In a sleepy corner of Maharashtra is a small but beautiful wonder of the world. It’s v only upon visiting that one realises that the area surrounding the lake is doused in history, mythology and science in equal measures.
Lonar Lake, also known as Lonar crater, is a notified National Geo-heritage Monument, it’s a saline, soda lake, located at Lonar in Buldhana district, Maharashtra, India. Lonar Lake is actually a crater created by a meteorite impact during the Pleistocene Epoch.It has saline, alkaline water which doesn’t permit fish life.
Lonar Lake has a diameter of 1.2 kilometres and is about 137 metres below the crater rim. The meteor crater rim is about 1.8 kilometres in diameter.
A few metres away from the main lake —some say approximately seven metres— lies a small circular depression that is believed to be caused by a fragment of the main meteor. Right next to this small lake called as Ambar Lake or the chota Lonar, is located a Hanuman temple.
A 2019 study, conducted by IIT Bombay found that the minerals in the lake soil are very similar to the minerals found in Moon Rock. Which were brought back during the Apollo program. The lake was declared a protected ‘Ramsar site’ (designated as a protected water body) in November 2020.
There is a legend that a demon by the name of Lonasur or Lavanasur used to reside in this area with his sisters. He was killed by lord Vishnu in his Daityasudan Avatar (Destroyer of Daitya an asura).
One can find numerous small temples dotted along the periphery of the lake. They are known as Yadava temples, locals flock to these temples at dawn and dusk (possibly to avoid the sun).
Gomukh Temple is located along the rim of the crater. A perennial stream emerges from here and pilgrims visiting the temple bathe in the stream. It is also called Sita Nahani temple and Dhara.
Kamalja Devi Temple is located beside the lake and also features carved images. Although the water level rises during the rainy season and falls in summer, the temple is located above the water level.
There are a few more temples in the vicinity, including a Shankar Ganesh temple which is partially submerged.
While the country was well into the pandemic and witnessing multiple natural occurrences, headlines about the Lonar Lake turning pink overnight cropped up, leaving all stakeholders baffled. In June 2020, the forest department spotted the pink colour of the lake and sent the sample for further investigation to the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) as well as the Agharkar Research Institute in Pune. After much research, it was concluded that the lake turned pink due to the presence of haloarchaea microbes — a bacteria culture responsible for creating a pink pigment and existing in saline water.
Above picture: NASA Earth Observatory captured images of the nearly 50,000-year-old lake on May 25 and then again on June 10 of this year, displaying a before-and-after of the color modification. Scientists aren’t completely sure why the crater lake in the state of Maharashtra suddenly turned pink. One of them is the high saline level.
As per NASA Earth Observatory, D. salina exhibits a green coloration when the environmental conditions are conducive to its growth. When the water experiences elevated levels of saltiness or is subjected to intense sunlight, it is reported that these challenging circumstances prompt the algae to generate protective pigmented compounds known as carotenoids, including the orange-red beta carotene. This, in turn, can potentially lead to the water taking on a pink hue
We at Resonant News do hope this information makes us all want to plan trip to this and other places which are a part of our folklore.
Info credit: Maharashtra Government Sites Outlook and Wikipedia