Indus Valley Civilization UPSC

The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age Civilization, which originated in the Chacolithic Age in the western region of India and spread to some areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan besides India.

Indus Valley Civilization UPSC

For centuries, the enigmatic Indus Valley Civilization remained shrouded in mystery, its existence unknown until the early decades of the twentieth century. Prevailing scholarly beliefs asserted that India lacked a civilization before Alexander the Great's invasion in 326 BC.. In the third decade of the 20th century, two archaeologists – Dayaram Sahni and Rakhaldas Banerjee, by obtaining antiquities from the ancient sites of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, proved that there was a civilization even before Alexander’s invasion, which was the most developed among its contemporary civilizations.

Later Sir John Marshall, Madhav Swaroop Vats, K.N. Dixit, Ernest Mackay, Aurel Stein, Amlanand Ghosh, J. P. Joshi etc. scholars obtained important materials by excavation. Based on the remains obtained from the excavation, this whole civilization is called ‘Indus Valley Civilization’, or ‘Harappan Civilization’ in the name of its main site Harappa. Nomenclature The area of the Indus Valley Civilization was very wide. Initially, evidence of this civilization has been found from the excavation of Harappa and Mohanjodaro, so scholars named it as Indus Valley Civilization, because these areas fall in the area of Indus and its tributaries, but later Ropar, Lothal, Kalibanga Remnants of this civilization were also found in areas like Banawali, Rangpur etc. which were outside the area of Indus and its tributaries. Therefore, historians consider it appropriate to name this civilization as ‘Harappan Civilization’ due to Harappa being the main center of this civilization.

Geographical expansion of the Indus Valley Civilization UPSC

  • The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age Civilization, which originated in the Chacolithic Age in the western region of India and spread to some areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan besides India.
  • The geographical expansion of the Indus civilization was from Manda (Jammu) in the north to the mouth of the Narmada River in the south and from Sutkagendor in the west to Alamgirpur (Meerut) in the east.
  • It is about 1100 km from north to south. Till and 1600 km from east to west. Was up to
  • Till now about 2800 sites have been identified through excavation and research. The Indus Valley Civilization was in its triangular form, whose area was about 13 lakh square km. Is.
  • First of all, Charles Masson discovered the Indus civilization in 1826 AD, the first description of which is found in the book published by him in 1842. After that, in the year 1921, archaeologist Dayaram Sahni, under the leadership of the then head of the Archaeological Survey of India, Sir John Marshall, excavated and discovered its main city ‘Harappa’. First of all, due to the discovery of the Harappan site, it was named ‘Harappan Civilization’.
  • Mohenjodaro, the site of the Indus Valley Civilization, was discovered in 1922 by Rakhaldas Banerjee under the guidance of John Marshal. Dating of Harappan Civilization by Radio C-14 Dating 2500 BC. to 1750 B.C. It is assumed. This civilization existed for 400-500 years and in 2200 BC. to 2000 B.C. By the middle of this it was in its mature state. According to the latest research, this civilization is about 8,000 years old. An important source of determining the builders of the Indus Valley Civilization is the human skeleton obtained from excavations. Most of the skeletons have been found from Mohenjodaro. From their examination, it has been determined that four races lived in the Sindh civilization – Mediterranean, Proto-Australoid, Alpine and Mongoloid.
  • Most were people of the Mediterranean race.

City planning of the Indus Valley Civilization

  • The Indus Valley Civilization was an urban civilization, which is known from its archaeological remains and research. Its biggest feature was its amazing city planning and water drainage system friendly to the environment.
  • The roads cut each other at right angles. Almost all the cities were divided into two parts.
  • High forts were built in the first part. The ruling class resided in them.

In the second part, evidence has been found of the city or habitation area, which was relatively large. Usually ordinary citizens, traders, craftsmen, artisans and laborers lived here. The drains along the roads were covered from above. The dirty water of the houses used to fall into the main drain of the city through these drains. The city plan of Harappa, Mohenjodaro and Kalibanga was almost identical. Baked bricks have been used in all except Kalibanga and Rangpur. Usually each house had a courtyard, a kitchen and a bathroom. Remains of wells have also been found in most of the houses.

