A NASA satellite image of the Thar Desert, with the India-Pakistan border superimposed. The Thar Desert (pronounced [t̪ʰər], from Sindhi ٿÙŽرُ [t̪ʰəru] desert) (Hindi: थर रेगिस्तान), is a large, arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. With an area of more than 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq. mi.), it is the world’s 9th largest subtropical desert. It lies mostly in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and extends into the southern portion of Haryana and Punjab states and into northern Gujarat state. In Pakistan, the desert covers eastern Sindh province and the southeastern portion of Pakistan’s Punjab province. The Cholistan Desert adjoins the Thar desert spreading into Pakistani Punjab province.
A journey to the Thar desert in the Sindh province, Pakistan, reveals hidden historical and cultural gems, waiting to be discovered. The desert’s harsh temperatures contrasts the soft, welcoming side of the Thar people. It is a fitting juxtaposition; yet Man and nature have supported each other through the years, amidst this contrast. -Text by Liyana Low, Photos by Syafiqah Omar and Liyana Low
A rickshaw pierces the desert landscape with its glaring colours and decorations.
Sunflower fields along the way to Thar are used mainly to harvest the seeds to be made into sunflower oil.
A Thari woman in her striking sari, arms filled to the shoulders with bangles, sitting in the shade of a building along the streets of Islamkot.
An old lady with her granddaughter in the streets of Nagar Parkar.
A Thari woman going back to her village with the water from the well. Women generally need walk long distances to collect water from wells in water-scarce Thar. While men go to the main towns for work, the women stay in the villages to take care of farming chores.
Children playing in their neighbourhood of thatched roof huts among the sand dunes in Mithi.
A policeman taking a respite from the desert heat while following foreigners around during their visit to Thar. Security is tight in the area as it borders India.
Cows are commonly seen in the Hindu-majority towns of Thar. Thar’s Hindus and Muslims looked after each other during the time of the partition and continue to live peacefully with each other to this day.
The Gori temple, probably brought from Gujarat, dates back to 1376 AD and was built during the height of the Jain empire in the region.
An ancient, abandoned Jain temple lying in the middle of the Thar desert. No one knows how old the temple is as there are no official records in history.
Cacti thriving in the Thar desert contrast themselves against the browns of the desert sand. The past two years have seen extra amount of rain falling over the desert, giving rise to more greenery than usual.
Thirty kilometers away from this road lies the Indian state of Gujarat. Thar shares similar cultural characteristics to the neighbouring Indian desert states of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Sunset in Thar.
The sun setting beneath Thar’s sand dunes, signaling the arrival of the chilly desert night.
The town of Mithi comes alive at night with glowing lights against the night desert sky.