The Thar Desert ...jaisalmer


The Thar Desert or the Great Indian Desert, is in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent spread more than 200,000 sq. km.. It lies mostly inRajasthan [राजस्थान] and extends into the southern portion of Haryana and Punjab and into northern Gujarat. Some parts of the desert covers eastern Sind and south-east Punjab province of Pakistan. 


The Thar Desert is bounded on the northwest by the Sutlej River, on the east by the Aravalli hills Range , on the south by the Rann of Kutch and on the west by the Indus River. 


It is characterized by its massive rolling sand dunes, excessive heat (50 degrees centigrade in May and June, with sand temperatures rising to 70 degrees), dust storms and dust-raising winds, often blowing winds with velocities of 140-150 Km/hr. 


History and Geology 


It is the found that Jaisalmer ( स्वर्ण नगरी जैसलमेर) in the Thar Desert about 180 million years ago, bordered the sea is testified by a petrified wood in Akal Fossil Wood Park. The igneous suite marks the last phase of igneous activity of pre-Cambrian age in the Indian subcontinent is about 700 million years old. Sendra granite, a plutonic igneous rock is about 900 million years old found The Great Indian Desert is also have a details in Vedas. The Holy River Sarswati was flowing through this Thar esert. Studies share the opinion that the river Sarasvati coincide with the bed of present day river Ghaggar and the Sutlej along with the Yamuna (यमुना) once flowed into the present Ghaggar riverbed. 


The Thar Desert is a desolate region where sand is piled up into huge wind blown dunes. The soils of the Desert are generally sandy to sandy-loam in texture. The low-lying loams have a hard pan of clay, calcium carbonate, silica and gypsum.. Several minerals including iron ore and petroleum also found below the ground level of the the Desert. 




Biodiversity


Due to the diversified habitat, the wildlife in this arid region is very rich. Several rare species are found here and several of them are endemic to the region. Some wildlife species, which are fast vanishing in other parts of India, are found in the desert in large numbers such as the Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), the Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), the Indian Gazelle (Gazella bennettii), the Indian Wild Ass and the Neelgai. They have evolved excellent survival strategies. 


The Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, spread over an area of 3162 km², is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert, and its diverse fauna.Great Indian Bustard, Blackbuck, chinkara, desert fox, Bengal fox, wolf, desert cat etc. can be easily seen here. Seashells and massive fossilized tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert. It is an ideal place for migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see many eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures. 


Many types of Eagles, Laggar Falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels are found in Wildlife Sanctuaries Talchaper in Churu District, This sanctuary is home to a large population of graceful Blackbuck. Desert Fox and desert cat can also be spotted along with typical avifauna such as partridge and sand grouse. 


Vegetation 
The plants in the desert have adopted various strategies to endure the intense heat, bitter cold and long dry spells. To reduce the water by evaporation the leaves of these plants are reduced in size, as is the case of khejri (Prosopis cinerara). Khejri (Prosopis cineraria)(खेजडी) is the natural vegetation in Northern Desert. Other natural trees found in Thar Desert are Acacia jacquemontii, Acacia leucophloea, Acacia senegal, Anogeissus rotundifolia, Prosopis cineraria, Salvadora oleoides, Tecomella undulata etc. Some species like kair (Cappairs dedicua) and phog (Calligonum polkygonides) do away with the leaves to minimize evaporation, 


Small trees and shrubs found in Thar Desert are Calligonum polygonoides, Acacia jacquemontii, Balanites roxburghii, Ziziphus zizyphus, Ziziphus nummularia, Calotropis procera, Suaeda fruticosa, Crotalaria burhia, Aerva tomentosa, Clerodendrum multiflorum, Leptadenia pyrotechnica, Lycium barbarum, Grewia populifolia, Commiphora mukul, Euphorbia neriifolia, Cordia rothii, Maytenus emarginata, Capparis decidua 


The Israel babul (akesia tortlis) planted in Rajasthan to check the expansion of desert produces same disaster effect like Vilayati babul(prosopis juliflora). It is found most harmful for the growth of local plants and grass. The better substitutes are the trees like Kejari, Neem , Rohira, Sisam trees who are most suitable for Rajsthan's climate, soil and eco-system. 


