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1. Heaven Of Kutch Khavda To Dholavita Road

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"Kotada Timba - Ruins of Indus Valley Civilisation"

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Known as a remarkable excavation site during the Indus Valley Civilization, Dholavira was one of the most developed cities roughly 4500 years ago. It was a flourishing Harappan site between 2650 and 1450 BCE.  Presently an archaeological site in Khadirbet of Kutch Gujarat, the village is also locally known as Kotada Timba. The location not only holds evident pieces of architecture but also of the Harappan lifestyle. Divided into three main architectural layouts, the town also had a vast open stadium. Many remains such as earthen pots, beads, jewellery and other materials were excavated as well. The town of Dholavira had an exceptional water conservation system. Two of its most important water channels were the Mansar and the Manhar. 

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  • Description

The ancient city of Dholavira, the southern centre of the Harappan Civilization, is sited on the arid island of Khadir in the State of Gujarat. Occupied between ca. 3000-1500 BCE, the archaeological site, one of the best preserved urban settlements from the period in Southeast Asia, comprises a fortified city and a cemetery. Two seasonal streams provided water, a scarce resource in the region, to the walled city which comprises a heavily fortified castle and ceremonial ground as well as streets and houses of different proportion quality which testify to a stratified social order. A sophisticated water management system demonstrates the ingenuity of the Dholavira people in their struggle to survive and thrive in a harsh environment. The site includes a large cemetery with cenotaphs of six types testifying to the Harappan’s unique view of death. Bead processing workshops and artifacts of various kinds such as copper, shell, stone, jewellery of semi-precious stones, terracotta, gold, ivory and other materials have been found during archaeological excavations of the site, exhibiting the culture’s artistic and technological achievements. Evidence for inter-regional trade with other Harappan cities, as well as with cities in the Mesopotamia region and the Oman peninsula have also been discovered. 

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Dholavira : une cité harappéenne

L’ancienne cité de Dholavira, le centre méridional de la civilisation harappéenne, est située sur l’île aride de Khadir dans l’État du Gujarat. Occupé entre 3000 et 1500 AEC environ, ce site archéologique, l’un des établissements urbains de cette période les mieux conservés en Asie du Sud-Est, comprend une cité fortifiée et un cimetière. Stratégiquement située entre deux ruisseaux saisonniers pour en capter l’eau rare, la cité fortifiée comprend un château entouré de puissantes fortifications, le centre cérémoniel, ainsi que des rues et des maisons de tailles différentes qui dépeignent un ordre social hiérarchisé. Un système élaboré de gestion de l’eau témoigne de l’ingéniosité et de la lutte des habitants de Dholavira pour survivre et prospérer dans des conditions difficiles. Le site comprend un grand cimetière avec des cénotaphes de six types qui témoignent de la vision unique qu’avaient les Harappéens de la mort. Des ateliers travaillant la perle et des artefacts en divers matériaux tels que le cuivre, les coquillages, les pierres, les bijoux en pierres semi-précieuses, la terre cuite, l’or et l’ivoire, entre autres, ont été mis au jour lors de fouilles archéologiques du site, témoignant des réalisations artistiques et technologiques propres à cette culture. Des traces d’échanges commerciaux avec d’autres villes harappéennes ainsi que des villes de la région mésopotamienne et de la péninsule d’Oman ont également été découvertes.

دولافيرا: مدينة من حضارة وادي السند

تمثل مدينة دولافيرا القديمة المركز الجنوبي لحضارة وادي السند، وتقع في جزيرة "خادير" القاحلة الكائنة في ولاية "غوجارات". وقد كان هذا الموقع الأثري مأهولاً خلال الفترة التي امتدت من عام 3000 قبل الميلاد حتى عام 1500 قبل الميلاد، وهو واحد من أكثر المستوطنات الحضرية التي بقيت محفوظة خلال هذه الحقبة في جنوب شرق آسيا، وهو يتضمن مدينة مسوَّرة ومقبرة. وكانت المدينة المسوَّرة تحصل على المياه من جدولَين موسميَين، فمياه المنطقة شحيحة، وهي تضمُّ قلعة شديدة التحصين وأرضاً لإقامة المراسم، وتحوي بين جنباتها شوارع ومنازل متباينة في جودتها، لتشهد على وجود المجتمع الطبقي. ويدل النظام المعقد لإدارة المياه على براعة سكان دولافيرا في كفاحهم للبقاء على قيد الحياة والازدهار في وسط بيئة قاسية. ويوجد في الموقع مقبرة كبيرة فيها أنصاب تذكارية من ستة أنماط تشهد على النظرة الفريدة لحضارة وادي السند إلى الموت. وقد وجدت التنقيبات الأثرية التي أجريت في الموقع ورشات لشغل الخرز والمشغولات الحرفية المتنوعة مثل النحاس والصدف والحجر والحلي والأحجار شبه الكريمة وطين الآجر والذهب والعاج وغيرها من المواد، وتشهد هذه الاكتشافات على الإنجازات الفنية والتقنية لهذه الثقافة. وكذلك اكتشفت أدلة على وجود تبادل تجاري في المنطقة مع مدن أخرى تنتمي إلى حضارة وادي السند، ومع مدن في بلاد الرافدين وفي شبه جزيرة عُمان.

source: UNESCO/CPE Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

多拉维拉:哈拉帕文明古城

多拉维拉古城是哈拉帕文明的南部中心,位于古吉拉特邦干旱的卡迪尔岛上。该考古遗址在大约公元前3000-1500年间为人类定居点,由一座设防的城市和一片墓地组成,是这一时期保存最完好的东南亚城镇定居点之一。两条季节性溪流为这座带有城墙保护的古城提供了该地区稀缺的水资源。古城包括戒备森严的城堡、仪式场地,以及不同级别的街道和房屋,呈现出等级分明的社会秩序。复杂的用水管理系统展示了多拉维拉人在恶劣环境中生存和发展的聪明才智。该遗址还包括一个大型墓地,6种类型的墓碑诠释了哈拉帕文明对死亡的独特见解。考古工作者发掘出珠子加工作坊及由铜、贝壳、石头、半宝石首饰、陶土、黄金、象牙等材料制成的各种文物,展示了该文明的艺术和技艺成就。他们还发现了此地与其他哈拉帕文明城市以及美索不达米亚地区、阿曼半岛的城市进行区域间贸易的证据。

Dholavira: una ciudad harapea

La antigua ciudad de Dholavira, centro meridional de la civilización harapea, está situada en la árida isla de Khadir, en el estado de Gujarat. El yacimiento arqueológico, ocupado entre los años 3000 y 1500 a.C., es uno de los asentamientos urbanos mejor conservados de la época en el sudeste asiático y comprende una ciudad fortificada y un cementerio. Dos ríos estacionales suministraban agua, un recurso escaso en la región, a la ciudad amurallada, que comprende un castillo altamente fortificado y un recinto ceremonial, así como calles y casas de diferentes proporciones que atestiguan un orden social estratificado. Un sofisticado sistema de administración del agua demuestra el ingenio de los habitantes de Dholavira en su lucha por sobrevivir y prosperar en un medio ambiente duro. El yacimiento incluye un gran cementerio con cenotafios de seis tipos que atestiguan la visión única de los harapeos sobre la muerte. En las excavaciones arqueológicas del yacimiento se han encontrado talleres de procesamiento de cuentas y artefactos de diversos tipos –como cobre, concha, piedra, joyas de piedras semipreciosas, terracota, oro, marfil y otros materiales– que muestran los logros artísticos y tecnológicos de la cultura local. También se han descubierto pruebas de comercio interregional con otras ciudades harapeas, así como con ciudades de la región de Mesopotamia y de la península de Omán.

धोलावीरा: एक हड़प्पा शहर

प्राचीन धौलावीरा शहर , हड़प्पा सभ्यता का दक्षिणी केंद्र , गुजरात राज्य में खादिर के शुष्क द्वीप पर स्थित है। यह सीए 3000-1500 ईसा पूर्व के बीच बसा , एक पुरातात्विक स्थल है जो दक्षिण पूर्व एशिया के समय से सुसंरक्षित शहरी बस्तियों में से एक , इसमें एक किलानुमा शहर और एक कब्रिस्तान शामिल है। इसे दो मौसमी जलधाराओं ने जलप्रदान किया , यह इस क्षेत्र में एक दुर्लभ संसाधन है , इस दीवार से घिरे शहर में एक भारी किलानुमा महल और औपचारिक मैदान के साथ - साथ रास्तों और विभिन्न अनुपात में गुणवत्तायुक् ‍ त घर शामिल हैं जो एक स्तरीय सामाजिक व्यवस्था की गवाही देते हैं। एक परिष्कृत जल प्रबंधन प्रणाली धोलावीरा लोगों के कठिन वातावरण में जीवित रहने और पनपने के संघर्ष में उनकी चतुरता को प्रदर्शित करती है। इस स् ‍ थान में एक बड़ा कब्रिस्तान है जिसमें छह प्रकार के स् ‍ मारक हैं जो हड़प्पाकालीन मृत्यु के अनूठे दृष्टिकोण को दर्शातें हैं। इस स् ‍ थल की पुरातात्विक खुदाई के दौरान मोती बनाने के वर्कशॉप और विभिन्न प्रकार की कलाकृतियाँ जैसे तांबा , खोल , रत्न , कम - कीमती रत्नों के आभूषण , टेराकोटा , सोना , हाथी दांत और अन्य सामग्री संस्कृति की कलात्मक और तकनीकी उपलब्धियों को प्रदर्शित करती हैं। अन्य हड़प्पा शहरों के साथ - साथ मेसोपोटामिया क्षेत्र और ओमान प्रायद्वीपीय शहरों के साथ अंतर - क्षेत्रीय व्यापार के साक्ष्य भी खोजे गए हैं।

Source: India

place to visit at dholavira

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Dholavira: a Harappan city, is one of the very few well preserved urban settlements in South Asia dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE. Being the 6th largest of more than 1,000 Harappan sites discovered so far, and occupied for over 1,500 years, Dholavira not only witnesses the entire trajectory of the rise and fall of this early civilization of humankind, but also demonstrates its multifaceted achievements in terms of urban planning, construction techniques, water management, social governance and development, art, manufacturing, trading, and belief system. With extremely rich artefacts, the well-preserved urban settlement of Dholavira depicts a vivid picture of a regional centre with its distinct characteristics, that also contributes significantly to the existing knowledge of Harappan Civilization as a whole.  

The property comprises two parts: a walled city and a cemetery to the west of the city. The walled city consists of a fortified Castle with attached fortified Bailey and Ceremonial Ground, and a fortified Middle Town and a Lower Town. A series of reservoirs are found to the east and south of the Citadel. The great majority of the burials in the Cemetery are memorial in nature.

The configuration of the city of Dholavira, during its heyday, is an outstanding example of planned city with planned and segregated urban residential areas based on possibly differential occupational activities, and a stratified society. Technological advancements in water harnessing systems, water drainage systems as well architecturally and technologically developed features are reflected in the design, execution, and effective harnessing of local materials. Unlike other Harappan antecedent towns normally located near to rivers and perennial sources of water, the location of Dholavira in the island of Khadir was strategic to harness different mineral and raw material sources (copper, shell, agate-carnelian, steatite, lead, banded limestone, among others) and to facilitate internal as well as external trade to the Magan (modern Oman peninsula) and Mesopotamian regions.

Criterion (iii) : Dholavira is an exceptional example of a proto-historic Bronze Age urban settlement pertaining to the Harappan C ivilization (early, mature and late Harappan phases) and bears evidence of a multi-cultural and stratified society during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE. The earliest evidence can be traced back to 3000 BCE during the early Harappan phase of the Harappan C ivilization. This city flourished for nearly 1,500 years, representing a long continuous habitation. The excavated remains clearly indicate the origin of the settlement, its growth, zenith and the subsequent decline in the form of continuous changes in the configuration of the city, architectural elements and various other attributes.

Criterion (iv) : Dholavira is an outstanding example of H arappan urban planning, with its preconceived city planning, multi-layered fortifications, sophisticated water reservoirs and drainage system, and the extensive use of stone as a building material. These characteristics reflect the unique position Dholavira held in the entire gamut of Harappan Civilization.

The ancient Harappan city of Dholavira was discovered in 1968 and excavated for 13 field seasons between 1989 and 2005. The unearthed excavations were simultaneously preserved and conserved, and display all physical attributes contributing to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, that is to say the proto-historic systems of urban planning, water management systems, architectural elements and design, traditional knowledge of art and technology preserved in situ. All the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value of the property are located in the property area. Physical evidence of the entire 1,500 years of inhabitation are spanning from pre-Harappan to post-Harappan stages. The excavated remains at Dholavira, to a large extent, illustrate attributes associated with industrial activities (e.g. bead manufacturing) and are indicative of the sophisticated life and exploitation of natural resources for nearly 1,500 years, trade, interregional relations and exchanges, the physical manifestations of these are largely found in situ. Conservation measures and consolidation of few areas have been carried out to prevent deterioration and have also been stabilized for ensuring preservation of its physical attributes. Guidelines for development and conservation need should be developed in the extended buffer zone.

Authenticity

The archaeological remains of the city of Dholavira include fortifications, gateways, water reservoirs, ceremonial ground, residential units, workshop areas, and cemetery complex, all clearly representing the Harappan culture and its various manifestations. The urban planning is evident from the in situ remains of the city that demonstrate systematic planning. The authenticity of the archaeological site is preserved through minimum interventions and scientific conservation principles and methods and in maintaining the exposed structures in their original configurations and in situ conditions and no additions or alterations have been made to the structural remains.

The excavated remains bear testimony to the style of construction, contextual evidence for architectural elements, and layout of a bead manufacturing workshop, that have been retained in situ to preserve their authenticity. The evidence of the configuration of the city, which has been well documented and preserved during excavation works, also bears testimony of the extensive planning, understanding of ratios and proportions and principles, alignment of the entire city in relation to cardinal directions, water harvesting, storm water drains, craftsmanship. These features are preserved extensively due to their construction in stone masonry with mud brick cores, and architectural features are in a good state of conservation.

Protection and management requirements

The archaeological site of Dholavira is protected and managed by the Archaeological Survey of India, an attached office and organization under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The property is protected by national level laws that is to say the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 (AMASR), amended therein in 2010; Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules of 1959; Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules of 2011 and The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act 1972 and Rules 1973. Decisions pertaining to its conservation, maintenance and management are governed by the National Conservation Policy for Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Remains 2014. Being designated as an “ancient monument” of national importance, the ancient site of Dholavira is protected by a Prohibited Area measuring 100 meters in all directions from the limits of the protected monument, and further beyond it, a Regulated Area of 200 meters in all directions, from the limits of the Prohibited Area. All activities in the areas adjacent to the ancient site of Dholavira remain subject to prohibition and regulation in the respect prohibited and regulated areas as per provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules 2011. The buffer zone covers the entire west strip of the Khadir Island, which ensures the protection of the wider setting of the property. The buffer zone , of which parts cover thee Prohibited and Regulated Areas, overlaps with Kachchh (Kutch) Desert Wildlife Sanctuary which is protected by Forest Act (Wildlife Protection Act 1972). The Government of India is in the process of listing the ancient quarry sites in the buffer zone as of national importance.

