Lonar Lake – The Hunt for the Green Lake

An excursion to Lonar Crater Lake had always been in my bucket list considering the history associated with it. That it was formed more than 50,000 years ago by a hyper-velocity impact of a meteor. I had read that the best time to visit the place is around November-December as weather is relatively cool. Therefore I made a plan to visit it in the month of November. Since there was a holiday for Gurunanak Jayanti on 4th November, I decided to club my Lonar Crater Lake visit with a visit to Hazur Sahib Gurudwara in Nanded.

LONAR CRATER LAKE EXCURSION

  • 2nd Nov (Thursday): Departure from Mumbai to Jalna by train at night
  • 3rd Nov (Friday): Visit Lonar Crater Lake and leave for Nanded by train in late evening

Day 0 (2nd Nov 2017): I boarded the 17057 Devagiri Express which left Dadar at 9:25 pm and reached Jalna at 5:30 am next day (delayed by almost 30 minutes).

Day 1 (3rd Nov 2017): The shared auto-rickshaw outside Jalna railway station dropped me to the bus stand for Rs. 10.

From bus stand I boarded the bus for Washim (which is the best option as it drops you at Lonar bus stand itself). This particular bus’ frequency doesn’t seem to be good from the timetable I saw on the “Majhi ST” app. Jalna to Lonar bus ticket is Rs. 96.

Lonar is about 80 kms away from Jalna for which the bus takes around 2 and half hours to cover. Almost all buses take a 15 minutes halt at Hotel Amruta on the way which is a small food joint where you can have breakfast (poha) and tea.

The bus arrived at Lonar bus stand at around 8.30 am. I had planned to visit the Daitya Sudan Mandir first as it is just 700 meters away from the bus stand. The temple is an excellent example of a Hoysala style architecture. According to the mythology, Lord Vishnu as Daitya Sudan had killed a demon named Lonasura and hence the place got its name “Lonar”.

The temple is well maintained and the premises was kept very clean. A walk for few minutes from Daitya Sudan temple would take you to Limbi Barav – a step well which is a marvellous structure and a must visit spot (though I missed out on visiting it so couldn’t upload the images).

From Daitya Sudan mandir, I walked a mile or so and reached the Gomukh Temple (also called as Sita Nahani temple or Dhaar), which has a perennial stream under which people can bathe.

This 50,000+ year old crater is home to around 14 beautifully built temples. It is the only known hyper-velocity impact crater in Basaltic rock anywhere on the Earth. The crater’s diameter is approx. 1.8 kms whereas the diameter of the lake is around 1.2 kms. The average depth of the lake is ~150 meters. The lake water has very high salt content (hypersaline) and high pH levels (hyper-alkaline) and is considered to be 7 times saltier than sea water.

You may climb down the steps at Gomukh temple and reach the lake after a brief walk through the forest. Or you should probably head towards the View Tower if your primary intent is to capture the aerial view of the lake. The tower is about  1 km away from the Gomukh temple.

You may even hitch-hike and reach the spot. As you walk up till the View Tower, you would get to see boards put up to inform travellers about the presence of Leopards, Striped Hyenas, etc. in the region.

Due to the presence of Gray Langurs around the View Tower, better keep all the valuables in the rucksack/ backpack.I descended from that spot to the lake – the route which actually brought me directly to the Kamalja Devi Temple. The person over there claimed to be from the Archaeological department and noted my details in the visitors catalogue.

Considering the time availability and energy levels, I chose to head towards the Gomukh temple. This time I took the same route, but of course along the lake’s rim. I would recommend one should take the opposite route. You will then get to see the Ambarkhana/ Sun temple, Mungala Mahadev temple and Chopda Mahadev temple along that route.

One gets to see many basalt rock pieces scattered along the rim of the lake. Lonar Crater Lake is like a study tour for ornithologists. Various kinds of birds such as Brahminy ducks/ Shelducks, Black-winged stilts, Grebes, Shovelers, Teals can be seen.

Once you come up to the Gomukh temple, you may bathe under the “Dhaar” and freshen up. I headed back to Jalna by boarding the Aurangabad bound ST bus and carried the memories to my next destination – Hazur Sahib Nanded.

Best time to visit Lonar Lake

November to December; avoid summers for extreme heat and monsoons for heavy rains.

How to reach Lonar Lake

For travelers from Mumbai/ Pune, nearest railway station is Jalna (80 kms). ST bus from Jalna would take 150 minutes to reach. Travellers coming from other side of the lake could take the Nagpur – Washim – Lonar route.

Accommodation near Lonar Lake

  • MTDC Resort, Lonar

Restaurants near Lonar Lake

  • Hotel Gulmohar
  • Hotel Atharva
  • MTDC Cafeteria

Things to remember

  • First of foremost, punctuality/ time management is of utmost importance while travelling by public transport. If you miss the bus, it has the domino effect on the rest of the itinerary. So make sure you are at the right place at right time.
  • Better carry a winter jacket as it is quite chilly over there in mornings. You would actually want it for just an hour or so.
  • Keep change/ coins ready while removing bus tickets. The ST conductor would ask you to hand him Rs. 100 and collect remaining Rs. 4 while getting down. After almost 3 hours of journey, neither you remember this nor does he even remind you.
  • Beware of pickpockets, especially while getting into the bus.
  • Please DO NOT carry food items, shampoo, soaps while visiting Gomukh temple.
  • Wear full sleeve clothes, cap and a buff for protection from the extreme heat. Apply sunscreen.
  • DO NOT touch the lake water. It may cause itching, irritation or rashes.
  • Beware of Gray Langurs and safeguard your belongings.
  • Please DO NOT take the stones/ rocks with you as a souvenir.
  • Time management is important if it is a one day affair. I had to wait for more than an hour to get a bus from Lonar to Jalna.
  • Drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated.
  • A wide-angle lens is a must if you want to capture the entire lake from the View Tower.

Here’s a short video of my trip to Lonar Crater Lake:

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