Agriculture 


The Thar Desert region characterized by extremes of climate, erratic rainfall, and high evapotranspiration and is subject to recurring droughts. 


The agriculture is mostly depend on the low rainfall. Only 24% of the cropped area is under irrigation by Indira Gandhi Canel project and only half of the irrigation potential is being used. 


The main crop of this region is Bajara, Moth, Mung, Gwar, Till. In the area under irrigation wheat, Barley, Gram, Macca etc are produced, 


Now Farmers are also farming Jojoba Plant in the desert area, 




Water Resources


The rains play a vital role in the life of all parts of Thar as the water deposits in johads or tobas (small ponds) are used for drinking, washing and other purposes. The Thar Desert zone people depend on ground water and rain. But the underground water is rarely found in Thar desert. Sometimes after digging a very deep well, water comes out quite sour and undrinkable. Only in in some places sweet water comes out of a very deeply dug well. Only 24% area is getting drinking water and irrigation from Indira Gandhi canel Rajasthan Project. Water scarcity is now the single bi ggest threat to food production, as falling groundwater levels make less water available for agriculture. 


Indira Gandhi canel Rajasthan


The only river that crosses these sands is the Luni, which joins the Arabian Sea through the Rann of Kutch 


. Traditionally rain water is stored in Kunds made in farms or homes for drinking purpose. Some big tanks or Talabs are constructed in villages to store rain water. for bathing, animals and also for drinking water. Indira Gandhi Canel covers some parts of desert area. 






Forestry


The forest area in the Thar Desert is very low. The forest is insufficient to fulfill the need of firewood and fodder for animals. This decrease in agricultural production of the area, The scientists of Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), have successfully developed and improved dozens of traditional and non-traditional crops and fruits, such as Ber trees that produce much larger fruits than before and can thrive with minimal rainfall. These trees have 


become a profitable option for farmers. 


The most important tree species, in Agro-forestry , providing livelihood support in Thar desert is Khejari (Prosopis cineraria). Khejri tree provides fodder for animals, fuelwood for villagers, provides wood for construction of doors, buildings and fruits 


People 


The Thar Desert is one of the most populous deserts of the world. The main occupation of the people in desert is agriculture and animal husbandry. A large irrigation and power project has reclaimed areas of the northern and western desert for agriculture. The Indian Desert is mainly inhabited by Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. A large number of families in villages still live in jhugis or huts which are housing units formed with straws and thin wood-sticks. 


A colorful culture rich in tradition prevails in the desert. The people have a great passion for music and poetry folk dance and lok geets (folk music). Several Colorful Festivals of Rajasthan as Gangour, Holi, Blaji Dham yatra, Ramdevji Yatra, Gogaji, Bhopaji Puja etc. are the main attraction here. 


The main language of this region is Rajasthani. Several great Rajasthani poets enriched the Rajasthani literature. The followers of Lord Jhambheshwar are Bishnois, Bishnoi is a great environmentalist community of Thar Desert 




Bishnoi women


Economy 


The main occupations of people living in the desert are agriculture and animal husbandry. But the agriculture is mainly dependable on the seasonal rains which are uncertain. The region faces frequent droughts. Animal husbandry, trees and grasses, vegetables or fruit trees, is the most viable model for arid, drought-prone regions. Animal husbandry has become popular due to the difficult farming conditions. 


Ecotourism and Desert safaris on camels have become increasingly popular in this region and a big source to boost economy. 'Padharo Mare Desh' ( Wecome to our region) is the slogan to boost tourism. 


Now the shape of this region with the Economy of Rajasthan is changing rapidly with the help of state and central governments development programs. A better roadways network, stuffiest supply of electricity in rural areas, improved education facility, arrangement for drinking water and expansion of rural industries changed the scenario of Thar Desert Zone. More financial assistance and incentives were provided to farmers and cottage industries to improve their economic condition. 


Now the Thar desert in western Rajasthan is emerging as the next energy hub of country. The region has rich deposits of oil, gas, lignite coal, coal bed methane and to top it all, solar and wind energy. Many companies are in queue for establishing their energy projects in the region and after lignite-based power projects and wind energy, a number of solar power units would dot the desert landscape. 


