Mirjan Fort – An architectural wonder in laterite stone

The Mirjan Fort is located on the west coast of the Indian state of Karnataka. The fort was built in the 16th century by Queen Chennabhairadevi of Gersoppa. She ruled for 54 years and also lived in the fort. During her reign the port at Mirjan was used for shipping pepper, saltpetre (Potassium nitrate) and betel nut to Surat. The fort known for its architectural elegance, was the location for several battles in the past.

In 1757 the Marathas had seized the Mirjan Fort. The event that led to the capture of the fort was due to the death of Basappa Naik, the last ruler of Bednur, in 1755. His wife has taken control, representing her 17 year old adopted son, Chanbasaviah. Since her adopted son opposed her taking a “paramour”, she got him murdered. This had resulted in a revolt by the agitated local people, and taking advantage of the situation the Marathas had captured the fort.

You can see both Portuguese and Islamic influences in the fort’s construction. The fort’s round bastions, for example, are typical of Indian forts built by Islamic rulers. The single tall square lookout tower along the southern wall is characteristic of Portuguese military architecture of 1500s.

The fort is located on the bank of the Aganashini River. The mouth of the river is 12 km from the Mirjan village. The fort was built over an area of 10 acres with laterite stone. It has high walls and bastions. The fort has four entrances (one main and three subsidiary entrances) and many wells, which are interlinked and with access channels leading to the circular moat (used as defense measure to protect the fort) that once fully surrounded the fort, and leading to the canal works outside the fort’s limits. At each entrance, there are wide steps to enter the fort. The fort which was mostly in ruins was recently restored by the Archaeological department.

One of the bastions of the fort
The laterite built high walls and the bastions
Some of the excavated items scattered around this tree inside the fort
Inside the fort – gracing cattle
The wonderful view around the fort
The wonderful view around the fort
This part of the fort are still in ruins
One of the many wells inside the fort
Steps towards the well
The view of Aganashini River from the fort
Interior view of the fort
The prayer hall inside the fort
The watch tower and the flag hoisting tower inside the fort
Fort interior view
The round bastion and walls
The walls made in laterite stone
Fort interior view
One of the entrances
A secret path inside the fort
More views
More views

During the year 2000-01, ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) carried out excavations in the precincts of the fort. Antiquarian findings also included a gold coin minted in 1652 with inscriptions that attribute it to the Portuguese Viceroy Conde De Sarzedas during the reign of Joao IV, cannon balls, Chinese porcelain, clay tablets with Islamic inscriptions. Seven dumb-bells, 50 iron bullets, coins and designed earth pots belonging to Sarpmallika dynasty were also found during the excavations at the fort.

How to Reach:
It is about half a km from the National Highway 17 and 11 km from Gokarna, the Hindu pilgrimage center on the west coast of India.

Lonar Crater Lake – The only meteorite lake in the country

Lonar Lake is a saline soda lake located at Lonar in the Buldhana district of Indian state of Maharashtra. It was created by meteor impact during the Pleistocene epoch and is the only known hyper velocity impact crater in basaltic rock anywhere on earth. Researchers believe that meteor of about 60 meter diameter and weighing a million tones in the form of a stone had struck the earth at 20km/sec high velocity creating tremendous energy & heat and a cloud of molten ash and dust. It resulted in the destruction of neighbouring flora and fauna. The explosion was equivalent to that of a 6 megaton bomb. The meteor is believed to have been buried 600 meter below the crater level. The impacting crater struck at an acute angle from the northern side and thus the walls of crater slope gently over here. Rest everywhere, an uniform slope of 26 degrees is present.

The lake has a mean diameter of 1.2 kilometeres and is about 137 meters below the crater rim. The crater rim is about 1.8 kilometeres in diameter. The crater’s age is usually estimated to be 52,000 ± 6000 years.

The forest department have planted different species of plants inside the rim of the lake, which gives an exotic experience to the visitors. It is home to many birds and animals. Near the crater around the margin of the lake, there are a number of temples which are mostly in ruins. These temples were believed to have been built during the 12th and 13th centuries. Some of these temples were constructed during the Yadava period.

View of the Lonar crater lake from near the MTDC Guest House
The trail around the lake through the vegetation
Another view of the lake
The trail around the lake through the vegetation
A red-wattled lapwig in the lake
Black-winged stilts in the lake
Ducks inside the lake
Black-winged stilts in the lake
I encountered this bulbul during my trail around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
More ruins
Around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Anther view of the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
The trail around the lake through the vegetation
Trees around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
More ruins

Gomukh Temple needs a special mention due to the perennial stream which emerges from here; the source of which is yet to be identified. The pilgrims, visiting the temple takes a bath in this water.

Steps towards the Gomukh temple
The perennial stream inside the Gomukh temple
Gomukh temple
MTDC Guest House
MTDC Guest House

The Lonar Lake was mentioned in many ancient scriptures such as Skanda Purana, the Padma Purana and the Ain-i-Akbari. The first European to visit the lake was British officer, J E Alexander in 1823.

Ambar Lake
Not far from the Lonar lake is a small lake called Ambar Lake which is believed to be caused by a splinter of the meteor that created the Lonar crater lake.

Ambar Lake

Daitya Sudan Temple

One should not miss the mighty Daitya Sudan Temple with its impressive stone works located at the centre of the Lonar town, a kilometre away from the lake. This is a Vishnu temple dated to the Chalukya Dynasty which ruled central and Southern India between 6th and 12th centuries. It belongs to the Hemadpanthi style of architecture. It features carvings similar to those seen at Khajuraho temples. The diety of this temple is made of an ore with a high metal content that resembles stone. The exterior walls are also covered with carved figures. The plinth of the temple is about 1.5 m in height and the unfinished roof suggests an intended pyramidal for the tower.

The temple receive its name from its connection with the story of the demon Lavanasura or Lonasura who used to dwell in the crater close by and who was eventually slain by Vishnu in his incarnation as Daitya Sudan.

The temple measures 105 feet long by 84 feet wide and is with three chambers. The inner most chamber is garbh gruha, the sanctum sanctorum, where the idol of Lord Vishnu standing atop Lavanasur is present.

Daitya Sudan Temple
The main entrance of the temple
The idol of lord Vishnu standing atop Lavanasur
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple

How to reach:
Lonar is easily accessible from Mumbai via Jalna. Jalna station lies on the Mumbai-Nanded railway line. There are frequent bus services available from Jalna to Lonar which is about 90km less than 3 hours.

The MTDC guest house is located very close to the crater lake is the best option for accommodation. The guest house also provides one of the best views of the lake.