Although renowned for splendorous forts, and vibrant culture, Rajasthan has several natural wonders that make for an exciting escape. One such marvel is the shimmering vision in white, the Sambhar Salt Lake. If you’re tired of frequent mainstream destinations of Rajasthan, this can be a fabulous offbeat and unconventional option to explore. In this travel guide get all the information you need to make your trip a memorable one.
History and Legend of Sambhar Lake
Sambhar Lake is India’s largest saline lake responsible for producing nearly 90% of the salt production in India.
There are many stories and legends regarding the formation of Sambhar Lake. According to Mahabharata, the lake was owned and created by a demon king named “Brishparva”. Another legend states that Shakambari Devi formed this lake by converting dense forest into precious gems. But upon the villagers’ request, who feared feuds arising due to wealth, she converted the land of jewels into a huge Salt Lake.
Salt extraction from Sambhar Lake is not a recent development but has been going on for several hundred years. From Rajputs and Mughals to Sindhi and Marathas, the Sambhar Lake has been owned and managed by several rulers. It is now jointly governed by the State government and Sambhar Salts Limited.
Things To Do In Sambhar Town
Shakambari Mata Mandir
Located on the southern banks of the Lake, Shakambari Mata Mandir is of great significance. The hillock behind the temple offers sweeping views of the undulating salt pans stretching for miles. Additionally, the local priests will regale you with some fascinating tales associated with the history and geography of the area. A Cenotaph close to the temple can be an excellent place to watch a mesmerizing sunrise over the salt flats.
Located 4 km south of Sambhar town, Naliasar is an archaeological excavation site. Archaeologists have unearthed many terracotta figurines, antique pottery, and ancient coins. Besides, they have also found proofs of several well-planned settlements belonging to the Gupta and Kushan periods. Most of the ancient findings are now displayed at the Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur.
The vast, far-flung plains of the Sambhar Lake bed resemble that of Rann of Kutch in Gujrat. Far away from the cacophony of the city lights, it’s a perfect place for engaging in stargazing and dabbling in some astrophotography. Moreover, if you manage to procure the necessary permits, you can even camp by the lake bed and explore the lake during the calm hours of the night. Sambhar Lake looks even more enthralling on a full-moon night when the water transforms into a dazzling silver mirror.
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Experience a Salt Voyage
There’s a small narrow-gauge trolley train passing through the riverbanks carrying salt in its bogies. With its blue-colored engine and tiny bogies, the train appears to have jumped out of a children’s fantasy novel. It is the only train in India running through a lake, and for a small fee, you can even ride it for a few hours and witness the salt production process at the Sambhar Lake.
Come winter, and the Lake turns home to thousands of migratory birds. From Northern to Central Asia, you can spot several species of birds in this Ramsar Wetland Site. During dawn and dusk, gorgeous flamingos basking in the sun turn the lake bed into a spectacle in pink. Sambhar Lake is a perfect place for wildlife enthusiasts to indulge in some photography sessions.
The Circuit House
Located in a tranquil area of the town, the Circuit House is one of the must-visit attractions of Sambhar town. In 1880, the British constructed the first circuit house. It still has a functional pulley lift to pull food and other items to the top floors. You also get excellent views of the town from its balconies and terrace.
Salt Museum and Processing Plant
Located close to the Circuit House and housed in a 100-year-old colonial building, the Salt Museum exhibits salt samples from all across India.
The Salt Processing plant is an excellent place to acquaint yourself with the salt extraction process.
Located at a distance of 118 km from the town, Jaipur Airport is the nearest airport to Sambhar town. Though public buses are available from Jaipur, the best way to visit this place would be by private vehicle. There are also many trains connecting Salt Lake City to Jaipur.
Best Time to Visit
October to March is the ideal season to visit Sambhar. The best time to visit Sambhar Lake would either be during the sunrise when the soft light of the rising sun casts a silvery sheen to the salt flats or during the sunset when this white desert gets sheathed in the orange glow of the golden hour.
Where to Stay and Eat in Sambhar Lake
Although tourism has been gradually picking up pace in the region, Sambhar is still a small town with low population where salt production is the main occupation of the people. Hence, you will enjoy an easy stay. That said, here are some places where you can have a stomach-satisfying meal and bunk for a few days.
Sambhar Heritage Resort located at Jhapok village, is one of the best places to stay in Sambhar, and it also provides good meals. The Circuit House is a comfortable stay, run by Sambhar Salts Limited, offering splendid views of the lake and mess facility for food. Located close to the Shakambari Devi temple, Tati Dharamshala is one of the cheapest places to stay for travelers.
Apart from this, there are dhabas and restaurants near the bus stand offering vegetarian meals. You can also opt for camping by the lake after obtaining the required permits.
Though there are no established tour operators or guides around Sambhar Lake, locals and taxi drivers often double up as tour guides to help tourists find their way.
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Not only do they help you with directions and information, but they are also willing to go above and beyond when it comes to making visitors comfortable in their homeland. Whether it’s by directing and familiarizing you with some hidden bird colonies, or helping you find places of accommodation. So get ready for a fun getaway to this ethereal place tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the conventional tourist radar.
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