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The Arid West

The Thar Desert

 

     Sand dunes cover extensive area of the Thar desert which lies between the Aravalli hill ranges in the east (in Rajasthan) and the Nara river in the west (in Pakistan). The northern limit of the Thar is along the Indo-Gangetic plains in the states of Haryana and Punjab and its southern limits along the north Gujarat plains. Thar desert is known for parabolic dunes and playas with height ranging from 2m to 50m or more. Low sand streaks and sandy hummocks are also numerous. For much of the Quaternary period, the Thar region had a semiarid climate and the current desertic conditions are recent.

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The Great Rann of Kachchh

 

       The Rann is a mysterious and fascinating landscape generated during the last 10,000 years, due to an interplay of sea-level changes and tectonic uplift. This salt marsh is among the largest in the world that came into existence between past 500 to 2000 years before the present. The present view of the Rann appears like desertic, monotonous, salt encrusted flat terrain which is almost devoid of exposures with former Islands rising above it like hills.

 

       The Great Rann of Kachchh hosts a significant amount of archaeological sites of the Bronze Age Harappan people. One of the most significant archaeological towns of Harappan times ‘Dholavira’ is situated here. The Rann of Kutch provided marine waterways (trade ways) to Harappans for a long time. Artifacts include terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figurines, tools, urns, and some imported vessels that indicate trade links with lands as far away as Mesopotamia along with 10 large stone inscriptions, carved in Indus Valley script, perhaps the world’s earliest signboard.

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