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Thar Desert

The great Indian desertimage credit-asiasociety.org

Thar Desert:

Thar desert  also known as the great Indian desert is located in the Indian subcontinent. It is a dry arid region which is located to the north west of Aravali hills. It covers the western Rajasthan and is the natural boundary between India and Pakistan.  A large part of the desert is located in India and a small portion of 15% is in Pakistan. Major part of the desert lies in Rajasthan and the remaining part is in the state of Gujarat,  Punjab and Haryana in India. It is the 17th largest and 9th largest  hot subtropical desert in the world and also heavily populated among all deserts. It is one of the best tourist destinations to experience the Rajasthani culture, tradition and cuisine. Thar Desert is an important geographical feature of India.

Geography and Water of the Thar Desert

Covering an area of 77,000 square miles the thar desert is bordered by Indus River to the west, Aravalli Hills to the northeast, Great Rann of Kutch towards the south and Punjab Plain towards the North. For most part of the year the soil of the desert remains dry due to lack of rainfall.  The desert on the whole comprises a very dry region, marusthali region in the west.  The Luni river is the largest river in the thar desert. It originates in the Pushkar Valley of the Aravalli Range passes through the southwest of the Thar Desert and reaches the land of  Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.

The Thar Desert has few lakes which get dried up during the summer season. Since water is scarce resource in Thar Desert. It is very important to store the water in tanks and reservoirs for drinking and domestic purposes. The groundwater being salty cannot be utilized for any purposes. The Indira Gandhi Canal which is the largest canal which carries water from Beas and Sutlej river provides water for the irrigation purpose in the thar desert. Crops like mustard seeds, cotton, wheat are now grown in the semi-arid region of Rajasthan. Besides providing water for irrigation it provides drinking water to thousands of people in remote areas.

Land and soil of Thar Desert

The soil of the Thar desert remains dry for most part of the year due to repeated wind erosion in the desert. The Desert has high and low sand dunes which are separated by sandy plains and low barren hills. High velocity winds blow and shift the sand dunes in the desert. Sand dunes are usually formed by the movement of sand by the wind. The sand dunes are in different size and shape and are  continuous.

We can say that the Thar Desert is one of the important to maintain the ecosystem of India due to lack of rainfall, high temperatures, high wind speed and moving of sand due to wind. The desert has small stretches of alluvial soil with very less vegetation. One can see both red and yellow soil at the foothills. The soil is usually very infertile due to repeated soil erosion

Tecomella undulata is a very important desert tree to protect the ecosystem in the desert. It is an important source of timber. It helps in soil binding with the help of its lateral roots. It also helps as wind breaks thus stabilising the sand dunes. Above all it give good shade to animals and birds in the desert. 

Flora and Fauna

Due to the harsh climatic conditions the thar desert has a different kind of plants and animals. The plants in the desert don't need much water to survive as they have thick stems and thorns on it. These plants are known as cactus plants. The desert also has regular trees like shrubs, trees and herb species.

Other than the camels, some other animals that are found in the Thar desert are reptiles, lizards, Chinkara, Indian wild ass and black bucks. There are around 150 migratory birds and resident birds in the desert. If tourists are lucky one can see birds like eagle, falcons, vultures and many other birds.

Climate of Thar Desert

Thar Desertimage credit- timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Climate in the Thar desert is very extreme during summer and winter seasons. Hot in the day and cool at night. The summer days are really hot and the nights are cool but the winter days are warm and the nights are cold. In the summer there is little to no rain. From the heat there are many dried up rivers. Sometimes it doesn't rain for years and they have droughts. The Thar Desert gets most of its rain in December and January. This desert has no rain in June, July and August. The hottest months are June and July. 

 During summer season the maximum temperature could go up to 50 degree Celsius . During the winter season the minimum temperature will hover around 4-5 degree Celsius. The coolest seasons are January and December. Dust storms and dust raising are very common during the summer season.

The best time to visit thar desert is from October to February.

Tourism in Thar Desert

Thar desert or the Great Indian desert is one of the most important tourist destinations of Rajasthan. One can see the true Rajasthani culture in the desert. The folk song and dance of Rajasthan can be experienced in the desert. Jaisalmer also known as the “The Golden City” is one of the major attractions in the desert. It is located in the heart of the desert. It is known as the golden city because of the golden color sand dunes present in the city. 

Jaisalmer is famous for the sand dunes and the fort which is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan built in 1156 AD. The desert festival of Jaisalmer is the most important cultural and colorful event of Rajasthan. It is held in the month of February every year. The main attraction of the festival is the camel race, folk dance, music and most important is the Rajasthani cuisine. Jaisalmer is well connected by rail,road and air.

Another important city is the Bikaner. Some of the important tourist places are Junagarh Fort, Lakshmi Nivas Palace, Laxmikanth temple and the international Camel Festival held in the month of January every year. One should experience the beautiful sunset, the sand dunes and the Rajasthani cuisine. Known as Gateway to Thar, Jodhpur is another important place in Rajasthan to visit and enjoy the palaces and forts. One must enjoy the Camel and Jeep safari on the dunes. 

Desert National Park is located between Jaisalmer and Barmer. The Desert National Park consists of fossils of animals and plants of 180 million years old. It is home to some of the most exotic animals and birds  like the Great Indian Bustard, desert fox, bengal fox, Chinkara, Falcons, Short toed eagles, migratory birds. With a fragile ecosystem and rough sand dunes, rocks and compact salt lakes bottom, the Desert National park is a must visit place in the thar desert. The best time to visit is November to January. The endangered Indian bustard is the major attraction in the park.

People of Thar Desert

Most of the people of thar desert live in rural areas. They belong to different religions like Hindus, Muslims, Buddhism and Jainism.The main occupation of people living in rural areas is agriculture and animal husbandry. With the cool breeze in the evening from the desert the local residents enjoy the evening with folk music and dance. Some of the nomads are also engaged in crafts, trade and business. Most of the local people speak Rajastani languages like Marwari. Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner are the important places of the thar desert.

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