ROUGH REPORT VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE
ANIRUDH NANDA 5/10 NIKHIL PRATAP SINGH 19/10 SEERAT SIDHU 31/10
Vernacular architecture is an area of architectural theory that studies the structures made by people without the intervention of professional architects. It is the pure response to a particular person’s or society’s building needs. It fulfills these needs because it is crafted by the individual and society it is in. In addition the building methods are tested through trial-and-error by the society of which they are built until their building methods near perfection (over time) and are tailored to the climatic, aesthetic, functional, and sociological needs of their given society. Because the person constructing the structure tends to be the person who will be using it, the architecture will be perfectly tailored to that individual’s particular wants and needs.
An Excess of Material Choice
Vernacular architecture has always been dependent on the availability of local building materials to construct homes. There was a symbiotic relationship between the use of local materials which could easily be obtained, and local craftsman that knew how to skillfully use local materials to build architecture. The local craftsman knew how to turn these raw materials into buildings and knew the structural limitations of what they were building with. In addition, they could effectively predict how these materials would weather and how to optimally build with these materials.
Humanist Values and Needs in the Vernacular
Along with resources, knowledge, culture, and tradition, human needs have served as a key determinant of vernacular architecture. One of the basic human needs is shelter. The vernacular house is a direct product of this. We have always felt a need for a home to provide shelter, warmth, and security. Within the cultural and resource constraints of vernacular architecture we have developed a means to provide this. By combining our cultural needs (aesthetics, social, traditional) with humanistic needs (shelter, warmth, food) the vernacular was born, most often reflected in the home. A selective balance was born to satisfy both sets of needs without compromising either. In addition, the vernacular home provided the correct balance between social and private life, whatever it may have been as determined by the culture where it existed.
INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION
Around five thousand years ago, an important civilization developed on the Indus River floodplain. From about 2600 B.C. to 1700 B.C. a vast number of settlements were built on the banks of the Indus River and surrounding areas. These settlements cover a remarkable region, almost 1.25 million kilometers of land, which is today part of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India.
The cities of the Indus Valley Civilization were well-organised and solidly built out of brick and stone. Their drainage systems, wells and water storage systems were the most sophisticated in the ancient world. They also developed systems of weights and trade. They made jewellery and game pieces and toys for their children. From looking at the structures and objects which survive we are able to learn about the people who lived and worked in these cities so long ago. The people of the Indus Valley Civilization also developed a writing system which was used for several hundred years. However, unlike some other ancient civilizations, we are still unable to read the words that they wrote. 3
The people of Indus Valley are believed to be amongst the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. Their smallest division was approximately 1.704 mm. Decimal division of measurement was used for all practical purposes. The brick weights were in a perfect ratio of 4:2:1. The numerous inventions of the Indus River Valley Civilization include an instrument used for measuring whole sections of the horizon and the tidal dock. The people of Harappa evolved new techniques in metallurgy and produced copper, bronze, lead and tin. They also had the knowledge of proto-dentistry and the touchstone technique of gold testing.
ART AND CULTURE
Various sculptures, seals, pottery, gold jewelry and figurines in terracotta, bronze and steatite, etc, have been excavated from the sites of the Ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Other crafts that have been unearthed include shell works, ceramics, agate, glazed steatite bead making, special kind of combs, etc. There is also evidence of seals, toys, games and stringed musical instruments in the Indus Valley.
Seals. steatite, or soapstone, seals provide archaeological evidence for much of our understanding of indus 4
Valley religious practices.
TRADE AND TRANSPORTATION
Trade seems to the major occupation of the people of the Harappan Civilization. The main forms of transport include bullock carts and boats. Archaeologists have also discovered an enormous, dredged canal and docking facility at the coastal city of Lothal. The pottery, seals, figurines, ornaments, etc, of the civilization show great similarities with those of Central Asia and the Iranian plateau, indicating trade with them. Then, there are signs of maritime trade network between the Harappan and Mesopotamian civilizations also.