The property area and buffer zone are managed by the Regional Apex Committee and Local Level Committee, with major stakeholders as the member. This participatory mechanism ensures the dialogue among different interest groups. The Site Management Plan has been approved and implemented by the Archaeological Survey of India.

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Meander Wander

A Complete Guide to Dholavira: UNESCO World Heritage Site in India

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Are you planning to visit Dholavira? If yes, then you have come to the right place!

In July 2021, the Dholavira site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It is the 4 th site to be included from Gujarat and the 40 th site from India.

Since I had always wanted to visit this place in Gujarat, I could not say no when Gujarat Tourism asked me to join the trip to this ancient site.

I did a lot of research before visiting the place and have prepared this guide for you. So, if you are a history buff who wishes to visit this site or are just generally fascinated with it, then here is everything you need to know.

About Dholavira

Entry to Citadel

Dholavira was one of the most advanced societies five thousand years ago during the Indus Valley Civilization.

This place witnessed the Harappans settling in 2650 BCE and it continued to flourish for the next 1200 years or so. It was during 1450 BCE that the place saw a serious decline due to several natural causes.

It was also an important trade link between Gujarat, Sindh, Punjab, and Western Asian regions at that time.

This 250-acre ancient land became popular among archaeologists in 1989. A total of 13 extensive excavations have been carried out here between 1990 and 2005.

Dholavira Excavation Site

Over the years, many Indus Valley Civilization sites have been discovered. Out of these, Mohen-jo-Daro, Harappa, and Ganweriwala in Pakistan, and Rakhigarhi in India were the most prominent. Dholavira is the 5 th largest site of the Indus Valley Civilization.

There is another IVC excavation site in Gujarat named Lothal that has been deeply researched and is comparatively easier to reach. But Dholavira is famous for being the earliest planned water conservation system in the world.

The excavation of this site was managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. It took place under the supervision of Ravindra Singh Bisht.

At the excavation site, one can notice a fortified citadel, a middle town, and a lower town. The walls of the site were made of sandstone or limestone which was different from the mud bricks used in other Harappan sites.

At the other Harappan sites, one could find remains of humans in the graves but that has not been the case with this IVC metropolis. There are many memorials with no bones but precious stones, establishing that the Harappan civilization was quite well-established as well.

One of the most interesting things about the Dholavira excavation site is that it has been free from encroachment since the excavation began. This is why it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in India. It is a well-preserved settlement that dates back to the 2 nd millennium BCE.

Where is Dholavira Located?

Ruins of Harappan Site

Are you wondering where Dholavira is located in Gujarat?

It is located on the island of Khadir Bet which is surrounded by the salt marsh of Rann of Kutch. The IVC metropolis is situated on a hillock near the Dholavira village, locally known as Kotada Timba.

This site was discovered by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi in 1968. However the major excavation process took place between 1990 and 2005 under Bisht’s supervision. He uncovered this ancient city which was a manufacturing and commercial hub before 1500 BCE for hundreds of years.

Rise and Fall of Dholavira

Bi-concave Pillars on Excavation Site

As mentioned earlier, Dholavira is one of the two largest IVC sites in India and the 5 th largest in Asia. Similar to the other Harappan site, Lothal, archaeologists found that this city also passed through all the stages of Harappan culture.

From the excavations, copper smelter remains were found which shows that the Harappans living in Dholavira knew metallurgy. According to the archaeologists, Dholavira traders used to get copper ore from present-day Rajasthan, Oman, and UAE and then export the finished goods.

It is also believed to be a hub of manufacturing jewelry from shells and semi-precious stones such as agate. These beads relating to Harappan workmanship were found in the royal graves in Mesopotamia. This indicates that the two used to trade in the early years.

The decline of Harappan culture also coincides with the downfall of Mesopotamia, proving their interdependency. Since the Harappans were maritime people, they lost a huge market. This, in turn, affected the local mining, manufacturing, marketing, export, etc. after Mesopotamia fell.

During the excavation, it was found that IVC declined between the 5 th and the 7 th stages.  From 2000 BC, this village experienced severe aridity due to climate change and the drying up of the Saraswati River. This led to Harappans leaving the city and settling near the Ganges plain in Gujarat, Rajasthan, etc.

In the late Harappan stage, the settlers returned. Influenced by the culture of Gujarat, South Rajasthan, and Sindh, they returned to the site but with none of their technology. The new houses were built in the form of bhungas and used simplified signs. The end of the Harappan civilization was near.

History of Dholavira Excavations

Pottery Remains

Harappan ruins have existed at the Dholavira site since 3000 BCE. Since this hillock was mostly uninhabited and mainly used for animal grazing or farming, it took some time to discover the ruins.

During one of the tilling sessions in 1968, pottery remains were uncovered. Archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi, who was working at a nearby site, was informed. This led to a detailed inspection and after radiocarbon dating, it was found that the remains belonged to the Harappan civilization.

Still, it took some more years of tests and carbon dating for Dholavira to become famous among the archaeologists. Since the nearest village to the site was Dholavira, it became the Dholavira Harappan Site.

ASI began systematic excavations in 1990 which continued till 2005. Several broken and worn-out artifacts were found such as beads, terracotta pottery, gold ornaments, animal figurines, copper tools, urns, and more.

The excavation shows the 7 stages of Harappan civilization. One can learn about this IVC metropolis from development to its peak to decline.

In the excavations, 10 large stone inscriptions were found near the Ceremonial Ground. They have been assumed to be letters of Harappan script indicating it is a signboard but hasn’t been deciphered yet.

Highlights of Dholavira Site

Circular Houses in Dholavira

The remains of Dholavira indicate a citadel in the center, a middle town, and a lower town. Both the towns have been fortified separately using sun-dried brick and stone masonry that lends it a smooth feel.

The lanes have been systematically designed to lead out of the citadel with an underground sewage system for good sanitation. You will also find the remains of a large stadium featuring a complex structure and seating arrangement.

The houses of the Harappans found here were round in shape, designed to minimize the damage caused from an earthquake. The excavation has currently only uncovered the top layer, four more layers are still hidden beneath the surface.

Dholavira is famous for its world-class water conservatory systems. The northern Mansar and the southern Manhar were the two main canals in the city. The excavation unearthed 16 unwithered reservoirs and a five-thousand-year-old tank.

The city also had an excellent sewage line which was six feet high. As said before, Dholavira is famous for being the world’s earliest water conservation system and is the earliest one to ever be excavated.

Their amazingly built reservoirs, check dams, small baths, and sewage systems are proof of their well-managed conservation of water. It would have been difficult to live in the desert without these innovations.

Here are a few prominent features of the Dholavira excavation site that you will notice on your guided tour:

Castle and Bailey  – Both these structures together form the citadel. Beyond the citadel, you will see the Middle Town, the Lower Town with several residential blocks, the wall, and finally the cemetery. This site is rectangular in shape and covers an area of 54 acres.

Ceremonial Ground  – This is the stadium in Middle Town which has been partially excavated till now. One can notice the stadium with a seating arrangement and a complex structure. It is believed that this arena was used for sports and games conducted on a large scale.

Check Dams  – As said earlier, Manhar and Mansar were the two main canals in the city. There were several check dams built across these streams to divert water into the 16 reservoirs.

East Reservoir  – Out of the 16 reservoirs, the east reservoir is the largest and the best-furnished one. You will notice 30 steps at the three corners of the reservoir.

Excavations found evidence of rituals being performed here. There were several broken figurines, unicorn figurines, and more found here. Archaeologists believe that this was an important reservoir for the Harappans.

Tickets and Tips for Visiting the Dholavira Site

Dholavira Site Ruins

The ticket to the Dholavira excavation site and the Archaeological Museum costs 5 INR for the tourists. It is open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM (closed on Friday).

Tips for Visiting Excavation Site

  • Please pack sunscreen and wear a hat to protect yourself from the harsh sunlight during the day.
  • Carry sufficient water as it can easily take 2-3 hours to take a tour of the excavation site.
  • Hire a local guide who can tell you about the excavation site and the history of this place better.
  • You will find many informational boards at the site, make sure to read them to get more information about a structure.

How to Reach Dholavira

Are you confused about how to reach the Dholavira Harappan site? Don’t worry, we have you covered.

Although this is an ancient site, it is well-connected by roadways. It is 360 km from Ahmedabad and 212 km from Bhuj, the two major cities to reach in Gujarat.

Take a look below to learn how you can reach this Indus Valley civilization site.

There are no direct flights to Dholavira. The closest airport to this village is the Bhuj airport which is around 220 km away. However, there are not a lot of direct flights to Bhuj airport as well.

So, if you are traveling, then you would need to take a flight to Ahmedabad and then a taxi or bus to Dholavira.

The nearest major railway station to this Harappan site is Bhuj Railway Station. From Bhuj, you can take a taxi to reach Dholavira village. You can also take a public bus to Rapar and then another bus to the village.

Another option is to take a train to Bhachau or Samkhiala Junction which is closer to Rapar. From these stations, you can get a bus to Rapar and then a bus to reach Dholavira.

One of the most convenient ways to reach this Indus Valley civilization site is by road. You can hire a cab from Bhuj/Ahmedabad but it can be a long drive.

There is also an option of taking a bus from Bhuj to Rapar, the closest major town to Dholavira, which takes around 5 hours. From here, you can take a public or private bus to Dholavira which takes 3 hours to reach.

Dhordo to Dholavira

Recently, a new road has been built for the G20 Summit that connects Dhordo to Dholavira. As a result, the travel time between the two places has reduced tremendously.

You can reach Dholavira from Dhordo Village within 2 hours and even cross the gorgeous ‘Road to Heaven’ on the way.

Where to Stay

Dholavira Tourism Resort

In terms of stay, there aren’t a lot of options available near this UNESCO World Heritage site. It is not a developed village so, there are only a couple of hotels and homestays.

Dholavira Tourism Resort (Hotel Rann of Kutch) – Dholavira Tourism Resort is a resort run by Gujarat Tourism. I stayed here for two nights during my visit to this major archaeological site. It is a budget-friendly place and offers all the basic amenities and services to visitors.

You need prior bookings for this resort and will also have to be informed about food beforehand.

Rann Resort – If you are looking for a luxury stay, then this is the place for you. It is located around 5 km from the IVC Metropolis site and is a 10-minute drive to the excavation site.  

Best Time to Visit Dholavira

Wondering when should you visit the Dholavira site?

Well, the winter season is the best time to visit Dholavira but you can plan a visit in other months as well. Read on to know what you can expect in each season here.

Summer Season (April – June)

Summer is the worst time to visit this Harappan site. Since Dholavira is in an arid region, it experiences an extremely hot climate in the summer.

The temperature can be as high as 45 degrees Celsius during the daytime, making it unbearable to enjoy the visit.

Monsoon Season (July – September)

While this is not a bad time to visit the Dholavira site, it is not the best time too. However, the weather is slightly pleasant with cool breezes blowing through in the morning and evening.

If you are a budget traveler, then this is a good time to travel. Since it is the off-season, you can get amazing deals and discounts on hotels and flights.

Winter Season

Winter is the ideal time to visit this ancient site as the climate is cool and pleasant throughout the day. From October, the place turns beautiful and colorful and sees a lot of tourists.

The temperature remains between 19 – 36 degrees Celsius at this time which is slightly more bearable than the summer months.

Nearby Attractions to Visit

One of the best things about this excavation site is that there are several other things to do in Dholavira too. That’s not all, you can plan to cover several nearby places on your trip here.

Great Rann of Kutch

Rann of Kutch

Visit Rann of Kutch, a massive expanse of salt marsh that seems endless. There are small puddles of water with shrubs that house pink flamingos and wild assess.

It lies on the border between India and Pakistan and is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. Apart from the stunning sights, you will also find beautiful handicrafts here. This includes Kutchi embroidery, Rogan paintings, leatherwork, and bell metal craft.

If you decide to visit in October – February, you can even attend the Rann Utsav festival here. Immerse yourself in the cultural performances, shop for local handicrafts, and enjoy delicious Gujarati Thali at this annual festival.

Road to Heaven

road during sunrise great rann of kutch

If you are taking the Dhordo to Dholavira route, then you will come across a beautiful location on the way – Road to Heaven.

This road was constructed for the G20 Summit and connects Dhordo to the Dholavira UNESCO Heritage Site.

You will see the road expanse into the distance while being surrounded by salt water on both sides. Trust me, you should plan to visit this place during sunset or sunrise for a truly heavenly experience.

You can also see beautiful Flamingos here during the season and can even take amazing photographs of them while visiting.

Bhuj

The capital of Kutch district, Bhuj is another great place to visit on your trip to Dholavira. There are many beautiful architectural buildings to enjoy here. You can visit the former residence of royals – Rani Mahal or the palace of mirrors known as Aina Mahal.

Apart from the beautiful architecture, the city boasts many stunning temples as well. Bhujia Hilltop is a great place for watching sunsets and enjoying a panoramic view of the city.

Rani Ki Vav Patan

Home to one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, Patan is another great city to visit in Gujarat. It is a historical city that was located on the banks of the extinct Saraswati River.

The city was the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty and is primarily famous for two things – Rani Ka Vav and Patola Sari.

One can visit Rani Ka Vav, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is the oldest stepwell in Gujarat. This stepwell has a unique and stunning structure featuring many intricate sculptures and idols.

Another specialty of Patan is the Patola sari, a fine hand-woven sari with intricate patterns. It takes around 4-6 months to make a sari, depending on the complexity of the design. These saris are expensive and upwards of 20,000 INR.

Sun Temple Modhera

Modhera is another historical city to visit in Gujarat that is popular due to the revered Sun Temple from the Chalukya Dynasty.

It is said that Lord Ram performed a yagna here after killing Ravana to cleanse his sin. People believe that he built Modherak which came to be known as Modhera.

Sun Temple is a popular attraction in Modhera that is dedicated to the sun god, Surya. The temple is on the banks of the Pushpavati River and was built under the Chalukya dynasty.

Featuring beautiful architecture and intricate sculptures, this is a popular site among history buffs and archaeologists.

Other Harappan Sites to Visit in Gujarat

Before Dholavira’s excavation, Lothal was the major Indus Valley Civilization site in Gujarat. It is located on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Saragwala village.

