on the circular path that encircles the lake top, the Kini gate and the Ganesh gate. We entered through the Kini gate and were stunned to see the first look of the lake. A deep gigantic hole with blue-green water and the sides covered with verdant green forests – a site to cherish for a lifetime. We walked up to the watch tower and climbed up to get a perfect view from the highest point possible. The crater is a geological spectacle. It reminded my of Carl Sagan’s words “We are all made of star dust”! The geological significance and the alien origin of this lake attracts experts from remarkable organisations like NASA even today.
The next morning we set off on a trail to the bottom of the crater with a guide as suggested by the MTDC manager. It is advised to take a guide along as the route is through forests and it is very easy to get lost. We trekked down a whopping 650 m from the main road opposite to MTDC. Another fascinating thing about this crater is that ancient temples encircle it. Read our second blog on temples inside and near Lonar.
A lot of mysteries revolve around Lonar. The water of Lonar is seven times saltier than sea water. It is still unknown why the water is salty yet alkaline. No one knows what the lake holds inside it, deep within. There are points near the lake where the compass fails. The lake also holds certain algae and micro-organisms rarely found elsewhere on earth. There are so many types of rocks found along the lake. A few of them have magnetic properties.
The trail encircling the crater is almost a 7km hike through forests, bumping into fascinating temples on the way. An ideal day would be to do this hike in the morning and return to the top in the Lonar Village to explore the temples around. Do not miss the sunset from the MTDC side of the lake. It is a captivating landscape which will make your eyes and especially your cameras extremely happy.
How to reach
Going by road is the best way (other options being the state transport buses) Reach Auranganad and take the Nagpur Highway through the Jalna By Pass Road. Just a small deviation from the GPS. The GPS shows a right turn after the town of Dusarbid. Do not take that turn and continue till the town of Sultanpur. ( This is the best road as per the road conditions as on Dec 2017) The roads are good with insignificant patches of diversions which is always a treat for driving enthusiasts. A couple of locations like the Jijau Shrusti and Chandani Talav call for a stop on the way. The tiny town of Sindhkhed Raja flaunts its importance as the birthplace of Rashtra Mata Jija Bai.
Where to Stay
MTDC resort is the only viable option to stay. It has 8 AC Rooms and two dormitories. Book it online earlier as it is usually fully booked, especially on weekends.
Where to Eat
MTDC has its restaurant in the resort campus which offers decent vegetarian food. There are also a couple of restaurants on the route to the Lonar village. We would suggest to stick by MTDC.
Quoting Carl Sagan here again, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love ❤️”
P.S. India is a magnificent country and we live on a beautiful planet. Please do not litter. Be a responsible traveller.