s western Maharashtr

s western Maharashtra? Thisthenis what bedevils Maharashtra: lousy governance that makes what should have been forever the richest state in India one of the poorest in its political hinterland In factif you take out MumbaiMaharashtra now ranks 11th among our states The pipeline from the Mantralaya to Marathwada and then on to Vidarbha is far too long and far too leaky for this region to get a fair deal That is why you have the paradox here of marginal farming with bullock ploughs and Bt seeds while western Maharashtra booms as a green revolution zone It is not so close to Mumbai eitherbut its political capital is Baramati and its de facto chief minister Sharad Pawarforever But politicians could turn around and tell you how difficult this zonetoo far from just anywhereis to govern If you have doubtsask the Great Mughalswhose empire finally lost its way heretrying to subdue the regioncollect its tribute and taxesquell the defiance of nativesrebellions of loyalists Aurangzeb himself moved here to sort things outfaileddied here as an emperor defeated by the elements But that is no excuse for the neglect now You want to see how bad it istake a 30-km detour from National Highway 6 to Lonaragain an overgrown village no different from a hundred others But that is not what you come here for You come to look at what you may have seen in your Class VI geography textbooksone of the largest meteorite craters in the world And one lookand you know the crater is the real thing You have seen nothing like it unless youve been to the more famous one in Arizona It is 18 km from one end to the other at the top and the meteorite that struck this part of the Deccan Plateauprobably 50000 years ago sliced out a perfect circle Accumulated water has formed a permanent lake whichshallow this yearcan hold a lot more water after a better monsoon But this watera bit like the Dead Seais heavily salt-laden and supports animalbird and plant life that is unique for any part of India There are wonderful walks around and into the craterand two 10th century temples at its baseone with a reclining Hanuman said to have been cut from the meteorite And yethow many tourists come to see this marvel There is a circuit house built by the British at the rim of the crater A peek inside its jammed doors tells you nobody has been around for years You may fault governments for a million thingsbut picking the right real estate can never be one of them Just two minutes awayon a hillock providing a stunning view of the craterthe Maharashtra government has built a tourist complex. Open.

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