  • Big buildings tell the specialty of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Fortifications were made by making ramparts around the Harappan cities, whose purpose was to protect the city from thieves, robbers and animal robbers. The great bath of Mohenjodaro is a wonderful construction of the Indus civilization, while the granary is the largest building of the Indus civilization.
  • The doors and windows of the houses were open in the streets and not on the main road, but Lothal is an exception. Its doors and windows opened towards the main roads. Although many types of bricks were used in building houses, in which 4:2:1 (ratio of length, width and thickness) size bricks were more prevalent.
indus valley civilization current time

Major sites of Indus Valley Civilization


  • The remains of the Indus Valley Civilization were first discovered in Harappa in 1921 AD. Harappa is currently located on the left bank of the Ravi River in the Montgomery district of Punjab province of Pakistan. Stuart Piggott has called it a ‘semi-industrial city’. A large part of the residents here were engaged in the works of trade, technical production and religion. He called Harappa and Mohenjodaro the ‘twin capitals of a vast empire’.
  • A fort was built on the west side to protect the city. This fort is 415 meters long from north to south and 195 meters wide from east to west. Wheeler has given the name of ‘Mound A-B’ to the mound on which this fort is built.


  • Mohenjodaro means ‘mound of the dead’ in Sindhi language. It is located on the banks of the Indus River in the Larkana district of Sindh (Pakistan). It was first discovered by Rakhaldas Banerjee in 1922 AD. The governance system of Mohenjodaro was democratic rather than monarchical. The Great Bath is the most important public place of Mohenjodaro. A water tank or reservoir is built in the middle of its central open courtyard.
  • The Harappans used to make bronze by mixing copper and tin. A bronze dancer figurine has been found from Mohenjodaro, which is made of lost wax method.


  • It is 130 km from Sandhav Nagar Mohenjodaro. Located in the south-east Sindh province (Pakistan). It was first discovered in 1934 AD by N. Gopal Majumdar and in 1935 AD it was excavated by Ernest Mackay.
  • Chanhudaro is the only archaeological site from where curved bricks have been found.
  • The existence of any fort has not been found in Chanhudaro. Remains of North-East Harappan culture (Jhukar-Jhangar) have been found from Chanhudaro. It appears that it was an industrial center where the work of making manikari, seal making, weighing scales was done. Ernest Mackay has discovered a bead making factory and furnace from here.


  • It is located on the banks of the Bhogava river in the south near Sargwala village in Ahmedabad district of Gujarat. Its discovery was first made by Dr. S.R. Rao in 1955 AD.
  • The site was a major port, a major point of trade with West Asia. In Lothal, instead of dividing the city into two parts, the entire city was fortified with a single defense rampart.


  • Major archaeological site located in Hisar district of Haryana.
  • Evidences of granaries and defense ramparts have been found from here.
  • In May 2012, the ‘Global Heritage Fund’ has included it in the list of ten such ‘heritage sites’ in Asia, which are at risk of destruction.


  • This ancient site located in Fatehabad district of Haryana was discovered in 1973 by R.S. Bisht did.
  • Like Kalibanga, the remains of both pre-Harappan and Harappan cultures have been found from this site.
  • There was lack of drainage system here.
  • A plow made of clay has been found from here.
  • Barley has been found in more quantity than Banawali.


  • It is located in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district of Gujarat. It was discovered in 1967 by J.P. Joshi. The inscription made of 10 big signs of Indus script obtained from here is an important achievement. The residents of Dholavira were familiar with the techniques of water conservation. The city was divided into three parts – Durgabhag, Madhyamnagar and Nichlanagar.
  • The only stadium (playground) of the Harappan civilization has been found from Dholavira.

Harappan script

There are about 64 basic signs and 205-400 letters in the Harappan script, which are found on rectangular seals, copper tablets, etc. The oldest specimen of this script was found in 1853 AD and by 1923 AD the entire script had come to light, but it has not been read yet. Its script was pictograph which was written from right to left. This method is called Boustrophedon. Most pictures have been found of ‘U’ shape and ‘fish’.

