Dholavira, Gujarat, India 

The remains of Dholavira, a major city of the Harappan civilization, were discovered in 1967-68 by J. Joshi. Though hundreds of Harappan sites have been identified in Gujarat, Dholavira is among the five biggest known to us in the Indian subcontinent. "The excavation at Dholavira brought to light a remarkable city of exquisite planning, monumental structures, aesthetic architecture and amazing water management system." Indeed, to the casual visitor, the most notable feature of this metropolis of the 3rd millennium BCE is its water management acumen. Sixteen reservoirs of various sizes have been identified, of which five have been excavated fairly well. There is extensive water harvesting throughout the site. The ingenuity in handling water is evident in the waterways and channels that crisscross the site. (read more)   [—Apr 06]

Update: Read my article on Dholavira in The Himal Southasian.

The citadel (more)

South-east corner

Eastern walls of the citadel

East entrance

Water tank (1, 2)

Steps down the tank

Water tank (1, 2, 3)

More water tanks (1, 2)

A granary

South entrance to citadel

The Bailey (servant homes)

Top of the citadel

The well

Bathing area (more)

Water tank

Remains of citadel rooms

Shard-studded wall

Corridor inside citadel

Circular rooms (more)

Former royal chamber?

Eastern entryway

Passageway inside citadel


Brickwork from two eras

Water harvesting conduit

Water harvesting conduit

A fine pillar base

Tourist bungalow from the citadel

North-eastern corner

Northern wall

Northern wall (1, 2)

Northern wall

North entrance

Writing over the north entrance,
"the oldest signboard in the world"

This is a replica of what was probably a headboard over the north entrance.

Stadium from north entrance

Stadium from middle town

Middle town ruins

Market street (more)

Market street

Four-way intersection

Side street

Waste receptacle

Fragments of the past

Fragments of the past

Cemetery area (local flora)

The largest water tank (more)

The largest water tank (more)

Women near the ruins

Dholavira signpost

Across the Great Rann of Kutch

Saline mudflats (more)

Great Rann of Kutch (more)

Rabari tribeswoman (more)

Rabari tribeswomen

Local woman

Local woman

Local women

Local women (more)

Local women

Tribal family (more)

Path to the excavated site

Traveling hundreds of miles in summer to this isolated site near the western edge of India, I encounter this sign put up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Shaking my head in disbelief, I ask: Why? What can possibly be the rationale for prohibiting photography here? ASI ought to be marketing this site, a global cultural heritage, and providing better facilities (e.g., a site museum, a brochure, guides). I recall that the ASI also bars photography at nearly all of its site museums, of works with long expired copyright claims. Why? Nobody ever has a good answer ('orders from above' is the most common). 'Apply for permission in Delhi,' they say. If this isn't the product of a bureaucratic mind I don't know what is. Annoyance again wells up within me. Stupid rules need not be followed, I tell myself, and resolve to flout the injunction, if need be by cajoling or bribing the lone caretaker on site, or sneaking in behind his back.  [-- Namit Arora, 2006]



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