A chance encounter brought me to a lake. The lake was remarkably different than the other pristine lakes I have been to in my travels. The lake was not situated in the midst of mountains or any other pleasant backdrop of any kind. There were no other visitors. Needless to mention, the place carried out a certain beauty of its own, which will not fail to charm a traveler looking for offbeat places. Welcome to the Sambhar Salt Lake, India’s largest inland lake.
Sambhar Salt lake is essentially formed with water from an endorheic basin. The lake collects its water from the basin and has no outflow of water which essentially could only evaporate, leaving the place a saline wetland. Anybody who is ever been in a place where the temperature ranges between 105-115 F for a better part of the year would know how water evaporates in such places. And so whatever water reaches the lake in absence of any outflow cannot do anything apart from sitting there and getting evaporated. In the process the lakes saline concentration does get boosted, for train loads of salt to be mined.
The lake with its reddish brown water with salt oozing out is a sight to watch. To makes matter interesting there is a solitary railway line running through the lake for transporting the salt. This very mined salt amounts to 9% of India’s total salt production. Anybody who’s a foodie worth their salt in India, chances are they too would have eaten Sambhar Salt as part of your Daal Baati Choorma or Pyaaz Kachoris.
Not too much comfort should be expected should a visit to the Lake comes calling your way. Sambhar town is in fact a very laid back town, a throwback to an era 30-40 years old. In fact it also reminds one of the bygone (or maybe not so) era of India when illiteracy was rampant. In one of the government offices I came across this gem of an idea so as to prevent people from spoiling the wall paints of the office. If we can’t educate our people, at least we can provide them cloth to wipe the ink off after getting their thumb prints. Now, if only we can think and implement various such innovative ideas India would indeed be clean one day and its denizens might be spared the 0.5% Clean India (Swacchh Bharat) tax levied in the name of cleaning it.
The visit to Sambhar Lake, just reinforced the thought that the world has a lot to offer. The blast of color that nature can provide is just beyond imagination. The surprises that are present at every nook and corner sure keeps a wanderer like me interested for many a lifetimes.