Stories of Indus Valley Civilization would often transport me beyond the classroom during my student days. I would conjure up imaginary stories of love and life while my teacher’s voice would apply intermittent brakes on my flight of fancy. The truth is, I went through a roller coaster love story with History which evolved from attraction, loathing, regard, to love and respect. Dholavira in Gujarat is the last of the Indus Valley Sites to be excavated and discovered (Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Kalibangan, Lothal, Rupnagar, Ganeriwala, Rakhigarhi). Apart from the white desert, the colour of the handicrafts, Dholavira remains one of the prime reasons for my trip to Kutch.
Dholavira is in the North Western Part of Gujarat bordering the Rann. Infact, the pristine white colour of the Rann can be see around Dholavira but being a border sensitive area the security forces do not allow tourists to amble around the Rann in that region. We set out from Little Rann of Kutch in Dasada early in the morning with packed lunch to cover the nearly 300 kms distance before lunch. With all the resolve to remain focused on reaching Dholavira on time, we were pleasantly dissuaded by the changing landscape from green to yellow to pristine white with species of migratory birds for company all the while. After a few missed signs, some narrow turns which barely accommodated cars, we finally reached the ancient site of Dholavira.
There is a museum and office of Archaeological Survey of India on to the right of the entrance. While there are no organized guided tours, you can avail the services of the guides from the office who will take you around and explain everything in great detail. It was blazing hot when we arrived though it was December. As we walked towards the excavated structures, the signs said it all. The existence of more than 16 reservoirs, the numerous wells, the interconnected channels for water flow clearly demonstrated the sophisticated and scientific water management system that existed back then. After 5000 years, we in India are still waking up to Rain Water Harvesting, linking of water bodies for drought prevention when we had actually mastered that several thousand years ago. I stood there and wondered whether every civilization, every era discovers themselves in their own way and somethings get re-invented all over again only to be lost into oblivion.
I climbed up the citadel to get a bird’s eye view of the Rann and then went past it towards the right to step into a large area with traces of green grass. It happened to be the stadium in ancient days with walls of multi coloured stones ranging from yellow to dark brown. There were a few souls around whose footsteps could be heard at a distance but the lonely bird lended august company while I got busy shooting the beauty from every angle. I sought out a shaded patch to rest my legs. The mute stones around held stories of love and longing close to their bosom, only if they could speak, 5000 years would have melted in a moment.
The collection in the museum is pretty impressive specially the beaded jewelry which is hands down competition for modern designers. The terracotta vases, utensils, vessels appear to be quite contemporary. The most interesting find is the signboard comprising 10 letters which is yet to deciphered but scholars suggest that it indicates full literacy during those times. After 3 hours, it was time to bid goodbye to Dholavira site and a quick meal in Toran Resort run by the government. Incidentally, Toran Resort is the only place for food and stay in the area.
Travel Tip: Dholavira can be reached from Bhuj as a day trip but it is nearly 5 hours drive on each side. We stayed over at Gandhinagar for the night since it was getting too late to reach Bhuj. Finally, Dholavira is not for the casual tourist and will only appeal to the senses of the historically inclined.