This site was excavated between 1955 and 1960. It was found to be an important port city of IVC, featuring structures made of mud bricks. During the excavations, 21 human skeletons were discovered from a Lothal graveyard

Several ornaments were also found which were made from semi-precious stones, gold, and more. Apart from Lothal, Rangpur is the first Harappan site to be excavated in Gujarat.

Over the years, many other Harappan sites have been uncovered in Gujarat. This includes Rojdi in Rajkot, Lakhabaval in Jamnagar, Prabhas in Gir Somnath, and Deshalpar in Bhuj.

I loved visiting this amazing Harappan site and have wanted to visit it for a few years now. It was quite fascinating to learn about the history of this place and how they have been piecing it all together over the years.

This is the largest Harappan site in India that tells the story of ancient Indus Valley civilization and is a treat for all history and archaeology buffs.

If you have always wanted to visit this place too, then this is the perfect time to go!

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Hello, Rachita. Love this wonderful and informative article about a complete guide to Dholavira. This is the need of today’s time. Thank you for sharing this article.

Thank you so much Aman 🙂

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Journey through Time: The Complete Dholavira Tourist Guide

Step into the intriguing world of Dholavira, an archaeological treasure trove that whispers the secrets of the past. But where does one find this enigmatic site? Nestled amidst the arid expanse of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, India, Dholavira awaits, ready to unveil its mysteries and the grandeur of the ancient Harappan civilization.

As we delve into this Dholavira tourism guide, we invite you to join us on a virtual journey to explore the wonders of this ancient civilization. You will discover fascinating insights into the history of Dholavira. We will also provide you with information on how to reach this historic site, where you can find suitable accommodation options and all the other details that will help you plan a memorable and enriching experience.

Discovering the Essence of Dholavira

place to visit at dholavira

Before we delve into the logistics of visiting Dholavira, it is essential to pause and truly appreciate the historical and cultural significance of this ancient marvel. Dholavira stands as an archaeological gem that provides a captivating window into the advanced urban planning and engineering achievements of the Harappan civilization.

This extraordinary site is adorned with remarkable ancient signboards, which in themselves are architectural wonders. These signboards bear an enigmatic Harappan script that, even today, remains only partially deciphered, adding an aura of mystery and fascination to the experience.

Nestled within the mesmerising landscape of the Rann of Kutch, Dholavira’s unique location in a desert environment adds to its allure. It offers visitors a chance to explore the vestiges of a civilization that not only thrived in a challenging terrain but also excelled in urban planning and engineering. For history enthusiasts and curious explorers alike, Dholavira is an exceptional destination that beckons with its rich historical tapestry and architectural splendours.

How to reach Dholavira: Navigating the Journey

To embark on your journey to Dholavira, you have multiple options. 

Road: By road, Dholavira is accessible from Ahmedabad, approximately 335 kilometres away. The drive takes around 7 hours and offers picturesque views of the landscape. You can also rent a vehicle for added convenience.

Rail : For those who prefer rail travel, Bhuj is the nearest railway station to Dholavira, making it an accessible option.

Air : If you prefer air travel, the Rudra Mata airport at Bhuj connects you to Mumbai, providing a convenient route to reach Dholavira.

Choosing the best time for your visit to Dholavira

When planning your visit to Dholavira, consider the season carefully. The summer months from April to June bring scorching temperatures, often reaching up to 45 degrees Celsius. It is not an ideal time to explore this ancient site.

The monsoon season, from July to September, offers cooler mornings and evenings, making it a more affordable time to visit with potential discounts on accommodations.

However, the winter season, starting from October, is the perfect time to explore Dholavira. With temperatures ranging from 19 to 36 degrees Celsius, the climate is comfortable, and the landscape transforms into a vibrant, colourful setting.

Where to stay in Dholavira?

place to visit at dholavira

When it comes to finding the right place to stay in Dholavira, Evoke Dholavira stands out as a luxurious accommodation option. With exquisite meals, stargazing experiences, and in-house activities, it offers a harmonious blend of comfort and exploration.

Exploring Dholavira: Must Visit Places

place to visit at dholavira

Now that you have settled into your accommodation at Evoke Dholavira , it is time to explore the top places to see in Dholavira. Begin with the Dholavira World Heritage Site, where you will witness the meticulously preserved remnants of the Harappan civilization.

Don’t miss the breathtaking sunset viewpoint that offers a mesmerising spectacle as the sun dips below the horizon. For those with an interest in natural history, the Wood Fossil Park showcases the wonders of fossilised wood dating back millions of years.

Travelling Tips for a seamless Visit

As you plan your visit to the Dholavira site, consider these essential tips:

  • Pack sunscreen and wear a hat to protect yourself from the harsh sunlight.
  • Carry an ample supply of water, as exploring the excavation site can take 2-3 hours.
  • Hiring a local guide will enhance your experience, as they provide insights into the site’s history. 
  • Take time to read the informational boards at the site, which offer valuable insights into the structures and history.

Dholavira beckons with its rich history, unique architecture, and a glimpse into a civilization lost in time. With the information provided in our Dholavira tourism guide , you will be well-prepared to explore this ancient wonder. Your journey to the Harappan sites is a voyage through time itself, an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your memory. 

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Kachchh (Kutch)

A long drive northeast from Bhuj is the fascinating and remote archaeological site of Dholavira, on a seasonal island in the Great Rann. Excavations have revealed a complex town of stone buildings 1 sq km in area, inhabited by the Harappan civilisation from around 2900 to 1500 BC. Visitors can explore a series of walls and buildings that have half sunk into the sandy soils.

It’s best to organise your own transport (₹5000 one way or return): the only bus to Dholavira leaves Bhuj at 2pm (₹89, six hours) and starts back at 5am.

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Things to Do in Dholavira in The Great Rann of Kutch Gujarat

With Dholavira Harappan Site added to the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage sites it is time you visit this Indus Valley Civilization site and walk through the history lessons you took in your school days. But there is more to experience in Dholavira in Khadir Bet Kutch than just the Harappan site. Here is a list of things to do in Dholavira, do save it make the most of your visit to this westernmost tourist destination of India.

place to visit at dholavira

Dholavira Google Map

The Great Rann of Kutch

It is easy to confuse Rann of Kutch with Great Rann of Kutch, when the latter is just a part of the former. Rann of Kutch is a massive expanse of cracked earth, a piece of land cut off from sea. Rann here means salt marsh. The name is eloquent enough to indicate the terrain of the area. The Rann of Kutch covers around 26,000 sq. km. The Great Rann of Kutch is a larger portion of the Rann. Rann of Kutch Lake lies in this region and Khadir Bet is a large island in this lake.

Khadir Bet, translates to grassy area on an island. This is the only piece of land that has some amount of greenery in the vast stretch of white salt flats and worth inhabiting. Its location and terrain makes Great Rann of Kutch an excellent spot for sunrise and sunset photography. The Annual Rann Utsav is a great crowd puller. Then there is Dholavira, with a treasure of ancient Harappan remains.

Besides these experiences, Bhuj is another interesting tourist destination in this westernmost part of Gujarat. I haven’t been there yet, but hopefully someday soon I will. Minimum of 4 days would be required just to experience the Great Rann of Kutch.

Things to Do in Dholavira

Dholavira Harappan Site

Without water there is no life! People of Harappan times in Dholavira were well aware of this and they used every possible technique to conserve water. Imagine 4500 years ago they built step wells, reservoirs, water tunnels and baths to conserve water. You get to see their unique water management system still in good condition. It stands out uniquely among all other excavated sites of Harappan times. It goes to prove that Indus people were competent engineers. They could plan well and were able to manage their water needs

Three hours won’t suffice to see the entire site. If you are interested enough and have capacity to withstand the sun’s heat I suggest you can revisit the site again after lunch. And yes, please do hire a guide. Though informative boards are there near important sights, there is nothing like hearing from the same workers who excavated the site and are now guides.

Read more: Dholavira Harappan Site

place to visit at dholavira

Dholavira Harappan site Kutch

Archaeological Museum Dholavira

Dholavira Archaeological Museum is a small one packed with findings and remnants found during excavation of the Harappan site by the members of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It is a perfect destination to understand and discover the lifestyle of people who lived during Harappan times. Large stone pestles, clay dolls, terracotta wheels of toy carts, small gems and beads, seals and more are on display.

The museum is just one floor with two rooms. It offers a window to the history of Indus Valley Civilization. Huge pictures of the times when excavation was in progress gives a good idea of the humongous site dotted with reservoirs, houses of Middle Town and Burial sites.

Do read this to know more: A Quick Guide to Dholavira Archaeological Museum

place to visit at dholavira

Harappan Seal in Archaeological Museum

Dattatreya Temple in Dholavira

We discovered the Dattatreya Temple by chance. It is a popular sunset point, but we landed there at sunrise time. The idol inside is that of the three-headed incarnation of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva in the same body. For those spiritually inclined this temple is worth a visit. This temple was started by a Sadhu, name not known, 400 years ago. Today it is looked after by the jawans at the outpost.

It was amazing to see Dattatreya Temple near the international border between India & Pakistan.

Things to Do in Dholavira - Dattatreya Temple Khadir Bet Kutch

Dattatreya Temple Khadir Bet Kutch

Kutch Fossil Park

It is also called the Dinosaur Fossil Park. The boulders here have weird shapes, with constant exposure to salt laden moist winds they have eroded in the strangest manner possible. The deep holes on the surface seemed like some empty eye sockets to me.

Nearby in a barricaded area there is an impressive display of fossilized wood belonging to Jurassic era. Credit for existence of this park goes to the Army veteran Mohan Singh Sodha. He has done a commendable work in collecting so many different kinds of fossils and put them up for display. No tickets are required to enter the park; however there is a room with fossilized Dino egg/eggshell which is kept in a room under lock and key. If you are truly interested, make enquiries before you arrive at the place.

The approach road to the park is a narrow one and chances are you might see some harmless jungle animals. We could spot a mongoose and a monitor lizard scurry across the road.

place to visit at dholavira

Chipper Point

Chipper point, a hilltop, at Dholavira is a place that I don’t actually wish to recommend but the view of white desert from this point is beyond mesmerizing. The reason for not recommending this place is that there are some ledges protruding out precariously from the hilltop. People stand on that to take pictures. One wrong move and you will have a free fall of 100ft deep down and lose your limbs.

The place isn’t easily accessible hence not very popular yet. A completely God forsaken place with no human settlements around I wonder how people find out about such places! It is an offbeat place in Dholavira and a free sight.

Things to Do in Dholavira in The Great Rann of Kutch Gujarat

Chipper Point Dholavira Gujarat

Flamingos in Rann Lake

Several migratory birds, especially flamingos start moving at the Khadir Bet Island and other islands of Kutch. They begin arriving in the months of June-July and stay till March. These birds feed on aquatic life such as shrimp, molluscs, plankton, and algae. The island has become one of the largest nesting sites of flamingos in the country. Statistics taken some years ago state around 1 million flamingos visit the island during peak of the season. If you are lucky maybe you can spot the courtship behavior of these pretty pink birds.  They get their rosy color from the beta-carotene pigment in the shrimp and algae they consume.

Bird watching, more specifically Flamingo watching, is one of the best things to do in Dholavira. Do time yourself for it. Early mornings are the best to sight them.

Flamingo Lake is still a hidden destination, it is 2.5 km further west from the Archaeological Museum.

Vista Sunset Point near Dholavira

Have you seen a blue sunset? When I arrived at the Vista Sunset Point in Eastern Rann past sunset, in the twilight moments, it seemed like I was walking through a dream. Vast white stretch of land, it was neither snow nor cotton but pure salt with a thin layer of water and was reflecting the colors of the clouds in the horizon. The human silhouettes added character and life to the scene.

Things to Do in Dholavira

Vista Point in Eastern Rann – My Google Pixel 3 captured a blue shade of this scene.

A barren piece of land, untouched by any kind of rules and regulations, it is a must visit place on the way to Dholavira. We visited this place twice during our 4 days trip to Gujarat , such a magical effect it had on us. There are several entry points to the Rann, plan to witness a sunrise or sunset here.

Shopping for Local Handicrafts

Till the Harappan site was discovered here, there were only a handful of Kutchi families, numbering approximately 50families, living in Dholavira. As tourism picked up it provided an extra source of income for these families by selling their handicraft. Last two years have been hard on them due to COVID that resulted in almost nil tourists’ traffic to this place. Earlier they used to sell their products at the Rann of Kutch festival which is a yearly event. They source their raw material from cities like Bhuj, Ahmedabad and other cities and work on them to produce exquisite traditional textiles.

Do pick up a souvenir or two when you are there.

Things to Do in Dholavira

Traditional handicraft from Kutch Gujarat

Where to Stay in Dholavira

Hotel Rann of Kutch

This is managed by Gujarat Tourism. We stayed here for two nights. Quite a decent place! You have to make prior bookings. Just dropping in for a stay may not work out. And for food too you have to inform in advance. It is a budget friendly place.

Rann Resort

This too is located near the site.  Google reviews are good. One doesn’t have much choice other than these.

There are some Home Stays, the owners double up as guide too.

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Things to Do in Dholavira Rann of Kutch Gujarat

5 Responses to “ Things to Do in Dholavira in The Great Rann of Kutch Gujarat ”

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What a fascinating region of Gujarat! I would love to catch a sunset here, and the Dattatreya Temple looks like such an interesting thing to find by chance. Chipper Point does look pretty dangerous! The view is amazing, but seeing people out on those ledges would get my heart racing.

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Your photos at Vista Sunset Point near Dholavira are simply gorgeous ? I had no idea that there were salt flats in India! I’ve been to the ones in Bolivia and Death Valley National Park and they are so fun to take photos at. Thanks for sharing! This is definitely going on my bucket list for India!

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Can’t wait to visit India again. I love exploring UNESCO sites and I’m not familiar with this part of India at all. And I adore Indian textiles, always such beautiful designs. Add in flamingoes and sunsets, and I’m sold.

'  data-srcset=

What a fascinating ancient site to explore. I’m definitely intrigued by the Dinosaur Fossil Park, particularly the egg that’s under lock and key. That it all the more mysterious! The blue sunset is a gorgeous way to end the day. I’d be keen to grab a souvenir and support a local for sure. I’ll bet they’ve been hit extremely hard without the tourists coming through.

'  data-srcset=

I can see why you would visit Dholavira for the Dholavira Harappan Site and stay for much more. I love when there is a museum site that provides more information. So cool to see the display of fossilized wood. And to finish the day with a blue sunset.

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Dholavira is a small town and archaeological site in Kutch , containing ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (Harappan) city. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Understand [ edit ]

place to visit at dholavira

Dholavira the second largest Harappan site in India and the fifth largest in South Asia. It was unearthed by Indian archaeologists in 1967 but excavations into the site only began since 1990. In 2021 the site was added to the world heritage list .

Dholavira has one of the oldest water conservation systems in the world. Like Lothal , it went through all of the major phases of Indus Valley Civilisation, from early to late.

