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Human activity, including an ever-increasing population and excessive grazing by livestock, has had a severe impact on the natural ecosystem in Rajasthan. The lack of rainfall, poor vegetation, low soil fertility, susceptibility to erosion, and a series of droughts have also left their mark on this region. Yet fascinating vestiges remain of the original topography and natural ecosystems. While the claim is that Rajasthan's desert is entirely man-made, is an exaggeration, the role of the human population in accentuating aridity cannot be denied.

Sandy Arid Plains (Marusthali)

This region, also known as 'Thar Desert', comprises sand dunes interspersed with siltcovered valleys. It extends to about 40,000 square miles.

Semi-Arid Plains

These stretch from Shekhavati in the north to the Godawar plain, north of Mount Abu in the south, with the Aravallis to the east. Seasonal water courses, such as the Sukri -Jawai, originating in the Aravallis, flow through it. The plains, sparsely


covered with trees and bushes, are studded with rocky outcrops and sand hills called bhits.

Aravalli Range

The most distinctive and ancient mountain chain of peninsular India, the Aravallis mark the site of one of the oldest geological formations in the world. Heavily eroded and with exposed outcrops of slate rock and granite, it has
summits reaching 4950 feet above sea level. It bisects the State of Rajasthan.

Eastern Plains

Sloping gradually eastward from the Aravallis, the plateau consists of undulating,once forested hills, especially in southern Mewar around the Bagad region of Udaipur, where there is more rainfall.

Chambal Valley

The middle portions of the Chambal, the largest river and most reliable water source of Rajasthan, are marked by heavily eroded valleys and ravines. The region is a low plateau,cut by the Vindhya range, and covered with shallow soil, exposed rock, and coarse grasses in the upper reaches.

Stabilised Sand Dunes

Some sand dunes have been stabilized by Calligonum polygonoides shrubs and clumps of Panicum turgidum.

Longitudinal Sand Dunes

The dunes, often parallel, usually run in a northeast to southwest direction, corresponding to the prevailing monsoon and winter wind directions.

Wood Fossils

During the Jurassic age some 180 million years ago, the western region of Rajasthan was covered by forest. Now much of the region is desert. The forest was fossilized in geological times and buried by soil and sand in recent times. Wind and water erosion has exposed colorful wood fossils of large coniferous
trees. These fossils are scattered over a large area 11 miles south of Jaisalmer.

Shell Fossils

Shell fossils are the remnants of the marine life which exited in the desert region of Jaisalmer some 2000 million years ago.

Mount Abu

The Abu massif in the southwestern corner of Rajasthan rises from the plains, a rocky outcrop separated from the Aravalli range, forming a distinctive microcosm of its own. Its highest point, Gurushikhar peak, reaches 5693 feet above sea level.