What exactly does one mean when one says, “I am at rest”? It means, being not mobile. But that is relative, isn’t it? We live on Earth, which constantly rotates on its axis and also revolves around the Sun as far as our current knowledge about Astronomy and Cosmic Sciences serves us right. And if I am not wrong, our entire Solar system also revolves around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and our neighbor Andromeda Galaxy is moving away from us as has been corroborated by various studies. This means, that the Universe, to which we belong is not stationary. The entire universe consisting of billions of astronomical huge massive bodies and millions of galaxies is moving in itself!
In such a case, how can we be at absolute rest? It’s not possible. We are at rest, just relative to our miniscule surroundings and their proportion is negligible to the core when we compare it to the huge and massive universe that we are talking of.
Recently, I had an experience which made me rethink the entire concept of our existence and the daily mini issues that we keep focusing on. I drove around 1000 Kilometers in my car to a place called Lonar from Bangalore with a halt at Hyderabad to pick a friend. And the intention of the trip was to visit the Buldana District of Maharashtra where Lonar Lake is situated. This lake is roughly 65000 years old and has been created by a meteor impact back then. This intriguing history made it very interesting to visit the place and so I visited the place even if it meant to drive a 1000 Kms.
18th September 2016, 3:00 AM, Hyderabad
“Vivek, get up!”
When we have to start for a trip early morning, defeating the gravity to get up from sleep is a big challenge and each one tries to wake up the other person. So, finally Vivek gets up and grabs the toilet while I get an extra 15 minutes to lie down and those 15 minutes were heavenly compared to the last 4-5 hours of sleep!
So, while Vivek finishes his daily chores, I energize myself with a bonus 15 minutes of doze. And then finally I too finish my chores to get ready and we are then ready to hit the wheel. We both came down and got seated in the car. I slammed the accelerator and the car’s dozing engine woke up to life and we were on roads by 4:15 am.
Google Maps was coming handy as the navigation guided us to the fastest route to Lonar Lake from the place from where we had started. Michelle’s voice guided us towards taking to Mumbai highway from Hyderabad.
“Michelle is telling us to take the Mumbai highway and once we are on it, we must take right after 7 Kms.”
“But, who is Michelle”, I asked Vivek as we were cruising along the Outer Ring Road of Hyderabad known as the Nehru Outer Ring Road while I was wondering as to why everything in this country is named only after one family.
“Michelle is the voice of the navigator in the maps telling us where to continue straight and where to take a turn!” came the reply from Vivek, and I was like, “Ok…”
In no time, we were on to the Mumbai highway and very conveniently, we forgot to take the right after 7 Kms as we were lost in conversation and realized it only after going an extra 3 Kms and since it was a National Highway, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t find a U-Turn so fast. Hence, we went back to Michelle who told us to take the next right turn onto NH-161 (NH stands for National Highway). Michelle told us to continue on the NH for 172 Kms. after we took the right turn.
Now, we were bit relaxed as there weren’t major decision points for a long time, just that we had to follow the road but not until long. In just half an hour we reached a Y-junction, not knowing where to go and even Michelle was silent who was otherwise telling us to continue straight at almost every junction.
“Which road should we take?”
“I don’t know, even the map doesn’t show that two roads exist here!”
“OK, let’s take the one that looks more aligned with our current direction”
We thought it was worth taking the risk and it actually was. The Y-junction turned out to be a damp squib as the two roads merged barely 200 meters after the junction. It was a single road! But as there was vertical elevation on the road, the merge wasn’t visible until we were at the pinnacle of the elevation.
This was after we had already taken our third stopover to take some snaps and enjoy the cool breeze at Annasagar Lake on the way. The first two stopovers were for having early morning tea and click snaps of a huge Hanuman idol on the way.
After the confusion resolved, we carried on. And soon we realized, we are going through the villages of Telengana – Nizamabad District. Hunger had started getting the better of us so we stopped at a small village where there were some shops but we were too early as none of them was prepared to offer breakfast. So, we went ahead and stopped at the next village after another half an hour or so.
At this village, we could see some hotels and walked into one. Village people were having their breakfast here and as we walked inside, everyone was staring at us as if we had come from outer space. The hotel boy asked us and we ordered food. And when we started munching it, we realized it was very tasty and had a filling breakfast of poori, aloo sabzi, groundnut chutney, and idlis followed by “Special Tea” as we heard the hotel owner himself come upto us asking if we needed anything more and when we asked for tea, he ordered his chap to make special tea for us. After a sumptuous breakfast, it was time to visit the bathroom and I knew, it would be a daunting task to find one in this village.
As we came out, we could see a bus stand nearby and our hopes soared. But it was a short-lived soaring as we did see that there was a bathroom for men and one for women. As we checked out the male bathroom, it was unusable, it was in dilapidated state and all kinds of garbage and waste material was littered there rendering it useless.
“Use the women bathroom” Vivek gestured to me jokingly.
“No way, I have full confidence on misandry” And we both had a hearty laugh. And we found our laugh unfounded in a couple of seconds as we saw men actually using the women’s bathroom.
A demo always inspires confidence and so I also relieved myself in the women’s bathroom only to realize that actually that was the only bathroom everyone used there – be it men or women. Strange village I thought and we continued our journey towards Lonar Lake.
18th September 2016, 10:00 AM, NH-161
We had been driving for almost 6 hours and last 2 hours continuously, so we stopped by a highway restaurant. It was totally empty and then a man appeared from nowhere. We asked if he could serve tea to us, to which he obliged and we settled down there. It was a welcome break.
