My series of “REASONS TO LOVE INDIA” would be incomplete if it doesn’t talk about The Indus Valley Civilization. It is considered to be the first most ancient and widespread civilization in Indian history. This 4500-year-old civilization is also known as the Harappan Civilization. And came into existence back in 2600 BCE as an urban civilization in Indian history. When the entire world was going through a barbaric phase, India was touching new heights of urban norms each day.
The discovery of the Indus Valley Civilization is significant as it helped to counter British oppressive colonial narratives of their superior civilizational values and traditions. It challenged the British cultural hegemony that always claimed the west was always civilized and the east is uncivilized, barbaric and uncultured and doesn’t possess anything to take pride in. This gave birth to the idea of the white man’s burden, on the basis of which Britishers morally justified their 200 years of rule.
But British arrogance and supercilious attitude broke when a British army engineer Alexander Cunningham, under archaeological survey of India did huge excavations in 1837. These excavations gave brilliant results in the form of our age-old heritage Sarnath, Sanchi stupa, and Mahabodhi temple. They were excellent examples of Indian architects.
But the major achievement of the extensive excavations done in 1921 under Daya Ram Sahni was astounding. The ruins of Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated in the 1920s. The then Punjab province of British India is now in Pakistan. The discoveries of Harappa, and the site of its fellow Indus city Mohenjo-Daro, were the culmination of work beginning in 1861 with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India in the British Raj. This discovery surprised the historians of the entire world because it was a perfect model of the most well-planned urbanization that inspires us even today. The discovery completely shattered Britisher’s myth and made India take pride in its own history. The world realized that no one has a monopoly on civilization.
Phases Of Harappan Civilization
- Early Harappan Phase:- During 3300 BCE to 2600 BCE, the emergence of big villages was seen which later converted into urban towns.
- Mature Harappan Phase:– From 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE great cities flourished which makes Indus Valley Civilization urban and unique. Mercantilism was at its peak in this phase.
- Late Harappan Phase:- The decline of the Indus Valley Civilization is seen during this phase of 1900 BCE to 1300 BCE and slowly this civilization became history.
Geography Of Harappan Sites
Indus Valley Civilization was widely spread in the province of Punjab, Haryana, Sindh, Baluchistan, Gujrat, Rajasthan and western UP. Mohenjo-Daro was the largest site found here. Since these cities were located around River Indus and its tributaries, John Marshall called this ancient civilization as Indus Valley Civilization. According to a theory the fertility of the Indus Valley is said to have facilitated the settlements in this region. But later the climate change caused famines and the decline of civilization and people moved to Ganga Valley which probably gave rise to the post-Harappan settlements, Magadh kingdom and Maha Janpad. Out of 2000 cities found in IVC, most of the cities were located in present-day India and Pakistan except Shortugal (Afghanistan).
Agriculture and Trade
Agriculture was done for the living and extensive inland and foreign trade has been reported in IVC. Shreds of evidence of animals and stock breeding were also found.
The Great Bath The Great Bath at Mohenjo-Daro is the most important masterpiece of IVC. This structure is 6812 metres in size, made up of baked bricks. It was possibly used for religious bathing. The floor and outer walls are bituminized to make it waterproof. There is a massive water tank in Dhaulivira too. the great granary is located at Mohenjo-Daro which was used to store grains garnered in the form of tax. six more granaries are found in Harappa too. Town Planning
The most striking characteristic of IVC is its town planning. we can compare its brilliance with the planned cities of Chandigarh and the New Raipur of today. Most of the cities of Indus Valley Civilisation had fortified citadels in the western part of the city which accommodated the ruling class, while the brick houses in the eastern part lived commoners. Such social stratification of residential infrastructure was done on the basis of status and power only. But there is no evidence of division done on the basis of caste system Grid System
In modern times, in spite of massive innovative technologies, we are still struggling for well-planned towns. In contrary to that age-old IVC cities were based on the grid system. they have shown us an inspiring model using bare minimal technology. Most of the streets of the cities crossed each other at right angles.
Underground Drainage System
An extensive underground drainage system was yet another feature of Harappan town planning. Almost every house in the city had vertical pipes that were connected with the network of the street drainage system. They also had small settling pools and traps to avoid blockage in the drains. The current emphasis on sanitation under Swatch Bharat Mission underscores the futuristic value of Indus Valley Town Planning back in ancient times. the architect was brilliant also because it was made up of baked bricks which were rare those days.
Art And Craft
The brilliant art and craft is the soul of IVC. The fine crafts found here shows that the Harappan people had a well-developed knowledge of a variety of artefacts and sculptures. They tell us the possible God worship, leisure toys and the materials in use those days. although craft making was a common practice in IVC it was done in few industrial areas. we can still see their work in the British and Indian museums.
If we talk about stone sculptures of that era, the most famous is the upper male part (torso) made up of red sandstone. Its design has been done in a very detailed manner. Apart from this, the most talked-about figure is a sculpture of a bearded man. It has been identified as a possible priest of ancient times. Because its repeated versions have been seen. His half-closed elongated eyes look as if he is in meditation. Its foil patterned shawl indicates the existence of embroidery practice at that time.
Bronze casting was also a popular practice which is a continuous tradition in India. The famous NATRAJ sculpture which was made by citadels in the 11th century is a good example. A variety of seals made up of different metals has also been discovered which was used for trade
The Pottery recovered from the IVC sites are wheel-made. Red and Blackware pottery has been found in abundance as compared to other potteries. Harappans also used weight measures, similar to modern weight measures. which were in multiples of 16 units.
Harappan civilization forms an important landmark in ancient Indian history. The excavations done at Harappa has lead us to the primary pieces of evidence to understand the politics, society, economy, religion, culture and the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization. These insights can make any Indian take pride in the country we live in.
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