Lonar is a distant town in Buldhana district of Maharashtra, where lies a unique crater lake formed due to hypervelocity meteorite impact. A trip to this mysterious place was long time due, even last year we visited Aurangabad and still could not make it to Lonar. One thing or other kept us away and this trip got postponed. And when we started planning for the trip this year the first question that popped in our mind was whether a trip to Lonar is even worth it? The dilemma is real, we were clueless about what to expect from this place! After lots of research, we went ahead with the plan to see it ourselves!
Finally we ticked off this amazing place from our list as we are back from a weekend trip to Lonar. Read on to know more about this mysterious lake and most importantly to know the answer!
What is Lonar Crater ?
Around 50000 years ago a massive meteorite moving with velocity of 90000 kmph hit the earth which led to formation of this crater which has a diameter of around 2 k.m. The lake however has a diameter of around 1.2 k.m and is 150 m deep. This is the only salt water lake in the world formed in basaltic rock and it has many peculiar properties which has intrigued scientists from all over the world. The lake water is saline and alkaline at the same time and allows flora and fauna rarely found anywhere else on the earth. Also compasses fail to work in certain parts of crater. (Source: Wikipedia)
Apart from the lake , there are various ancient temple and ruins on periphery of the lake. There are few spectacular temples in town as well which are much visit. Continue reading to find out relevant information to plan your trip smoothly.
The popular city near Lonar is Aurangabad, which is well connected by air, rail and road to other parts of country. The city has direct rail links to important Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, etc. From Mumbai, many trains departs from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus / Dadar Railway Station. The other nearest city to Lonar is Jalna which is around 80 k.m away.
Often people club their trip to Lonar with Aurangabad which is rightly called as tourism capital of Maharashtra. The town serves as a base for exploring the World Heritage Sites of Ellora and Ajanta caves. Read our blog on Aurangabad to plan your trip in best way :
Lonar is around 3 hours drive from Aurangabad (around 135 K.m), and one can easily hire a cab or even hop on a state Government bus from there.
As we already did Aurangabad trip last year as we mentioned before, we took an overnight train from Mumbai to Jalna. From Jalna railway station we took a shared auto-rickshaw for bus depot which charged us 20 Rs per head. Luckily as soon as we arrived at bus stop, a state bus to Lonar was leaving so we hopped into it. The bus leaves in every hour, and even if you do not get a direct bus to Lonar, you can catch a bus to Sultanpur which is around 15k.m from Lonar. The bus fare is 115 Rs per head and it took 2 and half hours to reach Lonar.
Lonar is still not a popular destination among tourists and hence there are very limited stay options available. There are few lodges and homestays mainly near bus stop which charge around 1000 Rs for an A.C. room. But we would recommend to stay at MTDC resort in Lonar which is very close to Lonar crater lake. It has a dormitory as well so if you are travelling in group this would be a better option. It charges around 1500 Rs for a non Ac room and 2000 Rs for an AC room per night, you can either book online on MTDC site or make a call directly to resort.
Many tourists stay in Aurangabad and make a day trip to Lonar, which is also a good idea given Aurangabad has plenty of stay options available.
For food either you have to go to main town area (near bus stop) or you can have lunch /dinner at MTDC resort mess/canteen. As we stayed in MTDC resort we had all our meals in MTDC mess only, the food was okay and the prices were also economical.
What to Cover?
The first spot has to be the crater lake! to reach here one has to trek down for around half an hour. There is a way just in front of MTDC resort from where you can have a full view and also can go down till the lake. Enroute you will pass through lush green forest area with variety of birds and animals.
The area of 3.83 km2 is declared as Lonar Wildlife Sanctuary by the government in year 2015. As we were here in off season there was no sign of other human, which was spooky and exciting at the same time.
As soon as you approach the lake, the terrain changes! Barren surface with huge cracks and no hint of grass leave trees for that matter. The pungent smell of sulphur was little repulsive, but it still felt so exciting to witness something so different. The lake water looks dark green in colour due to presence of cyanobacteria. You will notice many instrumental setup installed at lake periphery for studying lake properties. The lake unique properties is still studied many geologists, ecologists, archeologists and astronomers.
