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India’s 40th World Heritage Site: Dholavira

India’s 40th World Heritage Site: Dholavira

Why in news?

  • Recently, UNESCO has announced the Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat as India’s 40th world heritage site. It is the first site of Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to be included on the coveted list.
  • With this successful nomination, India now enters the Super-40 club for World Heritage Site inscriptions.
  • Apart from India, Italy, Spain, Germany, China and France have 40 or more World Heritage sites.
  • India has 40 world heritage sites overall, which includes 32 cultural, 7 natural and one mixed property. Ramappa Temple (Telangana) was India’s 39th World Heritage Site.

Dholavira (Gujarat)

  • Dholavira is one of the very few well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia, dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE.
  • It is located on a hillock near present-day Dholavira village in Kutch district, from which it gets its name.
  • It is the 6th largest of more than 1,000 Harappan sites discovered so far, and was occupied for over 1,500 years.
  • Dholavira has witnessed the entire trajectory of the rise and fall of the early civilization of humankind.
  • It demonstrates its multifaceted achievements in terms of urban planning, construction techniques, water management, social governance and development, art and manufacturing, trading, and belief system.
  • Dholavira has two seasonal streams: Mansar in the north, and Manhar in the south.
  • According to an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) note on Dholavira, excavations at the site have revealed seven cultural stages documenting the rise and fall of the Indus Civilisation.

Distinct features

  • After Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala and Harappa in Pakistan and Rakhigarhi in Haryana of India, Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of IVC.
  • The site has a fortified citadel, a middle town and a lower town with walls made of sandstone or limestone instead of mud bricks in many other Harappan sites.
  • It is known for its unique characteristics, such as its water management system, multi-layered defensive mechanisms, extensive use of stone in construction and special burial structures.
  • During the excavations, artefacts made of copper, stone, jewellery of terracotta, gold and ivory have been found.
  • Unlike graves at other IVC sites, no mortal remains of humans have been discovered at Dholavira.
  • Remains of a copper smelter indicate Harappans, who lived in Dholavira, knew metallurgy.                              India’s 40th World Heritage Site: Dholavira
  • It was also a hub of manufacturing jewellery made of shells and semi-precious stones, like agate and used to export timber.


  • Its decline also coincided with the collapse of Mesopotamia, indicating the integration of economies.
  • Harappans, who were maritime people, lost a huge market, affecting the local mining, manufacturing, marketing and export businesses once Mesopotamia fell.
  • From 2000 BC, Dholavira entered a phase of severe aridity due to climate change and rivers like Saraswati drying up. Because of a drought-like situation, people started migrating toward the Ganges valley or towards south Gujarat and further beyond in Maharashtra.                                          India’s 40th World Heritage Site: Dholavira

Other Harappan Sites in Gujarat

  • Lothal: Before Dholavira was excavated, Lothal, in Saragwala village on the bank of Sabarmati in Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad district, was the most prominent site of IVC in Gujarat.
  • It was excavated between 1955 and 1960 and was discovered to be an important port city of the ancient civilisation, with structures made of mud bricks.
  • From a graveyard in Lothal, 21 human skeletons were found.
  • Foundries for making copperware were also discovered.
  • Ornaments made of semi-precious stones, gold etc. were also found from the site.
  • Rangpur on the bank of Bhadar river in Surendranagar district was the first Harappan site in the state to be excavated.
  • Rojdi in Rajkot district, Prabhas near Veraval in Gir Somnath district.                                        India’s 40th World Heritage Site: Dholavira
  • Lakhabaval in Jamnagar, and Desalpar in Bhuj taluka of Kutch are among other Harappan sites in the state.

Other World Sites in Gujarat

Other than Dholavira, there are 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat.

  • Historic city of Ahmedabad
  • Rani ki Vav, Patan
  • Champaner & Pavagadh


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