Monday, July 20, 2009

Lonar Trip

After a lot of thoughts about going somewhere we finally decided to visit Lonar, Maharastra on the weekend of 10-12 July. Two of my friends who have been there told me great things about the place and a quick wikipedia/wikitravel look confirmed that the place is infact a good one for a weekend trip.
From Lonar, Maharastra


What's Special about Lonar: Well lonar is famous for its crator lake which is about a 1.2 KM in diameter and said to be formed due to a meteorite strike about 50,000 years back. What's more special is that its the third largest crator lake in the world. Another speciality which may not sound very interesting is that its water is Alkaline and therefore its devoid of any plants or fishes.


We started the trip on early Saturday morning (around 1 AM) on a rented Innova from 4 wheels. The night journey was expectedly not very exciting or beautiful so most of us dozed off very soon, but as soon as it was dawn ppl started getting up one by one. When I woke up we were at "Bodhan" and our driver decided to stop and take nap, it was around 7 AM. Rohit figured out that we could get nice fresh Idlies as breakfast and so some of us did. We left that place by around 8 AM heading towards the destination. Which was approx 250 KM from there, our driver had taken a wrong route as we realized soon, but it wasn't that bad, probably a 100 KMs extra.


The officer at the RTO checkpost in AP was a honest man and demanded 200 bucks for the 7 days permit and made a receipt for the same, I felt good because of a strikingly different experience when we going to Wayanad from Bangalore. I felt nice that the taxes were so less but soon we realized that we had to pay a separate "fees" at the Maharastra RTO checkpost. This guy demanded 700 bucks for a 7 days permit which is as you can guess excess. Unlike Kerala the booth didn't have any mention of prices anywhere so there was little to expect. Now this gentleman gave us too reciepts one for 400 and another for 300. As we noticed the 300 Rs receipt was merely a piece of printed paper with no proper stamps but "RTO Bhainsa, Dist Nanded", the other one actually carried a Govt of India or Maharastra stamp. So do expect to give some bribe to the RTOs at the border, yeah we cud have argued etc. but from previous experience it felt like wasting of time.



After another 4-5 hours of driving we finally reach Lonar by 12:30 or so. The famous MTDC (Maharastra Tourism's) Resort is actually right next to the Lake. How close ? Well 2 minutes by walking out of the Resort and across the Highway. The Resort is pretty nice, with big well maintained rooms. We stayed in 2 bed, AC deluxe room and the cost was 800 bucks per room. The resort also provided pretty decent food, specially the Poha/Pohe, Parantha, Tea which were yummy as well the Dal tadka which I liked. We ended up eating all 3 meals at the same place. The actually village and shops are at about 1 KM distance from the lake and resort and don't seem to offer much in food. We cudn't find PuranPuri which Abhishek wanted to eat anywhere.

On the contrary we found quite nice Jalebi which being prepared as we reached the shop at around 6:30-7 PM. These "Harayana special" jalebis were super awesome, as we were enjoying them we saw the Movie "Taraju's" poster in the background, and it was decided among the 4 of us instantaneously to watch the movie. While heading to the these shops we also had a chance to see how the multi-cultural celebrations were arranged for a visiting MLA. In about 10 minutes that we were following the procession we heard these songs in different languages: Appadi Podu (Tamil), Ringa Ringa from Slumdog Millionaire(Hindi) and funny Crazy Chicken (Instrumental but probably of Foriegn origin). [Let me know if there any copyright violation by posting the link to the song, I will remove it].

We had to return to the resort for the Bhajiyas which we planned to eat there and also for the dinner and then we would come back for the 9:30 PM show. After a pretty heavy dinner we did go for the movie. It was a different experience to watch the movie on the non-digital print after a long time. After the movie we tried our luck in asking entry in to the projector room and we got it. The guys nicely explained and demonstrated us how the whole thing worked, how nice of them.


The next morning I did wake up early to see special sunrise effects but there weren't any because of cloudy weather. As decided earlier we trekked down to the lake and on our way down decided to take a guides help, which proved helpful later as he took us through easier/faster treks and helped us see at least a couple extra temples, buildings on the way. Of special interest is the Gomukh one which has a very clean water stream under which ppl can take bath. The water felt pretty refreshing after the trek in the moderately sunny conditions.

At this point some of us decided to head back to the resort while Rohit and I decided to see the other special temples. The famous ones we went to are called the Datya Sudhan temple, which has a carvings similar to that of Khujraho (as seen on TV :D) and the Hanuman mandir, which has a single rock carving idol of hanuman in resting position. The guide told that its actually made our of the meteorite's material, no idea how much to believe that. Besides these two there were couple of temples which we could have visited included a pretty big Jain temple which were closed at it was around afternoon. So we headed back to resort.

After another heavy lunch at the resort, we started back towards Hyderabad. The highlight of the return journey was once again the "Jalebi" at Nanded bus stop, accompanied by some dry "pani-puris". The return journey took about 11 hours including abt 2 hrs of breaks, including Dinner at the Natraj Dhaba near Nizamabad.

Info:
1) Route: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Hyderabad&daddr=Lonar,+Buldhana,+Maharashtra,+India&geocode=%3BFRD7MAEdOqWPBA&hl=en&mra=ls&sll=18.69048,78.890076&sspn=5.597052,11.491699&ie=UTF8&z=8
2) MTDC resorts booking website http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in, they have online booking and payment via credit card. Pretty cool stuff. Make sure to select the location as Lonar.
Note that checkout time is 9 AM, but the staff is friendly and accommodating.
3) Aurangabad the nearby city has the famous Ajanta Alora caves you can try visiting them. Its about 160 KM oneway.