India is a vast country, with diverse geographical features, ranging from the magnificent Himalaya Mountains to the Great Northern Plains, the Great Deserts and the Western Ghats. These features vary in terms of topography as well as climatic conditions, and keep on changing as we travel from one place to other.
Here is an overview of the Great Indian Deserts:
Thar Desert, Rajasthan
The Great Indian Desert or the Thar Desert is the third largest in Asia and seventh largest in the world. It is the vast stretch of nearly 200,000 sq km of arid region situated in the north western part of the county. This desert is mainly located in the Western state of Rajasthan while it extends to the states of Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana, with the Sutlej River in its North West, the Aravalli Mountain Range in the East, the Indus River in the West and the Rann of Kutch, a salt marsh, in its southern region. The Thar Desert is divided into three different types of land forms, including the sand covered area, the area around the Aravali Hills and the plains located in its central region.
The climate of the Thar Desert is the typical dry desert climate, with hot winds and very little rain throughout the year. The days are hot, while the nights are chilly. The erratic rainfall measures between 4 inches in the west to 20 inches in the east, the maximum coming in the months of July to September. Due to scanty rain, the vegetation in Thar Desert is minimalistic. The landscape is covered by high and low sand dunes, which also do not support much vegetation. About the wildlife of the Thar Desert, it is frequented by animals such as the blackbuck and the chinkara (gazelle), while birds like quail, great bustard and francolin are commonly seen here. There are several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the Thar Desert region, which comprise an important part of the tourism map of the region. Some of these are the Desrt National Park (Jaiselmer), the Tal Chhapar Sanctuary (Churu district) and the Jalore Wildlife Sanctuary (Jalore). This is the land of rich culture and heritage, which attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe every year.
Kutch Desert, Gujarat
Though the chief desert of the country is the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, the state of Gujarat houses a marshy saline clay desert called the Rann of Kutch, which gets its name from the district of Kutch in Gujarat, where it is located. The Rann of Kutch is the largest salt desert in the world. It is a stretch of 30000 sq km of saline land, located between The Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of River Indus, which is located in Pakistan. The unique feature of the landscape of this region is that it gets flooded with standing sea waters in the monsoon months, to become a major breeding ground for flocks of flamingoes.
Climatically, it is one of the hottest areas in the country, with temperature reaching up to 49 C in summers, while winters may seem extremes, with the mercury dropping to 0 C. A famous wildlife sanctuary located in the Rann of Kutch region is the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, which is the home to the endangered species of Wild Ass, in addition to many other wild animals like antelope, blackbucks, nilgai, jackals, wolves and foxes. Like the Thar Desert, this place too is famous for its rich culture and heritage and people are attracted to the amazing traditions and handicrafts of the Rann.
Culturally speaking, these desert areas form an integral part of the rich heritage of India and also play a vital role in the tourism of the country.