The Mysterious Lonar Crater Lake
I am labeling the Lonar Crater Lake mysterious because even citizens of Maharashtra hardly know of this splendid lake. It’s a saline and alkaline lake located at Lonar in Buldhana district in Maharashtra, India. This lake was created by a meteor impact about 52,000 years ago. Geologists, ecologists, archaeologists, naturalists and astronomers have reported several studies on the various aspects of this Crater Lake ecosystem. Lonar Lake has a mean diameter of 1.2 kilometres (3,900 ft) and is about 137 metres (449 ft) below the crater rim. The lake is 150 meters deep.
For all of its exclusiveness, very few people in Maharashtra have heard of it apart from locals and sporadic trekkers. This is the largest lake on earth created by hyper-velocity impact hollow in basaltic rock. Every year about 30,000 – 1,50,000 meteors plunge towards the Earth; but none of them have managed to create a lake like Lonar. It seems Lonar Lake has prompted NASA scientists and officials from the Geological Survey of India to attempt answers to questions like: 1. Why is the lake alkaline and saline at the same time? 2. How does it support micro-organisms which are rarely found elsewhere on Earth? 3. Why do compasses fail to work in certain parts of the crater? 4. What lurks at the bottom of the lake?
The lake is surrounded by jungle spread with Teak trees. A belt of large trees about a mile broad runs all round the basin; this belt is formed of concentric rings of different species of trees. A ring of date-palms followed by a ring of Tamarind trees, another ring of Babul trees, bounded on the inside by a belt of bare muddy space. This space is several hundred meters yards broad, devoid of any vegetation due to the soda content of the water and covered with a whitish slippery soil. During the rainy season, this soil drains into the lake. The water of the lake contains various salts or sodas, and during dry weather when evaporation reduces the water level when large quantities of soda are collected. Two small streams drain into the lake, and a well of sweet water is located on the southern side, close to the water’s edge. Small and medium sized hills surround the lake.
The Lonar crater was first discovered by British Officer J E. Alexander. The Lonar Lake has sky-blue water surrounded by the vast expanse of emerald green forest. Forget the scientific angle; this destination also has much to offer the wildlife enthusiasts as it is liberally endowed in both flora and fauna. The crater is home to hundreds of peafowl, chinkara and gazelles, which surf amongst the shrubs and bushes ringing the lake. Other residents include egrets, moor hens, herons, coots, white-necked storks, lapwings, grey wagtails, grebes, black droungos, green bee-eaters, tailorbirds, magpies and robins – as well as numerous species of migratory birds that often visit the place.
I recommend readers to visit this meteoric lake at least once; it’s worth seeing with your eyes how powerful the nature is. Winter is the ideal time to visit Lonar. The climate is pleasurable from November to January. We visited Lonar Crater Lake in January 2015. Craters are a rare phenomenon; you find very few on earth. Besides Lonar it seems there are hardly 10 or 11 crater lakes in world. The best route to reach Lonar is from Aurangabad via Jalna.