Tharparkar - a Land of White Desert (Sindh)
Tharparkar is situated at a distance of 407 km from Karachi and is accessible via Mirpur Khas on Naukot-Jhuddo road. It is the largest district by area in Sindh Province, but least developed district due to all of its area is part of the Thar Desert.
Tharparkar has common boundaries with Umerkot, Badin, and Sujawal districts. It also has a long border with India with Rajasthan and the Kutch district of Gujarat in India. It can be accessed through Mirpur Khas by National Highway N-120 and then following on Naukot-Jhuddo road via Naukot town. The alternate route to access the other towns of the Tharparkar district is from Badin via Diplo-Badin road. It is also connected with railway track on the Karachi-Jodhpur railway track. The Thar Express runs weekly between Karachi and Jodhpur in India. Islamkot International Airport provides air services in the district, but this airport is only used by those working in the Thar Coalfield.
The word Tharparkar comes from Thar and Parkar, it means to cross over the Thar Desert. Historically, the Thar Desert was fertile land during 2000 and 1500 BC. A tributary of the Indus River, called Sarasvati River, was said to flow through the area. More than 95% population is living in rural areas and their main profession is agriculture, farming, and livestock. The Naukot Branch Canal of the Nara Canal is the source of irrigation in the district, whereas in the most of the areas irrigation is done by the tube-wells water.
Due to the barrenness of the Thar Desert, water is one of the major problem in the district. There are only two streams, which only flow in the rainy season. So it becomes difficult to arrange drinking water to maintain life in the district. In most of the years, the area has to face a drought when no rainfall occurs. It has second lowest Human Development Index in Pakistan. More than 80% population living below the extreme poverty line.
The desert of Tharparkar has the most unique families of plants those are only native to Tharparkar. Most of the plants are desert shrubs and trees living without water around the year, whereas some herbs grow in wet season only. It is also a homeland for several species of animals, birds, and reptiles. Chinkara wildlife sanctuary is around 940 square kilometer area to preserve the wildlife. It also protects many endangered species such as vulture.
Along with the problems in the district, Tharparkar is blessed with lot of minerals. It has coal reserves which are seventh largest in the world. Several power projects are active in the district. The Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company suppliers electricity to the National Grid, but still thousands of village of Tharparkar are without electricity.
Nagarparkar Jain Temples are collection of Jain temples of 12th to 15th century with a mosque having the architectural style of the temples. These are located in the town of Nagarparkar in the Tharparkar district. These temples are famous for their unique architectural design and has the oldest Jain frescoes in the sub-continent. The Gori Temple, one of the Jain temples, was built in 1375 in a Gujarati style, it has 3 mandaps and 52 islamic style domes.
Bhodesar mosque was built in 1505 by the Sultan Mahmud Begada of Gujarat in a style that was highly influenced by nearly Jain temples architecture. It has one dome with a pillars prayer chamber like the architecture of Jain temples.
Churrio Jaba is an ancient historical Durga Mata temple on the Churrio hill that is visited by thousands of visitors annually from Nepal, India, and other countries on Shivratri.
Gadi Bhit is located in the town of Mithi in the Tharparkar district. It is basically a highest point in Mithi town that is built on a sand hill. It gives a panoramic view of the entire Mithi town.
Karoonjhar Mountains gives a different mountain landscape in the town of Nagarparkar on the edge of the Runn of Kutch, which is a small area that is quite different from other desert landscapes in the region. It is an extension of the Aravalli Range of India, that belongs to the oldest rock system Archaen period. It is about 19 km long and has maximum height of 305 meters. It is a main source of granite and Chinese clay. One of the old Jain temples of Nagarparkar is also located at the base of these mountains.
The weather of the Tharparkar district is extreme hot in day times in the summer season, while nights become cooler due to the desert climate. In the same way, the difference of day and night temperature is huge instead of that the winter season is much pleasant as compare to summers. The rainfall is negligible in the area in the monsoon period that is less than 100 mm yearly.