Table of Contents
The Great Indian Desert, popularly known as the Thar Desert, is a large and arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. It is located partly in Rajasthan state, northwestern India, and partly in Punjab and Sindh (Sind) provinces, eastern Pakistan. Desert covers an area of 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi) and forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan.
In this article we will discuss the details about the Great Indian Desert within the context of the UPPSC/ IAS Exam. The information about Great Indian Desert will be helpful in the preparation of geography section.
The Great Indian Desert- An Overview
The name Thar is derived from thul, the general term for the region’s sand ridges. It is the world’s 20th-largest desert, and the world’s 9th-largest hot subtropical desert. The Thar Desert is about 4.56% of the total geographical area of India. About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and about 15% is in Pakistan. It is bordered by the irrigated Indus River plain to the west, the Punjab Plain to the north and northeast, the Aravalli Range to the southeast, and the Rann of Kachchh to the south. The subtropical desert climate there results from persistent high pressure and subsidence at that latitude.
There are several protected areas in the Thar Desert:
- The Desert National Park: Covers about 3,162 km2 (1,221 sq mi) in Rajasthan and it includes 44 villages represents the Thar Desert ecosystem. Its diverse fauna includes the great Indian bustard, blackbuck, chinkara, fox, Bengal fox, wolf, and caracal. Seashells and massive fossilized tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert.
- The Tal Chhapar Sanctuary: It Covers about 7 km2 (2.7 sq mi) area, located in the Churu District, 210 km (130 mi) from Jaipur, in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It is an important bird area. This sanctuary is home to large populations of blackbuck, fox, caracal, partridge, and sand grouse.
- The Sundha Mata Conservation Reserve: It covers an area of 117.49 km2 (45.36 sq mi) and it is located in the Jalore District of Rajasthan.
- The Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary: Covers an area about 6,300 km2 (2,400 sq mi) and it is located in is located in Mirpurkhas District. It contains the largest population of the endangered mugger crocodile in Pakistan.
- The Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary: located in Badin District is an Important Bird Area and Ramsar Site, with 30 species of mammals, 112 bird species, 20 reptiles, and 22 important plant species.
- The Lal Suhanra Biosphere Reserve and National Park: It is a UNESCO declared biosphere reserve, which covers 65,791 hectares (254.02 sq mi) the Cholistan region of the Greater Thar Desert.
Geography of Great Indian Desert
The northeastern part of the Thar Desert lies between the Aravalli Hills. The desert stretches to Punjab and Haryana in the north, to the Great Rann of Kutch along the coast, and to the alluvial plains of the Indus River in the west and northwest.
- The Thar desert sands overlie Archean gneiss, Proterozoic sedimentary rocks (formed about 2.5 billion to 541 million years ago), and more-recent alluvium.
- The surface consists of aeolian sand that has accumulated over the past 1.8 million years.
- The soils consist of several main groups- desert soils, red deserted soils, sierozems (brownish gray soils), the red and yellow soils of the foothills, the saline soils of the depressions, and the lithosols (shallow weathered soils) and regosols (soft loose soils) found in the hills.
- The amount of annual rainfall in the desert is generally low, ranging from about 4 inches (100 mm) or less in the west to about 20 inches (500 mm) in the east.
- The desert vegetation is mostly herbaceous or stunted scrub; drought- resistant trees occasionally dot the landscape, especially in the east.
- On the hills, gum arabic acacia and euphorbia may be found.
- The khajri (or khejri) tree (Prosopis cineraria) grows throughout the plains.
- The desert has both a very dry part and a semidesert part (in the east) that has fewer sand dunes and slightly more precipitation.
- The climate is arid and subtropical.
- Average annual rainfall ranges from 100 to 500 mm, and occurs during the short July-to-September southwest monsoon.
- Average temperature varies with season, and extremes can range from near-freezing in the winter to more than 50º C in the summer months.
- About 40% of the total population of Rajasthan lives in the Thar Desert.
- The Thar Desert is the most widely populated desert in the world, with a population density of 83 people per km2.
- The ethnic composition of the Thar is diverse.
- In India, the inhabitants comprise Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Muslims.
- In Pakistan, inhabitants include both Muslims and Hindus.
- The main occupations of the inhabitants are agriculture and animal husbandry
- The prevailing languages are Sindhi in the southwest, Lahnda in the northwest, and Rajasthani languages in central and eastern portions of the Thar.
- There are five major breeds of cattle in the Thar.
- The grasses form the main natural resources of the desert.
- Sheep are bred for both medium-fine and rough wool.
- Grasses provide nutritive pasturage as well as medicines used locally by the inhabitants.
