The Lonar Crater: The mesmerizing union of religion and science

The Lonar Crater: The mesmerizing union of religion and science

In our previous article on the Lonar crater, we saw several facts about the crater. However, Lonar crater has a lot more to offer than just some facts. Lonar is situated in a country of rich culture and heritage, India. So, it is not surprising that Lonar crater has several mythological and religious stories associated with it.

However, not many people know about the historical significance and legends of this place. It is a place where science meets mythology. This crater is one of the most well-preserved secrets of the state of Maharashtra. There is a common belief that the Lonar lake was named after the mythical creature Lonasura or Lavansura.

Satrughna slays Lavana

The folklore surrounding the formation of Lonar crater:

According to Indian folklore, the legend says that the demon Lavansura used to torture and harass the people of the neighboring villages. However, when things started to escalate out of hand, Lord Vishnu descended to earth to eradicate the monster from Earth and free the people from his terror. It is believed that the place where today the crater lies is the same place where Lord Vishnu pushed the demon into the netherworld or Narak as described in the Indian mythology.

It took Lord Vishnu tremendous force to get rid of the demon from the Earth’s surface and due to this strong force came into existence the Lonar crater. This myth gained popularity and support from many believers because it said that the murky water of the lake was due to the blood spilled of the demon Lavansura after Lord Vishu put him down. 

History of the region:

You must have read in a previous blog that it has been scientifically proven that the formation of the crater was due to a meteor or asteroid impact on Earth. You might be wondering, is this the only myth associated with the crater? Well, the answer is NO! This place is a paradise for lovers of myths, folklore, and scientists with many religious beliefs and scientific facts associated with it.

So, let’s take a walk together through the journey of the religious beliefs and several Indian folklore associated with them. According to the records, the first-ever mention of this crater was found in scriptures such as the Skanda Purana and the Padma Purana. There is also a mention of the crater in the Ain-i-Akbari written around 1600 CE. Several pieces of evidence suggest that Lonar lake was a part of the land that came under the rule of the Maurya dynasty.

But it wasn’t just the Maurya’s who ruled over the Lonar region. It was also ruled by the Satavahanas, the Rashtrakutas, the Chalukyas and the Devagiri Yadavas. Certain ancient scriptures point to the fact that their region was once a very famous trading center, especially for items such as salt and soap. The mention of the crater in Ain-i-Akbari also reflects on the fact that the quality of the soaps from Lonar was liked by Emperor Akbar a lot.

The town also has a history of some more of the industries that flourished a lot in the region. However, today if someone visits the region one won’t be able to find any traces of these industries ever existing in the first place which is very disheartening considering how well flourished this region was once and how successful of a trade center it was.

The religious essence of the crater:

However, there is an aspect of this place that it still retains from its past i.e., 32 ancient temples are situated in this region, about 19 of these come under the protection of the Archaeological Society of India. However, the temples are not well preserved in a good condition. Most of the temples in the area have reached different stages of ruin due to lack of maintenance and neglect over the years. Despite this, some of these are still a place of worship for tourists, travelers and especially the locals.

Ancient Temple at Lonar
Ruin of ancient Hindu temple at the rim of the Lonar crater lake, District Buldhana, Maharashtra, India.

Temples in and around the crater:

There is one temple, the Daitya Sudan temple;  it has stood the test of time and is still in a better condition as compared to the rest of the places of worship in the region. This temple is situated at the center of Lonar town. All these shrines in Lonar are fine examples of excellent early Hindu architecture. There are also certain temples that are located within the crater such as Mora Mahadev temple, Goddess Kamalaja Devia temple, Vishnumandir, Wagh Mahadev Temple, and the Munglyacha Mandir. These temples as well are an excellent representation of how rich the culture in the past was also an example of its rich architecture. 

The best way to learn about the history of all these temples can be best learned by visiting these places and learning about them from the locals as they are passed on from generation to generation. So if you are one of the enthusiasts that enjoy visiting places of historical relevance and learning about their past then this is one of the most excellent places. There are several tours that are conducted all over the year to visit Lonar lake for various purposes. Stargazing Mumbai has an upcoming Lonar crater trip as an excellent choice for the visit to the place.

Another folklore is very popular in the region. According to the myth, as Lord Rama was traveling back to Ayodhya on a flying chariot after defeating Ravana with his beloved wife Sita, he pointed out the Lonar crater to Sita as it was a point of fascination even back then.

The Lonar crater

Even though this region has very appealing desires among people all over the world, the conditions of the temples are very heartbreaking. People who travel to Lonar have often said that the outer walls of the temples in this region are covered in graffiti and slogans and are being defaced every day. It is not just the responsibility of the government but also of the citizens to ensure the preservation of these national treasures. So if you ever have an opportunity to ever visit the Lonar crater do take up the opportunity and visit the crater as well all the ancient temples in this region.

Enjoyed reading this article? Check out: The Lonar crater: Maharashtra’s best-kept secret!

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