Lothal A walk through history

November 10, 2013
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by Madhurima  Mallik

Almost each one of us have been fascinated with the Indus Valley Civilisation (28th Century B.C to 18th Century B.C) while we read about its immaculate town planning, the seals, the pottery, the ornaments as a part of the prescribed history curriculum in mid-school. I would spend hours looking at the pictures of the Great Bath at Mohenjodaro and wonder how Lapis Lazuli (the semi-precious stone which was one of their major items of trade) looked. Imagine my delight when I got an opportunity to visit the excavated site of one of the major port towns of this ancient civilisation, Lothal (meaning the mound of the dead in Gujarati).

Lothal A walk through history

Situated at a distance of 6 kms from the Lothal-Bhurkhi railway station on the Ahmedabad –Bhavnagar route of Western Railway, Lothal is well connected by road to all the major cities of Gujarat. Once here, you can visit the site excavated by archaeologist S. R Rao in 1952-61 and the ASI museum which was established in 1976.

Having decided to visit the museum first, my colleague and I gained entry at a nominal fee of Rs.5 per head. The museum has been divided into three galleries. As you enter, you are greeted by a detailed artist's imaginary depiction of the Harrapan town, complete with the course of the Sabarmati River, on the banks of which the port town is situated. There are also introductory notes and several maps to the site for your reference. The left wing of the museum has exhibits of ornaments (bangles, neck pieces and earrings) of terracotta and shell, steatite seals, pottery and beads. The right wing houses game boards, miniature and painted pottery, human figurines, weights, ritual objects, bricks beside a replica of a joint burial and a scaled model of the Lothal site. The museum houses a total of 800 items of the unearthed 5089 during the excavation. The museum also has a reference library and a publication counter where you can find pamphlets and informative guides.

Lothal A walk through history

A tour around the museum gives you an idea that Lothal made significant and unique contributions in that era in science, engineering, city planning, art and architecture. The small town of Lothal was prosperous with its bead making industry and its sheltered harbour with a rich cotton and rice growing hinterland. It was a gateway to western Asia for the Harrapan civilisation and for overseas trade of semi-precious stone beads, copper, ivory, shell and cotton goods.

The beads showcased in the museum are made of carnelian, agate and some other semi-precious stones. Also on display are micro-beads made of steatite which can be seen through magnifying glasses.

The seals excavated from the Lothal site are said to be the third largest in number after Mohenjodaro and Harrappa. They depict varied figurines and letters from the Indus script.

Apart from terracotta another widely used material for ornaments, beads, gamesmen and other objects was shell, as the coast of Gujarat is abundant in shell.

The Harappans have been known to manufacture copper and bronze objects, although Lothal is said to have imported copper from the middle-east, tools like stone blades, spindle-whorls, etc are put on display. It is noteworthy, that almost no weapons were excavated from this site, which speaks volumes about a society that was largely peaceful.

Watch : Khushboo Gujarat Ki - Lothal

The Harrappan pottery was largely utilitarian. You can see large pots, dishes, vases, perforated jars, all made from terracotta. There are also present pieces of painted pottery with minimalist ornamentation.  The right wing houses smaller pots and vessels which have been displayed as a part of ritualistic objects. It is said that pottery, beads and other objects of daily life were buried with the dead by the Harrappans.

A depiction of two entangled skeletal remains bordered by representative burial bricks testifies the prevalence of joint burials which was unique to the civilisation.

It is largely known that the Harrapans had devised a standardised system for weights and measures. The weights are made of various stones like carnelian, jasper, and agate and are of different shapes and sizes. A scale of ivory with demarcations is another object of interest.

Other than these you can see game boards, dice, gamesmen and models of toy carts.

After carefully observing the scaled model of the site kept at the museum we proceeded towards the site which is adjacent to the museum. We were accompanied by a large group of enthusiastic tourists from other states and a guide.

On entering the site you see a vast stretch of desolate ruins with signboards thrown in at your aid. The dominant sight here is the dockyard spanning an area of approximately 37 meters from east to west to 22 meters from north to south . It was excavated and found to be beside Sabarmati which has since changed course. The structure's design shows a thorough study of tides and hydraulics. The hydraulic knowledge of the ancient Harappans can be judged by the fact that boats could dock at Lothal in the 1850s and it is said that the dockyard could hold 30 ships of 60 tonnes capacity each or vice versa.

Archaeological finds testify to trade between Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The dockyard was connected to the main warehouse by a long landing stage elevated about 3.5 metres from the ground for flood protection. The whole town was situated on high ground and a wall was erected to encircle it.

The warehouse near the dockyard, where the cargo was stored had about 64 rooms, 12 of which are visible today in the form of cubical blocks.

The town of Lothal had an extensive drainage system, hallmark of the Indus Valley towns and like others was divided into two parts- The upper town (Acropolis or Citadel) and the Lower Town (commercial and residential area). The upper town remains show remnants of a pot furnace, kitchens and wells. A short distance from the upper town, the lower town has arterial streets running from north to south believed to be laced with shops and those running from north to south were flanked by individual dwellings.

There is not much that a layman can decipher beyond this at the site. It is said that the town was destroyed by frequent floods in about 1900 BC and was completely abandoned by Harappans in 1700 BC.

Enter Lothal, and you would know what it means to be transported to another era. The seemingly ordinary ruins which stand proof to the existence of a 4500 year old human civilisation and tell you the story of its obliteration, leave you only a little humbled.

