Harappan Civilization – Town Planning


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Subsequent larger scale excavations at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa revealed a similarity in town planning (Wheeler ). Cities seemed to share uniformity in layout making the civilisation unique
amongst the earliest societies. The layout of the towns generally comprised of a monumental citadel within a walled lower town withindividual dwellings or houses. Another unique feature of this society was mastery of the use of water. Highly efficient covered drainage systems removed sewage from housing, reservoirs supplied fresh water, irrigation systems helped to grow crops and seated toilets lay above waste chutes which acted as a flush system- all thousands of years before Rome.
The most interesting urban feature of Harappan civilization is its town-planning. It is marked by considerable uniformity, though one can notice some regional variations as well. The uniformity is noticed in the lay-out of the towns, streets, structures, brick size, drains etc. Almost all the major sites (Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Kalibangan and others), are divided into two parts–a citadel on higher mound on the western side and a lower town on the eastern side of the settlement. The citadel contain large structures which might have functioned as administrative or ritual centres. The residential buildings are built in the lower town. The streets intersect each other at right
angles in a criss-cross pattern. It divides the city in several residential blocks. The main street is connected by narrow lanes. The doors of the houses opened in these lanes and not the main streets.
The houses of common people, however, differed in size from a single-room house in Harappa to bigger structures. The houses were largely built of burnt bricks. The bigger houses had many rooms surrounding a square courtyard. These houses were provided with private wells, kitchens and bathing plateforms. The difference in the size of the houses suggests that the rich lived in the larger houses whereas the one-room buildings or barracks might have been intended for the
poorer section of the society. The drainage system of the Harappans was elaborate and well laidout. Every house had drains, which opened into the street drains. These drains were covered with manholes bricks or stone slabs (which could be removed for cleaning) were constructed
at regular intervals by the side of the streets for cleaning. This shows that the people were well acquainted with the science of sanitation.
At Mohenjodaro the ‘Great Bath’ is the most important structure. It is surrounded by corridors on all sides and is approached at either end a by a flights of steps in north and south. A thin layer of bitumen was applied to the bed of the Bath to ensure that water did not seep in. Water was supplied by a large well in an adjacent room. There was a drain for the outlet of the water. The bath was surrounded by sets of rooms on sides for changing cloth. Scholars believe that the ‘Great Bath’ was used for ritual bathing. Another structure here located to the west of the ‘Great Bath’ is the granary. It consists of several rectangular blocks of brick for storing grains. A granary has also been found at Harappa. It has the rows of circular brick platforms, which were used for threshing grains. This is known from the finding of chaffs of wheat and barley from here. At Lothal, a brick structure has been identified as a dockyard meant for berthing ships and handling cargo. This suggests that Lothal was an important port and trading centre of the Harappan people.
 

Sunday, 23rd Feb 2014, 09:30:04 AM

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