Thar Desert, or the Great Indian Desert as it is also known, is the large arid region in north-west Rajasthan surrounding the thousand-year-old enigmatic fortress of Jaisalmer on all four sides.
Covered over an expanse of 200,000 square kilometres, it is the world’s 20th largest desert, as well as the world’s most densely populated desert [at 83 people per square kilometre]. Some 40 percent of Rajasthan’s population lives in the Thar, eking out a living on its barren stretch through agriculture and animal husbandry.
Folk art and music offer a much-needed respite in the face of hardship here; just as vibrant-coloured odhnis and turbans give a dash of colour to the otherwise dusty, bare, uninhabited miles. Continue reading →
“The Rann is a great teacher. A sea of salt, it is harsh. Very harsh. It makes you resilient. But it softens your eyes with tears and teaches your heart to be kind,” my Kutchi co-passenger on the sleeper train to Bhuj philosophically explains as the train rumbles its way through the barren expanses of northern Gujarat. I must confess I am not too sure what he means. Doesn’t harshness make us harsh too? I guess I look nonplussed. He smiles at me, “You will feel it. You will see it.” Continue reading →