Lothal is one of the most famous cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. It is located in the Bhal region, near Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat. Lothal was originally the site for the shimmering Red Ware culture, connected with the post-Rig-Vedic civilization, and celebrated for its mica-related pottery. The city that matured as the most significant port and a center of the bead industry, gems and precious ornaments that flourished until 1900 BC. These products reached the far corners of West Asia and Africa.
The people of Lothal worshiped a fire god that could be the horned deity represented on ancient seals of the civilization.
The Dockyard of Lothal
The dockyard made Lothal legendary. The dock was probably the supreme work of maritime architecture before the birth of Christ. This was the earliest known dock found in the world, equipped to berth and service ships.
The town was divided into blocks of approx 2 meter-high (approx 6 ft) platforms of oven baked and dried bricks, each consisting of 20–30 houses of thick mud and brick walls. The dockyard was located away from the main river to avoid deposition of silt. It had an area 37 meters from east to west and nearly 22 meters from north to south. It
The engineers built a trapezoidal structure, with north-south arms of average 21.8 meters (71.5 ft), and east-west arms of 37 meters (121 ft). It associated the city to an ancient course of the Sabarmati River on the trade route between Harappan cities in Sindh and the peninsula of Saurashtra when the surrounding Kutch desert of today was a part of the Arabian Sea.
Lothal was bounded by a massive brick wall, which was probably used for flood protection. The south-eastern quadrant takes the form of a great platform of brick with earth filling, rising to a height of about 13 feet (4 meters). On this were built a series of further smaller platforms with traversing air channels, reminiscent of the granary at Mohenjo-Daro, with overall dimensions of about 159 by 139 feet (48 by 42 meters). A great flood seemingly resulted in a gradual decline of the city of Lothal.
Why ‘City of the Dead’?
Reason Behind It Being Called a Dead City
Probable reason behind this city’s downfall is still unknown, but it is said that a great flood which once took place in the city might have been a reason. Other than this, some other natural calamities like storms could have also been the reason.
The meaning of Lothal (a combination of Loth and (s) thal) in Gujarati to be “the mound of the dead” is not unusual, as the name of the city of Mohenjo-Daro in Sindhi means the same. People in villages neighboring to Lothal had known of the presence of an ancient town and human remains.
Present Day at Lothal
Discovered in 1954, Lothal was dug up from 13 February 1955 to 19 May 1960 by Prof. S.R. Rao of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is the official Indian government agency for the preservation of ancient monuments. It still attracts visitors, particularly school and college students. Lothal’s burial ground is no longer accessible because of untamed growth everywhere. The cemetery houses two skeletons which were found during excavations at the site, carried out between 1955 and 1962.
According to ASI officials, ‘shortage of funds has lead to staff inadequacy, which has affected even routine maintenance tasks like a clearing of weeds. As of now, the gateman of the museum has to run to the historical Lothal dock to caution visitors against moving on the precarious structure.’
Timings & Entry:
Museum Time 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Friday Closed)
Entry Fees Rs. 5:00 per Head for Indian Citizen
100/- For Foreign Tourist (Children up to 15 years Free)
Lothal is situated near the village of Saragwala in the Dholka Taluka of Ahmedabad district. It is six kilometers (southeast) of the Lothal-Bhurkhi railway station on the Ahmedabad-Bhavnagar railway line. It is also connected by all-weather roads to the cities of Ahmedabad (85 km), Bhavnagar, Rajkot, and Dholka. The nearest cities are Dholka and Bagodara, Ahmedabad being the nearest Airpot.
Museum at Lothal
The museum at Lothal was set up in 1976 in order to exhibit the artifacts discovered from the excavation conducted from 1952 to 1961. The Museum has three galleries. In the front gallery depicts an artist’s conjectural idea of the Harappan town of Lothal. There are also early write-ups and maps about the site. The gallery at left side has showcases with beads, terracotta ornaments, imitations of seal and sealing, shell and ivory objects, copper and bronze objects, tools and potteries yielded from excavations. The gallery at right has game objects animal and human figurines, weights, painted potteries, objects recovered from burials and ritual objects, miniature potteries, bricks beside a copy of a joint burial and a scaled model of Lothal site. Out of the 5089 objects unearthed during the excavation, 800 objects are on display in the museum.
Apart from the exhibited antiquities, the most fabulous antiquities of Lothal are:
steatite seals with unicorn motif and inscription
terracotta sealing with an elephant motif
Persian Gulf type seal
gold necklace copper/bronze fish hooks
dish on sand
jar painted with the stories of thirsty crow and cunning fox
Terracotta bull, horse, model boat, a model of a mummy, ivory scale and shell compass, chess dice, etc.
The museum has a small reference library and a publication counter for selling publications of the Archaeological Monuments.