Etymology | History |
Geography | Climate |
Flora & Fauna | Tribes |
Tharparkar District (Urdu: تھرپارکر
) is one of twenty three districts of Sindh province in Pakistan. Its
headquarter is at Mithi.
It is the only fertile desert in the world. It is in the fertile Rann of
Kutch, as well as in Nara desert.
It is the only district in Pakistan with significant Hindu population.
Muslims constitute over 70% of the population while the Hindus are 30%. At
the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, the Hindus were 80% while the
Muslims were 20% of the population. The significant number of Hindus
migrated to India during the 1965 and 1971 wars between Pakistan and India.
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The district, and the town, derives its name from Thar' and ‘Parkar’: the
name 'Thar is from “Thul”, the general term for the regional sand ridges,
and Parkar literally means to cross over. It was earlier known as Thar and
Parkar District, but later became one word Tharparkar
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The history of this district is similar to that of other districts of the
lower Sindh region. The major portion of Thar desert was in occupation of
Parmar Rajputs named Sodha and portion from east Chachro to Gadra and some
area of Umerkot District and Taluka Khipro of Sanghar District known as
Khaorwas ruled by Rathors. Soomros, a branch of Parmar Rajputs, possessed a
portion of Mithi and Diplo talukas west of Chachro known as Deirak Pargna.
When Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi led expeditions on Somnath, it is believed that
he passed through this desert a number of times.
In 1053, the Soomros embraced Islam taking advantage of the weak control of
the Ghaznavid Empire, broke off their allegiance and succeeded in
establishing a chief of their own as an independent ruler of the eastern
Indus delta. Soomras of desert also acted similarly, claimed to be
independent and captured Umerkot making it their capital. They then extended
their rule practically to the entire desert. But it appears that the Delhi
Sultanates continued to reassert their authority and Soomros were punished
by Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq and then by his son Sultan Muhammad bin
Tughluq. In 13th or 14th century another Rajput tribe named Samma converted
to Islam. In 1353 Sammas set up Jam Unar at Thatta as their ruler. The line
ended with Jam Feroze who was defeated by Shah Baig Arghun of Arghun Dynasty
In 1558 the Kalhora Dynasty rose into prominence. In the times of Noor
Muhammad Kalhora, a Baloch tribe of Talpur came into prominence in 1778. The
struggle for power en- sued between Kalhoras and Talpurs and in 1783 Mir
Fateh Ali Khan first of the Talpur line established himself as Rais of Sindh
and obtained afarman from the Afghan king Zaman Shah Durrani for his
It was in 1843 when Sir Charles Napier became Victor of Sindh and this part
was merged into Kutch Political Agency and Hyderabad Collectorate. Sindh was
divided into provinces and was assigned a Zamindar’s to collect taxes for
British, Zamindar’s were also known as ‘Wadera’.
Sindh was later made part of British Raj’s Bombay Presidency, and became a
separate province in 1935. Later on in 1858 the entire area became part of
Hyderabad. Subsequently in 1860 it was renamed as “Eastern Sindh Frontier”
with its headquarters at Umerkot handled by Political Superintendent. In
1882 it was renamed as District and its administrative head was Deputy
Commissioner. Lastly in 1906 headquarters of the district was shifted to
Mirpurkhas. Now in recent arrangements i.e. in December, 1990 district
Tharparkar was bifurcated into two districts - Mirpurkhas and Thar - with
its headquarters at Mithi. In October, 1993 the name of present district was
again notified as Tharparkar. President Pervez Musharraf appointed the Chief
Minister for Sindh from the Arbab family of Thar. The Arbab’s are related to
the Thakurs through marriage.
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History of Pakistan
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The Thar region forms part of the bigger desert of the same name that
sprawls over a vast area of Pakistan and India from Cholistan to Nagarparkar
in Pakistan and from the south of Haryana down to Rajasthan in India.
