(Last Updated on : 05/06/2010)
Dholavira is a small village located at a corner of an isolated island of Khadir in the Great Rann of Kachchh in Bhachau Taluka of Dist. Kachchh, Gujarat. The ancient site known as Kotada (large fort) spans an area of about 100 hectares nearly half of which is appropriated by the fortified settlement of the Harappans. The site is surrounded by two seasonal nallahs, Mansar in north and Manhar in south.
As a result of the extensive excavations, Dholavira has emerged as a major Harappan city remarkable for its exquisite town planning, monumental structures, aesthetic architecture and amazing water management and storage system. Besides it has provided a long succession of rise and fall of the first Indian urbanization i.e. Harappan civilization. The site has a unique distinction of yielding an inscription often large sized signs of the Harappan script, indeed the oldest sign board of the world.
A variety of funerary structures is another feature of exceeding importance throwing new light on the socio-religious beliefs thereby indicating the presence of composite ethnic groups in the Indus population of Dholavira.
The identification of a stadium with seating arrangement and introduction of Middle Town added a new feature to the Harappan studies.
The archaeological excavations at the site have revealed seven significant cultural stages documenting the rise and fall of the first urbanization in South Asia.
Stage I starts right from the virgin ground. The first settlers came with advanced ceramic techniques, copper working, lithic industry, bead making, stone dressing and with certain principles of planning and architecture. They constructed a formidable fortification (11 m thick at the base) around the settlement. The houses were made of moulded mud bricks of standard sizes.
Stage II is marked by widening of the fortification, increase in ceramic forms, decorations and in the quantity of minor antiquities.
Stage III is a very creative period at Dholavira. The small settlement grew into a large town having two fortified major divisions in addition to annexes and water reservoirs, all within a peripheral wall.
The existing fortified settlement was in fact made into Citadel and another fortified sub division was added to it on the west. These two sub divisions have been designated as Castle and Bailey respectively.
Towards the closing decades of Stage III the entire settlement witnessed a natural catastrophe most probably caused by an earthquake of severe magnitude as the tell-tale marks have clearly indicated. Consequently, large scale repairs were executed and significant changes were made in the planning. The city wall was also extended eastwards. Atleast, during that sub-stage, the monumental gateways along with their front terraces had been introduced. Now, the entire settlement reached to its fullest growth. The city scape possessed three principal divisions, a ceremonial ground and a series of water reservoirs all around.
Stage IV belongs to the classical Harappan Culture. The city of Stage III was thoroughly maintained along with the monumental structures such as gateways, fortification walls and the drainage system.
The famous inscription often large-sized signs of the Harappan script found in a chamber of North Gate should also pertain to this stage. All the classical Harappan elements such as pottery, seals, lithic tools, beads, weights people constructed their houses in an entirely new form that is circular. All the urban attributes are conspicuous by their absence.
and other items of gold, copper, stone, shell and clay are now found in abundance. Among most impressive items are elements of functional pillars and free-standing columns made out of locally available limestone.
Stage V is characterized by the general decline particularly in the maintenance of the city as is more vividly reflected in Citadel. However, the other items such as pottery, seals, etc. continued in their developed forms and styles. This stage was followed by a temporary desertion of the site.
The following Stage VI presents an entirely different form of the Harappan culture that has been found widely distributed in other parts of Gujarat. The culture has certainly undergone a drastic transformation by incorporating in it diverse pottery traditions coming from the sites of Sindh, South Rajasthan and Gujarat while many Harappan traditions, albeit in changed form and style, were still present in pottery, stamp-seals and weights. At Dholavira also, this late Harappan Culture is present. The one time city relapsed into a much smaller settlement with a different inner lay-out. Having lived there for about a century, the late Harappans abandoned the settlement.
Stage VII people, the new comers appeared to be closely related to their predecessors of the Stage VI as the ceramic assemblages remained the same. Strangely enough, the new
Thus, the urbanization that made its humble beginnings in Stage I and went on developing through several Stages became totally deurbanized by the time of the advent of Stage VII.
How to reach?
Dholavaria: It is a small village situated in Rapar Taluka near the north-western extremity of Khadir, which is a large island in the great Rann of Kutch. The village is approachable from Bhuj via Rappar by a good road on which plies a regular bus service. One can reach Dholavira from Ahmedabad via Radhanpur and Bhuj. Nearest Airport is at Bhuj.
Hotel Toran run by TCGL is situated at Dholavira.
Distance from Bhuj to Dholavira via Khavda is 140 Km. (Approx.) and via Rapar is 240 Km. Distance from Ahmedabad to Dholavira via Rapar is 440 Km. (Approx.)