Saturday 12 January 2013

Sambhar Salt

The Sambhar Lake is the largest inland salt lake and produces nearly nine percent of India's total salt. Salt here is produced by the evaporation process of brine.

I had stayed in the Circuit House of the Sambhar Salts Ltd. (SSL) which is a joint venture of the Hindustan Salts Ltd. and the State Government of Rajasthan.

Salt Museum 

Just in front of the Circuit House is an ancient structure which is the Salt Museum. The building though stays closed and one can only observe the model of the Salt Lake and the salt works which is out in the open.

View of the dawn

You get a wonderful view of the dawn from the Circuit House with the Salt Museum building providing an excellent outline against the backdrop of the golden dawn.

Snowfall in Rajasthan?

If you look at the photo above it gives the impression of snow lying on the earth (that also in Rajasthan?). This is salt that gives the impression of snow.

Salt Fields

Around the huge lake one can see the color of the earth in stretches is white indicating salt content.

Salt Evaporation Pond

The lake is divided into two main parts by five km long dam. Once the salt water reaches certain concentration it is released and stored on evaporation ponds and salt pans. Some ponds have red color of water due to the presence of algae.

Salt Pans

Once the water dries the layers of salt is scrapped and collected as mounds of salt. From here it is again manually collected and put in the rail wagons. The Salt Works area is crisscrossed by railway network  - a narrow gauge - which was built by the Britishers in the 19th century to carry the salt to other destinations.

Salt Train

The rail wagons that you see in the photo above are made of wood not only because they are old wagons but they also serve another purpose i.e. since it is salt that they carry if they are made of iron they will rust away very quickly! Though the chassis is of course made of metal.

Salt being collected

I asked the workers how much they are paid for the work and I was astonished to find that they get paid a miserly Rs 300 for filling one wagon which after a whole days work one family (they operate in this manner here) is barely able to fill. One wagon can take upto six metric tons of salt.

Salt Hill

Salt around the lake gives employment of lot many persons. It is stored in huge mounds before it is sent to the factories for further processing.

As stated in my earlier post on Sambhar Lake the area is a key wintering site for several migratory birds like flamingos and waterfowls, among others, and is a designated Ramsar site.

The tourism infrastructure though is severely lacking in this area but I was pleased to read a Times of India (TOI) report that the Hindustan Salts Ltd. and the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) have signed an MOU to create tourism infrastructure in the Sambhar area.

Also read Sambhar Lake if you are in interested in bird watching.

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