Town Planning of Harappan Civilization: Urban Planning and Town Planning of Indus Valley Civilization

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Town Planning of Harappan Civilization is a unique feature that gives evidence of a highly evolved and civilized lifestyle. The Harappan people created the first planned towns with a sophisticated drainage system. The Indus Valley towns were constructed according to a set design. The Town Planning of Indus Valley Civilization lends credence to the concept that the city’s civic infrastructure was well established. The Urban Planning of the Harappan Civilization supports the idea that the city’s civic institutions were well-developed.

The Town Planning of the Harappan Civilization is an important topic for the UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. The Ancient History section covers the Indus Valley Civilization and its town planning model.

Town Planning of Harappan Civilization: Features

Towns and cities first appeared due to the first urbanization, which occurred in the fertile valleys of the Indus, Saraswati, and their numerous tributaries, as well as in a distant area ruled by the Harappan civilization. Since towns and cities are an urban phenomenon, their origins can be traced back to this first urbanization.

Main Features of Harappan Towns

The striking features of the Town Planning of the Harappan Civilization are:

Drainage System

The effective closed drainage system of the city was one of the most prominent aspects of the Harappan civilization. The cities of the Indus Valley Civilization had highly developed sewage and water systems. Numerous Indus Valley locations feature single, double, and even more roomy homes connected to efficient drainage systems. Each home featured a soak pit and drainage system connected to the general drainage system.

  • Canals with brick paving surrounded every road.
  • They had manholes spaced out regularly for clearing and cleaning, and they were covered.
  • Large brick culverts with corbelled roofs were constructed outside the city to carry additional water.
  • Corbelled drains served as the main means of garbage and rainwater collection; they may have also been used to drain large pools for ceremonial washing.
  • The Indus people created a perfect subsurface drainage system as a result. No other contemporary society placed such a high value on cleanliness.

Roads and Streets of Harappan Civilization

  • The roads and streets of the Indus Valley were all straight and met at perfect angles.
  • Burned bricks were used to build every road, each brick’s length being four times its height and breadth twice that height.
  • They were fully lined and ranged in width from 13 to 34 feet.
  • The streets and roads divided the city into rectangular units.
  • Archaeologists uncovered the lamp posts at regular intervals. This suggests that there was lighting on the streets.
  • Trash containers were also present on the streets. These show that there was effective municipal management in place.

Buildings of Indus Valley Civilization

Along roadways, people from the Indus Valley civilization built homes and other buildings. They used burned bricks to build terraced homes. There were at least two rooms in every house. There were additionally multi-story structures.

  • The structures contained pillared hallways, bathrooms, paved floors, kitchens, wells, and other amenities. They were constructed around an interior courtyard.
  • Worker housing is also available. It possessed a first-rate water delivery system. The streets were lined with public wells.
  • Every substantial home had its well.
  • At Lothal, they also built a dockyard.
  • In the Lower Town, most homes had a central courtyard surrounded by rooms.
  • The main door was typically placed so that it would not give a clear view of the inside to promote privacy.
  • In addition, none of the houses’ ground-level walls had windows.

Great Bath

The Great Bath is Mohenjodaro’s most remarkable feature. It consists of a sizable quadrangle. The discovery reveals that the Great Bath inside the city was a big rectangular tank used for ceremonial bathing or special ceremonies that looked like a swimming pool today.

  • The structure has a sizable swimming pool in the middle, about 39 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 8 feet deep. On all four sides are the remains of chambers and galleries.
  • It is supplied by a well in one of the nearby apartments and has a flight of stairs at either end.
  • A large drain with a corbelled ceiling more than six feet deep was used to discharge the water.
  • The exterior walls of the Great Bath were eight feet thick.
  • The tank was coated with gypsum to stop water leaks.


The largest building at Mohenjodaro is the Granary, which measures 45.71 meters in length and 15.23 meters in width. In Harappa, two rows of six granaries each were supported by a series of brick platforms. Additionally, brick platforms have been found in Kalibangan’s southern region.

  • The grains were presumably stored in these granaries for future use in emergencies or as a source of income.
  • Most basic goods, including rice, wheat, and barley, were stored at these warehouses for emergency distribution.
  • The cervical granaries were an enormous structure.
  • According to archaeological data, the stockroom’s lower half may have been constructed of blocks, while its upper portion was probably made of wood.

Granaries in Harappan Civilization

Town Planning of Indus Valley Civilization

Comparing the Indus Valley Civilization to other modern civilizations, town planning was its most significant characteristic. The Indus people created the first planned towns with a sophisticated drainage system.

  • The Indus towns were constructed according to a set design. The art of town planning was outstanding.
  • A few cities feature citadels to the west constructed on higher platforms, while the residential area’s center is to the east of those citadels.
  • They are both encircled by a tall brick wall.
  • The citadel-less cities are perched atop tall mounds.

Urban Planning of Harappan Civilization

The town planning scheme used by the Harappan Civilization was grid-based, with streets and alleyways cutting across one another almost at right angles to divide the city into numerous rectangular blocks. Each of the cities of Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and Kalibangan had a fortress built on a tall mud-brick pedestal.

  • Just below the castle in every city is a lower town with brick structures inhabited by the common folk.
  • The absence of stone constructions and the extensive use of burned bricks in almost every building style set the Harappan civilization apart.
  • Another noteworthy aspect was the subsurface drainage system that linked every residence to street drains protected by stone or bricks.
  • The largest and most important public area at Mohenjodaro is The Great Bath, which measures 39 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 8 feet deep. Charred bricks made up the floor of the Bath.
  • At Mohenjodaro, a granary that is 150 feet long and 50 feet wide is the largest building. However, the castle of Harappa has up to six granaries.

Harappan Town Planning

The Harappan civilisation was one of the world’s earliest and most developed civilizations. The cities were developed and well-planned. A wooden screen was placed at the end of the main sewer to show they were equally concerned about water contamination. Waste collection and disposal were also carried out adequately. Burned bricks and a well-drained system were used to construct streets in the same engineering-based fashion.

Also, Read:

Town Planning of Indus Valley Civilization UPSC

The topic of Town Planning of the Harappan Civilization is often asked in the UPSC Mains and is important for the UPSC Exam. One can cover the topic in detail by referring to the NCERT Books for UPSC.

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