Dholavira - Things to do, How to visit, UNESCO (Kutch- Gujarat)

DHOLAVIRA - A HARAPPAN CITY
Newly inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat, India in 2021

INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION or HARAPPAN CIVILIZATION?
So I was telling you about Indus Valley Civilization, in the last post (when we were calling it the Harappan Civilization, as every other textbook says, expert Michel Danino, vehemently opposed it, as the area is so so so much more than Harappa!). And I ended the post with a note on a huuuuge site and here's the post on it. The site is called Dholavira and it's in the Rann of Kutch.

Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat India

Dholavira Accommodation

Best Star Gazing places in India Dholvira Rann of Kutch

Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat India

Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat India

Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat India

DISCOVERY OF DHOLAVIRA
Dholavira was discovered in 1967-68. This is one of the 5 biggest sites covering 100 hectares. It is spectacular. The boundary is in the shape of a parallelogram and has a fortified wall on all sides! Unlike Lothal which was more of an industrial town, Dholavira has been more of a residential town. Here are some important things places to visit inside Dholavira ruins - Citadel, Middle town, lower town, reservoirs, and fort walls.

VISIT DHOLAVIRA - ROAD & CELLPHONE RECEPTION!
First things first. Reaching here is an awesome experience by itself. The previous day I was in Ahmedabad and from there via Modhera, the trip was to Dholavira. The long lonely road with very few villages that occur occasionally!!! At the last, a relatively bigger village with some shops, I made sure to call my mom & hubby to inform them that I'll be soon entering a no-cellphone-signal zone! But guess what, not just BSNL, Vodafone also picks up the signal even till the deepest part of Dholavira!!!

ACCOMMODATION AT DHOLAVIRA
Dholavira has 2 major options to stay in - the guest houses of the state tourism dept. and the state forest dept. In any case, pre-booking is necessary, coz even they are very less in numbers. I stayed at the tourism dept guest house and the night spent there was fabulous. The houses were typical Gujarati pol houses - circular houses with conical thatched roofs. However, the facilities were pretty good with air conditioner, geyser, etc. 
The best part of the night was star gazing. The last time I saw a sky filled with so many stars was on the highway while returning from Panamalai! The unpolluted environment here made the sky so clear and millions of stars visible! (Update July 2021: These have been permanently closed now and have been replaced by the very similar Dholavira Tourism Resorts. More details at the end of the post).
Apart from the 2 government guest houses there are a couple of homestays in Dholavira. As I described above, Dholavira is effectively in the middle of nowhere. So these homestays are typical, the very real, authentic homestays where you actually stay in the homes of some of the villagers or they pitch a tent for you just outside their house. 

Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat India Brick wall
Brick wall of Dholavira

Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat India Brick well pulley
Inside a well in Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Site

Dholavira UNESCO Polished Stone pillars

Dholavira UNESCO Polished Stone steps staircase
A polished stone staircase. Mr.Shyam C Raman beside for scale! 

Dholavira UNESCO Sanitation system
Sanitation system

Dholavira UNESCO Polished Stones
Base of a pillar on the left

VIRTUAL TOUR OF DHOLAVIRA: A HARAPPAN CITY
Early the next day we started on our tour of the actual Indus valley civilization site. Here's all about my walk around Dholavira and pictures for you to have a virtual tour of Dholavira.

HISTORY OF DHOLAVIRA: A HARAPPAN CITY
Dholavira is one of the 5 major Harappan Sites including the very famous Harappa & Mohenjo-daro which are located just across the border in Pakistan and are also the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Pakistan
The history of Dholavira begins as old as 3500 BCE. The earliest history belongs to the pre-Harappan Dholaviran Culture and then from 3200 BCE when it merged with the Harappan Culture. To begin with, Dholavira is older than Lothal. Many artefacts were excavated here including terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figurines, tools, urns etc. There were also some products that didn't belong to the region but had a close resemblance to the ones excavated as far as Mesopotamia, proving that Dholavira (and Indus Valley Civilization on a whole) had commercial & business relationships across the world including Ancient Greek and Mesopotamia. 
Though Dholavira is on the island of Khadir Bet surrounded by the Rann of Kutch Lake, it is at a higher elevation than the lake plus they had reservoirs all around the fortified city walls (more about it below), the city was pretty much safe even during heavy rains when rest of the Kutch region was flooded! However, Dholavira was deserted around 1900 BCE probably because of very heavy rains that caused flooding which their infrastructure couldn't handle. However, it is only an assumption as Indus Valley Script is undeciphered and we will never know why they abandoned the city all of a sudden! 
However, people did come back to Dholavira and started a township again, but in a much simpler, village-like style, with Bhungas rather than the very structured city that they had earlier. Anyways, again by around 1450 BCE, Dholavira was deserted again. 
Here, unlike Lothal where mostly bricks were used, here stones of various sizes were used with mud as mortar. The 3 major sections here were the citadel, middle town and lower town. There's also the middle town in the north is a separate section. The citadel has the castle in the east and the bailey in the west. The whole city is 771.1m long and 616.85m wide. 
Today, the ruins of the entire city are there for us to walk around and feel the land where our own ancestors walked around and paved the way for our life as we live it today!

