The Thar Desert
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. Also known as The Great Indian Desert, the huge unending expanse of burning hot sand is spread over four states in India, namely Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, and two states in Pakistan and covers an area of about 446,000 square kilometres. Deriving its name from ‘thul’ denoting the sand ridges of the region. Presently the portion of Thar Desert in Pakistan falls in the Sindh province and sharing the rest of it with Rajasthan in India. Beyond Mirpurkhas land has been badly hit by the salinity and rise of water table hence the desert starts right after Mirpurkhas after 45 minute you start seeing the straw / Cone hoses of the desert dwellers. Until you reach Umerkot which is the largest town in Thar desert. The Thar Desert, however, is not an inhospitable, empty wasteland, but is often called, with good reason, the `Friendly Desert’. It is accessible, not too hot, and colourful, and makes a perfect four-day trip from Karachi. More than half a million people, 70 percent of whom are Hindu, live in the desert, spread out over 13,000 square kilometers (5,000 square miles). The women wear long, full, red or orange skirts and cover their heads with embroidered or tie-dyed shawls. Married women encase their arms in bone or plastic bangles from wrist to shoulder (widows wear bangles above the elbows only; single girls wear them only round the wrist). The people live in round mud-walled huts thatched with grass and surrounded with thick thorn hedges. These are clustered round the more reliable wells or along the tops of ridges.