Becoming an astronaut and discovering life on other planets is the dream of many children around the world. However, the effect of a little extraterrestrial drama played out millions of years ago, can be seen closer to home at Lonar in Maharashtra.
The story of this village has a big hole in it. A hole made by a giant meteor weighing more than a million tonnes (equivalent to 2,00,000 adult elephants!) slammed into the earth at this spot about 52,000 years ago. Scientists argue over its age – some say it could even be 570,000 years old. But regardless of when, it created a massive crater, the only hypervelocity impact crater in basaltic rock anywhere on Earth. At first, it was thought that the crater was a result of volcanic activity, but when they observed some of the features (raised rim, well-defined circular shape, and how similar it looked to other impact craters), they began to rethink its origin. The coolest clue though is that some rock minerals in the crater are similar to those found on the moon, making Lonar a bit Lunar!
The lake is unique in many ways. Firstly, its water is salty and alkaline and therefore many rare, little bugs and microbes reside nowhere else on earth but here! Around the lake live plants like tamarind and teak along with animals such as deer, bats, snakes and the scene stealer, the monitor lizard. The bird show features a range of beauties from the common duck and woodpecker to the pretty little bee-eaters.
So if you’re up for a ‘space’ adventure, head to the land of Lonar!
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant . She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.