STONEWORK IN DHOLAVIRA: A HARAPPAN CITY
At certain places their incredible skill in stonework was evident. One such example was this cylinder. This is actually a base of a pillar (last pic above). The level of polishing was incredible. In the sultry, hot sun, this stone was so so chill! 
Another example is this set of poles. Were they the first ever form of Sivalingam??? Maybe! Another example is the very polished step (last but one pic above)! 

SANITATION IN DHOLAVIRA: A HARAPPAN CITY
Very similar to Lothal, here too drainage and sanitation were given very high importance. Also similar to Lothal, wells were built very neatly here too. One of the wells also had a side plank where the pulley marks are still visible! 

WATER RESERVOIRS IN DHOLAVIRA: A HARAPPAN CITY
But it is not these that caught my attention, it was the reservoirs. Huge reservoirs. There are 16 of them around the area. At a particular point, there were 5 of them next to each other. They not just hold water but also filter it to a certain extent. The largest of them all, the Eastern Reservoir, measures approximately 73m x 29m and is 10.6m deep at its deepest point. There are steps to reach the depth of the reservoir when the water level is low. 

OTHER PLACES TO SEE IN DHOLAVIRA: A HARAPPAN CITY
There are 2 open spaces also which might have been used for various purposes like entertainment, bazaar, meetings, gatherings, ceremonies, sports etc. The view from one point in Dholavira was spectacular, from where the horizon meets the white sands of the Rann of Kutch! Also, I spotted a couple of interesting rocks! A rock with several seashells fossilized and embedded onto it! Another rock with multi-colour stripes naturally occurring on it!!!

Dholavira ruins UNESCO Gujarat
Grinding stones or door hinge base?

Dholavira a Harappan City UNESCO World heritage Sites Gujarat India
Dholavira Resrvoir

Dholavira a Harappan City UNESCO World heritage Sites Gujarat India
Steps inside a deep reservoir in Dholavira. Mr.Badri Seshadri walking down the stairs.

Dholavira a Harappan City UNESCO World heritage Sites Gujarat India
Series of reservoirs

Dholavira a Harappan City UNESCO World heritage Sites Gujarat India
A hole on the ground????......

Dholavira a Harappan City UNESCO World heritage Sites Gujarat India
.... No! An underground room!

DHOLAVIRA SIGNBOARD
Though I couldn't see with my own eyes, the thing that amazed me the most was the signboard. Perhaps, the world's first signboard was here in Dholavira. It is 10 characters. Huge in size. Per character was of size 37cm tall. The entire 10 letters, is 3m long. It was made of gypsum. What does it say? Maybe 'Namaste', maybe 'welcome', maybe the town's name, maybe the king's name, maybe some divine chant-like 'Om'... Maybe... No one knows because the Indus valley script is not deciphered yet. Presently public viewing is not possible, as ASI has safeguarded this. But a copy of it is present in the on-site museum of Dholvira. 

PAKISTAN BORDER
A few km from here was the Pakistan border! See that watch house there in the last picture? That's the BSF post. Just beyond it was the Indo Pak border. Went so close to the border and still waiting for my Pakistan trip dream to come true...

WHERE IS DHOLAVIRA?
On Google Maps: http://goo.gl/eGhf2T
From Ahmedabad Airport: 330km via Mahesana, Radhanpur, Balasar
From Bhuj Railway Station: 220km via Bhachau, Rapar, Balasar

HOW TO REACH DHOLAVIRA?
The best way to reach Dholavira is definitely by your own means of transport. If you don't have a car, it is better to hire a car from Bhuj or Gandhidham
If that is absolutely not possible, it is possible to reach Dholavira by public transport by bus, but not easy! There is only 1 bus per day that runs between Dholavira & Bhuj which is more for the locals to go to Bhuj than for the tourists! The bus leaves Bhuj at 14:00 and reaches Dholavira at 20:30; it leaves Dholavira at 5:00 and reaches Bhuj at 11:30. So effectively depending on the bus would mean, staying at Dholavira for 2 nights, which is often costlier than hiring a car from Bhuj and doing a day-trip to Dholavira from Bhuj!

