Lonar Crater : Born Out Of Alien Impact

We were in Aurangabad, and nothing much happening on the work front which required us to turn back, were tempted to visit Lonar. About 60,000 years ago (they say around the Pleistocene Epoch), a meteor is supposed to have struck this place in Buldana district of Maharashtra, created a massive crater about 6.7km in circumference and 1.2km in diameter. The impact must have created huge tremors, fires, whatnot, but it has also left a very unique lake here. Lonar crater is the only known hyper velocity impact crater in basaltic rock anywhere on earth. In 2007 biological nitrogen fixation was discovered in this lake.

The drive from Aurangabad to Lonar takes about 4 hours at a normal pace. The roads are not too good. But the journey is beautiful with agricultural fields on both sides, and apart from Jalna, not much ugly industrial landscapes.

We stayed at the MTDC Lonar (there aren’t too many options here), and were pleasantly surprised. They cooked to our tastes, and rooms were fairly good. We were also lucky to get a good guide Ramesh. We decided to go for a trek of the entire crater the next morning.

The climb down is kind of steep, but not too stressful. The walk around the Lonar crater is around 7km, starting with a moderately steep descent and then through a trail in the thick forest. Through the trail we came across a total of 10 ancient temples around the lake.

The lake waters are a rich green due to some kind of algae. The outer circumference waters have a neutral pH of 7 and the inner waters are a high alkaline or around pH11. We had read the lake forest has chinkaras and gazelles, but only found traces of wild boar, a couple of hyenas, grey langoors, fruit bats, grey hornbills, grey tits, Indian koels, alexandrine parakeets, oriental magpie robins, Indian robin, black winged stilts, red wattled lapwings, collared doves, peafowl, and heard grey fantails, and perhaps a few other birds I am missing out. We had visited in August, so everything was fresh and green, and the weather cool and breezy.

So this is Part One of our Lonar visit, which covers the lake. Part Two will cover the temples around the lake and Part Three, the other temples in the city.

The drive to Lonar from Aurangabad is beautiful and we fell in love with this gorgeous evening light.
Lonar Crater
Our first glimpse of the lake was in the dark, but with just enough light to get a shot.

Lonar Crater.
The same lake, early next morning, before sunrise.
Ramesh Lonar
Ramesh was an invaluable resource in discovering the hidden treasures of Lonar.
Lonar Plaque
Lonar Crater : The only hypervelocity natural impact crater in basaltic rock in the world : Geological Survey Of India
Lonar Drill Holes
Scientists from all over the world had come to take samples of rock, soil, water etc to study the origin of the meteor and its chemical compositions. These drill holes can be found all over the place.
Lonar Crater.
A wider panorama of Lonar Lake. Its surrounded by thick forest which is protected.
spittlebug nest
A Cercopoedia (Spittlebug) nest. These bugs create this foamy protection from plant sap but don’t do much harm to the plant itself.
Temple at Lonar Crater.
From the climb down, one can see the first of the 10 temples around the lake.
Mating millipedes. The rains are a fertile season for all animals.
Lonar Temple
The first temple, a Ram Temple, on closer inspection. These temples are all built around the 8/9th century AD.
The forest department has built these little water holes of fresh water for the wildlife in the lake crater. This particular water hole was full of 100s of water beetles scurrying around. One can see the rich green crater water vs the fresh water in the tiny hole.
water beetles.
100s of these water beetles were scurrying around in the fresh water hole.
Lonar Crater
Looking up at where we can from.
Dragonfly at Lonar
A beautiful dragonfly at the temple wall.
Lonar Lake
At the lake banks, that’s me framing a shot while Ramesh waits
Lonar Crater Temple
Another temple inside the lake forest.
Lonar Lake
Ramesh demonstrating his version for the alkaline nature of lake waters. Two cups were filled with water : One fresh and the other lake water. Haldi (Turmeric) was added to both. The lake water cup turned a bloody red. *
Lonar Lake
A mid-day panorama of the lake surface.
Lonar Lake Temple.
Another temple on the lake banks, and some dead vegetation provide fore-ground elements.
Lonar Lake Temple.
Remains of an old temple. Love those beautiful pillars and carvings.
Lonar Lake forest temple.
From the lake banks we move again into the forest trail and find yet another ancient stone temple. The forests were gorgeous, blooming to their full splendour in the rich monsoons of 2016.
Gaumukh Temple, Lonar
Finally, having completed the circumference we start climbing up to the last of the 10 temples, the Gaumukh Temple.
Lonar Gaumukh Temple.
Phew! Quite a climb!
Wildflower at Lonar.
We found this beautiful wild flower, which resembles delicate lace work. It’s the flower of Trichsanthes cucumerina, a kind of snake gourd which is also eaten as a vegetable.
Lonar Forest Mushroom
Some kind of wild mushroom growing on old tree roots.
Lonar Forest
This is how thick the forest floor was. We saw two hyenas vanish into the thick undergrowth.


