Lothal: A Slice of Ancient History Near Ahmedabad

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About 2600-1900 years before the Christian era, arose a civilisation on the banks of a river in the Indian subcontinent, which was different from all of its contemporaries. While all the other ancient civilisations were agrarian and rural, the Indus Valley Civilisation was an urban civilisation of peaceful traders. The civilisation spread over modern say Afghanistan, Pakistan till the north-western part of India. During partition while most of the important archaeological sites of this important civilisation went to Pakistan, some sites fell within the boundary of India - Lothal is the most famous among them.

Excavated around 1955-1960 near Bhal region of Gujarat, by the Archaeological survey of India (A.S.I), Lothal had the distinction of having the world’s oldest dock which connected the city with Sabarmati river. The ancient ruins are located near Saragwala village in Ahmedabad district, at a distance of about 75 kilometres from the city of Ahmedabad. It takes about two hours to reach the site via N.H 47. Tourists can put up in various resorts in Ahmedabad as a stop-over before the trip to Lothal. The most suitable time for such a visit is the winter months when the weather is pleasant.

While the major tourist attractions are:
  • The ancient dockyard.
  • The acropolis
  • The lower town
  • The bead factory
  • And last but not the least, the famed drainage system.
The site also houses a humble but rich museum, exhibiting objects unearthed from the ancient site like mirrors lined with bronze and copper, painted potteries that were perforated, toy bullocks, beads, jewellery as well as a variety of objects made out of stone, shells and bones. The trade relations of the Indus valley people with other civilisations are also evident from the seals from Bahrain, terracotta figurines from Sumeria and objects from Egypt which were also unearthed from this site, are on display in this museum. Other than the historical significance of this site, Lothal also provides a picturesque landscape. The valley is backed up by the Lari Bank glacier at around 13,000 feet above sea level. Adding to the charm, the Pushpawati Ganga runs through the valley. During the beginning of monsoon, the valley hosts a number of beautiful bird species and butterflies as well as flowers.

The road to Lothal has two phases. Other than by road, tourists can first go to Bhurkhi, which is a station laying in between the Ahmedabad-Bhavnagar railway line, and the second phase starts from there. There are buses at regular intervals from Bhurkhi to Lothal. With no dearth of hotels in Gujarat, one can also plan a stopover at Bhurkhi for a night.

However, this place in not essentially for the conventional tourist who enjoys landscaped gardens and parks and beautiful monuments. Lothal calls out to those who wish to be enamoured by the simplicity yet efficiency of the people that lived thousands of years ago. Lothal is the quintessential holiday destination for the history loving geek in you.
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