Dholavira – India’s 40th World Heritage Site UPSC Notes

Dholavira, the Harappan city in Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch, has been designated as the 40th UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country. On July 27th, 2021, the archaeological site of a Harappan-era city was added to the list of world heritage sites.

Significant Points
Dholavira:
It is one of South Asia’s most extraordinary and well-preserved urban towns.

Jagat Pati Joshi, an archaeologist, discovered it in 1968.
Dholavira is the fifth greatest metropolis of the Indus Valley Civilization, after Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala, and Harappa in Pakistan, and Rakhigarhi in Haryana, India.
Around 2,500 BC, IVC flourished in what is now Pakistan and Western India. It was primarily an urban civilisation, with people living in well-planned and well-built towns that doubled as commercial hubs.
The location is home to the ruins of a prehistoric IVC/Harappan metropolis. It is divided into two sections: a walled city and a cemetery to the west.
The walled city is made up of a fortified Castle, a fortified Bailey, and a Ceremonial Ground, as well as a fortified Middletown and a Lower Town.
To the east and south of the Citadel are a series of reservoirs.

Location:
The ancient city of Dholavira is an archaeological site in Gujarat’s Kachchh district that dates from the third to mid-second millennia BCE.
Dholavira is located in the Cancer Tropic.
It is located on Khadir bet island in the Great Rann of Kachchh’s Kachchh Desert Wildlife Sanctuary.
In contrast to other Harappan predecessor towns, which were typically placed near rivers with permanent sources of water, Dholavira’s location on the island of Khadir bet.
This was a calculated move to capitalise on diverse mineral and raw material sources.
Additionally, it facilitated both internal and external trade with Magan (current Oman peninsula) and Mesopotamia.
Archaeological Discoveries:
Terracotta pots, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figures, tools, urns, and even imported vessels were discovered here.
Remains of a copper smelter demonstrate that the Harappans of Dholavira were skilled in metallurgy.
Dholavira traders are believed to have sourced copper ore from modern-day Rajasthan, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates and shipped finished items.
It was also a centre for the manufacture of shell and semi-precious stone jewelry, such as agate, and was used to export lumber.
ten enormous stone inscriptions engraved in Indus Valley writing, maybe the earliest sign board in the world.


A fossil park located near the ancient city preserves wood fossils.
Unlike other IVC sites, Dholavira has not yielded any mortal remains of humans.


Distinguishing Characteristics of the Dholavira Site:
Water reservoirs in a cascading fashion.
Fortifications on the exterior.
Two multipurpose sites, one for celebrations and the other for a bazaar.
Nine gates, each with its own distinct design.
Tumuli – hemispherical structures similar to Buddhist Stupas — are used in funerary architecture.
Defense devices with many layers, considerable use of stone in construction, and unique burial structures.


Dholavira’s decline:


Its demise also occurred concurrently with the collapse of Mesopotamia, showing economic interconnectedness.


When Mesopotamia fell, the Harappans lost a sizable market, impacting local mining, manufacturing, marketing, and export companies.


Dholavira experienced a period of severe aridity as a result of climate change and the drying up of rivers such as the Saraswati.


As a result of the drought, people began migrating into the Ganges valley, south Gujarat, and farther into Maharashtra.


Further, the Great Rann of Kutch, which surrounds the Khadir island on which Dholavira is located, used to be navigable, but the sea withdrew gradually and the Rann became a mudflat.

Dholavira’s salient features include the following:

  • It is the first site in India associated with the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Dholavira became Gujarat’s fourth UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Dholavira was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
  • Interested candidates may read about Ramappa Temple, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as the 39th site.

UNESCO World Heritage Site – Dholavira

  • In January 2020, India submitted Dholavira’s nomination dossier to the World Heritage Centre, and the site has been on UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014.
  • India has now joined the Super-40 club of World Heritage Site inscriptions, which includes Italy, Spain, Germany, China, and France.
  • India has 40 world heritage properties, including 32 cultural, seven natural, and one mixed.
  • India has added ten new world heritage sites since 2014, owing to the Prime Minister’s unwavering commitment to promoting Indian culture, heritage, and way of life.

Dholavira – Gujarat

  • Dholavira is one of South Asia’s few well-preserved urban settlements, dating from the third to mid-second millennia BCE.
  • It is situated on a hillock near the modern-day village of Dholavira in the Kutch district, from which it derives its name.
  • It is the sixth largest of over 1,000 Harappan sites discovered to date and was inhabited for more than 1,500 years.
  • Dholavira has watched the entire history of humankind’s early civilization’s growth and demise.
  • It exhibits the diversity of its accomplishments in urban planning, construction techniques, water management, social governance and development, art and manufacture, commerce, and belief system.
  • Dholavira’s seasonal streams are the Mansar in the north and the Manhar in the south.
  • According to an ASI report on Dholavira, excavations at the site have uncovered seven cultural stages illustrating the emergence and fall of the Indus Civilisation.
  • On the linked page, browse the Major Sites of Indus Valley Civilization.