Get in [ edit ]

On the whole, Dholavira is not as accessible as the other major Harappan sites in India. The closest airport is 250 km southwest of the site in Bhuj . A bus leaves daily from Bhuj at 14:00 and reaches Dholavira at 20:30. You can also hire a car or private driver.

Get around [ edit ]

See [ edit ].

Map

  • 23.885365 70.216585 1 Dholavira Archaeological Museum , Near Dholavira Site . 10AM-5PM . Small but informative museum. Free . ( updated Nov 2021 )
  • 23.939743 70.188077 3 Fossil Park ( 10 km from Dholavira Site, take road towards north ). Billions of years old plant fossils are seen here. Take a look at flat expanse of the Great Runn of Kutch. A good place to catch sunset. In November-December, you might be able catch glimpse of flamingos too. Free . ( updated Nov 2021 )
  • 23.87434 70.193955 4 Flamingo Lake . A seasonal lake created by checkdam. During rainy season, reach before sunrise and catch a look at thousands of flamingos in the waters of lake. Road is unpaved so be careful while driving. ( updated Nov 2021 )

Do [ edit ]

Buy [ edit ], eat [ edit ].

  • Toran Restaurant . run by Gujarat Tourism department. Gujarati Thali is available. ( updated Nov 2021 )

Drink [ edit ]

Bring your own water as the place is remote.

Sleep [ edit ]

There are very few places to stay in Dholavira. There are some homestay services operated by locals.

  • 23.882261 70.210229 1 Dholavira Tourism Resort ( ધોળાવીરા પ્રવાસન રિસોર્ટ ), ☏ +91 97277 84044 . ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • The Susheel Trust . runs a local school and a guest house. ( updated Nov 2021 )
  • Saath . A non-profit organisation could arrange a stay upon request. ( updated Nov 2021 )

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Dholavira – most ancient unesco world heritage site in gujarat.

place to visit at dholavira

Another pearl has been added to the necklace of India this Tuesday. Dholavira, the archaeological site of Harappan civilization, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in India. It is the fourth site from Gujarat that got the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tag.

After Rudreshwara Temple in Telangana, the 44th session of the world heritage committee of the UNESCO has declared Dholavira of Kutch district as UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the 40th heritage site in India.

Dholavira in Kutch would act as a cherry on the cake of tourism as not only its worldwide fame would help in promoting Indian culture and Heritage but also it will boost the tourism in Gujarat on a grand scale.

It’s a very proud moment for India. Just after this news, people on social media were on the seventh heaven, many said that it should have been included in the list of heritage sites long ago.

Other Interesting Blogs to Read

  • Telangana’s Ramappa Temple – The New UNESCO World Heritage Site in India
  • Best Places to Explore in Gujarat

Honorable PM, Mr. Narendra Modi expressed his delight through a series of tweets

Dholavira Gujarat World Heritage Site

“Dholavira was an important urban center and is one of our most important linkages with our past. It is a must visit, especially for those interested in history, culture and archaeology. I first visited Dholavira during my student days and was mesmerized by the place. As CM of Gujarat, I had the opportunity to work on aspects relating to heritage conservation and restoration in Dholavira. Our team also worked to create tourism-friendly infrastructure there,” Mr. Narendra Modi said.

Addition of the Dholavira as a world heritage site is like a ray of hope for India. There are many sites in India which are of great universal and cultural value that are waiting to shine in the world’s heritage list. The Harappan city of Dholavira is just a tip of an iceberg. We are waiting for a future where we might see India as the crowning glory of Tourism in the world.

  • 30 Popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India
  • Statue of Unity in Gujarat

Some interesting facts about Dholavira

Dholavira in Kutch

  • The ancient site of Dholavira was discovered in 1968 by an archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
  • Origins of Buddhist Stupa are found in the memorials in Dholavira according to an archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bhist.
  • The most interesting fact about Dholavira is its multi- layered defensive mechanisms, water management systems, stone constructions and burial structures according to UNESCO.
  • The site of Dholavira has a fortified citadel.
  • The sandstone or limestone walls of the middle and lower town of Dholavira makes it unique from any other Harappan site as most of the site walls are made of Mud Bricks.
  • The most interesting fact about the ancient city of Dholavira is that unlike other Harrapan sites, no mortal remains have been found at Dholavira.
  • Dholavira got the status of UNESCO world Heritage site in 2021 but it was already in the tentative list of UNESCO since 2014.
  • Since the excavation at Dholavira, ASI has developed a museum here to showcase the artefacts and useful insights on the history of Dholavira. This makes it one of the most visited destinations in Gujarat.
  • Dholavira is considered as the most well maintained ancient urban settlement in South Asia dating from 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BC.
  • The ancient city of Dholavira is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Gujarat.
  • Dholavira is unique because of its expansive water management system. Large stone cut reservoirs; rock cut wells are visible in the citadel.
  • Get the Feel of a Jungle Safari at the Sardar Patel Zoological Park in Gujarat
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History of Dholavira

Gujarat Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Site

The ancient city of Dholavira was discovered in 1968 by an archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi, it was later excavated between 1990 and 2005 under the guidance of an archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht. Dholavira is now the most popular tourist attraction in Gujarat.

The History of Dholavira is very old. Dholavira is a witness of the rise and fall of entire humankind. It has some of the most unique features like a well-maintained water management system, urban planning, construction techniques, burial structures, multi-layered defensive mechanisms and hemispherical Buddhist stupas. It is an outstanding example of a well-planned city.

It was believed that Harappans of Dholavira were technically very advanced. They knew metallurgy, trading, art, jewellery manufacturing and mining. The civilization of Dholavira flourished for 1500 years but later aridity and several droughts brought downfall of the civilization and the people shifted to Ganges valley and Maharashtra.

In Gujarat’s crown, one more site has got the tag of UNESCO World Heritage site. The Harappan city of Dholavira has got its due respect. In coming years, the village of Dholavira in Kutch District of Gujarat will shine bright in the world map for its tourism and great universal value and Gujarat tourism will be known for its soothing hospitality worldwide.  India has a rich ancient past which will transcend all the national boundaries to showcase its glory to the future generations.

Important Gujarat Tourism Resources

  • Complete Travel Guide to Gujarat Tourism
  • Popular Gujarat Tour Packages

Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat

Rani Ki Vav Gujarat

Rani Ki Vav

Situated in Patan, Rani Ki Vav is one of the oldest stepwells of Gujarat. It was built in 11 th century in Maru Gurjara. More than 800 sculptures and carved pillars adorn this beautiful stepwell. This stepwell has been listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2014.

City of Ahmedabad

There is no city like Ahmedabad in the world. It is a city of rich cultural heritage and tradition. Indo – islamic monuments of 15 th -16 th centuries, pols, residence belonging to medieval period makes Ahmedabad one of a kind. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

Champaner and Pavagadh Archaeological Park

It is a combination of everything. Forts, Mosques, Monuments, tombs, arches, temples, step- wells and fortresses of 8 th to 14 th century which makes it the most unique heritage site. It has a great universal and cultural value. It is the pride of Gujarat. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. where is dholavira located.

Dholavira is located at Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District, in the state of Gujarat.

Q. Who discovered Dholavira?

Dholavira was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.

Q. What are the top tourist attractions in and around Dholavira?

Some of the top tourist attractions in and around Dholavira are –

  • Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary
  • Narayan Sarovar
  • Kutch Museum
  • Wild Ass Sanctuary

Q. Why is Dholavira so famous?

Dholavira is famous for its historic ruins of Indus Valley Civilization. It is of great universal value and historical importance. It is the second largest Harappan site in India and fifth largest in Indian Sub- Continent. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Q. In which category Dholavira is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

In the cultural category Dholavira is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Q. How to reach Dholavira in Gujarat?

  • By Air - Rudra Mata Airport is the nearest airport to reach Dholavira.
  • By Rail- Bhuj Railway Station is the nearest railhead to reach Dholavira.
  • By Road- You can take a private taxi or a cab to reach Dholavira from Bhuj.

Published: 28 Jul, 2021 | Last Updated:  03 Aug, 2021

About the author

Pallavi Roy

Pallavi Roy

She is a candle who burns and melts in the chaos of infinity, from where her visceral whistles and leaves an imprint of desire in her heart to know the map of an Island where there are different sunrises and sunsets. Her curiosity brightens to conquer the hearts unrelieved and sometimes mysterious. Her name is - Pallavi Roy - A traveller by soul and a writer by Profession.

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Thrilling Travel

All about Dholavira Harappan Site (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) : A complete guide

It was my school textbook where I first learned about Dholavira and the Harappan civilization. The chapter about the ancient Indus civilization with planned cities akin to the urban world stayed with me over the years. With the excavations in progress, I constantly scoured for updates on the new relics that were being unearthed at the Dholavira site in Gujarat. What I learned made me want to visit Dholavira! And voila! Finally – it was during my recent Kutch trip that I managed to explore this Harappan town in India .

Discover all about Dholavira Gujarat - a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Dholavira is one of the few Indus Valley civilization sites in India. Located in the Great Rann of Kutch Gujarat, this is fifth largest Harappan sites found in the world . However in India, it is the second largest and the only one declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town that is still being unearthed has revealed some astonishing facts about the Harappan civilization – from its well-planned water management system to fortified citadels with brick homes and state-of-art granaries . Adding to this intriguing knowledge are the terracotta artifacts, gems and coins found during the digs – all now kept in the Dholavira Museum.

If you are heritage and history buff like me, just the sound of these Dholavira sightseeing attractions is enough to start planning a visit here. That is what I am going to help you with in this Dholavira guide. You will find all the required information about Dholavira– its history and what to see at the excavation sites . To the untrained eye, it might just seem a pile of bricks but I have put together an easy explanation of what to grasp in those ruins.

I have also, included a section on other things to do on the Dholavira trip (beyond the World heritage site) . You will also, get tips on the best way to reach this Harappan town, the entry fees, timings of the site and where you can stay. Let’s begin this tour of Dholavira by understanding a little about the Indus Valley Civilization, its history and evidence

Heading to Dholavira and Kutch?

In case you are looking for some quick links to the stays and tours of the Dholavira heritage site and Kutch, you can consider using these online options.

  • Booking.com  has several good Kutch hotels listed on their site. You could use  this link  to browse and book the same.
  • GetYourGuide  has various local tours and car bookings available that you can use to explore Gujarat. In fact, you can book a   3-Day Little Rann of Kutch Private Wildlife Tour from Ahmedabad   using the link given.
  • Private Heritage Trail Tour of Bhuj
  • Day Excursion to Little Rann Of Kutch from Ahmedabad
  • Bhuj to White Rann of Kutch   tour
  • Multi-Day Tour to Dholavira and Rann of Kutch
  • Bhuj, Rann of Kutch & Mandvi Beach – The Art, Craft & Nature Tour of Gujarat
  • For any of your travel needs or general shopping, consider using  Amazon  through  this link.
  • 1 Where is Dholavira located?
  • 2 The Indus Valley Civilization and its discovery
  • 3 History of Dholavira Gujarat
  • 4 About Dholavira excavations
  • 5 Layout of the Dholavira archaeological site
  • 6.1.1 Check Dams at the Dholavira Site
  • 6.1.2 East Reservoir
  • 6.1.3 South Reservoir
  • 6.2.1 The Bailey
  • 6.2.2 The Granary
  • 6.2.3 Remains of the Terracotta pipeline
  • 6.2.4 East gate
  • 6.2.5 Buildings inside Dholavira Castle area
  • 6.2.6 The well, bathing area and drainage system – part of the Dholavira water management
  • 6.2.7 North gate
  • 6.2.8 The Dholavira signboard – one of the significant finds of the Dholavira Harappan civilization
  • 6.3 The Ceremonial ground and the little ground
  • 6.4 Middle Town
  • 6.5 Lower Town
  • 6.6 Cemetery of Dholavira
  • 6.7 Dholavira Museum
  • 7 Other Dholavira sightseeing options
  • 8.1 What is the best way to reach Dholavira?
  • 8.2 What is the best time to visit Dholavira?
  • 8.3 Which is the best place to stay in Dholavira?
  • 8.4 Is Dholavira worth visiting?
  • 8.5 Who discovered Dholavira?
  • 8.6 What are the timings of the Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Site?
  • 8.7 How much time do you need at the Dholavira archaeological site?
  • 8.8 What is the entrance fee for Dholavira Harappa Site?
  • 8.9 Should I hire a tourist guide at Dholavira?
  • 8.10 What is the difference between Dholavira and Lothal?
  • 9 General tips on visiting Dholavira Kutch
  • 10 Before you go, remember to bookmark and pin this post

Where is Dholavira located?

Dholavira is located on an island called Khadir Bet which is in the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The distance between Dholavira and Bhuj is 130 km while from Ahmedabad, this is around 340 km.

Fun Fact: If you see Dholavira on the map, you will see it is on the Tropic of Cancer in India.

The Indus Valley Civilization and its discovery

To appreciate Dholavira ruins, it is important to have a little background to the Indus Valley Civilization and the various other archaeological sites that these settlements have been found.

Considered as one of the earliest human civilizations, this Bronze age world existed along the banks of the River Indus in the present day Pakistan, Afghanistan and North-West India . This world is believed to have existed between 3300 BCE – 1300 BCE. The civilization is also, termed as Harappan civilization and is renowned for its well-planned cities with elaborate water supply systems, knowledge of metallurgy and trade relations with the western world – especially Mesopotamia. Over the years, several of these towns have been discovered and evidence of their existence established. Here are the six key ones that have been archaeologically detailed –

One of the biggest Indus Valley Civilizations - Dholavira Harappan Site which is known for its water management system

  • Harappa – the first of the cities to be discovered in Punjab province of Pakistan along the erstwhile bank of River Ravi.
  • Mohenjodaro – the 2 nd biggest Harappa Civilization city found in the Sindh region of Pakistan. This excavations here have revealed a well-structured layout of streets, brick houses and planned sanitation system.
  • Rakhigarhi – located in Haryana and is currently noted as the biggest site of harappan civilization.
  • Ganeriwala – believed to be one of the key cities of this civilization. Currently located in Punjab region of Pakistan
  • Dholavira – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best discovered harappan sites in India. The importance of Dholavira lies in the fact that the first of the Harappan signages has been found here – besides the ruins of an well-planned city.
  • Lothal –  this is one of the other key sites of harappan civilization in Gujarat. It is believed to have been a trading center and a port city.

Besides Lothal and Dholavira, a few other archaeological sites like Surkotada pertaining to the Indus Valley civilization (IVC) have been found in Gujarat. However, these are still being uncovered and hence, not as popular,

History of Dholavira Gujarat

The Dholavira history goes back to the early Harappan era of 3000 BCE. The currently deserted place was once a living and breathing city that spanned around 100 hectares between the Rivers Mansar and Manhar. Historical evidence has it that the Dholavira civilization was booming right up to 1750 BCE after which it was deserted for a period and later re-occupied from 1650 BCE to 1450 BCE. However, during the last phase, the inhabitation was limited and the size of the city had shrunk to only its citadel area.

