Lothal, Gujarat – A Journey To The Ancient Harappan Civilization

The warehouse in upper town - Lothal

Lothal was a manufacturing hub and a major export port of the ancient Indus Valley civilization. The present day Lothal in Gujarat hosts archaeological remains of a dockyard, warehouse, acropolis, lower town and well. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has set up an excellent museum to present high living standards and prosperity of Lothal residents.

In my school time, I have always loved the subject, Social Science (S.S.). In one of the chapters, the writers have mentioned Lothal town as a footnote and that day I added the tourism place to my ‘To Explore’ list way back. Recently, I and Bhavya made up plan to hunt the place –and the plan was tremendously fruitful.

This article will stand up as a comprehensive tourist guide to Lothal, will offer a visual walk through to the ancient town and will teach you the history by stunning photos of Lothal.

Let’s start the journey…

UPDATE: Accomodation in Lothal

Planning tour to Lothal and want to stay there overnight? Great! There’s one excellent homestay option, just 5 minutes from Lothal. Local delicious food can also be availed. 🙂

Call +91 94295 64808 for bookings.

The Creation of Travel Plan

We both study Computer Engineering in DDIT, Nadiad. Distance between Lothal and Nadiad is  km (From Ahmedabad – km).  None of us own private vehicle.

“How to reach Lothal by public transportation?” was a pain in our head.

I tried to contact past visitors from TripAdvisor. Their tone was either like “We don’t actually know” or “We went there by our own vehicle/cab” or “No chances of public transportation”. We were about to dismiss the trip when we were handed information, “Reach the town Bagodara. Lothal is just 20 km from there.”

After having a successful internal exam the day before, we were on a high spiritual level. “Let’s do it!” -my voice said.

Landing to Lothal – A Vibrant Flight

Most of the Gujarat state transport buses destined to Saurashtra, stop at Bagodara. Thus reaching to Bagodara from Nadiad was a swift process. Saurashtra bound buses are frequent throughout the day.

Now in Bagodara, I asked a local shopkeeper the same question with changed variable values, “How to reach Lothal from Bagodara?” . He informed us to go to Bhurkhi Railway Fatak and pointed out to a nearby truck, which would pass by Bhurkhi.

“But wait, in a truck?” Yes! Why not try a different stuff! The truck part was a jubilant go through.

Riding Truck - Lothal

Arriving at Bhurkhi my mind was again pondered in thoughts as to “How to reach Lothal from here?”  We approached to a Chhakdawala destined a few feet from us.

“You want to go Lothal?” He asked.

“Yes” I said.

“Alright. Come on board then.”

“So, you will drop us to Lothal?” I sought confirmation.

“In 10 minutes”

Wow. That was quite unexpected. Time to experience Chhakda too!

Chhakda Journey

It took us 15 minutes to reach out destined place though! 🙂 Path is important – destination isn’t, I recollected.

How to Reach Lothal – The Sum-up

Lothal is situated near the village of Saragwala in the Dholka Taluka of Ahmedabad district in Gujarat state of India.

Distance Matrix

FromToDistance in km
BagodaraLothal20 km
DholkaLothal41 km
AhmedabadLothal91 km
NadiadLothal86 km
VadodaraLothal117 km
AnandLothal86 km

Private Vehicle:

When it comes to excursion from Ahmedabad, Lothal is a best destination. The excavation site is very well-connected by road network. Like other Gujarat roads,  roads to Lothal are classy all the way up to the tourism site. Google Maps is all you need to navigate your way through.

Awesome Roads

Train:

Board Bhavnagar bound train and drop off at Bhurkhi station. You can find a Chhakda from there.
Here’s a list of available trains from Ahmedabad to Bhurkhi:

 

Bus:

Get in a bus that’s going to Saurastra and get off at Bagodara. From here, reach to Arnej or Bhurkhi Fatak. Vehicles to Lothal are available from both the villages.

The Essentials of Ancient Lothal – History, Civilization and Facts

Before the sight-seeing, let’s spare a couple of minutes to understand Lothal’s history and important keywords.

The meaning of Lothal (a combination of Loth and Thal) in Gujarati is “the mound of the dead”.  Lothal was excavated from 1955 to 1960 by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Dholavira is the second similar site found in Gujarat.

