Home to many breathtaking mountain ranges, hidden tourist gems, incredible hill stations and some of the world’s most fascinating heritage sites, Pakistan is an amazing country for tourism in every aspect. Owing to its immense natural beauty, the country has also recently been accredited as the world’s top tourist destination for 2020. The uniqueness of Pakistan’s topography is also backed by the fact that around 10% of its total land has been covered with different types of barren lands, commonly known as deserts. Found in different regions across the country, the deserts of Pakistan are best-known for their unique features, which also differentiates them from each other. In this blog, we are going to explore some interesting facts about these extremely vast and mysterious barren lands of Pakistan.
Here we go!
Most Popular Deserts of Pakistan
Let’s begin by listing down the names of some of the most famous deserts of Pakistan:
- Thar Desert
- Cholistan Desert
- Thal Desert
- Kharan Desert
Straddling the border between India and Pakistan, Thar Desert, which is also known as the Great Indian Desert, is one of the largest deserts on earth. It’s a vast, arid region of rolling sandhills, which covers a quarter of a million square kilometres of the subcontinent. The vastness of the Thar desert is spread over a large part of Indian Punjab and Gujrat, as well as Sindh in Pakistan. To quote this fact in numbers, around 85% of the desert is in India while the remaining 15% is in Pakistan.
Another incredible fact about Thar is that despite its harsh natural environments, the desert is inhabited by around 30 million people, making it one of the most populated, easily accessible and least inhospitable deserts in the world. Due to these factors, it is often dubbed as the “Friendly Desert”. Most of the inhabitants of this desert live in rural areas and practice both Islam and Hinduism. This brings cultural diversity to the region and people here celebrate many colourful festivals around the year. A large chunk of the population of Thar is based on nomads, who have their livelihood based on agriculture and are mostly engaged in animal husbandry.
Thar is also home to some of the most amazing wildlife species in Pakistan, which have learned to survive the heat and dryness of the desert. Some of the rarest animals, as well as regional and migratory birds, can be spotted grazing on the thorny bushes and wandering around in the vastness of this desert, including Blackbuck, Chinkara, Bishnois, red fox peacock, peafowl, eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures, to name a few.
The Cholistan Desert, which is locally known as Rohi, is one of the most famous and largest deserts of Pakistan. It’s located in the peripheries of Bahawalpur, which is one of Punjab’s most famous cities. This 16,000 square kilometres barren tract of land is largely inhabited by semi-nomadic people, who constantly keep moving from one place to another in search of food, shelter from the harsh climate conditions and fodder for the livestock.
Cholistan is largely known for some of its very famous locally produced items including cotton and wool products, beautiful handwoven blankets and rugs, and different types of jewellery items made from gold and silver. Engaged in the production of a variety of handcrafted items including the very famous Cholistani Khussas, the cottage industry in the Cholistan Desert serves as the economic engine of the region. Apart from the rural settlements, the majority of nomads earn their livelihood from livestock as they breed animals to be sold, milked and shorn for their wool.
Located in the southern part of Punjab, Cholistan is home to some of the most amazing wildlife species in Pakistan. The names of some unique animals and birds that need to be highlighted here include Desert wolf(rare), Red fox, Jackal, Indian mongoose, Forest cat, Caracal cat, Chinkara gazelle, Nilgai antelope, Black vulture, Blackbuck, Saker falcon, Peregrine falcon, cobra, Saw viper and Russell’s viper. Houbara bustard, which is a migratory bird, visits the region during winters. Recognised as an extremely rare bird species, it’s one of the greatest highlights of wildlife in Cholistan.
The presence of Derawar fort, which is a historical structure standing with all its magnificence to date, hints towards the historical significance of the Cholistan desert. With a perfectly symmetrical architecture, the fort is a centuries-old structure located 130 kilometres south of the city of Bahawalpur in southern Punjab. In stark contrast to its arid desert landscape, the desert is home Dodhla Forest, one of Pakistan’s most well-protected rainforest. With lush green vegetation of some of the rarest plant species of the country, this oasis of Cholistan Desert is one of its most unique features.
Located in the Jhang district of western Punjab lies another very famous desert of Pakistan known as Thal. Running 305 kilometres in length from north to south, the desert boasts some incredibly distinct natural features. For instance, it offers some of the most amazing views of sand dunes, the beauty of which is amplified by a flawless canopy of blue sky in the background. Wind Cyclones are also a common occurrence in the desert
Unlike what we generally presume about a desert, Thal isn’t a barren wasteland at all. In fact, it gets covered with lush green vegetation during February and March as the local farmers use the desert land for the cultivation of hara choliyan (green chickpeas). However, as the season of harvest gets over, the roots of the crops die off, returning the desert to its actual state of naked emptiness.
One of the noteworthy highlights of this desert region in Punjab is the Greater Thal Canal. This canal is a multimillion-rupee project, which was inaugurated over a decade ago for the effective distribution of water for agricultural use in the nearby rural areas of the region. Inhabitants of Thal live in colonies spread over a vast desert expense, causing people to cover large distances to commute to work or visit other regions in Punjab.
Kharan Desert, which is counted among the most famous and largest deserts of Pakistan, lies amid the vast swathes of the barrenness of Balochistan. The desert is widely known for its extremely arid climatic conditions. Due to this fact, a large part of the Kharan Desert is inhabited as it covers an area of 20,000 square kilometres and has a population of just 0.23 million, making one of the least populated deserts on earth.
Around 3000 metres of mountainous plateaus cover the north, east and west of the desert, which extends all the way into the Iranian territory. Since a large part of the desert is covered in a vast isolated plain, it was used as Pakistan’s second nuclear testing facility in the year 1988.
This brings us to the end of our overview of some of the most famous deserts of Pakistan. We hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. If you have any questions or suggestions related to any of our tourism pieces, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your valuable feedback means a lot to us and helps us to come up with even better and more informative pieces.
Since the holiday season is knocking at your door, here are some ideas for you to spend a memorable winter vacation with your family. Similarly, taking a trip to one of these winter destinations in Pakistan to enjoy the snowy season with your dear one is another good idea to productively spend the upcoming winter break.
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