The Thar Desert is the largest desert in India which is why it is also called the Great Indian Desert. The desert covers more than 77,000 square miles (200,000 sq. km).
Where is the Thar desert located?
The Thar desert is located in Asia and sits on the border between India and Pakistan. The map below shows the Thar desert location in India. The majority of the desert is in the region of Rajasthan with much smaller areas extending into the Indian regions of Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat as well as Pakistan. The desert extends into Pakistan up to the wetter areas sustained by the Indis River.
Thar desert map
Important Thar desert facts
The Great Desert of India is a large arid region with a landscape dominated by sand dunes varying in size from 52ft (16m) in the North to 498ft (152m) in the south.
The majority of the Thar desert is in India but 15% of it is actually within the borders of Pakistan.
The age of the Thar Desert is a topic of great controversy, though most geologists agree that it is somewhere in the region of 4000-10,000 years old.
About 5,000 years ago at least one ancient civilization lived there with their main civic center being to the North near the Indus river of Pakistan at the city of Mohenjo-daro.
Despite there being a scarcity of water the Thar desert contains the historic city of Jodhpur which was founded in 1459. Today the city has a population of 1.5 million and is a popular tourist destination due to the wealth of historic monuments and buildings.
The Thar desert does not have any Oasis which is unusual compared to other large deserts. There is a single river that flows through the desert, the Luni River.
The Luni River
The Luni river starts to flow in Naga hills of Rajasthan and winds its way through Rajasthan finally spilling out into a wide shallow area of Gujara where it ends without draining into another water course or sea. For about the first 100km the water remains fresh but after that its shallow and wide path means it becomes saline. This river dries up completely in the dry season.
Interesting facts about the Thar Desert
The Thar Desert is the 18th largest subtropical desert in the world.
In contrast to the Sahara, which has one of the lowest population densities (1 person per sq. km), the Thar Desert is the most densely populated desert in the world (83 people per sq. km).
Most families in the Thar Desert coexist using a joint family system, meaning all generations live together in one residence. Money earned by family members becomes the common property of the family as a whole.
India carried out its first nuclear weapon explosion test in the Thar Desert on 18 May 1974.
Very little rainfall is experienced in the Thar Desert, with average rainfall less than 10 inches (25cm) per annum. This is distributed rather erratically, though occurs mostly between July and September.
The average temperature in the Great Indian Desert ranges from of 75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (24-26 degrees Celsius) in summer, to 39 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4-10 degrees Celsius) in winter.
Importance of the Thar desert
Unusually for a large desert, the Thar is able to support a relative abundance of mammals. Over 40 separate species inhabit this arid area.
The Thar region of Rajasthan is the biggest wool-producing area in India.
How to get to the Thar Desert
There are no international airports within the Thar desert but Jaipur International Airport is just outside its border. Another option is New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport which usually has more direct flights from international cities. From these major airports, you can get connecting flights to Jodhpur Domestic Airport which is only 5km from the city. There are also good rail links from most cities including express services linking Jodhpur to New Delhi, Suryanagari & Bangalore.
In Pakistan, there are two international airports to the South of the Indus river, Shaikh Zayed International Airport and Multan International Airport.