Sambhar is India's largest saline lake, 190 sq km in extent at full capacity, and lays some 60 km west of Jaipur, just outside prosaically named Salt Lake City. This vast body of glacial saline is on average just 0.6 cm deep and never more than 3 m even just after the monsoon. It stretches in length for 22.5 km, its width varying between 3 and 11 km. Several seasonal freshwater streams, two of the major ones being the rivers Mendha and Rupangarh, feed it.
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 saltpans. 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. Flies 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 that takes one straight back to coastal fish markets. An indigenously developed rail trolley system-the lines were laid by the British-takes one across the dam and to various far-flung points in the salt works.
Like most other north Indian places, Sambhar too has a tropical climate. The summers can be very hot with mercury crossing 45°C, whereas winters are moderately chilled and the temperature can fall below 10°C.
How To Reach:
For Jaipur-based visitors,Sambhar Lake is within a day's trip. One can take National Highway 8 to Dudu and then head north to Sambhar. Alternatively, one can take NH 8 to Malhan and then ask for Phulera, which is just short of Sambhar.