Dholavira – The Grandest Harappan city

Dholavira is an archaeological site that is located in the island of Khadir bet in Bhachau taluka of Kachchh district in the State of Gujarat, India. “Kotada Timba” is the local name of this ancient settlement that contains the ruins of the Indus Valley civilization especially the Harappan civilization. This city is by far the grandest of all the Harappan cities discovered till date and is also one of the five largest Harappan sites.

J.P. Joshi discovered Dholavira way back in 1967-68.  The Archeological Survey of India states that the detailed excavation of Dholavira has added new dimensions to the overall personality of the Indus Valley Civilization. Mohenjo Daro, Harappa, Rupar, Kalibangan, Ganeriwala, Rakhigarhi, Dholavira and Lothal have been the eight largest urban centres discovered till date.  Archeological Survey of India under the direction of R.S. Bisht initiated the excavations of Dholavira in 1989 carried out approximately 14 field excavations during 1990-2005. The excavations have revealed astonishing results; as seven different cultural stages have been found that depict the rise and fall of the civilization. The excavation was also responsible for discovering a model city that speaks of fabulous planning, aesthetic architecture, amazing water harvesting system and beautiful monumental structures.

Town Planning in Dholavira:

It is quite fascinating to see that the city of Dholavira is rectangular in shape and is spread over 250 acres across a length of 771.1 m and a width of 616.85m. The Citadel, middle town and the lower town were the three pre-existing planned geometrical divisions in Dholavira similar to that of the Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. The middle town had its own defense mechanism, planned streets, gateways, wells and roads. The highlights of the towns were the towering “castles “and the “baileys” where important officials resided. Most of the buildings were built with stones and this happens to be one of the most striking features of the buildings of that era.

The residents of Dholavira were eloquent in their respective advanced hydraulic engineering and had mastered the art of conserving, harvesting and storing water. Reservoirs and water conservation channels were built to harvest rain water as the people had to find out an alternative to survive in the desert climate of Kutch. There were more than 16 reservoirs made of stone and cut vertically. Storage tanks and bathing tank was also found. The graveyard was found to be circular in structure.

Seals with animal faces inscribed were also found in Dholavira ruins. Painted potteries, square shaped stamp seals, gold jewellery, bangles made of shell, painted goblets, jars and motifs were also found. Grinding stones, ballast stones, stone weights were also found in the excavations. Unfortunately the language of the Harappans could not be deciphered. It is believed that 400 basic signs with various variations have been used to signify syllables and words. Tablets made of copper, bronze implements, objects made of stones and terracotta has been in use. Most of the administrative work and trade was carried with the help of seals. The most exciting discovery was of the set pieces of mineral gypsum that formed ten large letters on the wooden board. The board decayed but the letters have survived the passage of time. Another inscription that contains four signs on a sand stone has been found lately and is considered to be first of its kind in any of the Harappan sites.

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