- Camels are commonly used for transport as well as for plowing the land and other agricultural purposes.
- Alkaloids, used for making medicine and oils for making soap are also extracted.
- Thermal power-generating plants, fueled by coal and oil, supply power only locally in the large towns.
- Hydroelectric power is supplied by the Nangal power plant located on the Sutlej River in Punjab.
- The Thar is one of the most heavily populated desert areas in the world with the main occupations of its inhabitants being agriculture and animal husbandry.
- The Thar region of Rajasthan is a major opium production and consumption area.
- Mustard fields in a village of Shri Ganganagar district (Rajasthan, India).
- Bajra is the main kharif crop in Thar.
- Agricultural production is mainly from kharif crops, which are grown in the summer season and seeded in June and July.
- These are then harvested in September and October and include bajra, pulses such as guar, jowar, maize, sesame and groundnuts.
Flora and Fauna of the Great Indian Desert
The Thar Desert has a wide collection of Flora and Fauna. Some of the Fauna are as follows:
- Indian Wild Ass
- Red Fox
- Sand Grouse
- Asiatic Wild Cat
Basic Facts about the Thar Desert
- It is the world’s 17th-largest desert, and the world’s 9th-largest hot subtropical desert.
- The Thar Desert makes up approximately 5% (c. 4.56%) of India’s total geographical area.
- The name Thar is derived from thul, the general term for the region’s sand ridges.
- The northeastern part of the Thar Desert lies between the Aravalli Hills.
- Rainfall is 100 to 500 mm (4 to 20 in) per year, almost all of it between June and September.
- The Indian peafowl is a resident breeder in the Thar region.
- The region is a haven for 141 species of migratory and resident desert birds including harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrels, vultures, short-toed eagles, tawny eagles, greater spotted eagles, and laggar falcons.
- The origin of the Thar desert is a controversial subject. Some consider it to be only 4000 to 10,000 years old, whereas others state that aridity started in this region much earlier.
- The land of the Thar desert is covered with sands made of Archean gneiss metamorphic rocks, Proterozoic sedimentary rocks, and alluvium material.
The Thar Desert, often called the Indian Desert, extends for about 400 mi (644 km) from southwest to northeast and has a maximum width of about 225 mi (362 km).
History of Great Indian Desert
The Desert National Park in Jaisalmer district has a collection of 180-million-year- old animal and plant fossils. Jaisalmer State’s historical foundations are in the large empire ruled by the Bhati dynasty. The empire stretched from what is now Ghazni, in modern-day Afghanistan to what is Sialkot, Lahore and Rawalpindi in modern-day Pakistan to the region that is Bathinda and Hanumangarh in modern-day India. The empire crumbled over time because of continuous invasions from warriors in central Asia.
Jaisalmer was founded as the new capital in 1156 by Maharawal Jaisal Singh and the state took its name from the capital. On 11 December 1818 Jaisalmer became a British protectorate through the Rajputana Agency. In 1965 and 1971, population exchanges took place in the Thar between India and Pakistan; 3,500 Muslims shifted from the Indian section of the Thar to Pakistani Thar, whilst thousands of Hindu families also migrated from Pakistani’s Thar to the Indian section.
The Great Indian Desert- Features
- The Indian desert lies on the western edge of the hills of Aravalli.
- It is an undulating sandy plain surrounded by dunes of sand.
- Very low rainfall, below 150 mm per year, occurs in this area. With poor vegetation cover, it has an arid atmosphere.
- During the rainy season, streams emerge. They vanish into the sand shortly after, as they do not have enough water.
- In this area, Luni is the only large river. Barchans (crescent-shaped dunes) cover larger areas, but along the Indo-Pakistan border, longitudinal dunes are becoming more prevalent.
- The grass in the desert has multi-purpose medicinal features. Further, there are five key breeds of cattle in this desert and each breed is used for a different purpose.
- Camels are used to ferry individuals from one location to another.
- Cotton and wheat growth is encouraged by the landscape of the Thar Desert.
- Despite water shortage, the desert uses groundwater to satisfy its domestic needs, agricultural and energy needs.
Download Entri App, Entri provides you effective learnings in a period of time with the help of expert teams and you can accomplish the goal with the Entri App. Start your preparation for your dream government job with Entri App. We provide a wide range of courses over different government exams. We are providing you the best platform for the preparations for every prestigious exam. Here you can get access to a number of mock tests and get daily practice GK and Current affairs questions.
For candidates preparing for competitive exams like Bank Exam, UPSC exam and other Government Exams. Static GK connotes general knowledge about the static facts, the facts that are never going to change in the future. Entri App provides you with the best knowledge in GK and coaches candidates on different exams in your local language.