Last year I visited Lonar Lake, located at Lonar in Buldhana district, Maharashtra. Most of my travel buddies were skeptical about the destination, whether it will be worth visiting or not. But In the end, I didn't regret taking up this trip since I got to know some really cool facts about this place.
What made me decide to visit Lonar in the first place?
The one reason that Lonar lake is formed 50,000 years ago due to the collision of a meteorite on the surface of the region, made me curious to visit there at least once.
When I researched further, I came to know about its saline and alkaline nature at the same time which makes it unique among other meteor impacts lakes around the world. Such a lake that too in our very own country, it had to be must-visit for any traveler.
Stay at Resort with crater view
We stayed at MTDC resort which is pretty close to the lake and is a decent place to stay in terms of food and room facilities. Check for bookings here.
Things to do around the Lake:
1. Daitya Sudan Temple
We started by exploring the temples near around Lonar crater. First in the list is Daitya Sudan. It is one of the best examples of the Hemadpanti style of construction, the temple is built in the form of asymmetrical style. Wonderful carvings of the temple resemble the popular Khajuraho temple.
Detailed carvings which covered the entire surface of the temple, elaborates stories from Puranas, great epics like Ramayan, Mahabharata, incarnations of various gods and goddesses, Apsaras and Yakshas.
The shrine is very dark and the carvings within can be revealed only with the help of a torch.
2. Magnetic Rock Hanuman Statue
Motha Maruthi temple has a Hanuman idol made of rock believed to be highly magnetic. It is believed that in 1841, a Ram devotee found the idol of sleeping hanuman in the woods. The idol is around 9 feet,3 inches high, and 4 feet in breadth.
3. Jungle trek through centuries-old abandoned temples
The trail is full of dirt, however small streams running everywhere will definitely amuse you, just remember to have good trekking shoes. The jungle is really beautiful and the entire stretch is approx 4 km which looks like running around the perimeter of the lake.
After walking for around half a km, I saw this centuries-old abandoned temple, which made it all worth. What excited me more, was that there were more 9 to 10 such temples hidden in the jungle.
It was too much information to keep track of temple Names along with pictures but here are few I could recall.
One of the temples, had a staircase going down, archeologists still working on exploring the secrets of the ancient ruins hidden in Lonar.
Finally the trail took us to Lonar Lake
After walking into the jungle for about an hour, we reached an open space and that was it, the India's only meteor impact lake. A wide expanse of greenish water, this oval shape crater has a circumference of around 5 miles at the top.
The waterbody is alkaline and saline at the same time, the Lonar Lake supports micro-organisms rarely found elsewhere on earth. A 2019 study by IIT Bombay found that minerals found in the lake are very similar to the one found in moon rocks brought back from Apollo mission[ Source: Wikipedia]
Supposedly compasses fail to work at some locations near the crater due to its unique geological composition.
What caused the lake to turn Pink?
Recently the lake is reported to be turned pink and there are different theories in support of it. Experts believe the change is likely due to increased salinity in the water, the presence of algae, or both. The phenomenon is not only creating curiosity among scientists but also nature enthusiasts.
There is no oxygen below one meter of the lake. There is also an example of Lake in Iran where water becomes reddish due to an increase in Salinity.
The level of water currently is low as compared to the past few years and no rain is pouring fresh water. The low level of water may have increased salinity and change in the behavior of algae due to atmospheric changes may be the reason for color change.
Also, Researchers are trying to figure out if the presence of red algae caused this change.
Let’s all wait for the scientists to reveal the actual reason behind the change in the color of the lake. But I hope we all agree that the visit to this place will be full of adventure, curiosity, and some new experiences. So put it on top of your first post COVID trip.
So lets conclude, why LONAR?
1. India’s prehistoric meteoric crater.
2. Waterbody which is alkaline and saline at the same time, the Lonar Lake supports micro-organisms rarely found elsewhere on earth.
3. Dense jungle trek to centuries-old abandoned temples. You may be lucky to spot leopard as well.
4. It is one of the four known, hyper-velocity, impact crater in basaltic rock anywhere on earth. The other 3 basaltic impact structures are in Brazil.
5. Rare blue-green algae can be seen in the lake. If lucky, you will be able to see the recent color transformation of the lake.
6. Last but not least, Just a weekend is enough to explore the city.