There are around 12 temples on the periphery of lake, most of the them are in ruins now and are inhabited by bats and monkeys. The majority of temples are built in reign of Chalukya dynasty and are mainly dedicated to lord Shiva & Rama. Other than that there are few spectacular temples in town as well, we will be mentioning few which we recommend to cover.
Kamalaja Devi temple
As we were beside lake we noted this temple in far south, we moved ahead and entered forest again to reach to this temple. The trails were blocked by fallen logs and shrubs, so we had to again turn back to walk beside lake to arrive here.
Kamalja devi temple is one of the few temples on periphery of lake where prayers are being offered everyday. Dedicated to Goddess Kamalaja, as in this form she is believed to have helped Shiva in fighting Demon Tripurasura.
Temple is built in the Nagara style of architecture. We were told by some Government officials sitting there that every year in Navratri, this place comes into life as an annual festival is organised and many pilgrims from nearby area visit this temple.
After visiting this temple we went back to our stay to have lunch and to take some rest, in evening we visited the other famous temple in town, Daityasudan temple.
Daityasudan temple is in interior of Lonar town, around 1.5 k.m from MTDC. We decided to walk and reached the temple in around 15 minutes. The temple pleasantly surprised us, as it has beautiful intricate carvings on its walls that closely resembles to the work in Khajuraho temple. The temple is built in form of asymmetrical star in reign of Chalukya dynasty between 6th to 12th century AD.
As legend has it Lord Vishnu came down to this place in the form of a young boy called Daityasudan to kill demon Lonasura. He killed the demon in a battle which ended up in creating lonar lake. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the deity idol tanding atop the demon is made of iron ore. Another idol of God Surya is placed in the back of the temple. This further adds to the assumption that the temple was originally dedicated to the Sun god.
As we were leaving the temple , we met Mr. Bugdane, a famous person for his knowledge and studies about the place. He has written a book on Lonar as well, as we were having conversation with him it started raining so we went back to our stay. We had dinner in our room only as it was raining heavily and we called off the night.
In morning we went on a walk to the lake before checking out from hotel. We planned to visit Gomukh temple before leaving Lonar. Again we decided to cover the distance of 1.4 k.m by walking with our backpacks.
The decision of visiting Gomukh temple turned out to be the best! Gomukh temple also known as Dhar temple, is quite famous among locals and rightly so. It is situated on the periphery of Lonar lake and the lake can be accessed from this temple as well. An interminant fresh water stream flows through Cow mouth’s shaped opening into a kund (tank), taking bath in which is considered holy by pilgrims.
We took an auto to bus stand and requested the driver to stop at Limbi Barav stepwell for a while. The place was locked down and through fence we could see it is in bad shape. In the town there is more famous temple of lord Hanuman(Maruti temple) which houses an eight feet tall idol of Lord Hanuman in sleeping position idol. We could not visit this temple due to lack of time. We left for bus stand and took an shared sumo (20 Rs per head) for Sultanpur as bus was running late. From Sultanpur we easily got a bus to Jalna from where we boarded an overnight train to Mumbai. The trip was light on our pocket as it costed us around 3000 Rs for two person (excluding train fare).
|Jalna railway station to Jalna bus stand||20 Rs ( X2 ) |
|Bus for Lonar||115 Rs ( X2 )||230 Rs|
|Lonar Bus stand to MTDC stay - 50 rs for Auto||50 Rs||50 Rs|
|Lonar MTDC - Non-AC room||1500 Rs per night||1500 Rs|
|Food ||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Day 1)|
Breakfast (Day 2)
|Return to Jalna||50 Rs+ 40 Rs + 230 Rs||320 Rs|
The trip to Lonar is totally worth it if you ask us, A perfect blend of Geology, Astronomy, History and some Mystery!
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