DHOLAVIRA TICKETS
Dholavira Site Museum Entry ticket: Rs.5/- 
Can be bought online on ASI's official website via ASI - PayUMoney app.
Choose Vadodara and choose Archaeological Site Museum, Dholavira. Choose the date and proceed to give your ID details and pay. Tickets can also be bought at the gate.
Since July 2021, after Dholavira has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I expect the prices to go up, similar to the rest of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India - Rs.35/- for Indians & SAARC Nationals; Rs.550/- for foreigners. This is my assumption, let's see if it happens!

Dholavira a Harappan City UNESCO World heritage Sites Gujarat India

Dholavira a Harappan City UNESCO World heritage Sites Gujarat India

Dholavira a Harappan City UNESCO World heritage Sites Gujarat India
A stone embedded with shells and a multicolored stone!

View of BSF post & Pakistan from Dholavira
View of BSF post from Dholavira. Beyond that is Pakistan border.

Green bee eaters in Dholavira birding bird watching
Green bee-eaters

View of white sands of rann of kutch kachhch from Dholavira
View of the white sands of Rann of Kachchh (Kutch)

DHOLAVIRA HOTELS - Updated in July 2021
Dholavira Tourism Resort is located a stone's throw away from the archaeological site of Dholavira within Khadir Bet. These are traditional Bhungas (circular houses with thatched roofs) but with all modern amenities inside. There are also some Swiss Cottages as well. The prices are the same the allocation depends on availability. There are, '1 night 2 days' and '2 nights 3 days' all-inclusive packages from lunch on the first day to breakfast on the last day, including a trip to Rann of Kutch, last BSF post, handicrafts shopping etc.
Cost of 1 night 2 days package at Dholavira Tourism resort - Rs.6500/- for 2 adults
Cost of 2 nights 3 days package at Dholavira Tourism resort - Rs.12000/- for 2 adults

Toran (TCGL) Guest Houses are available at Dholavira itself. Update 2021 - This has now been permanently closed and replaced with Dholavira Tourism Resort mentioned above. They are the traditional Gujarati Bhunga Houses, and only 10 are available. They are very good, for that locality, in the middle of nothing, with Air Conditioning and Geyser facility. Food is also prepared according to requirements. So definitely prior booking is very necessary. Few similar Guest Houses of the Forest department are also available, in which case also prior booking is necessary.

PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO NEAR DHOLAVIRA

MY 1 WEEK GUJARAT ITINERARY - GUJARAT TRAVELOGUE

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co...

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

20 comments:

  1. hey great information. Actually i had visited this site in 2003 when i was in 8 std. It was a great experience we had travelled all the way from bhuj via rappar and journey was approximately 250 km. Then there was no facility to stay there. Good to know after 11 years we have such facilities so i may visit again. Thanks to you and gujarat government for their development and network connectivity and making facility to stay.

    saurabhthuse@ymail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do visit again. You'll have some nostalgic beautiful memories!!! :)

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  2. Nice post.... I have not been to this part of our country. would love to go......

    Thanks for sharing the details, Bhusha......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Venkat!
      Do visit these places. You'll love them too!!! :)

      Delete
  3. Interesting information. Thanks for sharing this.

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  4. Wonderfully informative post of ancient civilization.

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  5. Replies
    1. Me too waiting for your version of travelogue!

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  6. wow - so much history!! when did you go? Next time you travel please call me too

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    Replies
    1. Went in Jan. Definitely, will let you know next time!

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  7. Rann of Kutchh, Gujarat is surely one of the places I wish to visit. You have shared some impeccable pictures out here. Civilizations like he Harappan civilization have always revealed to the world the progress of man even in ancient times.

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  8. Dear Bhushavali

    I am planning to visit Dholavira in the second week of January 2015, and want to stay there for one night. Can you advise on this ? also can you please share contact details of toran guest house manager ? any details about the forest department guest house ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right now I do not have the details. Will try to find & update.

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  9. next fortnight i am planning to visit from ahmedabad to Dholavira. i read on web that road from radhanpur to balasar is not existing or under construction or not in good condition. please confirm i can go on this route by my own car.Regards and lots of love

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    Replies
    1. The road is not great and you can't compare it with city roads and has a lot of potholes. But you can take your car!

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