Ruins of a Harappan City & Indus Valley Civilisation at Dholavira, Gujarat

Think of Gujarat, and what comes to your mind? Ahmedabad, a certain list of famous personalities from there, Porbandar, Statue of Unity, Temples or ocean, maybe?

In my mind, however, the first thing has always been Rann Mahotsav. When the seawater begins to recede or dry up, the salt desert begins to take shape, and in a few months, they host one of the biggest carnivals of the country there – the Rann Mahotsav – in an endless white desert, one of its own kind in the country.

Just a few hours away from Dhordo tent city, where they celebrate Rann Utsav every year, exists an island named Khadir bet, in Gujarat. Why would one want to know about an island named Khadir bet in Gujarat, you might wonder?! What could it possibly have?

Turns out, a lot.

Dholavira, situated in the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Great Rann of Kutch happens to be an ancient archaeological site, dating back 4500 years ago. Other than marvelling at the ruins of an ancient city, a visit to Dholavira is like a chapter from your History books coming to life. I remember reading about Indus Valley Civilisation back in school with some pictures that didn’t make a lot of sense to me back then. Seeing that site in-person and standing in the same exact spot where one of our ancestors had probably traded spices, copper or gossip – is ethereal.

At Dholavira museum , Kutch, Gujarat
Enter: Dholavira, one of the oldest civilisations

Indus Valley Civilisation or Harappa Civilisation is a Bronze age civilisation that was spread across parts of today’s Afghanistan, Pakistan & Western & North-western India.

Discovered in 1967-68, Dholavira, situated in the Kutch district of Gujarat is the fifth-largest of the eight major Harappan cities. Do you know how big that is?! Let me rephrase: The fifth-largest site of the third most ancient civilisation of the world is here in Gujarat & it’s got a musical name – Dholavira. Yet another reason to be proud of India & of being an Indian!

By the way, for perspective, other major Harappan sites discovered so far are Harappa (Pakistan), Mohenjo-daro (Pakistan), Ganeriwala (Pakistan), Rakhigarhi (Haryana, India), Kalibangan (Rajasthan, India), Rupnagar, (Punjab, India) and Lothal (Gujarat, India). And if you see, five of the eight major Harappa sites are in India.

Also, good news – Dholavira has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site in July 2021.

That’s like winning the Booker’s Prize for Archaeological sites but not just in commonwealth nations but all over the world.

The shining Sun on the ruins of an ancient city
More ruins at the Dholavira site

Fun Facts about Dholavira:

1. Lothal, another Harappan site in Gujarat, is believed to be the world’s earliest known dock. The place is popular for that & many other things. It’s believed that Dholavira is even older than the port city of Lothal.

2. Unlike Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, the two great cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation, Dholavira was constructed to a pre-existing geometrical plan consisting of three divisions – the citadel, the middle town, and the lower town.

3. Dholavira was largely made from stone while other Harappan sites were made from bricks.

4. It’s the largest excavated site in India. And you can actually see water reservoirs, old sewage systems, citadel, marketplace and other cool stuff that’s hard to imagine existed in a city that old.

5. What’s even more surprising is that a continuous settlement for 1700 years has been recorded at this place from Pre Harappan to the Late Harappan period.

6. What’s really cool about this place is its water conservation system. They conserved every single drop of water in the most systematic ways. It’s believed to be the world’s oldest water conservation system. And if not that, one of the oldest undoubtedly. They even found public baths & stepped wells leading to these public baths.

7. One of the world’s first signboards would be found here too. To people like us who have seen billboards, advertisements and flyers – in all possible ways & at all times in our lives, seeing a signboard from that time does something to our mind. It tells us that there was, there is & there will be life, and we just happen to be a speck in the giant universe of time.

8. Also, be careful. You might find a snake or two, masquerading as part of ruins.

Museum artefacts
More 🙂
This is just brilliant!

It won’t look or appear much when you will look at it from a distance. Just like any other ruins that you can find in the city. Just like any other ruins that are often an outcome of neglect & absence of care. This is where you go wrong. Like many great things, Dholavira also looks humble, simple & not much to a pair of amateur eyes. And like many precious things in the world, it would take art, expertise & maturity to look beyond the dirt to piece together the treasure that we have excavated here. Dholavira has put India in the exclusive club of 40+ UNESCO sites of the world. And that’s just one of the countless things that Dholavira should/ would be known for.

Planned water distribution systems
The planned city.

Once you have had a look at the ruins & navigated the excavated site, do visit the museum. They have preserved & showcased the artefacts discovered at this site. And you will be amazed how advanced these guys were even 4500 years back that they had jewellery, vessels, pottery, weapons and everything that your mind can’t think or imagine.
I guess the future is built on what the human mind can imagine, but the past is mostly about discoveries beyond imagination.

Markets 🙂
Yours truly!

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