Lothal was a vital and thriving trade centre in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and valuable ornaments reaching the far corners of West Asia and Africa. The techniques and tools they pioneered for bead-making and in metallurgy have stood the test of time for over 4000 years.

The archaeologists have found a mound, a township, a marketplace, and the dock. This implies that the Lothal city planners and architecturers had a great vision. Due to the ever blooming business, residents of Lothal would have enjoyed a decent lifestyle.


Lothal Map 

An artist’s visualization of Lothal civilization and history. It also depicts the map of Lothal.

Old Map

That’s enough for the basics. Time to roam around the real site..

Lothal Archaeological Museum

The museum was set up in 1976 by Archaeological Survey of India to display the artifacts recovered from the excavation. The Museum has three galleries, detailed map and a scaled model of Lothal.

There are also introductory write-ups, amazing facts and history about the site. Out of the 5089 objects unearthed during the excavation, 800 objects are on display in the museum.

Lothal Museum

The museum has a small reference library and a publication counter for selling publications of the Archaeological Monuments. Alas, they don’t actually sell.

The place is maintained keenly and offers all you want to know about the context. Photography is strictly prohibited so I tried to draw some of the items in my small diary. The museum also has a large display to show a documentary of civilization, history, tourism of Lothal.

My Notes

Timings of Lothal Museum

Opening Hours : 10.00 am to 5.00 pm (FRIDAY CLOSED)
Entrance Fee: Rs. 5/- per head.

They also give brochure upon request.

The Campus of Lothal – Food & Accommodation 

You may read on the internet that Lothal has one canteen. No, it’s an obsolete information. There’s absolutely no food stall.

We didn’t think about the food crisis. We had Chana Dal to feed ourselves.

Chana Dal

The administration has set up of a shed to cook food in the parking area. It’s like a handy platform for school and group trips. A football field sized green garden surrounds the museum acting as an excellent natural rest room. (I almost felt asleep resting below the tree!)

Around museum - Lothal

Accommodation is not required. The place can be explored in 3-4 hours.

Excavation Site – A Walk Through

Tourists visit Lothal to see this – the remains of now-ruined Lothal town. Without a guide, you’d be seeing the stones only and have no idea about the implication of the bricked structure. Nevertheless, we did a thorough search about the site and had no problems figuring out the significance of the structure.

4400 years old well

The well is built of radial bricks, 2.4 metres in diameter and 6.7 metres deep. It had an immaculate network of underground drains, silting chambers and cesspools, and inspection chambers for solid waste.

Entry Well - Lothal

Dockyard

The dockyard was located away from the main current to avoid deposition of silt. The dock, with a canal opening to allow water to flow into the river, thereby maintaining a stable water level. Dockyard and warehouse were one of the best architectural constructs of the Indus valley civilization era.

Dockyard - Lothal

Speculation suggests that owing to the comparatively small dimensions of the main city, Lothal was not a large settlement at all, and its “dockyard” was perhaps an irrigation tank. ASI asserts the opposite. Dockyard is maintained poorly. Water stinks.

The Warehouse

Lothal engineers accorded high priority to the creation of a dockyard and a warehouse to serve the purposes of naval trade. The warehouse was built close to the acropolis on a 3.5-metre-high podium of mud bricks. The rulers could thus supervise the activity on the dock and warehouse simultaneously.

The warehouse in upper town - Lothal

Kitchen Area

Kitchen of upper town with pot furnace.

Private kitchen area in upper town - Lothal

Cooking Blocks

The rooms of the upper town were obviously built for the upper classes. They had private brick baths and a remarkable network of drains and cesspools.

Cooking blocks - Lothal

Bead Maker’s Kiln

The bead factory had ten living rooms and a large workplace courtyard. Lothal’s beads had huge demand.

Bead maker's kiln - Lothal

The Acropolis

Near the warehouse, also on a high plinth, is the upper town or acropolis which spans 128 by 61 meters and has extensive drainage systems.

The acropolis - Lothal

Drainage System

An elaborate sanitary and drainage system, a hallmark of ancient Indus cities, is in evidence everywhere at Lothal.

Into the drainage system - Lothal

Lower Town

From the plinth of the acropolis, it is a short distance to the lower town. The lower town contains a commercial and residential area. The arterial streets running from north to south were flanked by shops, merchant dwellings and artisan’s workshops.