Harappan relics found at the Dholavira site

One of the key evidences about Dholavira links this thriving city with Mesopotamia. The active trade relations between the two finds a mention in the Mesopotamian texts that refer to this island as a settlement of the Meluhas (Harappans). There were also, beads similar to the Harappan ones that were found at the Mesopotamian sites. The interdependency between these two civilizations must have been so tight that the decline of Harappan civilization more or less coincides with that of the Mesopotamian one.

The Harappan city of Dholavira was a well-planned structure with a fortification and a clear division into three areas – the Citadel, middle town and the lower town . As I walked along those excavated ruins, I could see how thoughtfully they had structured the place with proper lanes, sanitation pipelines and an amazing water management system. I could actually imagine happy kids playing around the corners, a bustling marketplace near the fortified walls, women chattering around the wells and well even, royalty walking around the citadel.

The two times that Dholavira was abandoned is attributed to natural disasters and climatic disturbances. The change of the course of Saraswati altered the geography of the place and that was one of the major contributors for the decline of the Dholavira Harappan civiliation. The people from here are believed to have migrated to the fertile plains of Ganga – thus avoiding the arid condition of Kutch. Dholavira faded into obscurity till a chance discovery of the buried pottery during a tilling session in 1968. Jagat Pati Joshi – an archaeologist who was working close by examined the site further and discovered Dholavira once again!

About Dholavira excavations

Dholavira ruins that have been excavated by ASI under the supervision of R.S Bisht

Though Dholavira was first discovered by Jagat Joshi in 1964 , it was only in 1 989 under the supervision of R.S Bisht that extensive excavation of this Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) site. The site at Dholavira excavated by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) involved 13 field digs between 1989 to 2005 . What it unearthed was one of the five biggest Harappan settlements to date.

The structures at the Dholavira site revealed the earliest example of planned water conservation system. The structures drew light to the seven stages of progressive urban planning of the city  – which was amazing for a civilization that existed as early as the 2 nd millennium BC. There was a copper smelter found that established the practice of metallurgy, burial grounds, entertainment arenas, reservoirs, granaries and more. Among the various artifacts found there were shell ornaments, gemstones, bronze instruments, terracotta seals and pottery and even animal bones – all of which can be seen at the on-site Dholavira museum.

Inscribed seals found at the excavation site and now kept in the Dholavira museum

Interestingly, unlike the other harappan towns in Gujarat like Lothal, there were no human remains found at Dholavira in Kutch , However, the most significant of the discoveries made during the Dholavira excavations was the first ever signboard of the Harappa . The signboard has 10 letters which are yet to be deciphered but is the first literary evidence discovered among all the IVC sites worldwide.

In 2021, Dholavira Gujarat was awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Even today, there are excavations going on at the Dholavira site and with more funding coming in, hopefully at one point, we will be able to extract a whole city that was inhabited for almost 1500 years.

Layout of the Dholavira archaeological site

The ancient city of Dholavira was built in the shape of a parallelogram between the two rivers Mansar in the North and Manhar in the south. The site must have been thoughtfully decided as the city was located on a high ground around the streams where the water flow was neither too torrential nor too calm. These Dholavira rivers were fed by rainwater and were seasonal in nature. Of course, now when you visit Dholavira, you cannot see these rivers but ASI has re-constructed the layout of the original city and kept it near the entrance of the site.

A conjectural view of what Dholavira Harappan Site - created post the excavations

The excavated ruins clearly show the superior nature of Dholavira town planning. The entire city is fortified and within it are three sections – the Citadel, the middle town and lower town . The Citadel and the Middle town are further enclosed by their own fortifications. The Citadel is further split into the Castle and the Bailey . It is believed that the royalty or the upper class of the Harappans resided in this section.

A large ceremonial ground separates this upper class area from the Middle Town. The Dholavira ruins in the Middle Town area clearly exhibit a grid-like layout – another testament to their urban town planning skills. The lower town on the other hand, is not as well defined as these two sections.

The Dholavira archaeological site also, includes other structures like a cemetery and granaries . However the most significant section of this unearthed layout are the dams, reservoirs and the water channelling systems – all of which I will cover in my next section on the key Dholavira ruins that you must see during your visit.

What to see in Dholavira, Kutch? (Key attractions with a Dholavira Map)

To the untrained eye, the ruins inside Dholavira archaeological site seems like an endless line of brick walls, odd trenches and geometrical outlines. Even the pictures of the site might seem boring but trust me – the moment you begin to get into the depth of things, you will be enamoured by the finds at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every structure has a story that will awe you with how advanced this civilization at Dholavira was.

Dholavira map showing the layout of the archaelogical site as found on the UNESCO World Heritage Website.

In this section of the Dholavira guide, I will help you decipher the seemingly plain structures that were buried under the earth for centuries. As you go through this journey with me, you will find yourself seeing this Harappan site differently – where the rubbles are not longer lifeless. Keep this handy Dholavira map handy during this walkthrough and also, bookmark it for your visit – so that you don’t miss anything significant.

Dholavira water management system – one of the main highlights of the Dholavira Harappan Site

One of the excavated reservoirs of the Dhola Vira city

One of the things that Dholavira is famous for is its well-planned water management system. From the current discoveries made at all the Harappan sites, it is believed that the earliest and the best developed water resource and storage system is in Dholavira . Given the dry arid climate of Kachch, the town had to rely on the rains and the two Dholavira rivers for their freshwater requirement. It is amazing how they created a network of check dams, water channels, 16 reservoirs and wells to best manage this precious resource.

Throughout your tour of the Dholavira Harappan site, you will be encountering various structures that are a part of this timeless water management system.

Check Dams at the Dholavira Site

A little behind the East reservoir is the first evidence of a check dam that was built on the River Manhar. This dam had channels that directed the water into the town reservoirs. You will actually see a signboard indicating it as you cross a small bridge like structure on your way to the excavation site.

East Reservoir

East reservoir at the Dholavira excavation site

There is no missing out on this enormous attraction of Dholavira site. It is the first thing that you will encounter as you make your way to the gigantic wall structure of the site. What appears to be a trench is actually the largest water reservoir found among the Harappan sites).

Close-up of the steps inside the East reservoir of the Dholavira site

Here is why you should pay attention to this East reservoir

  • It measures 74m in length and around 30 m in its breadth. This makes it thrice as big as the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro .
  • If you observe the sides of this reservoir, you will see that it is cut directly into the bedrock.
  • There is a staircase at every corner of the reservoir and each have around 30 steps.
  • You will also, see a rock-cut well inside the reservoir with steps that go further below. The historians believe that this was possibly the first-ever stepwell made.
  • Given the Harappan Stage four type of construction, it is believed that the reservoir was not used during the later stages of the Dholavira Harappan civilization
  • During the excavation, numerous figurines including one of a unicorn. This could be because the reservoir was used more certain rituals and traditions.  

South Reservoir

The interconnected reservoirs that make the big South Reservoir in Dholavira

Circle past the huge fort-like wall (more on that soon) and you will come across a series of pits. This set of five reservoirs are all interconnected and have been termed as the South reservoir. Don’t just give them a once-over and move on. There are some interesting observations to be made when you visit this section of the Dholavira excavated site.

  • The South reservoir measures 65m in length.
  • Each of the mini reservoirs has a different purpose. The first two were like sedimentation tanks where the river water would accumulate and stay for the silt to settle down. The clear water would flow through the connecting water channel in the tank to the next one.
  • The 3 rd one was the central one that was not only connected to the next reservoir but had a water pipe to the south gate of the Citadel.

Part of the South Reservoir - The first tank used for sedimentation

  • Spend a little time at the third reservoir where you can clearly see the various stages of Harappan construction. The bottom part is clearly rock cut and belongs to the early stages of the Dholavira civilization. Then comes the wall which is clearly made using interlocked bricks. And finally the more advanced stage where the sandstone is laid using Multani mitti as a binder.
  • The fourth reservoir is conspicuous with its sloping ramp – which the historians believe was made for wheels to help draw the water – possibly using animals.
  • The last reservoir seemed to be made purely as a tank to store the surplus water.

Fascinating right? Wait till you see the water management system of Dholavira inside the Citadel.

The central tank with the steps of the South Reservoir

The Citadel of Dholavira Harappan Site or the Upper Town

The Castle area of the Citadel or the Upper Town in Dholavira Harappan City

The Harappa town of Dholavira is enclosed within a fortified wall and is clearly divided into three sections  – the Citadel, the Middle town and the Lower Town . The Citadel is believed to be the dwelling of the upper class or the royalty of the town. It has its own brick fortification  – which is what you see when you first enter the excavation site of Dholavira. This section is further divided into two – the Castle and the Bailey.

As you wander through each of these sections, you will come across many other interesting structures like the granary and the North and East gates. Let me share what you should keep an eye out for. I will be following the order in which I saw these structures.

The ruins of a mansion in the Dholavira Bailey area

In case you are wondering what the bailey is about – well it is the dwelling area of the aristocratic officers. This is the area that you will enter after seeing the South reservoir of Dholavira. You can see the remains of various houses and amid them is one grand mansion with at least 12 rooms. Within this area, there were remains of what might have been a bead workshop. This section is connected to the castle via the East gate.

The Granary

The Granary behind the Castle - one of the key Dholavira sightseeing attractions

Just before you enter the castle area, there is a signboard that marks four square-shaped pits. These served as the granary. 4m deep, this structure is made with sandstone and was used as a preservation pit for food grains. Our Dholavira guide mentioned that when this area was excavated pots of food grains – still intact were found in a tightly sealed chamber.

“ Dholavira was an island and the land was uncultivatable. Hence, food was possibly got in through trade and barter and preserved for future.” – explained our guide. “ To preserve the food, it was important to keep it away from air, water, sunlight and even insects. The Harappan people not only sealed the pots in which these were kept but tightly closed the granary to ensure that the food supplies were unharmed. The food grains found here are now a part of the Delhi museum.”

Remains of the Terracotta pipeline

The Terracotta pipe that seems to connect the reservoirs to the Citadel part of the Harappan city of Dholavira Gujarat

Somewhere opposite the Granary along the Castle wall, there is a small gap. Peer through it and you can spot the terracotta water pipe running along – possibly connecting the South reservoir to a well in the Castle area. Another testament to the excellent Dholavira town planning and water management system.

The east gate to the Citadel at Dholavira Kutch

I entered the castle area through the west gate – which honestly, wasn’t much to see. However, had I entered from the East gate which was right opposite the stepwell reservoir, then I would have got to see the quintessential concave and biconcave pillars that were found in Dholavira. Unfortunately on the day I visited, this section was barricaded.

However, here is what my guide shared with me – “ Besides the concave and the bi-concave pillars that you have seen in pictures, there are a few more standing ones that look like phallus. In fact, there is a drawing of the foreskin on them. These pillars were made with limestone and the East gate seems to be one of the main gateways to the castle.”

Sigh! I sure would have loved to see this one!

The remains of the pillars of Dholavira that I could not see

Buildings inside Dholavira Castle area

The circular house that were a part of Stage 7 of the Dholavira Harappan Civilization

The castle area can get pretty overwhelming with just lines and shapes of bricks. However, pay close attention to the formations as they give you a clue of what existed there. For one, if you see the building areas, you will see stone walls rather than bricks . This is one unique thing about the Dholavira site where the castle buildings were made with stone. The other Harappan sites have these structures made of bricks.

The second interesting thing is the circular structures of some of the houses . These represent the Harappa Stage Seven (last stage) of Dholavira when the inhabitants came back and settled after deserting the site once. The houses are akin to the Bhungas – traditional home found in Kutch. ( read more about them here ).

Remains of a grinder found on the Dholavira Site

I could see a few grindstones around this area. Possibly kept there on purpose or maybe later they will be moved to the Dholavira archaeological museum.

The well, bathing area and drainage system – part of the Dholavira water management

The well in the Upper town of Dholavira

Amid these ruins of the Dholavira castle area, you cannot miss the large well. This is believed to have been connected to the South reservoir with pipes. The well has been built such that there is a cascading effect allowing water to flow in naturally from the reservoirs built around the castle. Such is the ingenuity of the construction of the Harappan era.

The well also has rope marks indicating that the water was also, pulled up as required. To avoid wastage, a small channel is near this rope-inscribed area. As explained, this channel would ensure that the water that spilled was recycled back for use.

Ruins of a bathing chamber found in the Upper town of Dholavira Harappan City

Close to the well is the royal bathing area which has steps leading down and is roofed off. This area even has small underground chambers- possibly functioning as dressing rooms.

The drains that run between the houses of Dholavira

There are drains connecting the various houses and wells . One would assume that these are for sanitation management. However, historians believe that these drains connect the homes for the water supply and double up for rainwater harvesting.

The North gate of the Citadel in Dholavira

I finally exited this area through the north gate which connects the castle area to a large ceremonial ground. This gate seems to be quite significant as it has an elaborate L-shaped staircase with chambers on either side. There is also, proof that a large door (possibly two-storeyed) existed here as a part of the gate.

However, the most important thing that makes this gate important is the very thing that Dholavira is famous for – the only Harappan signboard that was found here.

The Dholavira signboard – one of the significant finds of the Dholavira Harappan civilization

Replica of the Dholavira signboard - one of the significant findings that Dholavira is famous for.

It is believed that the Harappan language includes 400 symbols and is read from right to left. There have been several seals with a combination of these signs found across the Harappan sites – including Dholavira. However, only one huge Harappan signboard has been ever found. It was at the North gate of Dholavira.

The original Dholavira signboard is a wooden board that is 3m long and has 10 gypsum letters that are 37cm big . This is no longer at the Dholavira site and has been moved for conservation. However, you can see these letters at the entrance of the Dholavira World Heritage Site. To date, no one has been able to decipher this language. Someday we will be able to unlock the magic!

Some of the Dholavira seals with the Harappan signs

The Ceremonial ground and the little ground

The ceremonial ground that divides the Upper Town from the Middle Town in Dholavira

A large expanse separates the Upper town from the Middle town. This is believed to have been grounds used for entertainment. At certain points, this was also, used for seasonal trading markets. There are several seating arrangements around the ground, based on the hierarchy of the society.

A smaller area, close to the reservoir side is termed the Little Ground which was also, used for similar purposes.

Middle Town

Middle town of Dholavira that exhibits Stage 3 of the Harappan Civilization

The Middle town also, has its fortifications and is set around one main road that continues past its gates into the Lower Town. However, unlike the Upper Citadel area, the houses are set in a grid-like layout and are not circular. In fact, they exhibit Stage Three of the Dholavira civilization.

