Back on the road again…

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Travelogues

Lonar, Maharashtra

It was like the swarm. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration but when we stepped into the room at the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation’s resort at Lonar, we were attacked – not by bees but by mosquitoes. And this was not at night but a little after 3 pm. My son had an entertaining hour swiping at them and see them crackling under his electric mosquito killer!

This was the first long distance trip we were on in the last 36 months. May 2010 was the last one when we had driven around in Rajasthan and Gujarat seeing tigers, lions and other assorted flora and fauna. That was a bit rushed, almost like a pit stop that Formula One racers take when they are whizzing around like crazy on a track. This time, I told my wife that we would take at least a two-day break in most places and would not visit too many places. Lonar was the only one that was an overnight halt, and that too only because we were driving to Jabalpur via Nagpur and I had no intention of driving non-stop. We always stop for a night’s rest somewhere, anywhere. So we decided to stop at Lonar.

Lonar craterWe left Pune at 7.10 am – we had planned for 6.30 am! It’s become a joke in my house, actually. We reached Lonar at 2.20 pm after driving 395 kms. Once we crossed Aurangabad we were driving through villages and some of the roads were pretty bad. So to maintain an average of around 60 kmph wasn’t bad.

Then we were at the mosquito-infested hotel room of the MTDC. We thought that by the time we returned, the insects would have been removed, but we were wrong. The mosquito repellents only seemed to have helped the mosquitoes multiply rapidly! Surely, the MTDC could put mosquito netting on the doors and windows of the cottages and let tourists enjoy their stay instead of spending a restless night swatting away insects!

With all its history, the crater, to me, resembled a dirty lake that hadn’t been cleaned for ages. The guide, Ramesh Rathod, who first tried to impress us with his English, and then decided, by the pained look on my face that he was better off in Marathi, extolled on the medicinal properties of the water He made us scrub our hands with it to prove that it contained things that cleaned one’s hands, but the cynic in me just became even more cynical. We did spot two huge peacocks in the shrub and heard plenty more around.

Khajuraho redux

Khajuraho redux

There were also Vijaynagar dynasty era temples at the crater and around Lonar with their beautiful architecture, sadly vandalised by idiotic Indians who believe in leaving their names on the walls for posterity, along with the customary ‘Dilip loves Vandana’! Why is it never ‘Vandana loves Dilip’? I guess, because women have a lot more common sense than illiterate Indian men and don’t believe in vandalising our history. The ASI or whosoever looks after these places can easily use a little water and wash away the mess on the walls. Unless of course it has been inscribed on the walls in 300 AD, but as ancient history has shown, people were far more civilised then.

Yes, it would be heaven in the rains, if you felt like sliding and slipping down the rocky terrain 720 feet below and trekking back up the same distance to the ground above – and then, if you had that much energy, walking around the entire 7.5 kms diameter of the forest around the crater. The guide claimed one could spot a leopard or two in the monsoons, along with the peacocks.

The walk around the area surrounding the crater and the climb up to the top was invigorating, but the Lonar crater, history, science et al,  left me cold.

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