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Lonar Crater

   165 kms. east of Aurangabad is the Lonar Crater, the world's largest impact crater in basaltic rock. Scientists concur that this crater was formed 40,000 to 50,000 years ago when a meteorite strayed from its celestial path, entered the earths atmosphere and crashed near Aurangabad; this crash had the force of a 65 megaton bomb, lighting up the night sky for days after impact.

The crater is 2 kms. in diameter and 170 m deep with a shimmering blue green lake near the bottom. Scientists speculate that 600m below the southeast rim lie pieces of this meteorite. Local mythology attributes this phenomenon to a great battle fought when Devi Kamalji slayed a ferocious demon Lonasur at this spot. Several temples are located here including the Devi temple, a large structure with a stone plinth that stands amongst the trees at the edge of the lake.

Within the crater, one can also see the ruins of temples devoted to Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Lord Narsimha as well as Renuka Devi. The village of Lonar has over 180 sculptures and houses the Anwa and Daitya Sadan temples. The conical slopes of the crater are covered with dense foliage, which are inhabited by a number of peafowl and monkeys as well as some deer and wild boar. On the rim of the crater stands a government rest house with 2 rooms and plans for 2 more. This is a very basic rest house, beautifully located; for reservations one must contact the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation in Mumbai well in advance and be prepared for a lengthy drawn out correspondence with them.

One needs a complete day to visit the crater. The motoring time from Aurangabad is approx. 3.5 hours. It is a pretty drive through some good farming country. It is a rural region with very limited facilities for travelers or vehicles so carry what may be required. The roads are not maintained regularly and the surface is broken in places.


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