There are drains as well as a well in this town. One bead workshop too, has been found in the center of the section.

This is to the east of the Middle Town and to be honest, I did not visit it. The layout found here is not as structured as the other two sections of Dholavira and there is no fortification too.  If you are in the Middle town, then this will require you to walk straight along its roads towards the entrance of the excavation site.

Cemetery of Dholavira

This is one of the places to see in Dholavira that is located outside the fortification walls and requires quite a walk. I wish I had the time to visit it for it does promise some interesting sights. For one, there are large mounds called Tumuli that have been found. One of them has spokes on it. There is a theory that these were possibly the earliest forms of Buddhist stupas.

Remains of Harappan bangles and other jewelry found at the Dholavira excavation site

Upon examination and excavation, no human remains were found here. However, tons of terracotta pottery, gems and jewelry were found within the burial chambers. A lot of these you can see in the Dholavira museum attached to the site.

There was an interesting explanation about the death rites that our guide shared. “ The Harappans allowed one to choose the kind of death ceremony they preferred. Cremations, burials, sea burials and even leaving the carcass for the animals were some options. “

True or not, this does explain the absence of bodies at Dholavira.

Dholavira Museum

Terracotta pottery at the Dholavira museum

The Dholavira Archaeological Museum has several of the finds displayed within its premises. You will find a variety of seals including ones with the famed unicorn on them. There are beads, gems, jewelry, coins, and stone weights as exhibits. The large terracotta pots found during excavation occupy a big space as do the gameboards that could have been used for chess.

Harappan gameboards - or part of them that you can see in the Dholavira museum

What I would highly recommend here is the short film on Dholavira and the Harappan civilization that they play in their audio-visual room. It helps you imagine the lost city of Dholavira.

Other Dholavira sightseeing options

The Greater Rann of Kutch or the white desert is actually a salt marsh

Well, for now I have taken you through the ancient site of Dholavira with all the key things to see. You should include this trip as a part of your Kutch trip – just as I have suggested in this post. It might also, be a good idea to extend your Dholavira trip so that you can cover the other interesting places around.

  • Dinosaur Fossil Park – This has an interesting collection of fossils, including a rare Dino egg. The park landscape itself is quite unique with its weirdly shaped boulders.
  • Dholavira village – This is a tiny hamlet of just 50 families but is a place to shop. You get your typical handicrafts from Kutch at a reasonable price.
  • Sunset Point  – This is where you can experience a mesmerizing view of the white desert of Kutch at sunset. It isn’t too far from the Dholavira site and the Dinosaur fossil park
  • Rann of Kutch – As mentioned in my earlier, you can do Dholavira as a part of your Rann of Kutch trip . The white salt desert is the largest in the world and is quite a unique landscape
  • Road to Heaven – If you are anyway headed to Bhuj or Kutch, you will be taking this road. This newly constructed Dholavira highway has mesmerizing views on either sides. You will see flamingos on the water, the white desert and the sea. The best time to drive through is either sunrise or sunset.

So – don’t you agree that you might need overnight to see the key Dholavira attractions. The rest of this Dholavira tourism guide is going to prepare you for not just the stay but on ways to get to Dholavira, the best time to visit and more.

 Common FAQS about Dholavira Site

What is the best way to reach dholavira.

Road to Heaven - one of the new attractions of Kutch connecting Dhordo to Dhola Vira

Dholavira does not have its own airport or railway station. The closest airport would be at Bhuj which has limited connectivity. Rajkot on the other hand, has a better frequency of flights. Alternatively, you can choose to land in Ahmedabad which even has international flights. 

The best way to get from Ahmedabad to Dholavira is by road, as there are no direct trains or flights to Dholavira. The distance by road is approximately 360 kilometers, and it can take around 5 to 6 hours to travel, including breaks. There is also a public bus that runs between Dholavira and Bhuj, however the frequency is limited to only twice a day. If you are starting from Bhuj airport, the distance to Dholavira is about 210 kilometers, and you would travel on the new Dholavira highway (road to Paradise) to reach there. Rajkot to Dholavira is a distance of 260 km and it takes around 4 hours by road.

What is the best time to visit Dholavira?

Consider visiting Dholavira during the winter months – between October to February. March onwards the summer sets in and it becomes extremely hot for an outdoor excursion. The temperatures sometimes cross 45 degrees Celsius. The monsoon months between July to September can be good but at the same time, this region is prone to cyclone showers.

If you visit in winter, you also, get to see the gorgeous White Rann of Kutch. You can plan a visit to coincide with the Rann Utsav – the White Desert festival that takes place from December to February

Which is the best place to stay in Dholavira?

There are limited places to stay in Dholavira. The two most popular ones include the Dholavira tourism resort which is run by Gujarat Tourism and the Rann Resort. You can book these using popular online sites like Trivago, Agoda or Booking.com.

During the winter months, there was a Dholavira Tent City set up (an extension to the Dhordo Rann of Kutch tent city). This could be a good option for a stay in Dholavira.

Is Dholavira worth visiting?

Dholavira ruins that hide tons of secrets

If you are a history enthusiast, then there is no missing out on Dholavira. The place showcases one of the earliest and most well-developed civilizations with actual historical facts and proofs that you can see with your own eyes. It is definitely worth visiting once to see how the Harappans actually lived and how ingenious their urban planning was.

Who discovered Dholavira?

Dholavira Harappan site, was discovered in 1969 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi. He was working close by when a farmer discovered ancient pottery while tilling the land. He further investigated the site and unearthed numerous insights into the urban layout, script, and lifestyle of the Dholavira civilization. The discovery of Dholavira has been pivotal in understanding the sophistication of Harappan urban settlements and their significant contribution to the ancient world.

What are the timings of the Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Dholavira excavation site is open from sunrise to sunset on all days. The Dholavira museum on the other hand opens only at 10 am and closes at 5pm – on all days except Friday when it is closed.

How much time do you need at the Dholavira archaeological site?

You would need at least 2 – 3 hours to fully explore the Dholavira excavation site and the museum.

What is the entrance fee for Dholavira Harappa Site?

Currently, there are no entrance fees at Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is bound to change in the future.

Should I hire a tourist guide at Dholavira?

Ideally yes, if you can get a tourist guide for Dholavira, you will enjoy the place better with the excavation details. It is honestly a little hard to appreciate the ruins if you do not know what they mean. The museum office is the best place to find one.         

What is the difference between Dholavira and Lothal?

Dholavira and Lothal are both prominent archaeological sites from the Indus Valley Civilization in Gujarat, India. Dholavira is known for its advanced urban planning and water conservation systems, including reservoirs and stepwells. It stands out for its unique layout, divided into multiple sections with fortified walls. Lothal, on the other hand, is famous for its dockyard, which is one of the world’s earliest known, suggesting Lothal’s significance in maritime trade. Lothal also had a well-planned town with a grid layout, a drainage system, and evidence of bead-making industry. While both sites show the ingenuity of Harappan urban design, their distinctive features highlight different aspects of the civilization’s progress and adaptation to their respective environments.

General tips on visiting Dholavira Kutch

  • Carry a lot of water and wear flat shoes.
  • There is a small restaurant and shop opposite the Dholavira site for snacks and refreshments.
  • Restrooms are available near the entrance of the Dholavira site
  • Go slow and try and understand the science revealed by the ruins. Do not just rush through or it will feel as if you are only seeing walls.
  • Do not litter. Please carry back your trash till you find a dustbin.
  • Do not scribble or damage the walls and the other findings at the site. Be respectful and a responsible traveler.

Before you go, remember to bookmark and pin this post

Dholavira tourism guide

Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.

I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.

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1 thought on “All about Dholavira Harappan Site (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) : A complete guide”

Very detailed and well informed article. Even though I’m not a history buff, would surely love to visit it someday.

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place to visit at dholavira

About The Location: At the height of our civilization, our technological development, our social and material complexity, all signs point to progress, we often think. And yet, all is not as it seems and once in a while it occurs to us to look into the past to discover our future.

Dholavira is the larger of the two most remarkable excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan culture, dating back to 4500 years ago . While the other site, Lothal, is more exhaustively educated and easier to reach, a visit to Lothal only complements, rather than replaces, a visit to Dholavira. What this site offers you, in the intense environment that comes with being surrounded by the Great Rann of Kutch, is a unique insight into the pioneering Harappan mind, with one of the world’s earliest and best planned water conservation systems and what might be the world’s first signboards, written in ancient Indus script.

The excavation also tells the story of the 7 stages of the civilization, from development to maturity to decay, the last of which hints at a strange piece of history, with more questions than answers. After the peak of the civilization Dholavira was temporarily abandoned, after which it seems that the settlers returned with a markedly de-urbanized culture. There are hints that they willingly chose to simplify their lives, rather than try to ride the collapse of their once glorified civilization. Here, on the ruins, you will have a chance to contemplate what progress and civilization mean and what, if anything, is truly permanent.

Background: Dholavira, known locally as Kotada (which means large fort), sprawls over 100 hectares of semi-arid land at the north-west corner of the island of Khadir, one of the islands in the Great Rann of Kutch that remain above the flood-plains in months when the rest of the desert is submerged by the monsoon. Dholavira has two seasonal nallahs, or streams: Mansar in the north, and Manhar in the south. The journey to Dholavira itself is beautiful, taking you through the saline desert plains of the Great Rann, where you can spot wildlife such as chinkara gazelle, nilgai (blue bull, the largest antelope in Asia), flamingos and other bird life.

The site was unearthed by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1967, but has been systematically excavated only since 1990. Artifacts include terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figurines, tools, urns, and some imported vessels that indicate trade links with lands as far away as Mesopotamia. Also found were 10 large stone inscriptions, carved in Indus Valley script, perhaps the world’s earliest signboard. These are among the most important discoveries about the Indus Valley Civilization, but remain tantalizingly undeciphered.

The remains show an imposing citadel in the center, with a middle and lower town, each fortified separately, built with pleasingly smoothed structures of sun-dried brick and stone masonry, and with remarkable town planning. Well laid out lanes lead outward systematically from the citadel, with a well-constructed underground drainage system for sanitation. There is a large stadium with a complex structure and seating arrangement.

Finally, Dholavira has one of the world’s earliest water conservation systems ever excavated. Satellite pictures show a reservoir underground, an expertly constructed rainwater harvesting system extending from the walls of the city, without which the settlement would not have thrived in the sparse rainfall of the desert.

Dholavira is one of the two largest Harappan sites in India, and 5th largest in the subcontinent. Like Lothal, it passed through all the stages of the Harappan culture from circa 2900 BC to 1500 BC, while most others saw only the early or late stages.

The excavation found a decline of the civilization in the 5th of 7th stages, after which were signs of a temporary desertion of the site. Settlers returned later in the late Harappan stage, with a change in their pottery, influenced by cultures found at sites in Sindh, South Rajasthan and other parts of Gujurat, but they did not bring the return of the civilization. Their houses, for example, were built in an entirely new form that was circular (bhungas), and the material signs were strikingly deurbanized and simplified. Perhaps the last stage of the powerful civilization had become aware of its future, and was preparing itself for a gradual end.

Archaeological survey of India : http://asi.nic.in/asi_exca_2007_dholavira.asp

Note: You can book ticket using https://asi.payumoney.com/

How to get there

By road: Ahmedabad is 335 ilometers from bhuj approx. driving time is 7 hours . Dholavira is 250 km from Bhuj and is reached via Bhachau and Rapar. A bus leaves from Bhuj at 14:00 and arrives at Dholavira at 20:30. It leaves at 05:00 the next morning and returns to Bhuj by 11:30. It is also possible to rent a vehicle.

By rail: Bhuj is the closest rail node to Dholavira,

By air: The Rudra Mata airport at Bhuj is a small but busy node that connects Mumbai to Bhuj. The nearest airport is Bhuj. Bear in mind that an on-site guest house allows the possibility of a more leisurely experience, rather than a day trip.

Nearby Places

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Dholavira – Indus Valley Civilisation – Places to visit

Dholavira is located in the Khadirbet of Lake of Kutchh Gujarat. It is known for the largest Harappan site of Indus valley civilisation site of India and the Second largest after Harappa of Pakistan. In 2021, It is declared a world heritage site. It has also many other things to do and see apart from the Harappan site. When I visited, I’ve found that Khadirbet is a very interesting place to see. When you visit Rannutsav (White Rann) you must visit this.

Table of Contents

Town Entry Gate

What to do at Dholavira

  • Indus valley civilisation Museum
  • World Heritage Site – Dholavira Harappan Site
  • Sunset Point and Karni Mata Temple

Wood Fossil Park

Flamingo lake and full moon view point.

  • Heaven Road or Infinity Road
  • Chipper Point

Note: There are no FEES at any point except Archaeological museum.

Dholavira Location

World Heritage Site – Dholavira Harappan Site and Museum

You may hear a lot about the Harappan site. If you are not a lover of History and archaeology, you will love it by visiting this UNESCO world heritage site. But keep any guide with you. This site has special things from other sites

  • Most of the site has the Brick structure while this made from Stone structure. Due to that many things remain intact and its original form.
  • Unique master plan for water management and town planning. Which is helpful to today’s engineer.
  • Excavation stopped in 2005 and its considered that almost 60% excavation pending.
  • UNESCO world heritage site declared in 2021.
  • Site is 5,000 (starting) to 2,500 (ending) years old.
  • Museum consist lots of items founded during the excavation.
  • Unique large signboard founded here which is considered as worlds first signboard. Its words are still unknown by experts.If you decode this text, you will be rewarded 🙂

Worlds first signboard

Here is the site of the Indus Valley Civilisation. You can visit it free of cost and Experience the era of 5,000 years old.

dam of Dholavira

Sunset Point and Karni Mata Mandir

Sunset point is around 8 km from the Indus valley civilisation museum and it’s located at the Lake of Kutchh. The view of the sunset from here is excellent. In the centre of the lake Bhanjno island (Mountain) add beauty. Dholavira Tent City is located here too. The Karni Mandir is located here which is very good too.

Karni Mandir Dholavira

The Khadirbet is a volcanic island and contains wood fossils of around 17 crore years. Its 3 km from Sunset Point and 8 km from the Indus Valley Civilisation site.

  • Site founded around 2006
  • This kind of wood fossil available only 2 places in India. Jaisalmer and Kutchh.
  • 8 Meter long and 1 meter width Wood fossil 17 crores preserved here in glass.
  • The road to reach is not solid. Its kind of dirt road as of now
  • Atmosphere of this place is awsome – Lake near fossil park will give feeling of Sea.

Entrance of fossil park

Flamingo lake and Full Moon viewpoint are near to Harappan site its 3 Km from it. Currently, the water in the lake is not sufficient so a flamingo is not appearing but when you visit, you can try it. In the full moon viewpoint, you can see the moon rising on a full moon date. Also, this place is best for Star Gazing.

