By Momina Aftab
South of Pakistan has recently been in the spotlight for being a great travel destination owing to its cultural diversity, indigenous heritage and a bloody history. Covering an area of about 200,000 square kilometers, Thar desert is the 17th largest desert of the world, 9th largest subtropical desert of the world and is also known as the ‘Great Indian Desert’.
Only 15 percent of the desert lies within Pakistan; the rest of the desert is within Indian border. This is a region of sand dunes, camels, peacocks, historic architecture, religious peace, incredible music, natural waterfalls and coal mines and is quite accessible with a high-functioning daily life but just to clear your doubts, we give you five SOLID reasons as to why you must visit Thar.
Only fertilised desert of the world
One of the most heavily inhabited deserts of the world, Thar is also said to be the only fertilized desert all over the globe with 7 different ecological zones. The mesmerising sand dunes are covered all over with thorn bushes and drought-resistant trees.
The chasm between barrenness and greenery is mind-boggling and post-monsoon Thar is a sight to behold. Rainfed agriculture and livestock are the two main pillars of Tharis’ livelihood. The varying ecosystem provides a natural habitat to a lot of endangered wildlife species that are otherwise going extinct.
The harmony with which Muslims and Hindus coexist in this region is heartwarming. Each temple, mosque, ashram and fort have a different story to tell. All religious, caste and tribe differences cease to exist when you enter the Thar region.
Multifaceted culture and history
The Thar region is full of ancient forts and historic sites such as Naukot fort, Nagarparker hills, Umarkot fort and many Jain temples. Umarkot is said to have been the birthplace of majestic Mughal Emperor, Akbar. The rich culture is an amalgam of Gujarati, Rajisthani and Sindhi culture and encompasses various folk tales; folk dance; folk music; unique, traditional clothing; handicrafts; wild food; wedding practices and jewelry.
The melodic tunes of the Thar desert will make you want to get up and groove in a trance like state until your feet hurt. An important asset of Pakistan’s music industry, Mai Bhagi, rose from the region of Thar. For natives, music holds the same status as survival and often you will get to witness a figure or more performing to serene tunes of a harmonium or a beautiful voice. The ballads sung in the region tell various tells of courage, romance and tragedy.
Most hardworking and hospitable people
This land of shifting dunes has the most down-to-earth, humble and hardworking people whose kindness knows no bounds. They are quiet, usually work round the clock to survive and have no interest in the materialistic offerings of the world.
Despite being heavily affected by poverty and drought, these people continue to stay resilient and offer support to the tourists to the best of their ability. Thus, visiting Thar is actually a great way to unwind, regain perspective and be mindful of our easy and privileged lifestyles.