Dholavira’s characteristics City of Harappa

  • Dholavira is a rare surviving proto-historic Bronze Age urban town associated with the Harappan Civilization.
  • With an abundance of artefacts, it paints a vivid image of a regional centre with specific traits and adds greatly to our understanding of the Harappan era as a whole.
  • Predetermined city layout, multi-layered defences, sophisticated water reservoirs and drainage systems, and a heavy reliance on stone as a building material. These qualities represent Dholavira’s unique location within Harappan Civilization.
  • The city’s layout, with its divided urban residential sections and stratified society, is a remarkable example of a planned city.
  • The property is divided into two sections: a walled city to the west and a cemetery to the east.
  • The walled city is made up of a fortified Castle, a fortified Bailey, and a Ceremonial Ground, as well as a fortified MiddleTown and a Lower Town.
  • To the east and south of the Citadel are a series of reservoirs. The Cemetery’s vast majority of graves are commemorative in nature.
  • On the given website, you can read in depth about the Indus Valley Civilization’s town planning.
  • In contrast to other Harappan predecessor cities, this one was positioned near rivers and perennial sources of water, which facilitated both internal and external trade to the Magan (current Oman peninsula) and Mesopotamian regions.
  • Dholavira’s position on the island of Khadir allowed for the extraction of a variety of minerals and raw materials, including copper, shell, agate-carnelian, steatite, lead, and banded limestone.
  • Water was drawn from seasonal streams, sparse precipitation, and suitable ground and stored in massive stone-cut reservoirs that still exist along the fortification’s eastern and southern fortifications.
  • To facilitate access to water, a few rock-cut wells (the most remarkable of which is located in the citadel) are visible throughout the city, dating as one of the earliest examples.
  • The massive water management system, built to store every drop of accessible water, demonstrates the people’s ingenuity in surviving against rapid geo-climatic changes./Harappan city/
  • Dholavira Harappan City’s multi-cultural and hierarchical culture flourished for over 1,500 years.

Gujarat’s Additional Harappan Sites

  • Prior to the excavation of the Dholavira site, Lothal, located near Saragwala village on the banks of the Sabarmati in the Ahmedabad district’s Dholka taluka, was the most notable IVC site in Gujarat.
  • Rangpur was the first Harappan site in Gujarat to be excavated, located on the bank of the Bhadar river in Surendranagar district.
  • Other Harappan sites in the state include Rojdi in the Rajkot district, Prabhas near Veraval in the Gir Somnath district, Lakhabaval in Jamnagar, and Deshalpar in the Bhuj taluka of Kutch.

A jewel in the acropolis of the IVC

  • Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis in IVC, after Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala, and Harappa in Pakistan, and Rakhigarhi in Haryana, India.
  • The site consists of a fortified citadel, a middle town, and a lower town, all of which have walls constructed of sandstone or limestone rather than mud bricks, as many other Harappan sites do.
  • In contrast to other IVC sites, no human mortal remains have been discovered at Dholavira.
  • Its design
  • The city exemplifies its numerous accomplishments in urban design, construction techniques, water management, social governance and development, art, manufacturing, commerce, and belief systems./Harappan city/

The property is divided into two sections:

  • A walled city is made up of a fortified Castle, a fortified Bailey, and a Ceremonial Ground, as well as a fortified Middle Town and a fortified Lower Town.
  • A cemetery located to the city’s west
  • Commerce and commercial activity
  • Remains of a copper smelter demonstrate that the Harappans of Dholavira were skilled in metallurgy.
  • Dholavira traders are believed to have sourced copper ore from modern-day Rajasthan, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates and exported finished items.
  • It was also a centre for the manufacture of shell and semi-precious stone jewellery, such as agate, and was used to export lumber.
  • These beads, which are unique to Harappan craftsmanship, have been discovered in Mesopotamian royal graves, showing that Dholavira traded with the Mesopotamians.
  • Known for its water conservation efforts
  • The massive water management system, built to store every drop of accessible water, demonstrates the people’s ingenuity in surviving against rapid geo-climatic changes.
  • Water was drawn from seasonal streams, sparse precipitation, and suitable ground and stored in massive stone-cut reservoirs that still exist along the fortification’s eastern and southern fortifications.
  • To facilitate access to water, a few rock-cut wells, one of the earliest examples, are visible around the city, the most magnificent being located in the citadel.
  • Dholavira’s extensive water conservation technologies are unique and rank among the most efficient in the ancient world.
  • Causes of its fall When Mesopotamia fell, Harappans lost a sizable market, impacting local mining, manufacturing, marketing, and export companies.
  • Dholavira underwent a period of severe aridity approximately 2000 BC as a result of climatic change and the drying up of rivers such as the Saraswati.
  • As a result of the drought, people began migrating into the Ganges valley, south Gujarat, and farther into Maharashtra./Harappan city/

Originally navigable, the Great Rann of Kutch, which surrounds the Khadir island on which Dholavira is located, became a mudflat as the sea receded.

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