Important cities 


Jaisalmer, Bikaner, and Jodhpur (जोधपुर) are three main cities in the middle of the Thar Desert Rajasthan. Besides the main cites there are number of big towns and villages along the desert. These towns and villages reflect the rich cultural heritage of the state. The towns such as Ramgarh, Nawalgarh, Bisau, Churu, Pilani, Junjhunu, Chirawa, Taranagar, Sujangarh, Ratangarh, Naguar, Ladnu, Deshnok, Salasar and several other towns and villages profoundly carries the heritage of the bygone era. 


The Sam dunes and the Sonar Kila are the most picturesque spot around Jaisalmer . Sitting here in the evening with the sun setting, listening to the ballads of the legendary lovers Moomal and Mahendra you might feel that time has come to a grinding halt. The Jhodhpur Mhrangarh Fort, The Bikaner Junagarh Fort, Nagaur Fort, beautiful palaces, small forts, temples and other elegant monuments of architectural and historical value makes an unforgettable experience for any visitor. 




Desert satyam Safari  


Desert safaris on camels have become increasingly popular around Jaisalmer. Both foreigners as well as the Indian frequent the desert seeking adventure on camels. Desert Safari can be through Jeep Safari and Camel Safari. Jeep Safari is a beautiful way to experience the beauty of Thar Desert. The state is rich in forts and havelis. Desert Jeep Safari is one of the most adventurous and rewarding of all the safaris which you would have undertaken. 


.The Great Desert and Sam Dunes come alive during the desert festival with a sound and light show, and gala spectacles of dance and music which will be memorable for ever. Rajasthan desert festivals are celebrated with great zest and zeal. This festival is held once a year during winters. The fair has snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. 


Efforts to check Desert 


Arid Forest Research Institute, one of eleven institutes of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) was established in 1988 with the aim of understanding and combating desertification with a multi-dimensional approach. Indian Council of Forestry Research are mainly to develop techniques for rainwater harvesting, to develop and improve agri-silvi-pastoral systems, develop technology for afforestation on stress sights and the eco-stabilization of deserts, with an emphasis on sand dune fixation. Other goals include developing, producing, and distributing high quality planting material to local farmers, performing "Provenance Trials" of important arid zone species, improving trees through tissue-culture and genetic engineering, and researching non-wood forest products, especially those with med icinal value, like Sona-mukhi (cassia angusta folia), which needs very little water and requires no protection from animals. 


AFRI is a globally thinking institution; externally funded research projects include the RD project (1995-2000), NABARD project (1995-2000), UNDP project (1992-2000), WB project (1994-continuing) and NOVOD (1999-continuing). About these internationally funded projects Sahni said, "UNDP (United Nations Development Program) was conducted in 10 villages of this area from 1992 to 2000. In that program, we were bringing the upgraded plantation to the villages, showing new techniques of rain-water harvesting and trying to apply them there." 


Ancient Saraswati river 


The Indus-Saraswati Civiliation in Mohen-jo-daro, Harappa and Lothal was the earliest urban society with a bustling economy older than civilizations in Egypt or Mesopotamia. 


It is thus not only the oldest known pre-historic culture of the world, but also attracts international researchers because of its theme of peace and progress,” says Kalpana Desai, India director of the Global Heritage Fund based in the US. 


The Indus-Saraswati culture was extraordinarily innovative and rich in entrepreneurship. There was prosperity and goods were tradeing with faraway lands from its wonderfully built huge ports. Sixty to eighty thousand people with various skills lived in every city which was well designed and had good water supply and drainage systems. 


Around 4000 years ago, it is believed that this civilization died out without any proof of war or devastation. Researchers’ conjecture is that a huge earthquake or tectonic movement of the layers of the earth took place around that time and the River Saraswati changed its course towards the east leaving the rest of its waters to pool into lakes in Gujarat or vanished into the Rann of Kutch and the deserts of Rajasthan. Thus the glorious civilization, with its dependence on water for trade and livelihood, shifted to the fertile plains of the Ganga and Yamuna and became an agricultural rather than industrial. community. 


More references on Saraswati river 

1 टिप्पणियाँ:

  1. Incredible post, thoroughly enjoyed it. Photos are amazing. Desert National Park of Jaisalmer is really amassing place. You can also check my post at Desert National Park Safari, at http://www.touristsafari.com/parks/desert-national-park-jaisalmer

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