The article is originally published in The Gujarat (Magazine), Vol-III, Issue-4.

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India scripts history, gratitude to our doctors and nurses: PM Narendra Modi on 100 crore vaccination feat

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India scripts history, gratitude to our doctors and nurses: PM Narendra Modi on 100 crore vaccination feat
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“100 crore vaccinations are not just a figure, but a reflection of the strength of the country”
“A success of India and the success of every countryman”
“If the disease does not discriminate, then there cannot be any discrimination in the vaccination. That's why it was ensured that the VIP culture of entitlement does not dominate the vaccination campaign”
“Acceptance that India enjoys in the world as a pharma hub will be further strengthened.”
“Government made public participation the first line of defence in the country's fight against the pandemic”
“The entire vaccination program of India has been Science-born, Science-driven and Science-based”
“Today not only are record investments coming in Indian companies but new employment opportunities are also being created for the youth. With record investment in start-ups, unicorns are emerging”
“Just like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a mass movement, in the same way, buying things made in India, buying things made by Indians, being Vocal for Local has to be put into practice”
“No matter how good the cover is, no matter how modern the armour is, even if armour gives a complete guarantee of protection, weapons are not given up while the battle is on. There is no reason to get careless. Celebrate our festivals with utmost precautions”

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the nation on achieving the milestone of 100 crore vaccinations.

Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister lauded the difficult but remarkable feat of administering 100 crore vaccine doses.. He attributed this achievement to the dedication of 130 crore countrymen and said this success is the success of India and the success of every countryman. He said 100 crore vaccinations are not just a figure, but a reflection of the strength of the country, it is the creation of a new chapter of history. This is a picture of a new India that sets difficult goals and knows how to achieve them.

 

The Prime Minister noted that today many people are comparing India's vaccination program with other countries of the world. He said the speed with which India crossed the 100 crore mark, 1 billion, is also being appreciated. However, he pointed out, in this analysis the point of beginning for India is often missed. He said developed countries had decades of expertise in researching and developing vaccines. India mostly depended on vaccines made by these countries. He said for this reason when the biggest pandemic of the century struck, various questions were raised about India’s ability to fight the global pandemic. Questions like, from where will India get the money to buy so many vaccines from other countries? When will India get the vaccine? Will the people of India get the vaccine or not? Will India be able to vaccinate enough people to stop the pandemic from spreading? Were answered by achieving this feat of administering 100 crore vaccinations. He stressed that India has not only administered 100 crore vaccine doses to its citizens but has also done that free of cost. He said the acceptance that India enjoys in the world as a pharma hub will be further strengthened.

 

The Prime Minister said at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, people were anxious that it would be very difficult to fight this pandemic in a democracy like India. Questions were also raised whether so much restraint and so much discipline work here? He said that for us, democracy means taking everyone along - Sabka Saath. The country started the campaign of 'Free Vaccine and Vaccine for Everyone'. Vaccinations were given to Poor-rich, Rural-urban alike. He remarked that the country has only one mantra that if the disease does not discriminate, then there cannot be any discrimination in the vaccination. He said that's why it was ensured that the VIP culture of entitlement does not dominate the vaccination campaign.

The Prime Minister said questions were raised that most of the people in India would not go to the vaccination centre to get vaccinated. Vaccine hesitancy remains a major challenge even today in many major developed countries of the world. But the people of India have answered it by taking 100 crore vaccine doses. He said a campaign is 'everybody's effort' and if everyone’s efforts are synergized, the results are amazing. He said that the Government made public participation the first line of defence in the country's fight against the pandemic.

The Prime Minister said India's entire vaccination program is born in the womb of science, has grown on scientific grounds and has reached all four directions through scientific methods. He said it is a matter of pride for all of us that the entire vaccination program of India has been Science born, Science driven and Science-based. He said that before the vaccine was made and until the vaccine was administered, the entire campaign was based on a scientific approach. The challenge was also a need to scale up the production. After that, distribution to different states and timely delivery of vaccines to far-flung areas. But, with scientific methods and new innovations, the country has found solutions to these challenges. Resources were increased with extraordinary speed. He said the Cowin platform, made in India, not only gave convenience to the common people but also made the work of our medical staff easier.

The Prime Minister said experts and many agencies from home and abroad are very positive about India's economy. Today not only are record investments coming in Indian companies but new employment opportunities are also being created for the youth. With record investment in start-ups, unicorns are being made. New energy is also visible in the housing sector. He said many reforms and initiatives taken in the last few months, will play a big role in making India's economy grow faster. He said during the pandemic, the agriculture sector kept our economy strong. Today government procurement of food grains is happening at a record level. The money is going directly into the bank accounts of the farmers.

The Prime Minister insisted the people on buying every little thing, which is Made in India, which was made by the hard work of an Indian. He said that this will be possible only with the efforts of everyone. Just like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a mass movement, in the same way, buying things made in India, buying things made by Indians, being Vocal for Local has to be put into practice.

The Prime Minister said the country knows how to set big goals and achieve them. But, for this, we need to be constantly careful. He stressed that no matter how good the cover is, no matter how modern the armour is, even if armour gives a complete guarantee of protection, weapons are not given up while the battle is on. Similarly, he said there is no reason to get careless. He requested the people to celebrate our festivals with utmost care.