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 Nepal Travel Guide

Despite the challenges that the desert environment offers, people have settled all over the Thar and have innovated in their own small ways to make the arid sands habitable. There are agricultural and pastoral settlements; villages that have become pilgrimage centres; there are settlements along the river bank or wherever water is to be found, fortified shelters offer sanctuary , while jobs are to be found in mining towns and at seasonal fairs or melas. The central place is occupied by either a village well or a temple as in the case of the village Mukam where all social and cultural life revolves around the temple of Jambheswarji founded in 1593 on the samadhi (grave) of the saint. Water is, of course, the deciding factor in their location, except in the case of villages like Goriya which are situated on the Aravalli tract where water is plentiful.

The most colourful villages in the Thar are to be found on the Shekhawati tract. These have well-built houses, more often then not with painted walls and beautiful decorations and wall paintings. If the villages of the Thar are dotted with jhonpas, the cities feature a variety of architectural forms and structures. They depict either varying forms of adjustment with the inclement weather or intense love and pride for architectural richness apd extravagance. Some of the towns show excellent town-planning and settlement development. Although habitations are designed keeping in mind the climate, they are also products of the political and cultural history of the region.

Some self - sufficient rural villages persist even today and a compact settlement with its tank or well and a struggling bunch of acacias, tamarix and zizyphus in the midst of yellowish sand is still the dominant feature of the landscape. Just as water is the raison d' etre for the location of villages, truly urban centres and cities are often associated with a fort perched on a hill, a palace surrounded by a haphazard collection of houses and enclosed by a city wall, the market occupying the central position on the roads joining the opposite gates.