Lonar Lake
We came back in the evening to spend some time at the lake Towards the other end, you can see another old temple.
Collared Doves Lonar
A pair of Eurasian Collared Doves (Streptopelia decaocto) sitting on what looks like Prosopis juliflora, an invasive tree. These peaceloving birds are monogamous, and both parents look after the young ones.

*The Turmeric pH test: Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a pH indicator. Under a pH of 7.4 turmeric will remain yellow, but when added to substances which have a pH above 8.4 (Alkaline) it turns a dirty deep red.

The lake waters smell because of the hydrogen sulphide content. It’s normal. One wonders about what minerals must have been present on the meteor which came from outer space and what kind of a giant explosion it must have created.

We had found an excellent ‘guide’ in Lonar, and strongly recommend visiting the crater with him. Drop us an email at admin at desicreative drop com in case you need his phone number. You will need someone who can take you around.

Apart from the Lake, Lonar has many ancient temples, including the 10 around the Lake. We shall publish a separate post dedicated to the ancient temples of Lonar.

There is a small circular lake about 700 metres from the main Lonar lake, which is believed to have been created by a splinter of the same meteor.  There is a Hanuman temple near this lake, with the idol made of rock believed to be highly magnetic. The water from Little Lonar Lake is being drained by local farmers. The smaller lake is called Chhota Lonar or Ambar Lake.

Read about the Lonar Crater Lake in more details here at Wikipedia.

[box type=”success” width=”100%” ]When to visit: As is with most places in India, winters are the best time. Summers are too hot and the lake waters would be very low. Monsoons, it rains a lot.

Where to stay : MTDC has a fabulous and inexpensive hotel right next to the crater. That’s the best place to stay here, although there are a couple of lodges. Email us for numbers.

How to visit : Lonar is 4 hours by road from Aurangabad and 8 hours from Pune. Its about 12 from Mumbai.

How long to visit: Keep your visit to a minimum of three nights. The first night you reach and crash. The second day, start the day early for a 6am trek. It will take around 5 hours if you visit each of the ten temples in details. You need a third day to visit the other ancient temples in the town of Lonar. If you had a fourth day, you could drive around, its a beautiful place.

What to wear : Since much of the visit will be a trek through a forest, do be prepared, wear full sleeved clothes to avoid insect bites, wear good water resistant boots, since you will be walking n the muddy lake banks.[/box]



Indian Bloggers

22 thoughts on “Lonar Crater : Born Out Of Alien Impact”

  1. Wow, this is fascinating! A meteoric lake surrounded by ancient temples — exactly the kind of place I enjoy exploring. Are those temples still being used? With such alkaline water, I wonder why a temple was built right at the banks of the lake.

  2. Great pics. The writeup is very useful for us. We are a family of 6, 4 adults and 2 kids, planning a visit to Aurangabad from 25th night to 29th night and plan to go to Lonar. MTDC seems to be fully booked. Are there any other options?

    • Hi Preeti! Nothing else that I can recommened. This was the best place. There are places like the Krishna Lodge, but we didn’t particularly like them.

  3. Great wrote up, with interesting photos.
    We are doing our road trip and will be visiting lonar with a night stay at mtdc resort
    Three of us are regular runners… Is it possible to do morning run around the crater (circumference)??

    Please also give local guide ‘s contact details


Leave a Comment