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Title: Pokhran  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Smiling Buddha, Pokhran-II, Jaisalmer, Dhirubhai Ambani Solar Park, Ramdevra
Collection: Cities and Towns in Jaisalmer District, Indian Nuclear Test Sites, Nuclear Test Sites
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Pokhran Fort
Pokhran Fort
Pokhran is located in Rajasthan
State  India
State Rajasthan
District Jaisalmer
Elevation 233 m (764 ft)
Population (2001)
 • Total 19,186
 • Official Hindi
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Pokhran (Hindi: पोखरण) is a city and a municipality located in the Jaisalmer district of the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is a remote location in the Thar Desert region and served as the test site for India's first underground nuclear weapon detonation.


  • Geography 1
  • Demographics 2
  • Former rulers 3
  • Landmarks 4
  • Pokhran Test Range 5
    • Pokhran-II 5.1
      • Scientists and engineers 5.1.1
      • Nuclear devices 5.1.2
      • Yield 5.1.3
  • See also 6
  • References 7


Surrounded by rocks, sand and five salt ranges, its Hindi name Pokaran(पोखरण) means "place of five mirages". It is located en route between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur or Bikaner at and has an average elevation of 233 metres (764 feet).


As of the 2001 Indian census,[1] Pokhran had a population of 19,186. Males constitute 55% of the population and females 45%. Pokhran has an average literacy rate of 56%, lower than the national average of 74.0%: male literacy is 68%, and female literacy is 41%. In Pokhran, 19% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Former rulers


Fort Pokaran, the 14th century citadel also known as “Balagarh”, stands amidst the Thar Desert. This monument is the premier fort of the chief of the Champawats, the clan of Rathores of the state of Marwar-Jodhpur.

The famous, touristic city and fort of Jaisalmer is a couple of hours away by road.

Pokhran Test Range

Pokhran Test Range (PTR)
Near Jaisalmer in India
Type Nuclear test site
Site information
Operator  Indian Army
Status active
Site history
In use 1970–present
Test information
Subcritical tests not known
Nuclear tests 6

The Pokhran Test Range, a key component of India's nuclear programme, is located in the municipality. It was built sometime before May 1974, when, following authorization given to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, it hosted the detonation of India's first nuclear device. Within the government, the device's development was known formally as the "Peaceful Nuclear Explosive" (PNE), but elsewhere, especially after its detonation, it was and continues to be known generally as Operation Smiling Buddha. The Ministry of External Affairs designated the test "Pokhran-I".

After the test, the Indian government declared that it did not intend to manufacture nuclear weapons – although it had the means to do so – but rather make India self-reliant in nuclear technology and harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The test range was built by the Indian Army Corps of Engineers and is under the control of Indian Army.


On 11 and 13 May 1998, twenty-four years after Pokhran-I, the Indian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducted five further nuclear tests, dubbed "Pokhran-II", at the Pokhran range. Four AEC devices and, under the codename Shakti, a thermonuclear device were tested. India has since declared a moratorium on testing.

Scientists and engineers

The team was headed by Rajagopala Chidambaram and consisted of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Raja Ramanna, P. K. Iyengar, Rajagopala Chidambaram, Nagapattinam Sambasiva Venkatesan and Waman Dattatreya Patwardhan. The project employed no more than 75 scientists and engineers from 1967-1974. Keeping it small served to aid in the preservation of secrecy, according to the researcher Jeffrey Richelson.

Nuclear devices

The device used a high explosive implosion system, developed at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)'s Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL), Chandigarh, based on the American design from World War II. But the Indian design was simpler and less sophisticated than the American system. The detonation system to detonate implosion devices was developed at the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) of DRDO at Pune. The 6 kg of plutonium came from the CIRUS reactor at BARC, Trombay, Mumbai (then Bombay). The neutron initiator was a polonium-beryllium type (again like those used in early U.S. bombs of the Fat Man type) code-named "Flower." The complete core was assembled in Trombay before transportation to the test site.


The fully assembled device had a hexagonal cross section, 1.25 m in diameter and weighed 1400 kg. The device was detonated at 8.05 a.m. in a shaft 107 m under the army Pokhran test range in the Thar Desert (or Great Indian Desert), Rajasthan. Coordinates of the crater are [show location on an interactive map] . Officially the yield was reported at 12 kt, though outside estimates of the yield vary from 2 kt to 20 kt.

See also

Pokhran: The Land of Smiling Buddha


  1. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  2. ^ Soszynski, Henry. "Pokhran (thikana) Genealogy". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  3. ^ "Members Bioprofile: First Lok Sabha".  
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