Heaven Road. Khavda – Dholavira New Road known as road of heaven dholavira

The new road name is given as heaven road or road of heaven Dholavira and it’s really like heaven. I have captured some photos and video but believe me, the Camera is not able to judge the beauty. It connects the Khavda and Khadirbet. And new road length is around 30 Kms which pass through the Lake of Kutchh. You can see mountains, Mud, Water and White crystal of Salt, Blue sky and the Great Sunset.

Khavda - Dholavira Road

Construction of this road of heaven Dholavira is near to end then it will be Great road and paradise for the bike riders.

Chipper Point Dholavira

Chipper point Dholavira is a newly discovered point. As per my information, this point is discovered by Bharatbhai Manvar the Local passionate guide/residence of Khadirbet.

Chipper point Dholavira

The beauty of this point is in the stone in the air. It’s a thrilling experience to stand on the stone and capture photos. It’s around 200 ft above sea level so it’s risky for young children. From the Chipper point stone, you can see a breathtaking view of the Rann of Kutchh lake. In the same direction, the Pakistan border is around 30 km (Air Distance).

The road to reach there is passing through the open field. No solid road. Also, there is no signboard to reach there. Only you can reach it through google map. Search for Chipper point Dholavira.

Chipper point khadir bet

Travelling Tips and Useful information

  • Please make sure there is no Open restaurants available near by. So either keep food with you or stay in available places.
  • Must fill the fuel tank either Khavda (60 Kms west) or Balasar (60 km east) as there is no Petrol pump between Khavda and Balasar (total stretch of 120 km.
  • Select date of Full moon or No moon (For star gazing).
  • Winter is best time to visit. Particularly – December to February.
  • If you want to experience the authntic experience of Kutchh and Local village life, go for Homestay. There are many homestay available with Minimum cost and minimum facilities. But wonderful tasty food.
  • Veg food available only.
  • Vodafone, Jio and BSNL has better connectivity in this area.
  • Must hire good guide for Indus Valley Civilisation Site Visit.

Accommodation at Dholavira

There are 4 prominent places where you can stay at Dholavira.

1 – Tent City Dholavira or Dholavira tent city

Dholavira tent city Approx 8 km from IVC Site. At sunset point.

dholavira tent city

To get a quick reply (Within 15 mins) please press the green button given below.

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Or phone: 82009 24878

2 – Dholavira Tourism Resort

Dholavira Tourism Resort is located just 100 meter before IVC Dholavira Site

Dholavira Tourism Resort

Approx rate per night

Rajwadi AC Bhunga – ₹ 5,000/Couple Normal Tent – ₹ 3,500/Couple Standar Room – ₹ 4,000/Couple Basic Room – ₹ 1,200/Person Food charges additional. Approx ₹ 600/Day per person.

3 – Dholavira Homestay

Location – Near the Chipper point. Approx Rs. 1,500 / Couple

4 – Rann Resort Dholavira

Near the heaven road. Approx 3.5 km from Indus Valley Civilisation site.

Approx charges per night Rs. 6,500/Couple

Dholavira is located in the Khadir Bet of Kutchh. Khadirbet is located in the Rann of kutch lake. Dholavira is located leftmost part (western part) of the Khadir bet. Pakistan is approx 40 km from Dholavira.

  • Bhuj – Khavda – 130 Kms
  • Mandvi – 190 Kms
  • Ahmedabad – Balasar – 370 Kms

Google Map – https://goo.gl/maps/EA2ip9yjGp6iWQGd8

Distance and Nearby places

  • Jamkunariya Village (Lagaan Movie Shooting place) – 45 Kms
  • Khavda (Gandhi Nu gam) – 60 Kms
  • Kalo Dungar – 80 Kms
  • Dhordo (white rann) – 88 Kms

Schedule and Route

There are 2 options to reach Dholavira Option 1 – From Khavda (White Rann/Rannutsav/Kalodungar) – Dhordo (White Rann) – Khavda – Heaven Road. If you are at Rannutsav or Bhuj side then use this route. Fill up the fuel tank at Khavda. Option 2 – From Rapar Kutchh. Ahmedabad – Rapar – Balasar – Dholavira. If you are going to Rannutsav or direct plan to reach Dholavira then go for this route.

Travelling to Dholavira from Ahmedabad

Approx schedule Day 1 – 4 AM – Leave from Ahmedabad – 7:30 AM – Breakfast halt – 1 PM – Reach Dholavira, check-in at the hotel and take lunch – 3 PM – Fossil Park – 5 PM – Sunset point, Karni Mandir – Night stay and Stargazing or full moon viewpoint Day 2 – 9:00 AM – Breakfast – 10 AM – Dholavira IVC site & Museum – 1 PM Lunch and Checkout – 2:30 PM – Heaven Road visit – 4:00 PM – Chipper point – 8:00 PM – Dinner halt – 1 AM – Drop Fully customisable

Travelling Cost Sedan Car (Max 4 persons) ₹ 9,900 Ertiga AC (Max 6 persons) ₹ 12,800 Innova Crysta AC (Max 8 persons) ₹ 15,500 Including – Travelling home to home – Toll, Parking, Driver Allowance Excluding – Stay, Food charges – Any tickets

Thanks for Reading Last updated on 22 January 2022

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One thought on “Dholavira – Indus Valley Civilisation – Places to visit”

Tamil Brahmi is found in Harappa. Tamil Sangam period Towns,harbor names are found in Indus Valley Civilization. Thee names are. Vanji, capital of Chera Kingdom, Gorkai, in Afghanistan a Pandya harbor, Matrai(Madurai), Urai(Uraiyur capital of Cholas), Koodal kat(kodal, name for Madurai),in Pakistan. Visit mine here

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My Travelogue - Indian Travel Blogger, Heritage enthusiast & UNESCO hunter!

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

Dholavira UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat India

  • Rann of Kutch (Kachchh) - White sands
  • Bhuj - Crafts of Kutch  
  • Mandvi - Known for its pristine beautiful beaches
  • Gandhidham 
  • Day 1 - Ahmedabad (incl. Adalaj Vav , Dada Harir ni Vav , Bai Harir Sultani Mosque , Sidi Saeed Mosque , Sabarmati Ashram )
  • Day 2 - Ahmedabad (incl.  Lothal ,  Sarkhej Roza )
  • Day 3  - Champaner , Pavagadh , Saat Khaman , Lakulisa Temple
  • Day 4  - Modhera Sun Temple , Patan Rani ki Vav
  • Day 5  - Rann of Kutch , Dholavira
  • Day 6  - Bhuj to Nirona stopping at all villages - Crafts of Kutch
  • Day 7 - Dandiya !

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. 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:

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. [email protected]

place to visit at dholavira

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

place to visit at dholavira

Nice post.... I have not been to this part of our country. would love to go...... Thanks for sharing the details, Bhusha......

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

place to visit at dholavira

Interesting post... and photos thanks

Thanks Krishna!

place to visit at dholavira

Interesting information. Thanks for sharing this.

Its my pleasure, Niranjan! :)

place to visit at dholavira

Wonderfully informative post of ancient civilization.

Thanks a lot for the appreciation Rajesh!

place to visit at dholavira

Waiting for my turn now!

Me too waiting for your version of travelogue!

place to visit at dholavira

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

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

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.

Thank you so much. Indeed!!!

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 ?

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

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

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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Dholavira – A Harappan City

August 16, 2022

Dholavira , locally known as Kotada Timba, is an archaeological site that contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization / Harappan City . This site is in Khadir Bet , in the Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District , in Gujarat . The name Dholavira is derived from a modern-day village 1km (0.62 mi) south of it and 165 km (103 mi) from Radhanpur . As the most famous archaeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization in India, Dholavira is one of the five largest Harappan sites worldwide.  Like Lothal , Dholavira also passed through all the stages of the Harappan culture from circa 2900 BC to 1500 BC. However, most others only witnessed the early or late stages. As India’s 40th world heritage site , UNESCO has declared Dholavira , a Harappan city , to be of global significance.  It’s India’s first archaeological site of the earliest civilization (Indus Valley Civilization) to be included in the coveted list. India has 40 world heritage sites, including 32 cultural, seven natural, & one mixed property. Through this nomination, India has joined the Super-40 club of countries with inscriptions on World Heritage Sites . Apart from India , other countries have 40 or more World Heritage Sites, namely Italy, Spain, Germany, China, & France.

The ancient city of Dholavira, the southern centre of the Harappan Civilization, is situated on the arid island of Khadir in the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in the State of Gujarat. Occupied between 3000-1500 BCE, the archaeological site, one of the most remarkable and well-preserved urban settlements from that period in Southeast Asia, comprises a fortified city and a cemetery. The fifth-largest Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) metropolis is Dholavira, after Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala, Harappa, and Rakhigarhi. This Harappan city is unique since it is made of stone, unlike other cities (Harappan Sites), which are made of blocks. In this excavation, several antiques were unearthed, including animal bones, terracotta ornaments, bronze vessels, seals, gold, silver and earthenware utensils, and a few Mesopotamian sources. There were also ten large stone inscriptions carved in Indus Valley script, possibly the earliest signs in history. On 27 July 2021, UNESCO declared Dholavira: a Harappan City, as a world heritage site.

  • Places to Visit Nearby
  • Best Time to Visit
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Reach

History of Dholavira

Dholavira 6

The site was initially discovered by a resident of Dholavira village, Shambhudan Gadhvi , in the early 1960s, who made efforts to bring government attention to the location. The site was “ officially ” discovered in 1966-68 by Jagat Pati Joshi  of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and excavated almost two decades later by R.S. Bisht in the 1990s. It is among the largest known Harappan settlements in India . After Joshi’s discovery , there has been much excitement and speculation regarding the site. The archaeological excavations conducted in the 1990s revealed many new details about this ancient city that made it one of the “ most exciting discoveries of the past half-century .”

R.S. Bisht writes in his ASI report that the 1990s excavations uncovered the remains of a Harappan city . The remains have elaborate fortifications , delicate water structures , and successive settlements characterized by intricate planning over the millennium . Thus, Dholavira witnessed not only the phases of the Harappan culture but also an antecedent culture often referred to as the pre-Harappan culture and  a relatively impoverished post-Harappan culture for a short period.

Architecture of Dholavira

Dholavira stands out in its distinctly Harappan town planning , which, while adhering to some of the typical Harappan norms, remains distinct from an overall viewpoint. The A cropolis (citadel built on a hill) is within the city. Still, two fortified enclosures of similar size (Lothal & Kalibangan) are termed ‘ Bailey ‘ and ‘ Castle .’ However, Lothal and Kalibangan are divided into upper and lower towns within the city. Dholavira has three parts – an acropolis or the upper town , a middle town , and a lower town . The Acropolis and the middle town , presumably the home of the city’s ruling class , were insulated on all sides with vast open areas and thick fortified walls. With its neat crisscrossing of broad street s at right angles, the middle town might have been home to traders and craftsmen. An exciting feature of this area is the presence of a significant ceremonial ground (similar to a stadium), which may have been used for elaborate public events . Double ramparts protect the towering “ castle .” Next to this stands a place called the ‘ bailey ‘ where officials lived . Below the middle town lies the lower town , where ordinary workers probably live .

A unique aspect of Dholavira is the extensive use of stone in construction . During the excavations, every part of the castle, from its fortifications with mud bricks flanked by stone walls to its rooms with dressed stone pillar segments (circular and square), were discovered in their original positions.

Dholavira 8

According to R.S. Bisht ( Retired as the Joint Director-General of the ASI ), the Harappans of Dholavira  developed an efficient system for conserving , harvesting, and storing water . It is clear that their hydraulic engineering was advanced, given the state of technology at the end of the third millennium BCE”. One of the unique hallmarks of Dholavira is the water conservation system of channels & reservoirs , built primarily of stone. The city also built some of the most impressive water reservoirs and wells. These include one to the castle’s east and one to its south, near the Annex. One of the two largest is cut out of massive rock and is considered the earliest example of a rock-cut water reservoir . 

The reservoirs are cut vertically through stone and are about 7 m (23 ft) deep and 79 m (259 ft) long. They skirt the city, while the citadel and bath are centrally located on sloping ground. In addition, there is a large well with a stone-cut trough connecting to a channel drain for conveying water into a storage tank. This created many more natural reservoirs that would have given the town a lake-like appearance during the rainy season. The bathing tank had steps descending inwards . In October 2014, excavations began on a rectangular stepwell that measures 73.4 m (243 ft) long, 29.3 m (96 ft) wide, and 10 m (33 ft) deep, three times larger than the Great Bath of Mohenjo Daro .

Dholavira 7

The 120-acre quadrangular city was surrounded by dams that directed water to the lower town area from two seasonal streams , the Mansar in the north  and Manhar in the south . One of the most famous artifacts from this site is a nearly 3-m-long inscription made up of carefully cut pieces of crystalline marble . However, because of faint markings on its upper parts, it appears to have been engraved on a wooden board . The wooden plank would have been hung somewhere on the northern gate, visible to the middle town. 

A majority of the inscriptions were found on seals (mostly made of stone) and sealings (pieces of clay on which the seal was pressed down to leave its impression). At this site there is also a four-sign inscription with large letters on sandstone that is considered to be the first inscription on sandstone at any Harappan site. Even though the inscription doesn’t help to translate the Harappan script , its discovery in the field of archeology has certainly been identified as ‘ the discovery of the decade ,’ as V. N. Mishra deemed it.

Hemispherical Constructions

In Dholavira , seven hemispherical structures were excavated , of which two have been excavated in detail , which were built over large rock cut chambers . One of the excavated structures was designed in the form of a spoked wheel , while the other was designed in the same fashion, but without spokes . Although they contained pottery burial goods, no skeletons were found apart from one grave, where a skeleton and copper mirror were found. In one of the hemispherical structures, a necklace of steatite beads strung to a copper wire with hooks at both ends, a gold bangle, gold and other beads were also found. A report by the Archaeological Survey of India describes these hemispherical structures as reminiscent of early Buddhist Stupas .

Dholavira 4

Other Structures & Objects

An enormous circular structure on the site is believed to be a grave or memorial . However, no skeletons or human remains were found. This structure consists of ten radial mud-brick walls shaped like spoked wheels . There was a soft sandstone sculpture of a male with a phallus erectus, but the head and feet below the ankle truncated. In addition to pottery pieces, terra cotta seals, bracelets, rings, beads, and intaglio engravings, many funerary structures have been found (although none contained skeletons).

As an exemplary model city that demonstrates proto-historic India’s achievements in high-level urban planning and top-notch engineering skills , Dholavira possesses stories from the pre-Harappan era , as well as exhibiting unique urban planning , and has an advanced and well-developed water conservation system . A UNESCO World Heritage Site tag that it recently received is richly deserved .

Dholavira in Kutch is open from 6 am to 8 pm in the evening.