6 Things To Note

  • Visit only if you’re interested in history. You’ll hate Lothal as a travel destination otherwise.
  • Take printout of this article. It’ll work as guide and help you to identify block structure.
  • Don’t forget to include food in your checklist.
  • No good for kids. A minimum age of 12 is required to understand all the jargons. Children may easily get bored in this case.
  • 3-4 hours are sufficient to explore Lothal.
  • Public transportation is available.

The Real Kathiyawadi Food – Taste = Delicious | Mind = Blown

Having spent 4 mind boggling hours in Lothal, we headed back. Our foot steps were heading towards the Bagodara bus station and then we spotted a Kathiyawadi Lodge near the station. Stomach had been craving for food so we decided to give it a dose of traditional food.

The hotel system was surprisingly different than a mediocre hotel.

For instance, instead of distributing buttermilk in a glass, they smashed a pot full of it on the table (2 liter) and told us to consume it at our will! Then, there were 10 different supplementary items like onions, fried chilies, masala carrots and what not. Add a true form of self service to the top. That is, everything would be on your table, sabji, roti, rice, dal – eveything. Eat as much as you want!

Kathiyawadi Food - Bagodara

 

Food and the concept, both made my day. A perfect way to conclude the trip!

Thanks for reading! Share this post to light up our great Indian civilization. Contribute your thoughts in the comments.

[Images have been watermarked as one of my article Don hill station was heavily plagiarized couple of months ago.  Not for reproduction.]
Good day!

Keep on..

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30 Comments on "Lothal, Gujarat – A Journey To The Ancient Harappan Civilization"

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Prakash.K.
Prakash.K.

Hi , I am Prakash, thiis articleis of help to me as I am visiting Lothal with family today. I came from Bangalore with Lathal as prime destination.. Lothal was on my mind sine 8-10 years. Just three days back I visited Dolavira.

Amit Palaliya
Amit Palaliya

Super article ,
Awesome writing ,Real touch ,nice narration,keep it up Darpan .

Thangarajan
Thangarajan

I wish I were born in Gujarat!

A remarkable, memorable place to be born. .I LOVE ANTICS.

Mitesh Chaudhari
Mitesh Chaudhari

Nice..Darpan..!! You make my dream comes true for trip to lothal. Thank you.

Santak Dalai
Santak Dalai

Quite detailed. I think this is a nice mix, combining your writing skills and travel experiences.

dhruv
dhruv

It’s pics are awesone

Alish
Alish

Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to
say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.

After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

Lalio
Lalio

You sound amazing , I’ll wish to explore – don hill , Wilson hill …. Many more .

Aniket Desai
Aniket Desai

I learned everything I wanted to learn about Lothal. Very helpful guide to tourists.

Riddhi Gandhi
Riddhi Gandhi

Well done Bhavya and Darpan.. keep it up.. Very good narration Darpan..

Hardik U Patel
Hardik U Patel

Now that’s what i call a perfect journey! You’ve splendidly describe your experiences,each and every detail of your trip. Specially,those six notes attatched at last are praise-worthy. No words for praises!. . . seriouslly, Great! 🙂

chirag pandya
chirag pandya

three claps for darpan sir

michael
michael

good narration. keep it up

Jatayu Baxi
Jatayu Baxi

આર્ટીકલ વાચવાની ઘણી મજા આવી. ટ્રકની સફરથી માંડીને છેલ્લે કાઠીયાવાડી હોટેલ સુધીનું બધું જ ઘણું રસપ્રદ અને મહીતીપ્રદાન છે. આ તો એ સમયની વાત છે જયારે ટેકનોલોજી શું એ પણ લોકોને ખબર ન હતી તો પણ બધી વ્યવસ્થાઓ કેટલી સચોટ છે એ જોવાનું છે. I also encourage you to visit more less known places and share your experiences on this platform.

Joel
Joel

Interesting! Feeling proud to read about our ancient rich Indian culture.
Great article!

Tanmay
Tanmay

Now when our life is fully loaded with technology, it was amazing to read the article. Quite detailed one. Cheero. Awesome.

Biren Kothari
Biren Kothari

Darpan, I went through ur description of Lothal, Wilson Hills and Don with great interest. The way u have provided the first hand information is very interesting. Information of such lesser known places of Gujarat is worth sharing. U should write more such stuff.

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