MARU: race background
The MARU Maharaja Rajasthan Ultrmarathon will take place in the Indian Thar Desert.
It is a desert which includes the typical morphology of the territory changes, ie dunes, dry and semi-arid areas, but which mainly includes the colors, traditions, dances, crafts of ethnic groups of Rajasthan, and in particular the Sindhi. The Sindhi derives its name from Hindo River (now in Pakistan), and which gives its name to the entire Indian subcontinent.
The Thar is rich in sandy areas, even the high and mighty dunes, interspersed with rocky areas and small hills.
There are also several salt lakes, which get filled with water during the monsoon seasons and evaporate during dry periods. The mythical Saraswati river is said to flow under the ground in the desert and spilling over the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna at Allahabad. It was an important desert on the Silk Road, many towns that can be seen nowadays were caravanserais in ancient times: in fact, the camel is the main animal of the economy of the Thar.
The path of MARU runs from south to north, from Barmer to Jaisalmer.
The latter is a city with a wall and bastions, built entirely with Thar sandstone, from where it gets its typical yellow color: for this reason, Jaisalmer is called "The Golden City."
During the race it will not be unusual to see nomads with camels, or free camels, shepherds in transhumance with Their turbans with typical colors and shapes according to ethnic groups and castes. Turbans and mustaches are symbols of honor in the whole area, there are even competitions to elect the most beautiful ones! These events not only speak of the glorious long standing traditions, but preserve them and give them a way to continue over time.
The region is a heaven for over 140 species of migratory birds of the desert, including vultures and eagles but also peacocks, who can count on the protection and benevolence of Bishnoi, local tribes who take care of animals. In Thar there are many nomadic tribes, who owe their livelihood to agriculture and transhumance and livestock farming. It is not uncommon to hear traditional music or recitations of verses coming from their camps, and there are frequent festval and performances of dances and songs, where even the camels are doing their part, accompanying the performances of puppeteers and flashy clothed dancers, but also becoming protagonists of decorating and "dressing" contests.