8 reasons why you should visit Kutch!

Places To Visit Nearby

  • Great Rann of Kutch is about 20km from this archaeological site, which is famous for its white salty desert sand and is reputed to be the largest salt desert in the world. The word ‘ Rann ‘ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ Irina ‘ which means ‘ desert’ .
  • Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary is about 196km away from Dholavira, which is famous for its sandy desert. This desert is home to 15 species of wildlife and desert plants with spikes and thorns .
  • Dhordo Village  is about 95km from Dholavira, located on the Indo-Pak border , north of Bhuj , and is famous for its White Desert , birdwatching , and craft villages . With the Kutch Rann Utsav (December – January) Dhordo has become a renowned tourist destination .
  • Kutch Museum (Bhuj) is roughly 130km away from this archaeological site, in which the Kshatrapa inscriptions from the first century AD are on display, along with examples of the extinct Kachchhi script . Established in 1877 by Maharao Khengarji . A section of the museum is devoted to tribal cultures , with many examples of ancient artifacts, folk crafts, and information about tribal cultures. There are also exhibits of embroidery, paintings, arms, musical instruments, sculpture, and precious metalwork.
  • The Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary also known as the Lal-Parjan Sanctuary , is about 215km from Dholavira , and is the second main location for the conservation of the Indian Bustard . Despite being only 2 square kilometers, this is one of the smallest bird sanctuaries in the country, but a thriving breeding ground for endangered species. This semi-desert area allows the ‘Ghorad’ (local name) to feed on cereal crops.

Best Time To Visit Dholavira

The best time to visit Dholavira is during the winter months from October to March . Monsoon is also a good time for those who are planning their trip to Dholavira but the summers are unbearably hot and humid .

Where To Stay

Accommodation.

Dholavira has several mid-range resorts, Heritage hotels, and Homestays that offer budget accommodation such as Toran Hotel Narayan Sarovar, Vijay Vilas Palace Heritage Hotel (Mandvi, Kutch), Holiday Village Resort (Gandhidham, Kutch), The Bhuj House Heritage Hotel (Kutch), Mahefeel E Rann Resort (Kutch), and JP Resort (Nakhatrana, Kutch).

How To Reach

Dholavira is about 250 kms from Bhuj and is reached via Bhachau and Rapar. There are many state-owned buses, taxis available to reach Dholavira. The option of renting a vehicle is also available.

There are no direct trains available to reach this archaeological site. You can cover a part of your journey by train and the nearest railway station to reach Dholavira is Samakhiali, just 137 kms away. There are three major railway stations nearby: Bhachau, Gandhidham, and Anjar, each located 152, 187, and 191 kilometers away. After that, one must take a bus or a cab to get to this magnificent location.

The nearest airport to reach Dholavira is Kandla airport, situated at a distance of 191 kms. Another reachable airport is Bhuj (215 kms away). After that, one must take a bus or a cab to get to this magnificent location.

Thank you for visiting my blog and stay tuned for more updates related to ancient history on my website: Ancientterminus

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Gujarat Trip for December 2024 - Gujarat Forum

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' class=

I have planned for below places pls suggest if the plan is workable for 8-9 days.

Surat, Gujarat

Statue of Unity

Shree Mahakali Mataji Temple, Pavagadh

Nishkalank Mahadev Temple

Khodiyar Mandir, Bhavnagar

Gir National Park,

Dwarkadhish Temple , Mul Dwarka,

Somnath Temple

Shri Nageshwar Jyotirling,

Beyt Dwarka, Gujarat

Makardhwaj Hanuman Mandir

Koteshvar, Gujarat

Kalo Dungar, Gujarat 370510

Dholavira, Gujarat 370165

Ambaji Temple , Khodiyar

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Thanks in advance.

4 replies to this topic

' class=

Dear traveler,

I would suggest you below tour itinerary for Gujarat

Surat> Vadodara >Bhavnagar> Sasangir – Junagadh >Diu> Somnath >Porbandar- Dwarka > Jamnagar > Little Rann of Kutch & Ahmedabad

& Ahmedabad to Ahmedabad

Day 01: Ahmedabad – Little Rann of Kutch (90km / 2 hrs)

Day 02: Little Rann of Kutch – Jamnagar (210kms/2hrs)

Day 03: Jamnagar – Dwarka (240km/5hrs)

Day 04: Dwarka – Porbandar - Somnath (200km/ 4hrs)

Day 05: Somnath – Diu (90km/ 2hrs)

Day 06: Diu

Day 07: Diu – Sasangir (100km / 2hrs)

Day 08: Sasangir – Junagadh - Gondal (200km/4hrs)

Day 09: Gondal – Palitana – Bhavnagar (190kms/4hrs)

Day 10: Bhavnagar - Velavadar National Park - Lothal – Ahmedabd (210km/ 4hrs)

Hope the above suggestions will helps you.

Fortunate India Tours

place to visit at dholavira

The other option are

02 Day – Morning visit Nageshwar Jyotirling Temple, Gopi Talav , Bet Dwarka , Badkeshwar Shiv temple – stay at Dwarka

03 Day : Dwarka - Porbandar - Somnath : on the way we visit Porbandar, Later visit Somanth, see Sandhya Arti Darshan at Somnath Mahadev Temple , stay in Somanth

04 Day - Morning darshan at Somnath Temple . Visit Bakhla Tirth, Triveni Tirth, Surya Mandir and Ahilya Mandir, Proceed to Junagarh Chandrabhaga Devi Shakti Peeth Temple & move to Rajkot – stay Rajkot

05 Day – Morning proceed to Chotila visit Chotila Chamunda Mataji Temple one of the Shaktipeeth , move to Bhavnagar – stay Bhavnagar.

06 Day - Darshan Shree Niskalank Mahadev Temple - Niskalank Mahadev Temple is 2 kms inside the sea. One has to travel by boat to reach this temple. The temple is immersed in the sea in the remaining hours. Tides in the sea create this effect. One can identify the temple with the help of a flag arranged on the top of temple. The temple has 5 distinct swayumbu Shiva lingams inside , one of the best spiritual destinations! - Move to Vadadora for night halt .

07 Day – Morning proceed to Pavagadh to visit Mahakali Mandir – Proceed to Dakor to visit Famous Krishna Temple Ranchodraiji Temple – halt in Ahmedabad

08 Day – Morning proceed to Ambaji Temple one of the Shakteepith Temple stay at Ahmedabad .

09 Day – Morning visit Akshardham Swaminaryan Temple & local sightseeing ( or you can visit Dakor Ranchodraiji Temple near Vadadora ) evening back home

If you are travelling in December month, than I would suggest you book your hotels and transport in Advance, because December is season time. A lot of tourists comes in December month.

Udaipur to mount abu

And Abu to Patan

Kachchh – Bhuj

Rajkot -Junagarh-Gir-Bhavnagar & Ahmedabad .

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The excavation site for harappan cilvilization, this is as archaeologically good as it gets.

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place to visit at dholavira

Quick Information

Best time to visit, ideal duration, starting from, http://gujarattourism.com/hub/8, cultural show, desert safari.

The timings for Dholavira in Kutch is morning 6 am to 8 pm in evening. However, the best time to visit Dholavira is during winter from the month of October till March. Monsoon is also good time for those who are planning there trip to Dholavira but summers are excessively hot and climate is unbearable for tourists. Winter is the ideal time to pay a visit to the place with standard duration of 2 to 3 hours.

Monday to Sunday

6:00 am - 8:00 pm

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COMMENTS

  1. THE BEST Places to Visit in Dholavira (UPDATED 2024)

    1 place sorted by traveller favourites. 1. Heaven Of Kutch Khavda To Dholavita Road. 9. Scenic Drives. By GuruGhummakad. Best road trip of my life!!!

  2. Dholavira Tourism (2024)

    Dholavira Tourism. Known as a remarkable excavation site during the Indus Valley Civilization, Dholavira was one of the most developed cities roughly 4500 years ago. It was a flourishing Harappan site between 2650 and 1450 BCE. Presently an archaeological site in Khadirbet of Kutch Gujarat, the village is also locally known as Kotada Timba.

  3. THE BEST Things to Do in Dholavira

    1 place sorted by traveler favorites. Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity. 1. Heaven Of Kutch Khavda To Dholavita Road. 10. Scenic Drives. By GuruGhummakad. Best road trip of my life!!! Things to Do in Dholavira, India: See Tripadvisor's 263 traveler reviews and photos of Dholavira ...

  4. Dholavira: a Harappan City

    The ancient city of Dholavira, the southern centre of the Harappan Civilization, is sited on the arid island of Khadir in the State of Gujarat. Occupied between ca. 3000-1500 BCE, the archaeological site, one of the best preserved urban settlements from the period in Southeast Asia, comprises a fortified city and a cemetery.

  5. Dholavira

    Dholavira is the larger of the two most remarkable excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan culture, dating back to 4500 years ago. While the other site, Lothal, is more exhaustively educated and easier to reach, a visit to Lothal only complements, rather than replaces, a visit to Dholavira.

  6. A Complete Guide to Dholavira: UNESCO World Heritage Site in India

    Dhordo to Dholavira. Recently, a new road has been built for the G20 Summit that connects Dhordo to Dholavira. As a result, the travel time between the two places has reduced tremendously. You can reach Dholavira from Dhordo Village within 2 hours and even cross the gorgeous 'Road to Heaven' on the way. Where to Stay

  7. Explore Dholavira with our Comprehensive Tourist Guide

    Exploring Dholavira: Must Visit Places Now that you have settled into your accommodation at Evoke Dholavira , it is time to explore the top places to see in Dholavira. Begin with the Dholavira World Heritage Site, where you will witness the meticulously preserved remnants of the Harappan civilization.

  8. Dholavira

    Dholavira (Gujarati: ધોળાવીરા) is an archaeological site at Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District, in the state of Gujarat in western India, which has taken its name from a modern-day village 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) south of it.This village is 165 km (103 mi) from Radhanpur.Also known locally as Kotada timba, the site contains ruins of a city of the ancient Indus Valley ...

  9. Dholavira

    Dholavira. A long drive northeast from Bhuj is the fascinating and remote archaeological site of Dholavira, on a seasonal island in the Great Rann. Excavations have revealed a complex town of stone buildings 1 sq km in area, inhabited by the Harappan civilisation from around 2900 to 1500 BC. Visitors can explore a series of walls and buildings ...

  10. A Complete Guide to Dholavira: UNESCO World Heritage Site in India

    Dholavira was one of the most advanced societies five thousand years ago during the Indus Valley Civilization. This place witnessed the Harappans settling in the 2650 BCE and it continued to flourish for next 1200 years or so. It was during 1450 BCE that the place saw a serious decline due to several natural causes.

  11. Things to Do in Dholavira in The Great Rann of Kutch Gujarat

    Bird watching, more specifically Flamingo watching, is one of the best things to do in Dholavira. Do time yourself for it. Early mornings are the best to sight them. Flamingo Lake is still a hidden destination, it is 2.5 km further west from the Archaeological Museum. Vista Sunset Point near Dholavira.

  12. Dholavira

    The Harappan site. Dholavira the second largest Harappan site in India and the fifth largest in South Asia. It was unearthed by Indian archaeologists in 1967 but excavations into the site only began since 1990. In 2021 the site was added to the world heritage list . Dholavira has one of the oldest water conservation systems in the world.

  13. Dholavira

    47. Excavation of reservoirs Bhajish Bharathan /CC BY-SA 4.0. As a major outpost of the Harrapan civilization, Dholavira flourished for 1,200 years, from approximately 3000 to 1800 B.C. It was on ...

  14. Dholavira

    It is a must visit, especially for those interested in history, culture and archaeology. I first visited Dholavira during my student days and was mesmerized by the place. As CM of Gujarat, I had the opportunity to work on aspects relating to heritage conservation and restoration in Dholavira.

  15. All about Dholavira Harappan Site (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) : A

    One of the biggest Indus Valley Civilizations - Dholavira Harappan Site which is known for its water management system. Harappa - the first of the cities to be discovered in Punjab province of Pakistan along the erstwhile bank of River Ravi.; Mohenjodaro - the 2 nd biggest Harappa Civilization city found in the Sindh region of Pakistan. This excavations here have revealed a well ...

  16. Dholavira

    Dholavira is the larger of the two most remarkable excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan culture, dating back to 4500 years ago. While the other site, Lothal, is more exhaustively educated and easier to reach, a visit to Lothal only complements, rather than replaces, a visit to Dholavira.

  17. Dholavira

    There are 4 prominent places where you can stay at Dholavira. 1 - Tent City Dholavira or Dholavira tent city. Dholavira tent city Approx 8 km from IVC Site. At sunset point. ... One thought on "Dholavira - Indus Valley Civilisation - Places to visit" Nandhiswararayan says: September 11, 2022 at 9:37 AM.

  18. Dholavira

    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. ... I am planning to visit Dholavira in the second week of January 2015, and want to stay there ...

  19. Dholavira Travel Guide 2024: Best of Dholavira Tourism

    Dholavira Tourism and Travel Guide. The ruins of Dholavira, one of the two largest Harappan sites in India, are an archeological site located in Kutch, Gujarat. This historical site is located in the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary and is surrounded by the great expanse of Rann of Kutch. It houses some of the most amazing artefacts of that time.

  20. Dholavira

    Dholavira, locally known as Kotada Timba, is an archaeological site that contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization/ Harappan City.This site is in Khadir Bet, in the Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District, in Gujarat.The name Dholavira is derived from a modern-day village 1km (0.62 mi) south of it and 165 km (103 mi) from Radhanpur.As the most famous archaeological site of the Indus ...

  21. Places to Visit in Dholavira: Tourist Places in Dholavira, Dholavira

    Dholavira Travel Guide : Know Tourist Places to Visit in Dholavira, Best Time to Visit, Attractions, Nearby Places to visit, Sightseeing, Weekend Getaways, Things to Do and How to Reach. Take a look.

  22. Gujarat Trip for December 2024

    The other option are . 01 Day . Arrival Ahmedabad & proceed to Dwarka: - Visit Dwarkadeesh Temple. later on way back do visit Rukmani Temple, evening visit other temples on Coastal area, attend evening aarti at Dwarkadish temple.. 02 Day - Morning visit Nageshwar Jyotirling Temple, Gopi Talav, Bet Dwarka, Badkeshwar Shiv temple - stay at Dwarka 03 Day : Dwarka - Porbandar - Somnath: on the ...

  23. Dholavira in Kutch Time

    The timings for Dholavira in Kutch is morning 6 am to 8 pm in evening. However, the best time to visit Dholavira is during winter from the month of October till March. ... Winter is the ideal time to pay a visit to the place with standard duration of 2 to 3 hours. Timings. Monday to Sunday. 6:00 am - 8:00 pm. Popular Packages. Unlimited choices ...