India is the land of myths and legends. However, not many have heard about the Lonar Lake in Maharashtra is one such place where religion meets science and science meets folklore. This lake located near Buldhana is also known as Lonar Crater Lake. One of Maharashtra’s best-kept secrets, this mighty waterbody is named after the mythical demon, Lonasur and was formed when a meteor hit the earth’s surface millions of years ago.
There are countless myths and religious settings that surround this lake. So, let’s discover this ‘extra-terrestrial’ phenomena and decipher one more chapter in Indian folklore.
History of the Lonar Crater Lake
It is one of the only four hyper-velocity, impact craters in basaltic rock. The crater was formed after a meteor impact on earth’s surface. Created more than 50,000 years ago, Lonar Lake has a diameter of 1.2 km and the crater itself is 1.8 wide and 150 metres deep.
History enthusiasts will be delighted to know that the crater lake was first mentioned in ancient Indian scriptures such as the Padma Purana and Skanda Purana. It has also been described in Ain-i-Akbari, a document written around 1600 CE. Evidence indicates that is was once part of the Mauryan Empire.
Lonar Lake Temple and Folklore
Indian folklore and an ancient religious setting have made Lonar Lake Tourism a weirdly interesting combination. A few locals fanning the superstitious belief have stated that the meteor crater was Lonasura’s resting place. They add fuel to this myth by stating that the lake’s murky water is because of the blood spilt after Lord Krishna killed the demon.
This historical marvel is surrounded by ancient ruins of many temples. These are a classic example of early Hindu architecture. The most famous example is of Daitya Sudan, built in honor of Krishna’s victory over Lonasur. The ceiling of this temple is marked with carvings and walls on the outside are covered with carved figures.
The partially submerged Shankar Ganesh Temple is popular for its rectangular Shiva idol. Head to the Gomukh Temple if you want to take a dip in a freshwater spring. Located near Ambar crater lake, Motha Maruti temple, houses a mythical idol that is believed to be made out of the meteor that formed the crater.
Lonar Lake Fauna
The ‘ancient’ lake is home to a wide range of fauna. Professional wildlife photographers can capture pictures of migratory and indigenous birds such as black-winged stilts, larks, tailorbirds, brahminy ducks, shelduck (migratory birds from Europe), blue jays, baya weavers etc. Barking deer, Chinkara, mongoose, bats, Gazelle are also a part of this natural habitat.
The area housing these species was given the status of a Wildlife sanctuary by the Indian government on November 20, 2015.
How to reach Lonar Lake
The closest airport is in Aurangabad and is connected by flights from Delhi and Mumbai. There is a frequent train service from Mumbai. Journey via bus takes roughly 4-5 hours and the route goes through Jalna. Private taxi services can also be hired if you are looking for a much more comfortable option.
Best time to visit Lonar Lake
If a monsoon getaway is your thing, travel between June- September to experience a journey through lush green forests and misty mountains. It is advisable to be a bit careful as the trek to the lake is arduous and path is slippery.
The mythical crater lake is bound to pique your interest. So, if you think there is more to it than meets the eye in this ancient temple ruins, pack your bags and head to Lonar Lake to solve one the oldest mysteries in India.
Curated by Ruchit Rastogi