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Celestial waters

india Updated: Nov 24, 2010 01:26 IST
Aditya Gokhale
Aditya Gokhale
Hindustan Times
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Lonar in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district has a special place on the geological map of India. Its claim to fame is a salt water lake in basaltic rock — the world’s only such lake — believed to have been caused by the impact of a meteorite that struck the earth thousands of years ago. Initially, some scientists felt that it was a volcanic crater. It has a depth of 170 meters, with a circular rim surrounding it. The lake water is ten times saltier than seawater, preventing the survival of fish. The legend goes that the soap made from this salt was used by Emperor Akbar.

We first reached the north eastern side of the crater, where the circular ridge has a breach. It indicates the direction from which the meteorite struck the earth. There are small but ancient temples in this region. In the middle, there is a tank-like structure with steps leading down, where a sweet water stream flows from a stone snout. The water is supposed to have healing powers as well.

The Daityasudan temple in Lonar is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is believed to have killed a demon called Lavanasur at the bottom of the crater. Lavanasur’s blood is said to have salinated the water. The crater and the lake have the potential to draw hordes of tourists. But the authorities need to spread awareness of its existence and develop basic facilities to encourage tourists to visit.