Lonar Crater Lake

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2018

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1. Lonar is famous for crater & lake. Diameter of crater as the surface is about 1300 m. Lake is circular except on the north-eastern side. Large portion of lake is shallow about 2 metres of water during monsoons. Most striking feature of lake is its extreme salinity & high alkalinity (pH10.5). The most interesting feature of the saline water ecosystem of Lonar Lake is it blue-green alge and bacteria. Left of pic is Kamlja Devi Mandir.

2. View of lake from forest dept side. Kamalja Devi temple is on right of pic. Detailed captions from book on Lonar by Shri S T Bugdane. The crater was discovered in 1823 by C G Alexander. Lavanasura Rakshas (demon) lived in Lonar. Vishnu killed him so from demon came the name of the village as Lonar. Lavan in Sanskrit means salt. Crater is salty. From early times people made salt here.

3. Crater means huge & deep naturally formed salt water lake (it is the third largest such lake in the world). It is only crater in the world formed from Basaltic Rock. Water of the lake is seven times more salty than sea water. About 50k years a Meteorite hitting the earth had great impact and converted it into a crater. Board at MTDC resort. Album covers lake, temples around lake and perennial water spring Dhar.

4. This is the Gomukh Temple. Water as you see flows round the year. It is believed to come from 18 kms away. From here it flows to the crater. From the main road walk down a bit to reach here. U can take steep steps down to another old Shiv Temple. U cannot do a full parikrama of the lake, can do only about 50%.

5. Step-well next to temple above. In front big piece of stone is Nandi. On walls of step-well niches were keeping murthis. Top are Shiv temples. Lake best viewed from MTDC Resort (eastern side) or Forest department side (north).

6. Walk down steps Kumareshwar Mandir that you see. Centre of pic is Kamalja (Lakshmi) temple. ‘Lonar Crater is identified as the world’s only hyper velocity meteorite impact in the basalt. Researchers believe that meteor of about 60 metre diameter & weighing a million tons in the form of stone had struck the earth at 20 km/sec high velocity causing tremendous heat and energy and cloud of molten ash & dust.’

7. Entrance of Kumareshwar mandir is Nandi, vehicle of Shiva. Close by is Sita Nahani temple (Sita is said to have bathed here). ‘Explosion was equivalent of a 6 megatone bomb. The meteor is believed to have been buried 600 meter below the crater level. Digging a pit anywhere in the basin, a little away from the saline lake yields sweet & potable water.’

8. Story of Sravan Kumar. This is how he took his blind parents on a pilgrimage. To read full story http://www.balagokulam.org/kids/stories/shravankumar.php

9. Side view of temple complex. Loved this place. From here we headed to the lake as it was about 5.15 pm for sunset. According to Bugdane book, ‘In Treta age on the way back from Lanka Sri Ram, Laxman, Sita once again visited Lonar, Lonar lake then was known as PANCHAPSAR lake”.

10. View point near MTDC resort. Lonar village appears at sea level. As we drove to crater gradual increase in height. Crater is like a big hole in land mass with hills all around. According to book, “In Dwapar age PANDAV has also taken holy bath. Then lake was known as Nabhi Tirtha & Dhara as Kapila Tirth. From 1294 to 1853 Lonar mostly ruled by Muslims.”

11. Sunset that we saw is not comparable to many others but liked it nevertheless. There are 32 temples in Lonar of which 27 temples are located inside the crater. According to guide Subhash Yadava rulers of Devgiri (i.e. near Aurangabad) made 12 Jyotirling temples around the lake. Period around 10-11th centuries.

12. Next morning did the parikrama of temples around the lake. Started at 6.30 am. This is the Kamalja Devi Temple reflection in lake water. (she is local deity, also called Lakshmi). Branches that you see are of babul trees. Starting point of trek opp MTDC resort. It is an easy climb downhill after which u walk on dried up parts of the lake.

13. View of Kamalja Devi Mandir. Left are ruins of a Shiv temple. Right is a Deepstambh. During Navaratri temples comes alive and deepstambh is lit with lamps. It is a typical Maharashtrian design. Also seen in Ahilyabai Holkar Fort Maheshwar. For a good guide call Shailesh 91 97635 45169. He is usually there at the MTDC resort.

14. White well is called Saas Bahu ka Kua (well). It has got its name because half well is salty water and another half is sweet water. Centre of pic on hill is Gomukh Temple. Vishnu & Lakshmi temples opposite each other.

15. Hanuman Temple is not part of the parikrama but just showing. The murthi was discovered by the Kanitkar family in 1841. It has magnetic effect. If you put a compass next to murthi it will not work. Hanuman is angry-see this teeth, big eyes, raised hand as if to hit. Since Shani Bhagwan causes problems for people Hanumanji kept him at his feet to help him get rid of ego.

16. On the southern and eastern side of lake are numerous temple ruins. Local guide said made by the Yadavas of Devgiri about 11th century. There were temples representing 12 Jyotirlings. It was believed that would attract locals to the crater. This temple is called Mor Mahadev & is dedicated to Shiva.

17. Ruins of temple pillars etc around temple. This shows two warriors, one of whom seems to have a sword in hand. ‘Lonar Crater is protected from heavy wind blowing, retains a higher humidity level & forms a localised temperature system. Offers perennial & semi-green forest cover around the lake. Serves as a distinct eco. niche”.

18. This is Wagh Mahadev Mandir. It is larger and in better condition than the others. Pillar design is quite similar to what I saw in temples made at a later date. Lonar is a small town about 3 hour drive from Aurangabad. It can be seen on a day visit.

19. Temple pillar. Person on left has a musical instrument whilst the others seem to be in dancing mode. I drove in from Ajanta Caves (about 4 hours), reached about 1.30 pm, visited temples post lunch, saw sunset at crater, next morning went for parikrama of crater at 6.30 am, takes about 3 to 4 hours and left Lonar by 12 noon.

20. Here again ladies are in dancing mode. Notice the postures. Temples were made between 10-11th centuries.

21. Shows two ladies hunting. Interesting

22. It was Ganesh Chaturti. Villagers making rangoli outside home. All smiles and happy.

23. This is BAGICHA Mandir (means garden temple). Front view.

24. Side view of pillar is Kirti Mukha (to ward away evil). This is found in all temples across India except gurudwaras.

25. Lajja Gauri Shilp ie Parvati.

26. Sri Krishna playing the flute.

27. Left is Kamalja temple that we saw first. Right corner white colour ceiling is Ram Mandir. We walked along the lake, saw temples and lastly visited Ram Mandir. View from higher point enroute.

28. Overview of temple.

29. Close up of pillar design. White structure is Hanumanji temple.

30. Next to it is Rameshwar Shiv Mandir.

31. Lucky to be present when Panditji, who comes daily for puja, was there. Note panel work

32. It is called Rameshwar temple because the linga is said to be like Rameshwar. Note panel work. All these temples were made by the Yadava rulers of Devgiri and made before the 12th century.

33. View about noon from the MTDC side. ‘Slopes of the crater are steep & descent to an average height of 450 feet. Eastern slopes are gentle (that you see) with a broad gully where a perennial spring (pic3) originates & flows into the crater. It is called Dhar. About 200 feet lower another spring Sita Nahani originates (pic 7)’.

34. From the forest department side view of the hills. We stood somewhere there when took east west pics. For a good guide call Shailesh 91 97635 45169. He is usually there at the MTDC resort.

35. In Lonar surely visit the Daitya Sudan temple – awesome. To see pics https://www.esamskriti.com/a/Maharashtra/Temples-of-Lonar.aspx

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