‘Scars are tattoos with better stories’ LONAR CRATER is one of those scars on earth caused by meteor impact and is extremely beautiful with so many interesting stories (facts) about it……
As usual we were on a lookout for offbeat places and came across this amazing place with unparalleled biodiversity!!! Lonar crater is a notified national geo-heritage monument created by meteor impact about 50000 years back. It is 2nd largest crater in world and the only hypervelocity impact crater in basaltic rock on earth. Initially it was thought to be of volcanic origin but later on studies proved that it is formed by extraterrestrial impact. It’s an oval shape depression which bears water in its central portion forming lake and surrounded by hills. Area is 1.13 sq km and average depth is 137m. Circumference at top is about 8km and at base is about 4.8km.
The water of the lake is saline and alkaline at the same time containing various salts and sodas. During dry weather when evaporation reduces the water level, large quantities of soda are collected. All the requisites for making glass and soap are produced here. Chemical characteristics of lake shows 2 distinct regions that do not mix, outer neutral (pH 7) and innner alkaline (pH 11) with its own floura and fauna. You can actually try it with litmus paper. You can experience the strong smell of rotten eggs at the lake indicating presence of sulphur. Small streams and freshwater springs on the shore fill the bank. High alkalinity harbours nitrogen fixing bacterias.
What makes this blue green lake more beautiful is the lush green jungle surrounding it and the old abandoned temples in the jungle. It’s quite interesting that there’s different vegetation at different levels, 1st ring is formed mostly by date palms, 2nd by tamarind trees and 3rd by acacia. The soil has high iron content. It can be tested with a magnet.
The jungle is rich in wildlife and is a birdwatchers paradise.
There are different tracks to reach the lake. The commonly used paths are one opposite MTDC resort and the other stairs from the Gomukh temple. We went trekking down from MTDC resort.
Temples in and around the crater: There are more than 12 old temples around that area known as Yadava temples or Hemadpanti temples (named after Hemadri Ramgaya). We visited Ramgaya temple, Daitya sudan temple & Gomukh temple.
Ramgaya temple- This temple is in the jungle surrounding the lake.
Gomukh temple- It is situated at the rim of crater and you get the most amazing views of the crater. There is an eternal fresh water stream.
Daitya sudan temple- This temple is Vishnu temple situated in Lonar village outside the crater. Carvings on this temple are similar to that of Khajuraho temple.
Best time to visit: Early mornings, afternoons can get too hot and not advisable in the late evenings. We went at around 3:30 pm but since it was raining weather was pleasant. It takes around half an hour to reach the lake.
Best season to visit: monsoons (the lake looks more beautiful because of the greenery), Nov-Dec (For bird watching)
Place to stay: Only 1 good place to stay at Lonar, MTDC resort located at the rim of crater……. spacious cottages as well as dormitory. Decent no frills accommodation with great location. Decent food with very basic dining area, indoor as well as outdoor with good views of the crater.
How to reach: It is about 500km from Mumbai by road. We drove to Lonar via Pune, Ahmednagar and returned back via Nashik.
Nearest railway station- Aurangabad 5hrs, Jalna- 3hrs.
Nearest airport- Aurangabad
From Aurangabad and Jalna, you have to go by road…… road to Lonar is not very good. It’s full of potholes.
What to wear: It’s better to wear trekking shoes and pants. As I din’t know about the trek part, I wore a long skirt and juttis. Luckily my juttis were very comfortable but I regret wearing a long skirt, though it’s looking good in pictures!!!
I wonder how such beautiful place is not yet popular! When we went there, even though it was a weekend, I could see only 2-3 groups of tourists…… It’s a great weekend destination in Maharashtra for nature enthusiasts.