The Incredible Thar Desert: 20,000 square-kilometre desert joining India and Pakistan
The Thar Desert is a dry region covering an area that is 200,000 square kilometres large. It creates a natural border between the countries of Pakistan and India. The desert is known to be the seventeenth largest desert in the world. It is also the ninth largest subtropical desert in the world.
Approximately 85% of the desert lies in India and the remainder is within Pakistan. Over 60% of the desert is within Rajasthan, and it leads into Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, and Sindh. In Punjab, Pakistan, the desert also joins with the Cholistan Desert.
The driest part of the desert is to the west, in the Marusthali region. Most of the desert is covered by sand dunes, but towards the east is a semidesert region which has fewer sand dunes and a higher level of precipitation than the western parts.
There is a considerable amount of movement in the sand as a result of the harsh winds in the desert before the monsoon season.
The desert is surrounded by the Aravalli Hills, the Great Rann of Kutch – a salt marsh – and the Indus River. The only river integrated into Thar Desert is the Luni River. The river begins in the Pushkar valley of the Aravalli Range and ends in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
The Luni River flows through the Mithavirana Vav Radhanpur region of Banaskantha North Gujarat. It also flows through many districts, including Jodhpur, which is the largest of the cities in the region, and Ajmer. Jodhpur is within the scrub forest zone.
The river’s major tributaries include the Jojari River from the right and the Sukri from the left.
The Rajasthan Canal system is a major irrigation scheme which operates in the Thar Desert. The system is the world’s largest irrigation scheme. It runs through parts of Punjab and ends in Rajasthan.
In the Thar Desert, between 4-20 inches of precipitation is seen annually. This rainfall occurs mainly during the summer months – between July and September.
The weathering of rocks in the region creates salt, allowing many salt water lakes to form in the desert. Some examples of these lakes include the Phalodi Lake in Rajasthan and the Kharaghoda Lake in Gujarat. During the seasons in which there is more rainfall, these salt water lakes collect water. When the drier seasons arrive, the weather conditions cause this water to evaporate.
Various discoveries have been made during excavations of the Thar Desert, such as the lithic tools found which belonged to the prehistoric Aterian culture of the Maghreb. These tools were found in the desert’s Middle Paleolithic deposits.
The Thar Desert is known to be the most widely populated desert in the world. The population density of the desert stands at 83 people per square kilometre. Almost 40% of Rajasthan’s total population reside in the Thar Desert region.
The desert attracts many tourists. Walking treks, camel trips, and camping are all common in desert. As a result of this, camel keepers and organisers of the treks and camps in the area gain a useful source of income. Around the area of Jaisalmer, desert safaris are known to be very popular.