Post a little bit of asking around (Being village, people are up and about pretty early) I headed off to the trail. There is the very conspicuous Gomukh temple at the entrance which has a perennial stream spouting out of one its crevices. Pilgrims jostled for space as they struggled to promptly get under the spout and put their heads there. Being the overt agoraphobic, I fled the place. There are steps leading down from the temple towards the Lake. This was where I realized I wasn’t really equipped for the trek through the jungle. The jungle was not very dense but lack of proper trekking shoes can be a hindrance. The trails are dirt tracks and it wasn’t particularly amusing to see little streams running everywhere making the trek through mud and slime particularly difficult with floaters.
The jungle is beautiful and I spotted a fair number of insects, particularly the dung beetle. It is advisable to be on the lookout for snakes during the monsoons. The trail is a little over 4 kms long and it looked like the trail was running around the perimeter of the Lake. And then, I saw this eerie temple right there in the middle of the jungle!
An old desolate historic temple right there in the middle of the jungle. This was pretty psychedelic. And yes, I desisted from being consummated by the inky and dark inside. The vast number of screeching bats inside made their presence apparent and I had no desire to play Batman particularly not a floater –clad Batman. The walls had been ‘adorned’ with love by people who can’t seem to get enough of vandalizing historical monuments. I seem to spot these white “raja-loves-priya” timeless love stories on almost all archaeological monuments these days; ASI or no ASI. I guess there exists these band of tourist couples who roam about the country with white paint with a “Hey, There’s a historical ruin, let’s show the govt. who’s boss” motive.
A small 15-minute walk and I came to an open space. This was it. India’s only meteorite lake. A wide vast expanse of greenish-blue water, still, lifeless save a few birds. It was eerie. And deathly silent. The jungle sounds made it all the more dramatic. This was a brilliant time to come here. I had caught the early morning rays of the sun peeping over the edge of the crater. The place was desolate. This was trippy. India’s only meteoritic lake. Here I was.
The lake is more or less circular. The trail covers almost a half of the circumference before we come to the open space. A small temple stood directly across the lake. I resumed the trail to get to the temple. It is a small ancient temple dedicated to the local village goddess. This is the KamalJi Devi temple and offered unhindered spectacular views of the lake and the crater. The architecture of the temple is very similar to the Daityasudan temple at Lonar.
A half-hour trek up the crater from the temple takes you at the edge of the crater where a rickety steel sight tower is perched precariously at the rim of the crater. Getting to the top does seem worth it for the spectacular panoramic view of the lake.
Lonar is also famous for the Daityasudan Temple – A temple strikingly similar to the Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh; it was built by the Chalukya dynasty. The temple is rich with carvings and the present deity was brought into the temple in a palanquin. A very astounding trivia about the place are the stones scattered around the Daityasudan Temple. They make a metallic sound when hit. Similar to an iron block. This is characteristic of most stones in the area.
There is a Hanuman Temple too in Lonar famous for the fact that it houses one of the few idols of Lord Hanuman in a reclining pose. Most idols of Hanuman are built standing up and it is rare to see an idol built lying down. The idol was apparently covered with the traditional saffron (“kumkum”) powder by over-enthusiastic pilgrims before the authorities decided to intervene and scraped the powder off the idol and installed a barricade around the idol to prevent further unofficial coloring works.
Lonar is a beautiful town. The people are more than happy to show you around and are a simple lot. I was accompanied by a particular Nasser, a local who showed me the other attractions in Lonar in his Auto. They know the history of the place and you could probably glean more info off them than any guide book. This was one off-beat destination which will remain a treasured memory. Till next time…