The major cultivated cereal crop was naked six-row barley, a crop derived from two-row barley. However, not much information is available on the farmers and their agricultural methods.
As many as 400 distinct Indus symbols have been found on seals, ceramic pots and other materials excavated from the Indus Valley. Typical Indus inscriptions are, at the most, four or five characters in length and quite small. The longest inscription on any object is 26 symbols long. Indus symbols have been found on ritual objects also, many of which were mass-produced.
TEN INDUS SCRIPTS
` SHIVA PASHUPATI
The large number of figurines found in the Indus Valley Civilization suggests that the Harappan people worshipped a Mother Goddess, who symbolized fertility. Some of the seals of that time also have the swastikas engraved on them. Then, there are some others in which a figure is seated in a yoga-like posture and is surrounded by animals. The figure is quite similar to that of Lord Pashupati, the Lord of Creatures.
OBSESSION WITH CLEANLINESS
One of the most obvious and intriguing fea- tures of the Indus cities is the evidence that points to an intense concern with cleanliness. Private homes were furnished with sophisti- cated indoor bathing and toilet facilities that were plumbed and lined with ceramic tiles in a relatively modern way. The plumbing and sewer systems were superior to those found in other cultures of the time and are in fact superior to facilities found in many Indian and Pakistani homes today. Not only did individual homes feature advanced lavatories, but municipali- ties did as well. The ubiquity of the baths, their central loca- tions, and the care with which they were con- structed all point to a deep preoccupation with purity.
Almost certainly, this concern was more than a matter of bodily hygiene. Like many premodern cultures, and like Hindus today, the Indus dwellers were probably anxious about ritual purity. Ritual purity, as compared to hygiene, involves more than removing the sweat and grime that accumulate on the body and avoiding germs that cause disease. In its most basic sense, ritual purity is the state of cleanness that is required for approaching what is sacred, or holy.
The prominence of
this bathing facility suggests the centrality of ritual purity for the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization. It often concerns what and how one eats, the kinds of clothes and ornamentation one wears, the flow of one’s bodily fluids, and the great mysteries of life: birth, sex, and death. What counts as pure and impure varies greatly from culture to culture and time
Location of settlements
Settlement patterns of the Harappans were conditioned by the behaviour of the river providing an active flood plain and ecology, navigability of the river for internal trade, climate, accessibility to natural resources and trade routes, both internal and external. Development of a city is greatly dependent on these factors. The Harappan settlements in its extant form narrate the history of its construction, the force that brought it into being, its successive building phases, its purpose and the people behind its construction and other natural causes of its decay and distraction. The settlements types and their positioning also reflect the importance from the point of view of distant marine trade e.g., Lothal and Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro and Sutkagandor and Harappa; for trade with the hinterland etc. In the excavated sites, the Harappan settlements are found built of mud bricks, burnt bricks and chiselled stones. While use of stones and mud bricks is limited to Kachchh and Saurashtra area, mud bricks are largely used at Harappa, Kalibangan, Lothal and Banawali besides burnt bricks. The size of bricks remained the same everywhere. The ratio of brick size is 1:2:4. The use of stone in making the houses and defenses in Saurashtra and Kachchh was perhaps due to the easy accessibility of stone in the neighbourhood. It may be seen that there is considerable regional variation in the use of building material for architecture based on the availability and climatic conditions. The Harappans achieved their town planning with the geometric instruments that they had developed, e.g.the compass, plumb bob and the right angle. These instruments are found at Lothal. A right angle was found at Dholavira; linear measuring scales have been found at Lothal and Kalibangan. 7
