the crater is the foremost thing to strike you,
there are interesting ruins and temples to be
seen at the base of the crater. Going down into
the crater from the surface, however, is tough
as there are no handrails or elevators. Locals
believe the crater itself is the body of the
goddess Lonar Devi and she
does not take kindly to construction on her
sides. All previous attempts at making a sturdier
staircase have been washed away in the rains,
and given the intensity of local feeling about
it, the authorities have been content with the
traditional carved rock path.
down, the first sight to greet you is
a ruined temple set into a dense forest.
This is supposed to be a Rama
temple but only the basic structure
in stone is left now. There are many temples
set around the edge of the lake, all of
them constructed in the 12th-13th century
in stone but the condition of all of them
is not encouraging. The Vishnu
temple and Devi temple
are in better condition than the rest
but it can easily take up to three hours,
and the temples are scattered all around
the rim. It is best to make an early descent,
as climbing back up under the midday sun
is not a suitable option.
The crater is host to many
species of aquatic birds like flamingos, moorhen,
coots, and dabchick and so on. Peacocks are
to be seen making spectacular glides from tree
to tree. Unlike the rest of the country they
do not even need to forage upon the ground;
so plentiful is the insect and small prey population
in the vegetation. The trees grow to be rather
tall and they form a canopy that filters out
most of the heat. You can even see dung beetles
the size of your palm busily rolling, right
in your path. There is no danger of snakes but
geckos abound. One feature that has a potential
to be a nuisance is the monkey population. They
are immensely territorial and throw fruits and
twigs at your heads if you have ventured near
the trees they stake out.
The crater is not the only spot worth seeing
in Lonar. A piece of the meteorite had broken
off and smashed into the ground about a kilometer
away, forming the Ambar Lake.
It is a pleasant enough spot but entry is regulated.
Close to the Ambar Lake is a little temple dedicated
to Hanuman, the Hindu god of strength and intelligence.
What is interesting is that the image of the
god is an actual piece of the crater and for
long its magnetic properties continued to fascinate
people who built a temple to house it. The meteorite
chunk is brightly painted in the orange color
that is preferred in this part of the world.
On the way back to, or coming from, Aurangabad,
you have to pass Lonar town which is about 2-3
kms from the crater. 'Town' is not quite the
right word; rather the place is a chaotic, noisy,
dusty mish-mash of grey cement structures and
multipurpose shops selling an assortment of
useful products, mostly in garish plastic, but
the town also houses an incongruous miracle
of sorts. You take a turn off the main road
into the road leading to the Jain temple,
which is next to the mosque.
A little away is a black pearl of a temple built
in the 10th century. This is the Daityasudan
temple, dedicated to Vishnu. The walls
and pillars of the temple are full of elaborate
and detailed carvings of significant passages
from Indian myth. It is locally known as "The
old stone temple" and that is what you
will have to address it as if you want accurate
directions. The temple is built on the three-tier
philosophy of earth, sky and heavenly levels
of representation. Walking around the temple
or merely taking up a strategic position upon
the platform and observing the sculpture in
detail is well worth the effort.
All in all Lonar is a quaint village, with a
character of its own, unaffected by the historical
importance of the temples or the crater.