The Thar Desert or the Great Indian Desert has an extreme type of climate. In summer it is very hot in the day while the nights are cooler. In winter the days are warmer and the nights are very chilly. It is because the sand gets heated up fast in the day and cools down quickly at night. The desert is almost dry. It receives very little rainfall. Sometimes it does not rain for years together. It is because the rain laden monsoon winds coming from the Arabian Sea pass over this desert unchecked.
There are no high hills which may force the monsoons to cause rain. The Aravali ranges which are parallel to the direction of these winds do not stand as a barrier. The monsoon winds which come from the Bay of Bengal loose almost all the moisture by the time they reach here. As a result this part remains dry and has no rains. It has turned this fertile land into a barren desert. There are no rivers. The river Loni which flows through this land remains dry for most of the part and ends up in sand.
In some places where water from under the ground comes up to the surface there are date palm trees. Such a place is called an Oasis. Keeker, babul trees and thorny cactus plants grow in this area.
Life of the People
The life of the people in the desert region is very hard. The population is very thin and the villages are situated at quite long distances from one another. There are a few towns in the Thar Desert.
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. Wherever water rs available people grow jowar, bajra and pulses. Our Government is trying to provide water for irrigation to this land. A big canal called the Indira Gandhi Canal has been dug out and it brings water from Sutlej to Raiasthan. It is also known as the Rajasthan Canal. It is about 500 kilometers long and takes water to northern-western Rajasthan. It irrigates Ganganagar district and some parts of Bikaner district. It has changed the face of Rajasthan. The Government has set up a big wheat farm at Suratgarh. Now the land in Ganganagar is not different from the adjoining Punjab and Haryana areas. Now wheat, maize, jowar, bajra, cotton, pulses and sugarcane are the main crops of these districts.
Rearing of sheep and goats is another important occupation of the people of Rajasthan. These people move from place to place in search of grass and water for their flocks. Such people are called nomads. Some of the nomads have taken up blacksmith as their occupation. They make and sell things made of iron. They keep on moving from place to place on their bullock carts. A group of people travelling together on camels form a Caravan.
It is difficult to make roads and railways on the sandy desert. The sand dunes which keep on changing their place due to winds cover up the roads and rails. So there are very few roads and railway lines. The Government is developing this area and more roads and railways are being laid. The people mostly travel and transport their goods on the camel back. Camel is a useful animal in this part of the desert. It can live without food and water for some days. Animals like snakes, lizards, black buck, wild dogs can also be found in some parts of the desert.
There are some big towns like Ganganagar, Suratgarh, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Barmer in this part of the Great Indian Desert. Some of these towns were the capital towns built by the Rajput kings. These towns have beautiful palaces and forts. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan is famous for Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal.
The people of this region are called Rajputs. They are very brave and fearless people. They make good soldiers for the Indian Army. In the past this part has produced many brave and famous warriors like Rana Sanga, Maharana Pratap, Amar Singh Rathor, Rana Kumbha and Prithvi Raj Chauhan. Rajput ladies were also equally brave and fearless. The stories of the bravery of Rani Padmani and Panna, the nurse, are famous all over the world.