The Ghaggar River system, with its own network of tributaries, along which lie hundreds of sites was a mighty river system. It was a more stable river system than the Beas, Sutlej and Ravi, which were erratic in their behaviour. It provided a consistent and better line of communication through the Sirhind Nala between Punjab and Rajasthan for getting timber from the areas of present Himachal Pradesh. The Ghaggar-Sarasvati-Hakra system had three major 'economic pockets'. The first was on the north along Sirhind where in an area of 120 km2, in Mansa District, Punjab, seven cities, six towns and fourteen villages (on the basis of the size of mounds and cultural deposit) have been located at a distance of 3-5 km are indicative of an ideal situation of an urban complex and commercial interaction. The second or the central pocket was in Bikaner Bhawalpur area where 400 sites have been located in an area of 1000 km from Yazdan to Derawar Fort belonging to the Pre-Harappan and Harappan times. The third, southern one, in Kachchh, which is geographically half way between Sind and Gujarat and has a concentration of about 50 sites of the Harappan and Late Harappan periods. These three 'economic pockets' in the 'culture empire' of the Harappan provided a strong economic base that is the foundation of the 'urban boom'. It may thus be inferred that Harappan settlements are largely located along the major and perennial rivers. It is also seen that the urban phase of the civilization had technological potentialities to raise high defenses and platforms which needed resources, builders, planning, engineering skill and instruments and a large man-power. It has been reported that 21 rural Harappan sites have been identified in District Mahesna, Gujarat besides Valabhi, which has yielded evidence of a cattle breeding centre during the Harappan times. SPREAD OF CIVILIZATION
It has been observed that the settlement sizes of matured Harappan people are much bigger than the early Harappan sites. At times, there is a big gap between the sites Mughal has anticipated a four tier hierarchy in the settlement pattern of early Harappans. In India, upto this day there are mounds having early Harappan and Harappan cultures but in Pakistan there are separate mounds of early Harppans / preHarappan also.
The excavated sites give a fairly good idea of settlement types of the Harappans and the Public architecture involved. At this stage, it may be pointed out that planning, orientation of streets, houses, defence walls have been seen in the early Harappan sites at Kalibangan, Mehargarh VII A, Kotdiji, Rehmandheri and Naushero. The following matured Harappan sites give evidence of town planning, drainage system, defences and water management of an organised urban society: (i) Harappa and Mohenjodaro: At Harappa and Mohenjodaro, the ancient ruines show a citadel mound distinct from the lower city. Other fortified sites of this culture are at Sutkogendor, AliMurad, GhaziShah and Daburkot etc. At Harappa, the defence phase is marked by the Rampart wall made of mud bricks and externally revetted with burnt bricks and having rectangular towers and a circular gate way on the west. Two rows of workmen quarters, platform with circular depressions, granaries having air ducts and ramp with streets cutting at right angles having cart nuts have been found at Harappa. At Mohenjodaro, the citadel has rectangular bestions and the buildings notably the granary shows the use of timber as a reinforcement material. The Great Bath, granary having passage for air and sockets for super structure, Assembly Hall, the so-called College building, depression for keeping merchandise, wide and covered drains, houses single or double storied, wide roads cutting at right angles have been also found at Mohenjodaro. There is a great similarity in the systematic and elaborate town planning both at Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The same is the case with Chandudaro. (ii) Kotdiji: It is an important site in Sind having a citadel and the lower town. It has defensive wall with a mud brick revetment in the exterior with bestions and the inner face was enforced at intervals with a stone revetment bounded with stone courses at the bottom. In the early Harappan levels mud brick and mud pise houses with stone footings are found. The occupation was followed by bigger mature Harappan settlement but surprisingly, without a fortification. (iii) Rehman Dheri: At this site, mud brick houses, mud brick platforms and fortification streets are available in period II which appears to be a formative phase to mature Harappan culture leading to monumental architecture. (iv) Naushero: Six km away from Mehargarh, the site of Naushero having developed Kotdijian settlement at the site where blocks of mud houses