I had always wanted to visit the Lonar crater in Maharashtra; it never failed to fascinate me through photos and whatever information I had. So when I got an opportunity to visit Aurangabad, I made a point to make a dash to this place as well. How I reached there or returned back, is another interesting adventurous story but this post is about Lonar lake.
Although Lonar lake is third largest meteorite crater in the world, there is no commercialization of the place. Travel information on the net regarding this place is very sparse and though people are aware of this lake, not many of them have visited it. It is neither a touristy place nor been taken care of, to make one. There are no signboards and one has to depend on the local people for everything. Not that I mind it one bit… it lets me interact with them. 🙂
Besides countable no. of tourists, this place is visited by researchers, geologists and scientists from all over the world as well as by the serious nature lovers or adventure seekers.
The lake is around 50 thousand years old. The water is saline in nature; my guide mentioned it has substantial quantity of sulphur and phosphorus too. The outer diameter of the lake is 1.83 kilometers and the circumference is around 6-7 Kms. Descent to lake i.e. distance from the rim to ground level is about 140 meters.
Me holding a piece of basalt rock. It is porous and very light in weight.
It was August end and I was standing on the rim of the crater with a panoramic 180 degree view. And it instantly took my breath away ! The sylvan crater walls were enticing with lush green trees and so was abundant emerald green water…. in almost perfect round lake. It was one of the most captivating sights I have ever seen. The vast expanse of crater lake had mesmerized me forever. There was no way I could have returned back without hiking down the lake and taking a round of it.
But you try this activity only if you are physically fit, into some hiking and do not have any kind of breathing problem. My next post will be on tips for hiking to this place.
A natural wonder.
Color of the still water is an amazing shade of emerald green. I did not see any ducks or fishes; probably the water is too alkaline to support them.
From ground level, it’s just too captivating.
The crater has a vast richness in biodiversity and hence is home to a myriad variety of flora and fauna. As you walk around the lake, you can see and listen to several animals and birds like rabbit, deer, monkeys, snakes, monitor lizards, wolfs, peacocks, cuckoos, robins and pea fowls and many others creepy crawlers which are found in abundance in the dense jungle around the lake.
There are said to be twelve temples around the lake, not all of them functional on daily basis but good enough to make a halt during your hiking.
One of the temples.
One of the functioning temples.
Where to stay:
The only option to stay in Lonar is MTDC ‘resort’ unless you opt for much cheaper lodging facilities near the market or main bus station. The resort is situated right across the lake. Thanks to unpopularity of the place, the accommodations are usually vacant and hence easily available.
The food available at the restaurant is quite tasty and low-priced. From the restaurant one can sip evening tea watching the sun set while strong cool breeze whips against the face. What a bliss !
The other side of this poorly maintained resort is that at times the website doesn’t work and nobody picks up the phone even during office hours if you try to book the rooms. But as I mentioned, chances are very high to get an accommodation. The electricity goes off quite often and they do not have a generator. The attached bathrooms are dirty and don’t even ask me about the common lavatory on first floor adjacent to the restaurant.
A view from MTDC resort.
Since Lonar is a very small place, it does not have a railway station or an airport.
By Air: Nearest airport is at Aurangabad at a distance of 125 km from Lonar.
By rail: The nearest big railway station is Jalna on Mumbai-Nanded line at a distance of 90 kms. There are plenty of trains coming from every direction and from here one can hire a private/shared taxi or take a bus to Lonar.
By road: The best route to reach Lonar by road is through Aurangbad. From Mumbai, one can reach Lonar by taking the Mumbai – Aurangabad – Jalna – Lonar route. If you are coming from Ajanta caves, then the route would be via Chikhli, Mehkar, Sultanpur. But during heavy rains, dam water is released, roads are submerged and part of this route cuts off so much that even buses can not ply let alone smaller vehicles. That’s exactly what happened when I travelled.
From Aurangabad there are several buses which ply regularly to Lonar. Private non AC car (mostly Indica) would cost you around INR 2000/- (bargain if you can) for a day trip from Aurangabad.
Best Time to visit:
Though Lonar can be visited anytime of the year, my personal choice would be just after monsoons till winters when the climate is very pleasant & favorable for hiking and the scenery is totally lush green.
Also, during Navratri, the villagers go down the lake to offer prayers at different temples & dargah. It’ll be great to be a part of them.
This post Visiting Lonar lake is part of https://www.lemonicks.com.