Dholavira now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Published : July 28, 2021 19:35 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to share the news, sharing the above picture of Dholavira.

Dholavira, a Harappan-era archaeological site in Kutch, Gujarat, was on July 27 inscribed on the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) list of World Heritage Sites. This would be the fourth site in Gujarat, the 40th in India and the first Indus Valley Civilization-excavated site to earn the prestigious status.  

An official release from UNESCO describes Dholavira as an ancient city that is one of the most remarkable and well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia, dating from the third to mid-second millennium BC. “Discovered in 1968, Dholavira is set apart by its unique characteristics, such as its water management system, multi-layered defensive mechanisms, extensive use of stone in construction and special burial structures.  Of note is also the art associated with the city – artefacts of various kinds such as copper, shell, stone, jewellery of semi-precious stones, terracotta, gold, ivory have been found at the site. In addition, the inter-regional trade links associated with Dholavira, have also been acknowledged as contributing to the shared heritage of humanity,” the release added. 

The World Heritage Site official description says that Dholavira, located in the arid island of Khadir in Gujarat, is considered the southern centre of the Harappan Civilization. Occupied between 3000-1500 BC, the archaeological site comprises a fortified city and a cemetery. Two seasonal streams provided water, a scarce resource in the region even then, to the walled city which comprises a heavily-fortified castle and ceremonial ground as well as streets and houses of different proportions and quality indicating a stratified social order. The site includes a large cemetery with cenotaphs (monuments for those buried elsewhere) of six types testifying to the Harappan’s unique view of death.  

In the Kutch region, Dholavira is known as Kotda Timba (the fort mound), as per the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The expansive site was discovered by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi, who later served as the ASI director from 1987 to 1990. Excavation and conservation work on Dholavira has been ongoing. The move to procure the World Heritage Site tag was initiated by the local administration a few years ago.  

Dholavira qualified for the inclusion at the 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held at Fuzhou in China. A few days prior to the announcement, the Kakatiya Rudreshwara temple in Telangana, popularly called the Ramappa Temple, was included on the list. 

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