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Explore Pakistan | Cities | Tharparkar تھرپارکر
 

Etymology | History | Geography | Climate | Flora & Fauna | Tribes | Religion

TharparkarTharparkar 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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Etymology

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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History

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 1529.

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 government.

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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Geography

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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Climate

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

Flora

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.
 

Fauna

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 sp.).

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 bakkamoena)

  • Sindh Nightjar (Caprimulgus mahrattensis)

  • Indian Nightjar (Caprimulgus asiaticus)

  • Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)

  • 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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Tribes

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 predominance..,

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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Religion

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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