Mehrangarh Fort and Museum

Chokhelao Garden

Welcome to Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park

Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park was created in 2006 to try
and restore the natural ecology of a large, rocky wasteland
next to Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. It had suffered years of neglect and was overrun by baavlia (Prosopis juliflora), an invasive, thorny shrub introduced from central America almost a century ago. The challenge was to eradicate the baavlia and create a suitable home for native rock-loving plants that we would bring back from the desert.

Clearing the site

Baavlia is known to be extremely difficult to eradicate. After trying several
different methods without success, we employed Khandwaliya miners to use time-tested ways of manually chiseling into the hard, volcanic rock. We knew we had to go down at least 45 cm below ground-level to kill the baavlia. It was hard going and very slow, but it worked! We decided to plant only where baavlia had shown us that it was possible for a plant to grow in this rocky tract.

Collecting our plants

We drew up a list of plants that are adapted to growing in arid, rocky areas of the Thar desert. It started out as a small list but quickly started becoming longer. We had to learn how to propagate them from seed or cuttings. By the rains of 2008 we had over 80 species growing in our nursery, ready to go out into planting pits in the Park. We now grow everything that we need to plant.

Planting out & caring for them
It took us a few years to understand what our newly introduced plants required. We made mistakes and learnt from them. Today we can tell with a fair degree of accuracy what plant should go where, what kind of site quality or soil mix it needs, whether or not it needs special care. One of the best decisions we took was to place our plants in the pits vacated by baavlia – the baavlia had already done the job of finding the best places for a plant to grow in this difficult terrain.
Explore the park
Download a map of Rao Jodha Park
Survival in a rocky desert
All plants need water. In rocky parts of the desert,
plants use one of three strategies to deal with drought

By storing water

Some plants known as SUCCULENTS have evolved to be able to store water in their tissues, like a cactus does. Different parts of a plant can be succulent – leaves, twigs, trunk, roots. They are all effective ways of overcoming extremely low rainfall.

Through long roots

It is sometimes possible for a plant to reach water deep underground by means of long, penetrating roots. Only trees live long enough to be able to do this. And only a few native trees are adapted to growing in rocky places in the desert.

By living short lives!

By far the most common strategy is to live a very short life that begins when a seed germinates in the rains, and ends a few months after the rains cease. These short-lived plants are called EPHERMERALS. They evolved not to tolerate drought, but to avoid it.

Find out more about our plants
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