Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park
|Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park|
Mehrangarh Fort above Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park
|Operated by||Mehrangarh Museum Trust|
|Open||7:00am-6:30pm (in summer), 8:00am-5:30pm (in winter)|
Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, spreads over 72 hectares, near the historic Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. The park contains ecologically restored desert and arid land vegetation. The park was created in 2006 to try and restore the natural ecology of a large, rocky area adjoining and below the fort. It was opened to the public in February 2011. The area in and around the park contains distinctive volcanic rock and sandstone formations. The park includes a Visitors Centre with Interpretation Gallery, a native plant nursery, small shop and cafe. There are four trails (yellow, green, red, and blue trails), about 880 m to 1115 m long, that visitors can take and trained guides and naturalists are also available.
Jodhpur Welded Tuff national geological monument
Jodhpur Welded Tuff here has been declared the National Geological Monuments of India by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), for their protection, maintenance, promotion and enhancement of geotourism. The volcanic rocks at Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park were formed somewhere between 745 and 680 million years ago. The volcanic formations are chiefly rhyolite, with welded tuff, and breccia found in some areas. There is a gully passing through the park (an old aqueduct or canal to carry rainwater from a wider catchment in the north to Padamsar lake at the base of the fort), where breccia is visible today. Also seen are rocks with large to intermediate crystal sizes and from fine textured tuff to large-grained (porphyritic) rhyolite.
Plant and animal life
The park has around 250 species of native plants, including a large number of arid region lithophytes. Some of the common plants include trees such as Rohido (Tecomella undulata), Kumatiyo (Acacia senegal), Hingoto (Balanites roxburghii), Peeloo (Salvadora persica), Kharo Jaal (Salvadora oleoides), Sargooro (Moringa concanensis), Goondi (Cordia sinensis), and Bordi (Ziziphus nummularia). Among shrubs, the leafless spurge or Thhor (Euphorbia caducifolia) is one of the common succulents. Other shrubs include Bui (Aerva javanica), Aakado (Calotropis procera), Kair (Capparis decidua), Ghatbor (Fleuggia leucopyrus), Kheer Kheemp (Sarcostemma acidum), Kheemp (Leptadenia pyrotechnica), and Googal (Commiphora wightii).
The Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park has attempted both architectural and ecological restoration. The Visitors Centre is housed in Singhoria Pol, a 17th-century gateway into Jodpur city, which had fallen into ruins and disrepair. The gateway was restored and the Visitors Centre, completed in February 2011, has an Interpretation Gallery about the desert, plants, and history, integrated into the passages and rooms over and around the gate. The historic city wall that had crumbled in places was also restored, which assisted in protecting the area from grazing livestock during ecological restoration.
Ecological restoration was carried out to remove invasive alien plants and bring back the original desert and arid land vegetation of the region. The park area was earlier overrun by Prosopis juliflora (local name baavlia), an invasive, thorny shrub introduced from Central America almost a century ago. The Prosopis juliflora was carefully removed from the volcanic rocks with the help of local Khandwaliya people, expert in rock chiseling. The park now has around 250 species of native plants. A small 'xeriscape' or 'Xeri garden' at the Visitor's Centre has been created to display a range of xeric and rocky microhabitats, each with several characteristic native plant species. The restoration or rewilding project has been spearheaded by Pradip Krishen, a filmmaker who renounced filmmaking due to corruption in the industry. Mr. Krishen turned to gardening and environmental conservation, serving in this way to rejuvenate the deteriorating Indian landscape and its people.
Native Plants Nursery
The park has a native plants nursery where native rock-loving and arid region plants are propagated from seeds and cuttings. The nursery is located near the 'piao' or public drinking water station on the way down from the fort. The seedlings raised here are planted out for ecological restoration of the park area each year around the monsoon. Over 80 native plant species have been raised and planted out in the park.
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- national geo-heritage of India, INTACH
- Wilson, Jonathan J. (2014). Rocks: about the different kinds of rock inside Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. Jodhpur: Mehrangarh Museum Trust. 36 pages.
- Krishen, Pradip (2011). Plant Guide to Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. Jodhpur: Mehrangarh Museum Trust. pp. 31 pages. ISBN 978-81-910471-3-4.
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