divided by roads and streets are found. The typical Indus pottery is associated with the monumental structures of IC. In period ID, many large sized structures of mud bricks and platforms and a 7.25 m wide wall antidating mature Harappan period. Period II is a mature Harappan period. In comparison to Daborkot, it was a smaller settlement but sharing fully the developmental process towards maturity of urbanization. The other sites are Gumla and Lewan. (v) Kalibangan: Kalibangan, having a fulfledged Early Harappan fortified settlement, houses on both sides of streets, brick on edge platforms, perhaps bathrooms) and drains of baked bricks. In the succeeding Harappan period, Kalibangan had a citadel in the west and fortified chessboard patterned city in the east. The citadel has an impressive gateway in the south with a flight of steps to climb up to the platforms. The citadel is divided into two 9
parts, i.e., one having platforms and other having a residential complex for the elite, separated by a wall. The sie had a cemetery. (vi) Banawali: The Harappans at Banawali built a citadel and lower town was secured by a fortification on three sides and was designed like an irregular trapezium following the planning of the Pre-Harappans with a few marginal modifications. At a late stage, they dug a deep and broad moat around the town. On account of a different configuration for both the lower town and the citadel set within it in the form of a semicircular division, the streetsystem became curiously radial or semi-radial with an elaborate gate way complex. (vii) Lothal: Lothal had a dockyard, a warehouse, a granary, a high acropolis and a lower city and a cemetery. (viii) Surkotada: Surkotada had a citadel and a fortified residential annexe. The citadel had in imposing gateway complex. The citadel and residential annexe had an intercommunicating ramp and later a gateway. The site had a cemetery. (ix) Dholavira: The latest excavations at Dholavira brought to light a rectangular town plan of an Harappan city boldly outlined by a massive fortification which houses in it deep and long open spaces surrounding three principal divisions named as "acropolis", "middle town" and "lower town"-the first two of them strongly fortified. The entire walled city accounts for an area of nearly 49 ha which may go upto 100 ha if all the city suburbs spread far and wide to its west also included. The acropolis was provided with one gate at each side. Of the two gates, one each on the east and north are exposed and found furnished with a flight of steps, a sunken passageway flanked by elevated chambers, and a high front terrace-a remarkably elaborate layout. Further, use of highly polished stone-blocks and pillars along the passage-may speak of architectural achievement without parallel at any Indus site so far. In the centre of the citadel, there is an almost 13 m wide water reservoir along with a feeder channel covered with slabs and provided with manholes for occasional desilting. Besides, there are two lapidary workshops. The most outstanding discovery is the find of a large sized inscription of ten Harappan signs which may be a signboard? The site had a cemetery. (x) Rojdi: The excavation at Rojdi, besides the discovery of imposing architecture e.g, fortification, gateway, the large square build in and houses built of stone rubble has given new insight in the evolution of Harappan Culture of Saurashtra which the excavators feel is a "newly discovered regional expression of the Harappan urban phase (the 'Sorath Harappans") appears to be an addition to the settlement type and evolutionary process in Saurashtra. (xi) Kuntasi: Kuntasi (District Rajkot), a Harappan site 'was basically not an agricultural settlement but appears to have been a centre for procuring raw materials and processing them into finished products primarily for exporting them to Sindh and West Asia. The settlement was a port and a manufacturing centre.
TOWN PLANNING CONCEPTS
The salient components of the full-grown cityscape consisted of a bipartite 'citadel', a 'middle town' and a 'lower town', two 'stadia', an 'annexe', a series of reservoirs all set within an enormous fortification running on all four sides. Interestingly, inside the city, too, there was an intricate system of fortifications. The city was, perhaps, configured like a large parallelogram boldly outlined by massive walls with their longer axis being from the east to west. On the bases of their relative location, planning, defences and architecture, the three principal divisions are designed tentatively as 'citadel', 'middle town', and 'lower town'.
