Sambhar Salt lake Rajasthan

Sambhar Salt lake Rajasthan 

Sambhar is 190 sq. km in extent at full capacity, and lies some 60 km west of Jaipur, just outside prosaically named Salt Lake City.

Located off NH 8(National Highway) towards Ajmer, some 90 km west of Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, this is Indias largest saline lake - 190 sq km in extent at full capacity. It stretches in length for 22.5 km, its width varying between three and 11 km approximately.

It is fed by several seasonal fresh water streams, two of the major ones being the rivers Mendha and Rupangarh.

Sambhar quite literally means salt, and salt has been extracted from here for over a thousand years by the various administrators of the area . Over time, these have included the Scindhias, Rajputs, Marathas, Moghuls and the rulers of Jaipur and Jodhpur who jointly owned the lake, and who in 1870 leased it to the British who built the solid square Circuit House where we were fortunate enough to stay.

After independence, the lake was taken over by the government and is now managed by Sambhar Salts Limited, a joint venture of Hindustan Salts and the Government of Rajasthan.

The vast, roughly elliptically shaped lake has been divided into two sections by a 5 km long stone dam. The eastern section contains the reservoirs for salt extraction, canals and salt pans. Water from the vast shimmering western section is pumped to the other side via sluice gates when it reaches a degree of salinity considered optimal for salt extraction.

The waters here are glacially still, edged with a glittering frost of salt. Files abound, drawn by the blue-green algae in the water and queue up in order to crawl into your mouth and ears. There is a sharp briny tang in the air taking you straight back to coastal fishmarkets. The only thing missing being the hushing lisp of the sea as it fans out on the beach.