Curious Case of Lothal and Dholavira

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If there were places that could question your notion about life, the ancient towns of Lothal and Dholavira are such places. Flourished and devastated with time, these cities are proof of uncharted power of time and unaltered hope of humanity.

Born and raised by the very river that gave this country it’s name, these towns were part of much larger and developed civilization- The Harappa Civilization. And like every Harappan town, they too had surprisingly efficient urban planning schemes and infrastructure. They were connected by other cities through Indus river systems and had huge ports for transportation of marterials produced and manufactured here, wchich was indeed their source of income.

But what made these places immortal was not the wealth or power they perceived, but the vision they had; for they had forseen themselves as far more mature society than rest of the world. These visions for the future made those people to construct a world that would learn, not fight; progress, not regress; to a world we see today- As the cities may have lost, the people may have gone, but their knoweldge and legacy continued, generation after generation, moulding the very history we come from.


Dholavira is located in Kutch region of Gujarat on an island inside The Rann of Kutch Lake. The journey to Dholavira is as beautiful as the town itself. It goes through the wonderful white desert of Kutch and there are instants where all the things in the world fades away and there are just you and your car and your road going to infinity. Dholavira is famous for its vast excavated site and wonderful water harvesting systems, one of the firsts in the world. Locally, it is known as Kotada Timba and is located at Khadir Bet island of Rann of Kutch Lake.

The entrance to the town is from the riverside port where once there was a river but today it's just the entrance pillars and river valley looking helpless against manner of time. But you can see the blue lines of water flowing through time, you can hear the music of ships, the noise of markets, and you realize the very steps you are taking were once entrance to a magnificent era, opening to a new world. The town itself, built in a citadel manner, surprises you with its astonishing planned streets and startling scale. As we go through the markets, dwellings, palaces and ports, we realize the people living here would be more civilized at that time than the societies today- for they had created facilities like sewage system, street layouts etc that we generally do not find in our cities.

After climbing a few ancient structures and roaming around the harappan era, we can go and see the Dholavira museum and even more surprise our self by realizing that the town was much more larger and flourished than it seems from outside.

We can also see the beautiful carvings and miniatures of stones and metal used for ornamentation and currency that were excavated from the site of Dholavira: a symbol of Harappan Culture. The museum shows the development of the city and its culture through a large span of time of almost 1200 years. It also shows various tools people of Dholavira used at that time made of stones and metals like copper.


The town of Lothal, southern corner of Harappan civilization, exhibits typical Gujarat climate of hot and arid: is one of the oldest town of Indus Valley Civilization with a history that date backs to 3700 BCE. Though the journey may not please you, but it do introduce you to rural life of Gujarat through villages and fields through the way. The word Lothal, in Gujarati, means The City of Dead, which is not shocking as the word Mohen-Jodaro also means the same.

The town of Lothal was devided into two parts: A Dockyard that used for transportation through the adjacent river that was functioning till 1950s and the main town including citadel that was situates at higher level on the ground to protect it from floods. The walls of this main town can still be seen today. The dockyard however received much damage and only ruins of it can be seen today. But it represents the engineering advancement of that time, for they had made this dockyard functional with respect to the tides of the river and it was used for more than a thousand years.

The town of Lothal is very small as compared to Dholavira and at first it gives an impression of having nothing. But as you go along you that this nothingness has a uniqueness in it: this nothingness is born from a lapse of thousands of years in history.

Lothal does not attracts at first sight; but we can see the patterns of a city, the streets, the canals, the perfectly constructed wells and walls, and a small port along a river where once there was a river. The town has quit mature urban planning measures such as Dholavira, though it lacks the scale of previous. But it does not fade away the point that Lothal, at its peak point, was a major Business center of the region – involved in the exporting of locally produced goods and manufactured products to bigger cities of Indus Valley and then to the rest of the world.

This can clearly be understood by seeing the study done on the urban fabric of the city and its ports at the museum situated at Lothal. It also contains the beautifully carved items on utensils and currency and miniature stone ornaments.

And then we can realize, how a town that was once a center of merchants and cultures, slowly fades away with time and yet it denies to lose it’s identity, it’s existence, it’s values.

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