Indus Valley Civilisation UPSC Lesson | Harappa, Mohenjodaro Civilisation

Arts of the Indus Valley

Indus Valley Civilisation, also known as ‘Harappan Civilisation’, was discovered as a consequence of the excavations conducted in 1920. The culture of Indus Valley Civilization manifested the growth of an ancient society which evolved and thrived during the Bronze Age in the North-West region of India and its subcontinent. The civilization was named after the Indus River, along the banks of which the civilization developed. Geographically, the Indus Valley Civilization covered the territory of Pakistan, the states of Rajasthan and Punjab, the valleys of Narmada and Tapti in Gujarat, with intrusions into the upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab. It is estimated by experts that the society existed between 3300 BC and 1700 BC.


Geography of Indus Valley Civilisation

The main areas of the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilisation include the following regions as discovered by recent excavations are:

  • Mohenjodaro in Sindh (located on the banks of Indus River)
  • Harappa in Punjab (town located on the banks of Ravi River)
  • Kalibangan in Rajasthan (located on the banks of Ghaghara River)
  • Rupar in Haryana (located on the banks of Sutlej River)
  • Lothal in Gujarat (located on the banks of Bhagawar River)
  • Rangpur in Gujarat
  • Narmada and Tapi belt

Town Planning in Indus Valley Civilisation

The twin cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa were centres of all activities commercial or socio religious cult in the Indus Valley civilization. Both cities were a mile square with defensive outer walls. Cities were divided into lower dwellings and the citadel housed important buildings. Most of these buildings were built with burnt or mud bricks and stones.

The housing plan in Indus Valley Civilization consisted of straight lines, an efficient drainage and sewer system. Both the cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro were divided into two main parts. The upper portion of the cities were fortified, while the remaining parts of the cities were devoid of forts and meant for the common masses. It is believed that the higher portions of the city were constructed for accommodating the ruling sections of the society. Lower parts of the cities normally extended to a square mile. The streets interested each other at right angles and the main streets ran directly from the north to the south. Their breath varied from about 9 feet to 34 feet. Every lane possessed a public well and street lamps.

Language in Indus Valley Civilisation

It was Sir John Marshall who first suggested that the people of the Indus Civilization spoke in Dravidian language. Most scholars agreed with Marshall. On the other hand, Piero Meriggi, another historian suggested that they used Brahvi language, which is still used in Baluchistan.

The writing style of Indus Valley civilisation appeared to be a pictographic script. The script seems to have had about 400 basic signs with several variations . The sign probably stood forwards and for syllables. The direction of the writing was generally from right to left. Most of the inscriptions were found on seals. The seals were probably used in trade and also for official and administrative works; mention of literary extravaganza is absent. A lot of the inscribed material was found at different Harappan site which opens the door of awe struck amazement before the world populace.

Religion in Indus Valley Civilization

Scholars are unable to draw a conclusion regarding the religion of the inhabitants of Indus Valley civilization. Unlike Mesopotamia or Egypt, there were no buildings discovered to conclude that there might had been a temple or the people were involved in any kind of public worship. However, some historians are of the opinion that Harappan people were Hindus. In view of the female terracotta figurines found at sites or seals of male god in tantric posture resembling Lord Shiva, a Hindu deity and also the Mother Goddess exemplifies that the Indus people believed in the mother goddesses.

Some of the seals discovered in Indus Valley Civilisation reveal the existence of ‘Swastikas‘, which are symbols of religions of HinduismBuddhism and Jainism. ‘Shiva lingams’, which means the phallic signs of Lord Shiva have been encountered in the remains of Harrapan civilisation.

Agriculture in Indus Valley Civilisation

Ricewheat, barley, milk and vegetables like sesame seeds, peas and dates formed the staple diet of the citizens of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Poultry, beef, mutton, pork and fish were also popular among the locals. Indus Valley Civilisation was majorly an agricultural economy. Cotton and wool were woven by the people.

Both men and women utilized two pieces of garments. Men were mostly clad in ‘dhotis’ and shawls which were wrapped around their left shoulders. Women used similar attire, with long hair, neatly plaited and held together with a fan shaped bow and a ‘hair band’ made of silver or gold to ensure that the hair was kept in a specific pattern or position. Male members wore a middle parting in their hair. Small, flat-bottomed boats and bullock carts, were the major means of commutation.

Art and Craft of Indus Valley Civilisation

The patterns that the craft traditions in India were to take and which were to survive for years appear already mature. It firmly established the urban life of the Indus valley. The Indus valley crowd revealed expertise in craftsmanship. Dancing, painting, sculpture, and music were all part of Indus culture. Though statues are abundantly found, but only stone, bronze or terracotta ones have been excavated. Potters, masons, metal workers like silversmiths and goldsmiths were in high demand in the Harappan civilisation. Razors, fish-hooks, combs, axes and spindles were some items which were commonly utilized. Children played with carved toys of horses and those of other animals. Jars, dishes, vessels were widely used in households, which were all composed of stone or earth.