The Tharparkar district is mostly desert and consist of barren tracts of
sand dunes covered with thorny bushes. The ridges are irregular and roughly
parallel, that they often enclosed sheltered valleys, above which they rise
to a height of some 46 meters. These valleys are moist enough to admit
cultivation and when not cultivated they yield luxuriant crops of rank
grass. But the extraordinary salinity of the subsoil and consequent shortage
of potable water renders many tracts quite uninhabitable. In many of the
valleys the subsoil water collects and forms large and picturesque salt
lakes, which rarely dry up.
The only hills in the district are at Nagarparkar on the northern edge of
the Rann of Kutch, which belongs to quite a different geological series. It
consists of granite rocks, probably an outlying mass of the crystalline
rocks of the Aravalli Range. The Aravalli series belongs to Archean system
which constitutes the oldest rocks of the earth’s crust. This is a small
area quite different from the desert. The tract is flat and level except
close to Nagarparkar itself. The principal range, Karoonjhar Mountains, is
19 km in length and attains a height of 305 m. Smaller hills rise in the
east, which are covered with sparse jungle and pasturage and give rise to
two perennial springs named Achleshwar and Sardharo as well as temporary
streams called Bhetiani and Gordhro, after the rains.
On the south of the district is the great Rann of Kutch, an immense salt
lake. It is a flat land, almost at sea level, covered with thick layer of
salt which has been left by evaporation of sea water over the centuries.
During a monsoon it becomes almost part of the sea owing to influx of sea
water at Lakhpat Bander on Kori mouth of the Indus River and other places.
During winter it mostly dries up and surface is covered with salt. At places
where the land rises up by a few metres, it becomes an island and is thus
called “bet”. The most important cities are Mithi, Islamkot, Chachro,
Nagarparkar, Dano Dandal. While Mithi is noted as one of the most advanced
cities of Tharparkar, compared to other cities of world it is tantamount to
an African village.
There is no river or stream in the district. However, in Nagarparkar there
are two perennial springs named Acbleshwar and Sardharo as well as temporary
streams called Bhetiani river and Gordhro river after the rains.
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The district has a tropical desert climate. In summer, it is extremely hot
during the day, but nights are remarkably cooler. April, May and June are
the hottest months during the day; December, January and February are the
coldest months. The mean maximum and minimum temperature during this period
are 28°C and 9°C, respectively.
There are wide fluctuations in the amount of rainfall from year to year and
the yearly average for some areas is as low as 100 mm. Most of the rain
falls between July and September, during the south-west monsoon, and is
often concentrated in a period of two to three days.
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Flora & Fauna
Since the district lies in al1 arid zone, therefore, sweet water is scarce
throughout Thar. Drought recurs and usually there is no rain every third
year. The soil is generally infertile, and because of severe wind erosion it
is overblown with sand. Vegetation consists mostly of stunted scrub and
bush, although trees such as the hardy kandi (Prosopis cineraria) do
occasionally dot the landscape. The main natural ground cover is provided by
grasses which are nutritive and a palatable fodder for livestock.
The common plants of the desert are thuhar (Euphorbia caducifolia), phog (Calligonum
polygonoides), and ak (Calotropis gigantea). In irrigated tracts, babul (or
babur, Acacica nilotica), talhi (Dalbergia sissoo[verification needed]),
neem (Azadirachta indica), jar (Salvadora oleoides), and kri (Tamarix
gallica) are found.
Wildlife has a significant correlation with greenery, verdure and forage. In
congruence to the desert nature of the area, this district is blessed with
beautiful species of birds and animals. Sometimes the black wild ass, the
only one of its kind in Pakistan, has been found roaming in the Rann of
Kutch area. However, the massive social changes in the district have not
affected only the culture of the people but also its physical environment.
As a result, this change has diminished and/or vanished many wildlife
species. Even so, a number of animals found in the district includes
Chinkara (Gazella bennetti), Desert Fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla), Golden
Jackal (Canis aureus), Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena) and mongoose (Herpestes
Among birds the most famous is the Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus). Other
notable birds are
Northwestern Grey Francolin
(Francolinus pondicerianus mekranensis, locally called “partridge”)
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Indian Scops-owl (Otus
Sindh Nightjar (Caprimulgus
Indian Nightjar (Caprimulgus
Laughing Dove (Streptopelia
Large Hawk-cuckoo (Cuculus
sparverioides; particularly around Nagar Parkar)
Spotted Sandgrouse (Pterocles
senegallus; particularly around Nagar Parkar).
