Dholavira: India's 40th UNESCO World Heritage Site

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 28, 2022, 13:12

The Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat was recently designated as India's 40th world heritage site by UNESCO. It is India's first Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) site to be added to the prestigious list.

India has now joined the Super-40 club of World Heritage Site inscriptions as a result of this successful nomination. Besides India, 40 or more World Heritage sites can be found in Italy, Spain, Germany, China, and France.

History and Location of Dholavira

India has a total of 40 world heritage sites, including 32 cultural, seven natural, and one combined property.

Around 2,500 BC, the IVC flourished in what is now Pakistan and Western India, in the western region of South Asia. It was essentially an urban civilisation, with people living in well-built towns that also served as commerce hubs.

Dholavira is one of India's most interesting and well-preserved urban towns. Archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi 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.

The old town of Dholavira is located on Khadir Bet Island in the Kachchh Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in the Great Rann of Kachchh. It dates from the third to the mid-second millennium BCE.

The position of Dholavira on Khadir Island differs from that of other Harappan predecessor towns, which were often located near rivers and perennial supplies of water.

The site of Dholavira is divided into two sections: a walled city and a gravesite to the west. The walled city is made up of a walled castle. To the south and east of the citadel are a series of reservoirs.

Prominent Features of Dholavira - UNESCO World Heritage Site

  1. A network of water reservoirs that cascade downwards.
  2. Fortification on the outside.
  3. Two multi-purpose sites, one for celebrations and the other for a marketplace.
  4. Nine gates, each with its own design.
  5. Use of tumulus hemispheric constructions like Buddhist Stupas in funerary architecture.
  6. Defensive architectural frameworks with many layers, intensive use of stone in construction, and unique burial structures.

Significance of Dholavira

Harappans who resided in Dholavira knew metallurgy, according to the remains of a copper smelter. Terracotta pots, urns, gold and copper ornaments, beads, seals, fish hooks, animal figures, tools, and even imported vessels were also discovered at the Dholavira site.

Dholavira traders are thought to have sourced copper ore from present-day Rajasthan, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. It was a centre for the production of shell jewellery and semi-precious stones such as agate and a port for the export of timber.

The Decline of Dholavira

Due to climate change and the drying up of rivers like the Saraswati, Dholavira entered a period of severe aridity. People began relocating to the Ganges valley, south Gujarat, and further into Maharashtra as a result of the drought-like scenario.

Furthermore, the Great Rann of Kachchh, which encompasses the Khadir Island upon which Dholavira is located, was formerly navigable, but the water receded, and the Rann became a mudflat as the sea withdrew.

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FAQs on Dholavira

Q.1 Who designated the Harappan city at Dholavira as India's 40th world heritage site?

UNESCO designated the Harappan city at Dholavira as India's 40th world heritage site.

Q.2 How many world heritage sites does India have?

India has a total of 40 world heritage sites.

Q.3 What was the name of the archaeologist who discovered Dholavira?

Jagat Pati Joshi was the archaeologist who discovered Dholavira.