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Sightseeing, Dholavira Overview

Located in the Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District, Dholavira is an archaeological site which is most famous for its ruins of an ancient Harappan city. Also known locally as Kotada Timba, Dholavira contains one of the five largest Harappan sites and most prominent archaeological destinations in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is believed to have existed as a full-fledged thriving city around 2600 BCE and had some of the most scientifically advanced systems in place. However, one of the peculiarities of this civilisation is the language they spoke in, which has not been deciphered yet and baffles experts even today.

Considered as a part of humanity's greatest civilization that ever existed, the Dholavira ruins are the example of the Harrapan civilization or the Indus valley civilization. Dholavira has been under excavation since 1990 and the ancient findings here have thrown a great deal of light on the ways of our ancestor's lives. It was a well-planned city with meticulous architecture. The Harappans of Dholavira had one of a kind efficient systems in place that were specifically developed for conservation, harvesting and storage of water. They managed to create as many as 16 reservoirs of water in the city which is a feat in its own right. The complex engineering genius involved in these speaks eloquently about their advanced hydraulic engineering, given the state of technology in the third millennium BCE.

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History of Dholavira

Undoubtedly, Dholavira and its ties to the Harappan civilisation form a tremendous part of India and the world's history. Archaeological excavations were started here on a large scale in the year 1989 under the Archaeological Survey of India. R.L Bisht overlooked the entire operation and there were 13 separate field excavations between 2990 and 2005. The artefacts found here are believed to have belonged to 3000 BCE and antiquities such as seals, beads, animal bones, gold, silver, terracotta ornaments, pottery and bronze vessels were discovered here as well. The unearthing of various articles and routes have led archaelogists to believe that Dholavira was an important trade route between the ancient settlements that existed in Gujarat, Sindh and Punjab and Western Asia.

Architecture of Dholavira

Estimated to be older than the port-city of Lothal, the city of Dholavira has a rectangular shape and organization, and is spread over a massive area of 54 acres. Unlike Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the city was constructed to a pre-existing geometrical plan consisting of three divisions, that is, the citadel, the middle town, and the lower town. Out of these, the middle town and citadel had quite a detailed structure and architecture. They had been fortified with an impregnable defence work that consisted of gateways and built-up areas, while the main town had streets, wells and large open spaces. The citadel was even more consolidated still, where the main castle is defended by double ramparts.

Right next to it stands the bailey, which housed the most important officials of the city. An exclusive feature of this Harappan City is that its houses and buildings are made of stone compared to the other cities that are made of bricks. One more important feature is the water conservation system with many reservoirs. Few items of Mesopotamian origin were all excavated from this site.

Dholavira is famous for its sophisticated water reservoirs and drainage systems, which are known to be among the first ones in the world. The city had three massive reservoirs, all of which were made of stone and stored rainwater and water diverted here from nearby rivulets. This was a great survival mechanism against the extremely hot and dry climate of Kutch where rainfall was a rare phenomenon. A seasonal stream which runs in a north-south direction near the site was dammed at several points to collect water. About 16 reservoirs were constructed over the course of time, many of which utilised the slope of the ground in the region. In addition to these, other structures here include a site which is thought to be a graveyard and seven hemispherical constructions that bear similarity to the earliest known Buddhist stupas. 

Excavations at Dholavira

Over the course of the expeditions at Dholavira, many enigmatic and interesting things have been excavated here. A number of seals representing various animal forms without any script have been found here. Other major excavations include pottery, square stamp seals, a magnanimous sign board measuring 3 metres bearing the signature Harappan hieroglyphs, a seated male figure made out of stone and black slipped jars. Common work tools like hammer, chisel, a hand-held mirror, a gold wire, a gold ear stud, gold containers with holes square seals with Indus inscriptions, a circular seal, humped animal figures, pottery with painted motifs, goblets, dish-on-stand, perforated jars, Terracotta tumblers, bangles, architectural members made of ballast stones, grinding stones, mortars were found here as well.

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How To Reach Sightseeing

Dholavira is 250 km from Bhuj and is reached via Bhachau and Rapar. You get buses from Bhuj to Rapar, which is the nearest major town to Dholavira and takes about five hours to reach. From Rapar, you get government-run and private buses to Dholavira which takes another three hours. The buses are available from early morning to late evening. Alternatively, you can also hire a taxi to drop you off right at the ruins.

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