A casual conversation sparked between us and him as he got our tea.
“Aage kidhar jaate” (Where are you headed to?)
“Lonar Lake” I replied.
“Woh kidhar hai” (Where is it?)
“Buldana mein hai, Nanded hoke jayenge” (It’s in Buldana, we will go through Nanded).
“Nanded mein 10-15 lac log honge, udhar mat jao” (There will be a rush of around 10-15 Lac people in Nanded, don’t go that side)
“Kya hua” (What happened)
“Kapordi mein ek ladki ka balatkar kar ke, maar ke kaat diya, usko leke protest hai” (There’s a protest, as in Kapordi – a village there – a girl was cut into pieces after being raped allegedly)
“Yeh kab hua” (When did the incident take place?)
“2 mahine pehle” (Two months ago)
“Aapko kaise pata chala ki balatkar hua” (How did you come to know, it was rape)
“Akbhaar mein padhe” (Read it in newspaper)
“Theek hai bhaiya, chai accha tha” (Thanks brother, the tea was really nice and we left).
As we got back into the car, me and Vivek were now wondering about the new inputs we got in our tea break and then we saw a huge barrage of cars, jeeps, and bikes, stacked with young men and sporting a flag of some political outfit thronging the roads and were probably headed towards Nanded to take part in the protest the hotel person was mentioning about and then we saw a huge roadside hoarding which spoke about the Kapordi rape incident and some “Yuva Shakti Morcha” was spearheading the protests and it’s volunteers were turning up in large numbers, mostly young men.
“It’s so interesting that one news of unverified rape sparks such a huge outrage” Vivek spoke.
“Yes, the news is sensational and all these young men are made to believe that they are changing the society by taking part in such protests, while the political outfit stands to gain political mileage out of the issue. No one knows and no one bothers to know what actually might have happened. For them, an opportunity to change the society is more than enough to jump into the protest, possibly take law in their hands and end up getting framed in some charges of rioting, arson, and damage of public property and the soft targets for these issues are mostly young men who are driven by the guilt feeling that one of their brethren’s sins need to cleaned up.” I spoke as I was driving.
Meanwhile, before approaching Nanded, we saw a Gurudwara (worship place for Sikhs). The interesting part was that there was a model of an aero-plane kept at the terrace and it had a small fan at its nozzle which was rotating constantly due to the winds.
“What all tricks are played to attract people to a religious place” Vivek wondered while he clicked a snap of the Gurudwara.
We reached Nanded roundabout and saw a huge police deployment there. We had to take a right turn towards NH-361 in order to reach Lonar Lake from there. The police asked us and allowed us to proceed when we said, we need to go right. Going straight from there wasn’t allowed as the road was blocked after that due to the protest.
After we took right from Nanded intersection, we hit a bad road patch of about 5 Kms and due to the same the traffic was extremely slow moving. This slowed down our average speed and I was driving through the rough patch cursing Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Transport and Road Network, all along.
18th September 2016, 3:45 PM, Lonar
Nonetheless, we continued on our tour-de-crater and after another 3-4 hours of drive, we reached Lonar Lake after about 11.5 hours of driving and roughly 500 Kms. As we approached the place, we could see that it was a secluded place with hardly 7-8 people around. We inquired about Lonar Lake and a bystander told us that we were on the road flanking the lake. So we took the road and continued for a while and stopped after about 500 meters, and parked the vehicle.
As we entered the place, we could slowly start seeing the lake. It was a depth of more than 100 meters vertically and the entire area was flanked by deep, dense and thick vegetation. Only, the part where we were standing was relatively barren with some grass, a few bushes, small pebbles and leeches!
Carefully, we treaded the path and positioned ourselves at a point where we could spot the lake easily. The water was crystal clear, the surroundings calm, the environment pristine and the experience was life-changing.
As mentioned earlier, this is a crater lake formed by a meteor impact around 65000 years back. The crater’s a huge one. It is roughly circular in shape and has a diameter of 1.8 Kms which made the circumference around 5.65 Kms and it was flanked on all sides by a road that’s around 9-10 Kms in length.
We could see the clear reflection of the clouds in the water. Sounds of peacock, cuckoo and many other birds were clearly audible. The surroundings were so calm that we could hear the voices of nature clearly and we totally forgot, who we are. The idea that the meteor was carrying rocks and minerals from outer space and would have a significant amount of residue post impact was life-changing as we thought about the metaphysical implications of these revelations.
What if, some of those minerals had metamorphosed into complex life forms and some of them are still in that area. We were so close to alien life and whether this proposition held ground or not, but one thing was clear – we were staring at water brought to surface by extra-terrestrial impact and this thought has stayed with us even after leaving the place. Below is a short video of the place which we captured to share our experience with everyone.
It’s pertinent to note that this crater was created because there might have been a huge explosion somewhere in the universe, may be millions of years ago and this meteor was a part of the debris that was thrown into the space and the sheer amount of energy released in the explosion would have propelled the meteorite millions of kilometers into the space wherein it collided with Earth and a crater was created at a place which later came to be known as Lonar Lake.
Lonar Lake was created because the Universe is not at rest and since we are an integral part of this universe, we are also not at rest, definitely not at absolute rest. As I write this, I am immobile relative to my surroundings, but for someone out there in space, I am moving. Absolute rest is a myth but it took a drive of around 1000 Kilometers to Lonar Lake and experience being one with a space event to understand the implications of the absence of absolute rest.
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