Indus Valley Civilization Social Life

The social life of that period can be estimated on the basis of the remains obtained from the Indus Valley. The unit of society was traditionally the family. The worship of the mother goddess and images on seals suggest that the Harappan society was probably matriarchal. The society had the presence of scholars (priests), warriors, traders and working class. The structure of houses reflects the economic disparity of the society.
The Harappans paid special attention to decoration. Both men and women used to wear ornaments. Cosmetics box has been found from here. Evidence of lipstick has been found from Chanhudaro. The people of Indus civilization used both cotton and woolen clothes. The people of this civilization used to eat both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. People here used to play chaupar and dice for entertainment. Complete burial was most prevalent in funerals, while partial burial and cremation were also practiced.
The people here knew about mathematics, metallurgy, measurement and weighing system, planets and constellations, meteorology etc.
The people of Indus civilization were less war loving, more peace loving.
Wheeler has accepted slavery by assessing the condition of the workers. Political Life There is no clear idea of the political organization of the Harappans.
Since the Harappans were more attracted towards commerce and trade, it is believed that the role of the merchant or merchant class was important in the governance system as well. According to Hunter, “The rule of Mohenjodaro was democratic rather than monarchical.”
According to Wheeler, “The rule of the people of the Indus civilization was a middle-class democratic rule and religion was important in it.”
Economic life The main reason for the progress of Indus civilization was advanced agriculture and trade. Hence, the economy of this period was based on irrigated agricultural surplus, animal husbandry, proficiency in various handicrafts and prosperous internal and foreign trade. The trade of the Indus civilization was not limited to the Indus region only, but trade also took place with Egypt, Mesopotamia and Central Asia.
The major ports of the Indus civilization were Lothal, Rangpur, Surkotada, Prabhaspatan etc. In the Harappan civilization, the decimal system of measurement and the unit of measurement were in multiples of 16.
The people of this civilization used to cultivate wheat, barley, mustard, peas, sesame, mustard, cotton etc. The credit for producing cotton first is given to the people of the Indus civilization. The Greeks named it ‘Sindon’ (Sidon). These people were also familiar with fruits like watermelon, melon, coconut, pomegranate, lemon, banana. The main food grains here were wheat and barley. Stone and bronze tools were used for agricultural work. No shovel or plow has been found in this civilization. Probably these people used wooden ploughs. In Sandhav cities, agricultural materials were supplied from rural areas, so granaries were built on the banks of rivers. Animal husbandry also developed with the progress of agriculture. Animals played an important role in agriculture, trade and transport. In animals, humped bulls, sheep, goats, elephants, buffaloes, cows, donkeys, pigs and dogs etc. are estimated to be present.
The residents of Gujarat used to keep elephants.

Indus Valley Civilization Religious Life

Indhav residents used to worship God in all the three forms of human, tree and animal. The people of this civilization used to believe in ghosts, spirits, tantra-mantra etc. The practice of sacrifice is also inferred on the basis of belief in witchcraft on the basis of talismans and scenes of sacrifice being depicted on the seals of some places (such as in Chanhudaro). These people used to worship Mother Goddess, Rudra Devta (Pashupati Nath), Linga-yoni etc. Apart from this, the Indus used to worship trees, animals, snakes, birds etc. The huge bath would probably have been used in religious rituals and sun worship. On the basis of the evidence of fire pit obtained from Kalibanga, it can be said that Agni and Swastik (1) etc. were worshipped. The swastika and the chakra were symbols of sun worship. Indus people believed in reincarnation, that’s why three methods of cremation were prevalent after death – complete cremation, partial cremation and urn cremation. The basis of his religious outlook was more secular and practical. Idol worship probably begins with the Indus civilization itself. A terracotta figurine from Harappa shows a plant emerging from the womb, symbolizing the goddess of fertility.

Reasons for the decline of the Indus Civilization

Like the origin of the Harappan civilization, no one reason was responsible for its decline. The study of the ancient remains of this civilization shows that it was in decline in its last period. Finally in the second millennium BC. In the middle of this civilization was completely destroyed. There was a gradual decline of this civilization and it reached the rural civilization from the urban civilization.

Gift of Indus civilization

Many things prevalent in the Indus civilization remained constant even in the historical period. Some prominent examples of this are – measurement-weighing system based on the decimal system, city planning, roads and drains system, practice of polytheism, worship of mother goddess, nature worship, Shiva worship, gender and vagina worship, practice of yoga, religious practice of water. Importance, Swastik, Chakra etc. as symbols of amulets, use of tantra-mantra, use of ornaments, multi-crop farming system, fire worship or yagya, use of seals, Ikka cart and bullock cart, internal and external trade etc. One of the major contributions of the Indus civilization is in the field of urban life. Fully developed urban life started from this civilization.

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