Dholavira: a Harappan City – UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Surrounded by the beautiful and unbelievably gorgeous Great Rann of Kutch, Dholavira is a heaven on the earth with its unique geographic location. Located 250km away from the Burj district near Khadir Bet in Kutch, Dholavira is the most popular archeological site of the Indus valley civilization or Harappan civilisation dating back to about 4500 years ago.

Being the second largest Harappan site in India and the fifth largest in the sub-continent, it passed through all the 7 stages of the Harappan civilisation (the world’s first great civilisation) from 2900 BC to 1500 BC. It is considered to be the grandest and the richest cities of its time.

In 2021, Dholavira of Kutch has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site making Gujarat, a state with four World Heritage Sites. 

Locally known as Kotada Timba, Dholavira is the only place which marks the presence of Harappan culture. Dholavira became the fourth site from Gujarat and 40th from India in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. This place is a must-visit especially for those who want to know about the culture, history and archeology of the place. 

Dholavira is the largest excavation site of Harappan culture. The excavation takes you through the 7 stages of the Harappan civilisation, from development to maturity to decay. The site offers you a unique insight into Harappan culture. Around 2500 BC, the Harappans started settling in the Kutch, brought their full culture and lived here for almost a full life till their culture declined, and it is when Dholavira became temporarily deserted. 

The town of Dholavira is divided into three parts:

  1. Raj Mahal of the Raja which had four gates and was surrounded by the strong walls all around.
  2. Habitat of other officers which has 2 to 3 rooms and had a protective wall.
  3. Built on brick-built houses of the common town people.  

Dholavira has two water storm channels, the Mansar in the north and Manhar in the south. 

The ride from Dasada to Dholavira itself is enthralling which takes you through the beautiful patches of the Great Rann which is a large area of salt marsh. 

Dholavira has excavated one of the world’s earliest and best water conservation and harvesting system of channels and reservoirs, which made the settlement flourish besides the scarce rainfall in the desert. In 2014, a 5000 year old stepwell was found in Dholavira which was 73.4m long, 29.3m long and 10m deep.

In 1967, Archeologists unearthed the area and dug out terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, tools, fish hooks, animal figurines, urns and some imported vessels. These items are now displayed in the museum. 

Dholavira was once an important trade center between settlements in south Gujarat, Punjab and Sindh and Western Asia. UNESCO, during its release, named Dholavira as the most exceptional and well-preserved urban settlement in South Asia dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE. 

So, next time when you’re in Gujarat don’t forget to visit Dholavira. It will take you back into the pages of history!!

Here is my Video on Dholavira:

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