UNESCO names Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat as world heritage site; all you need to know

Dholavira is one of the two largest Harappan sites in India and the fifth-largest in the subcontinent

FP Staff July 27, 2021 17:29:07 IST
UNESCO names Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat as world heritage site; all you need to know

Dholavira is the larger of the two most remarkable excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan culture, dating back to 4500 years ago. Image/kachchh.nic.in

On Tuesday, UNESCO inscribed an archaeological site in Gujarat's Kachchh district, Dholavira, as a World Heritage Site. Locally known as Kotada Timba, this is one of the most prominent sites of the Harappan civilizations,

The ongoing 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has already given India a new world heritage site in the form of the Rudreswara/ Ramappa Temple in Telangana, which dates back to the 13th century.

Gujarat so far has three world heritage sites — Champaner near Pavagadh, Rani ki Vav in Patan and the historic city of Ahmedabad.

This session of the World Heritage Committee is being chaired from Fuzhou in China and is being held online. It started on 16 July and will end on 31 July.

The 44th session combines current work and issues left outstanding since last year when the annual meeting was postponed due to COVID-19.

Where is Dholavira?

As per the Gujarat government website, Dholavira is an archaeological site at Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka of Kachchh District, in the state of Gujarat in western India, which has taken its name from a modern-day village one kilometre south of it. This village is 165 km from Radhanpur. Also known locally as Kotada timba, the site contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization/Harappan city. Dholavira’s location is on the Tropic of Cancer.

It is located on Khadir bet island in the Kachchh Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in the Great Rann of Kachchh. The 120 acres quadrangular city lay between two seasonal streams, the Mansar in the north and Manhar in the south. The site was occupied from c.2650 BCE, declining slowly after about 2100 BCE. It was briefly abandoned then reoccupied until c.1450 BCE.

What is Dholavira?

Dholavira is the larger of the two most remarkable excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan culture, dating back to 4500 years ago. It is one of the five largest Harappan sites and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is also considered as having been the grandest and richest of cities of its time.

Dholavira is one of the two largest Harappan sites in India and the fifth-largest in the subcontinent. Like Lothal, it passed through all the stages of the Harappan culture from circa 2900 BC to 1500 BC, while most others saw only the early or late stages.

The town of Dholavira is divided into three parts:

  1. Raj Mahal of the Raja / Ruler, who is at the height. It was surrounded by strong fortifications all around. There were four gates in this fort
  2. Habitat of other officers, which also had a protective wall and had two to five rooms
  3. Built on brick-built houses of the common town dwellers. A big factory of making pearls has been found in this town. Copper distilleries were found in fossils found here.

The site was unearthed by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1967, but has been systematically excavated only since 1990. Artifacts include terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figurines, tools, urns, and some imported vessels that indicate trade links with lands as far away as Mesopotamia. Also found were 10 large stone inscriptions, carved in Indus Valley script, perhaps the world’s earliest signboard.

Why it matters?

A World Heritage Site is a location with an “outstanding universal value”, which signifies cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. It is also an area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

To be included on the list sites must meet at least one of the ten selection criteria, such as representing a masterpiece of human creative genius, or exhibiting an important interchange of human values over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world.

Union culture minister G Kishan Reddy called it another feather in India's cap. Reddy said Dholavira is the 40th treasure in India to be given UNESCO’s World Heritage inscription.

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