Lonar Lake, near Lonar village in Buldhana district is not just the source of excitement for visitors but also for the scientist community. To add to its natural beauty the lake has enough fauna in its surroundings making it a serene and scenic spot.
Lonar crater is a bowl shaped depression formed 50,000
years ago by the impact of a huge meteor that descended on earth from
space and carved out a bowl roughly 7-km in circumstance and 1.8-km in
diameter. The size and the age make it the largest and oldest meteoric
crater in the world, ante-dating its nearest rival, the Canyon-Diabolo of
Arizona in the United States by a clear 230 centuries.
This is the only crater in the world created by hypervelocity meteoritic impact in basaltic rock. The scientific research have revealed that the stone mass which struck the earth was approximately 60m in diameter weighing about a million tones. The force of impact is estimated to have generated energy equivalent to six megatons of explosion. The maximum elevation in the area is 669m and the minimum is 370m. Today, Lonar is the third largest natural salt-water lake in the world. It comes after Bosmatvi Lake in Ghana, which has a diametre of 10,000m and New Cubec in Canada with a diametre of 3,500m.
The lake was first brought to notice in 1823 by British officer C.J.E. Alexander. In 1896, American geologist G.K. Gilbert conducted studies to prove that Lonar was created due to meteor strike. An extensive study conducted on the spot under the leadership of Prof. K. Fredrikson by officials of Geological Survey of India, United States Geological survey and other institutions, proved using Cosmic Ray-dating that the lake was created by a meteor hit 50,000 years ago.
Lonar crater has an almost perfectly circular shape. The
Crater Lake was formed by the accumulation of water in the deeper parts of
basin. The Lonar crater is endowed with a unique, self-evolved micro
ecosystem leading to evolution of new life forms.
Spirulina, blue green algae are found in the crater. Many variety of avifauna can also be seen in the crater. Unlike its dry and arid counterpart, the Canyon-Diabolo, the Lonar crater boasts of a beautiful brackish water lake. Rocks in the crater reveal many characteristic features of the moon rocks.
Apart form its scientific importance Lonar also occupies a
place of prominence in our ancient scripts. It finds mention in "Aaina-i-Akbari".
During the days of Emperor Akbar, a salt factory was located here.
According to Sanskrit literature, Lonar was called "Viraj Kshetra"
in ancient times. It finds mention in "Viraj Mahatmya" a chapter
in "Skanda Puran and Padma Puran" Sanskrit works.
According to Lonar Mahatmya in ancient times, Kashyap Rishi had many sons, one of whom was believed to be staying in the vicinity of Lonar Lake. When Lavanasur terrorized the people and rulers of the region, the son of Rishi Kashyap had prayed to Lord Vishnu to kill Lavanasur.
In the 13th Century, a temple of Lord Vishnu was
constructed here during the Chalukya Raj. The temple still exists and is
150m long and 450m wide. It is a fine example of the quality of
architecture practiced and perfected during that era.
Near the Lonar lake is the Paphareshwar pilgrimage and the engravings on the temple are in Sanskrit and sadly they have still not been deciphered.
Air: The nearest airport is at
Aurangabad , 170-km away.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Jalna 90-km away.
Road: This place is connected by regular buses from Malkapur, Khamgaon, Aurangabad, Ajanta, Buldhana, Jalgaon, and Mumbai .
Visitors can camp at Lonar in PWD /Forest rest house. A new tourist complex of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation is coming up shortly at the crater site.