Among waterbirds, the White
Stork (Ciconia ciconia) and the Black Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa) are found
at Chachro Taluka. In the district dangerous snakes (e.g., khapar, Indian
Cobra, etc.) are generally found in the rainy season in large numbers.
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Tharparkar has a highly heterogeneous population. Until 1965 majority of the
population was Hindu, but in the 1965 and 1971 wars between Pakistan and
India, when large areas of Tharparkar was occupied by the Indian army, many
Hindus took the opportunity and migrated to India giving Tharparkar a Muslim
The population can be divided into three main classes, Rajputs, which
include Muslim and Hindu tribes, Baloch and aboriginal Dravidian tribes. The
large number of aboriginal Bhils are also settled in Tharparkar district.
Of the ruling class, the Rajputs are related to the warrior lords of
Rajasthan, In Thar they are represented by their descendants the Sodhas and
Thakurs the larger towns as landowners.
The Balochs are mainly from the Khosa tribe who turned to brigandage in
Tharparkar late in the eighteenth century when their Kalhora leaders were
supplanted as rulers of Sindh by another Baloch tribe, the Talpur. When the
British conquered the Talpur in 1843 they converted the war like Khosa into
police and through them established law and order in a region of endemic
fending and looting.
Among non-Baloch mostly are Samats and its sub-tribes like Sama and Soomras.
Besides, there are Syed, Dars, Panwahar, Halepota, Junejo, Theba, Langa,
Sand, Sameja, Rahama, Neharia, etc.
The urban middle class of Tharparkar consists of Hindu Lohana and Bania,
castes devoted to business and commerce. Their Muslim counterparts, the
Memon community, have established themselves at provincial level in business
and the professions. They (Lohana and Banias) retain a dominant hold over
the lower classes of Muslim and Hindu alike through debt bondage.
Among the labouring classes the Muslim woodworkers, the Kasuthar, and the
Hindu Lohar, or metalworkers enjoy a privileged position and would not
consider themselves working class at all. Likewise Bajeer and Khaskeli
Muslims pride themselves on their personal service to former rulers Bajeer
is a degeneration of Wazir (Minister), used euphemistically to disguise
bondage. From the Dalits Meghwal are most populated in District Tharparker,
especially in Mithi Taluka and Diplo. In all the cities or town of district
Tharparker the Meghwals are post populated community. These artisans are set
apart from the Hindu outcastes, most prominent among whom in Thar are the
Meghwal, descendants of Jat nomadic herders of Sindh who settled as leather
workers and landless farm labourers for the rulers. The Meghwal have largely
abandoned leather work, and have devoted themselves to less demeaning skills
such as weaving. Meghwal have taken special advantage of the spread of
education in Thar and are increasingly repre- sented in the professions as
well as in clerical positions in the developing district administration.
The Bhils in Thar have retained the nomadic instincts of their Jat
forebears; they regularly migrate with their herds and families to the
irrigated areas for seasonal labour, occupying their villages in Thar during
the short planting season. Finally the Kohlis, descendants of the hunting
and gathering population once subsisted on Thar’s abundant fauna, fruit and
wild products such as honey. Although the only original inhabitants of Thar
(all the remainder have coronised in historical times), the Kohlis are now
the poorest and least established. They enjoyed a period of respect as
soldier for the pre-British rulers, but now with the disappearance of game,
are reduced to making the painful adjustment to herding and farming.
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It is the only district in Pakistan with significant Hindu population.
According to the 1998 census, Muslims constituted 59.53% while the Hindus
were 40.47%. At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, the Hindus
were 80% while the Muslims were 20% of the population. According The
significant number of Hindus migrated to India during the 1965 and 1971 wars
between Pakistan and India.
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