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Going back to the Oldest Port City of India- Lothal

Oldest dockyard of india

 As a history student I have always been inclined to visit as many historical sites as I can. I was fortune enough to get a chance to visit one of the oldest civilisation of the world- Lothal in Gujarat belonging to the The Indus Valley Civilisation.

Lothal has been a very important port town and was excavated from 1955-1960 by SR Rao. Lothal remains one of the oldest docks in the world. The word Lothal like Mohenjodaro means the mound of the dead. Lothal was a very important town after Mohenjodaro and Harappa. It is also known as the Manchester of Indus Valley Civilisation. 

I was in Ahmedabad and this is when I decided to visit Lothal. Located just 80km from Ahmedabad city. You can take a taxi or go by your personal vehicle. The road is very good. On the highway you can find eating joints on both the sides. As you get closer to your destination you will find yourself surrounded by villages but you will not have to ask for directions because signages are on every turn.

A well in the Lothal city

At the location is the campus of Archeological Survey of India(ASI). The campus is divided into 3 parts- one side is the site, other the museum and rest is office and accommodation of Staff of ASI. 

As soon as you enter, you will be directed to a room in which a documentary is shown to give extensive information about the site, it’s history, excavations and maintenance of the site. So don’t worry even if you don’t have much knowledge you can easily gather from here.

After that is the trip to the museum which is well curated. It has preserved artefacts, pottery, terracotta figures, coins, ornaments, seals etc. The museum remains open on all days except on Fridays.

Burnt bricks lothal

Then comes the most exciting part which is the visit to the site itself. It is a huge site with magnificent town planning with baked brick grid pattern and drainage system of the city. The city was divided into 2 parts- upper town or Acropolis where important people of the city resided and other one was lower town where common people lived and businesses was done. The lower town was also the commercial hub.

The baked bricks are laid in such a manner that it showcases that how skilfully the city was made with proper planning and mathematical calculation.

The layout of toilets and drains makes it evident that the city people were very well aware about the sanitation and cleanliness of the city. Lothal, no doubt was one of the first planned city of India. Not only was it popular with the locals but all over the world. 

Museum at the Lothal site

It was an active participant in the trade with the contemporary civilisation. The evidence comes from the presence of seals of Lothal which were found in various countries were used during the trade. There is a huge dockyard which was at one time the centre of trade. It traded in beads, semi- precious stones, terracotta, bronze  with other civilisations in Iraq, Iran, Mesopotamia and Egypt. 

The dockyard in Lothal is the oldest in the country. There are evidences of trade as well as presence of Sabarmati river during the early times which has now turned its course. It is bang on between Sabarmati and it’s tributary Bhogava. According to the archeologists, the dockyard was made keeping in mind the concept of tides. 

There is presence of 2 wells which implies that the people of the city were aware about the conservation of water and to be ready for any unforeseen situation like drought. In lower town there is presence of bead making furnace since beads were one of the most important commodity of trade at that time. Other evidences such as double burial, fire altars, instruments for measuring 45, 90 and 180 degree angles were found here. 

Lothal is a must visit place to revisit the history of our country’s oldest civilisation. The experience is very enriching and you won’t regret it. I would specially like to thank the efforts put in by the Archeological survey of India who have been working hard constantly to preserve and conserve the heritage of our country. 

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