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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Indian Deserts: Physiography of India

The Indian Deserts

A desert is an arid land where the water is lost through evaporation than is gained from precipitation. It is the region where the rate of evaporation is higher so that of the rate of precipitation. 

The Indian subcontinent has the following deserts:

1. The Thar Desert:

It is a low-latitude desert and is known as a tropical desert. The name Thar is derived from 'thul' a term is used for the region's sand ridges. 

  • The Thar desert is a largely arid region that covers an area of 200,000 km2
  • It is the ninth (9th) largest subtropical desert in the world.
  • It is broader by plains of the Indus River to the west (W), Punjab plain to the north (N) and northeast (NE), Aravali range to the southeast (SE), and Rann of Kutch to the south (S).
  • More than 60% of the desert lies in Rajasthan.
The Indian Deserts: Physiography of India

The land surface of the That Desert is wind deposited (Aeolian) accumulation of sand over the past 1.8 million years. Its surface has high and low sand dunes separated by sandy plains and low barren hills (bhakars). The dunes are in continual motion and keep varying in their shapes and sizes. Some of the older sand dunes are 150 m in height. 

The region has playas (saline lake beds), locally known as dhands, scattered throughout the region. E.g. The Sambhar, Kuchman, Didwana, Pachpadra, Phalodi (Rajasthan), Kharagoda (Gujarat), Lunkaransar are major sources of the common salt.


  • The Thar Desert receives low annual rainfall, of about 4 inches (in the west) to 20 inches (in the east). 
  • The winds are dry northeast monsoon and the deserts record temperature up to 50°C in May and June. 
  • The coldest month is January with a minimum temperature of 5-10°C. The winters are short and for two (2) months only in December and January. 


  • It includes stunted scrub, drought-resistant trees, gums Arabica, acacia, jojoba, Khejri tree, and Euphorbia.
  • Khejri is an indigenous tree that plays a vital role in stabilizing the sand dunes. It can also withstand periodic burial under the sand dunes. 


  • It includes falcon, kestrel, blackbucks, chinkara, Indian wild ass, foxes, partridges, quail, vultures, and reptiles.

Water Resources and National Parks:

  • The river Luni, originating from the Pushkar valley of the Aravalli Range is the only natural water resource that reaches the Arabian Sea through the Run of Katchchh.
  • Indira Gandhi Canal is the source of fresh water and irrigated the vast expanse of the Indian portion of the Thar Desert.
  • The Desert National Park is an important ecosystem. 
  • The Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is an important bird reserve area located in Churu district and also an abode of a large population of blackbuck, fox, caracal, and sandgrouse.
  • The Keoladeo Ghana National park (Desert National Park, Jaisalmer) has fossils of tree trunks and seashells.

The Thar Desert has a population density of 83 people per km2and it is the most densely populated desert in the world. It has become the largest wool-producing area in India. Animal husbandry has increased as the harsh climatic conditions and the land terrain do not favor farming. However, Kharif crops are the main agricultural production. Bajra is the main crop. The solar energy and wind energy of the region are being exploited to generate electricity.

Previous Page: Fossil Parks: Geological Structure of India

Next Page:The Indian Islands: Physiography of India



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