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Parts of Rajasthan have been inhabited since the days of the Indus Valley Civilization about 5000 years ago. Rajasthan is the largest state of India in terms of area. Most of its area is occupied by the Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert). The borders of Rajasthan are shared with Pakistan in the west, Madhya Pradesh in the southeast, Gujarat in the southwest, Punjab in the north, and Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to the northeast. Total area of Rajasthan is about 342,239 square kilometers, occupying 11 percent of the total geographical area of India. Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan. The main features of geography of Rajasthan include the Thar desert and the Aravali range. The Aravalli range runs from the southwest to the northeast of the state, covering more than 850 km of area.
INDIA’S LARGEST DESERT
Rajasthan has India’s largest desert known as the Thar desert. It is also called as the ‘Maru-kantar’. Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer are the three cities of Rajasthan, in close proximity to the desert. At one side of the Aravali range, there is the desert and the forest belt is on the other side. The forest vegetation occupies about 9.36 percent of the total geographical region of Rajasthan. The only hill station in Rajasthan is the Mount Abu. It has the highest peak of the Aravali range, known as the Guru Shikhar Peak. Topography The geography of Rajasthan is enriched with variable topographic features. The dry and the parched region is predominant in the major portions of the state. The main features of topography are rolling sand dunes, river-drained plains, rocky terrain, wetlands, plateaus, barren tracks or land filled with the thorny shrubs, wooded regions and ravines.
TOPOGRAPHY OF RAJASTHAN
The topography of Rajasthan is divided into the following regions:
The Aravali /the hilly regions
The Thar and other arid regions
The plateaus including the Malwa and Vindhya
The fertile plains such as the Mewar
The forest regions
The water bodies such as rivers and salt lakes
SOIL AND VEGETATION IN RAJASTHAN
The soil and vegetation alters, depending upon the topography and the availability of water. The soils in Rajasthan are mostly sandy, alkaline, chalky and saline. Other types of soils found in Rajasthan are loamy, clay, nitrogenous soil and the black lava soil. Due to very less rainfall, the seasonal vegetation includes a few grass species, dwarf trees and shrubs. The black lava soil in the hilly tracks of the Aravali is ideal for the growth of sugarcane and cotton. The food crops are grown in the plains, which are drained by the streamlets and rivers.
FLORA AND FAUNA OF RAJASTHAN
The flora and fauna in Rajasthan are specifically endemic to the dry region and they are adapted to survive in Rajasthan’s waterless and arid regions. The forest vegetation includes the grasses, shrubs and thorny trees. The commonly found tree species in Rajasthan are bamboo, khejri, teak and varied species of acacia. Some of the national parks have several species of plants and herbs, having great medicinal value. The fauna of Rajasthan contains about 25 species of serpents and 23 species of lizards. The wildlife in Rajasthan includes species like Indian gazelles or chinkaras, antelopes, black bucks, silver foxes, great Indian bustard, the nilgai or the blue bull, and wild cats.