How about visiting a mysterious place, which is not just an ideal location for a short getaway but also, a rich national geological heritage site! Known to be an ecological and scientific treasure, the Lonar Crater lake is situated near the town of Lonar in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra. Classified as a national geological heritage site by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), what makes this place historically special is that it is known to be a meteoric crater! Adding an extra treat for tourists and travelers, the town in itself is a breathtaking location, just ideally perfect for a short break to take a weekend getaway from the sedentary urban life.
Must-know historical facts of the Lonar Crater Lake:
Lonar s claim to global fame is not just its origin, but also its ecological significance. The crater is believed to have references to the most ancient Indian texts such as the holy Valmiki Ramayan.
The Lonar Crater, first discovered in the year 1823 by a British officer C.J.E Alexander, is now considered a rich heritage site as most tourists visit the place to see the crater.
It is ranked among the world s five largest craters and the third-largest saltwater lake in the world.
Origin of the Lonar Crater:
There have been many debates over whether the crater had been formed by a meteor or whether it has a volcanic origin because of its absolutely round basin-like structure with defined edges.
For many years, geologists supported the volcanic theory but recent research has proved that it was undoubtedly created out of the impact of a meteor due to a typical glassy material found around the crater, which was created due to the heat generated at the time of impact.
How to reach Lonar Crater Lake?
The lake is situated around 505 kilometers from Mumbai and 160 kilometers from Aurangabad. It is a little more than a four-hour drive from the famous Ajanta Caves, which is situated in Aurangabad.
- How to travel by air to reach Lonar Crater Lake:
The nearest international airport for the lake is Mumbai s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. The nearest domestic airport is the Aurangabad Airport and is located about 122 km away. The airport is well connected to all main cities of the country.
- How to travel by train to reach Lonar Crater Lake:
Aurangabad is the nearest major railway station for the lake. The station provides railway connectivity to cities like Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Bhopal, Madurai as well as Delhi by running regular train services. However, Jalna is another railhead which is located about 102 km away.
- How to travel by road to reach Lonar Crater Lake:
Driving down through roads to reach the Lonar lake is the most convenient and preferable option. The state transport buses run regularly to Lonar from Aurangabad, Pune, Mumbai, Alibag and Daman.
Tourist attractions at Lonar:
- Lonar offers several attractions for tourists and travelers. Apart from being a serene hub for a quick weekend getaway, it also boasts of many historically important temples and sightseeing joints.
- Many temples such as the Shankar-Ganesh Mandir, Wagh-Mahadev Mandir as well as Ambarkhana Sun Temple are situated in the town.
- For those who are especially drawn towards studying ancient temple architecture, the ones in Lonar will hold historical importance. This is because the temples were built according to the Hemadpanthi style of architecture, which means, they were constructed without the use of cementing agents.
- At the Lonar Crater Lake itself, one of the most splendid sights is that of the hundreds of peafowl which reside within the crater. Some of the other wildlife sightings possible in the vicinity of the crater include snakes, monitor lizard, fox, mongoose and deer.
Mythological relevance of the Lonar Crater:
- The Lonar Crater Lake, with the lake at its centre, has also been associated with Indian mythology. It has a reference as Panchapsar in the Valmiki Ramayan and has been later written about by the epic poet Kalidas, around 16 centuries ago. He had termed it as the lake Panchapsar in his famous text titled Raghuvansh .
- As for the historical name Panchapsar, it was derived from the fact that there are as many as five different streams which feed the lake.
- According to mythological lore, it has been believed that when Lord Rama was flying overhead on his way from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya, which was his capital, he showed a place to his beloved Queen Sita. Researchers opine that Lord Rama was referring to this lake at Lonar.
- The Lonar Crater also finds a suitable mention in the Ain-e-Akbari which was authored during the later period of the Mughal era.
- The crater also finds a suitable mention with the Daitya Sudan Mandir in Lonar. According to a folk tale, Lonarasur who was considered as a demon used to stay in the saline waters of the crater. Lord Vishnu, known for sustaining life, is believed to have killed the demon in the Lonar lake. Inspired by this folk tale, one of the Chalukya kings built the Daitya Sudan Mandir. The 6th century masterpiece still remains among the finest sculptures of the ancient times and serves as an example of the impressive architectural finesse that was prevalent during those times.