The Republic of India is not only a culturally diverse country but geographically as well. From the tallest mountain ranges to sandy shores, India has it all. Tourism in India is a booming trade as each state has a different and unique quality that is a must-see. Although hill stations and beaches are extremely popular, tourism in the desert regions are picking up at a rapid pace. A desert is an area with little to no vegetation and where water is precious. It doesn’t necessarily have to be covered with sand! And India is home to both hot and cold deserts. India is geographically blessed with different terrains spread across the land. Some of the unique landscapes include the desert places in India.
A List of Deserts in India
Deserts need not comprise of sand dunes, cacti and camels. Deserts are formed over thousands of years due to the scarcity of water and difficult climatic conditions. But nature adapts and there are no better examples than the ones found here. India has three distinctive deserts. Each of these Indian deserts has some unique attributes to them making them major tourist destinations not only in the country but also the world over.
What are the different deserts in India and where are they found? Here is the list:
The Sandy Rajasthan Desert – Officially known as the Thar Desert, it stretches across the western side of Rajasthan from the Aravalli Range and into Pakistan. It is also known as the Great Indian Desert and ranks at 17th largest in the world. It is a hot desert which receives very little rainfall and is covered with sand dunes, giving it very distinctive scenery. Lakes and large oases are the major sources of fresh water here.
High Altitude Desert – The Himalayan Range consists of an array of ecosystems, with pine forests to snow-capped peaks. The cold desert in Ladakh was formed on the majestic mountain plateaus because of its location in the rain shadow of the Himalayan peaks. Receiving little to no rainfall, but heavy snow during the winters, this region has unique rocky terrain.
White Salt Desert – The Rann of Kutch is a salt desert located in Gujarat. This serene salt desert is one of the largest in the world. It was formed due to the drying up of an ancient river channel thousands of years, leaving behind a vast dead land filled with scenic beauty. It stretches across the western side of Gujarat, into Pakistan to the east and meets the Arabian Sea at the gulf of Kutch.
Desert Tourism in India
We know now where to go, but what do we look for? The three deserts of India are as different as sugar and spice. Here is a list of things to look for when you visit the deserts:
Thar Desert – Rajasthan has some of the oldest royal families in India. Jaisalmer and Khimser offer beautiful architectural marvels of the old Rajput Kingdoms. A camel safari through the Khuri sand dunes is a must to truly experience this great desert. The thorny scrub forests are home to trees and animals that have adapted to the harsh conditions, like the Black Buck and Chinkara. The people to have adapted and one can find unique mud huts in the villages. The people dress in colourful clothing in contrast to the surroundings.
Ladakh – The cool climate throughout the year, especially during the summers, makes it a top tourist destination for mountaineers and bikers. Hiking is a popular recreation in the plateau of Ladakh and where one can find a host of wildlife such as yaks and ibexes. The people are a mix of Indian and Tibetan cultures that can be seen in the architecture and the local cuisine as well. The Pangong Tso Lake is a must-see with its pristine waters. The camel ride through the Nubra Valley on two-humped camels is an interesting experience.
Rann of Kutch – The white salt sands of the Rann of Kutch are almost enough to bring people here. The salt flats look like snow and stretch till the horizon. The culture here is similar to that of the Rajasthan deserts, with vibrant clothes and mud huts. The indigenous people of Kutch called the Kutchi are famous for their folk music and handicrafts. One must visit during the 3-month Rann Utsav to experience the rich heritage of the people here. The Rann of Kutch consists of India’s largest wildlife sanctuaries which is rich in biodiversity, especially migratory birds. The Indian Wild Ass is unique to the area.
With a dearth of places to visit in India, culture destinations have become synonymous with the deserts and can make the perfect holiday.