The city of Dholavira in its fullest form was a precisely proportionate whole and proportionality resolved configuration following a resolute set of principles of planning and architecture with mathematical precision and, perhaps, with astronomically established orientation. Of the city, at present, three corners with partially eroded towers but fully intact inner corners have been confirmed by excavation. When measured between the inner corners, the E- W length of the city area along the northern defensive wall and N-S one along the western one worked out to 771.10 m and 616.87 m, respectively - thus giving the precise ratio of 5 : 4. Similarly, the other divisions of the city also revealed amazing ratios and proportions. The above table inter alia reveals the proportional relationship between the castle and the city so it does in respect of intra-divisional and inter-divisional measurements. The diagonal drawn between the two opposite angles made by the north-eastern and the south-western corners of the city touched the north-western corner of the castle. While of the remaining two, the south-eastern corner is still missing, or not found out, a line, therefore bisecting the north-western angle also bisected the north-western corner of the middle town and further on cut across a crossing of four streets and finally the north-eastern corner of the castle. This could have been achieved by precise mathematical calculations and drawings which were then translated on the ground that was undulating by 13 m in gradient. The enwalled area of the castle became 49th (7 X 7) part of the city while its total built-up area was 25th (5 X 5) part. Furthermore, it is very significant that the two-thirds of the middle town and the whole of lower town were planned with bold projections and recesses just like those one finds in the layout of an Indian temple of the later ages. As a result, the city divisions were provided with a number of housing sectors and spaces. Some of latter were found to have been used for dumping domestic refuse. Another significant feature is the arterial street that ran across axially from west to east dividing all the above-mentioned units and sub-units into two equal halves, and a north-south street, perhaps somewhat staggered, further subdivided each unit.
The lower town, too, was resolved into several units. Each unit seems to be having likewise projections and recesses and in turn demarcating an open pace, of course. The arterial street of the middle town passed through a gate in eastern fortification wall and then went on running across the lower town albeit with a few turns, each at the end of a residential sector. The street however remained uninterrupted. Other major and minor streets and lanes shot off from the axial street for making a defined network of housing sectors. Seventeen gates, all built in the fortification walls with equally interesting add-on components, have been exposed so far. Their number-wise break up is: cattle, bailey, stadiums, middle town and annexe
The following table provides revealing information: Sl. No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Division Width City, internal 616.87 Castle, internal at available top 92 Castle, external (as per present exposure) 118 Citadel (castle + bailey), external approximately 140 (including bastions) Bailey, internal 120 Middle Town + Stadium, internal 290.45 Middle Town, excluding Stadium, internal 242 Stadium, internal 47.5 Lower Town, built-up area 300 Length 711.10 114 151 280 120 340.5 340.5 283 300 Ratio 4:5 4:5 4:5 1:2 1:1 6:7 5:7 1:6 1:1
(1) The architects decided to have the city’s length and width in a ratio of 5 : 4 or 1.25: Lt / Wt = 5/4. (This is correct to 0.005%!) (2) They chose the same ratio for the castle, both as regards inner and outer dimensions: Lci / Wci = Lco / Wco = 5/4 (the error margin for the first is 0.9%, for the second 2.4%). (3) Then they had to set the location of the outer fortifications with regard to the castle. Certainly, the two rivers, north and south of the city, provided a desirable frame, especially in view of the city’s advanced water harvesting system fed by them. In addition, the castle’s north-western corner (F) was regarded as a focal point (probably because it overlooked the ceremonial ground below not far from the latter’s centre) and Dholavira’s planners decided to have F on the city’s NE-SW diagonal, a decision consistent with the ratio 5 : 4, since all points located along this diagonal would exhibit that ratio between their distances to the city’s northern and eastern boundaries. This can be expressed by D / A = 5/4 or again C / B = 5/4. (The actual ratios, measured from the published map of the city, are 1.23, within 1.6% of 1.25).
(4) F’s precise location on this diagonal now needed to be determined. This amounts to choosing a fixed ratio between A and B or C and D, or again between A and C or B and D (any one of those four choices would do). Measurements taken on the map show that A is very precisely 1.5 times C: A / C = 3/2 must have been the architects’ choice in fixing F’s location. (5) As pointed they chose 7 : 6 as the main ratio for the middle town: Lm / Wm = 7/6, with a mere 0.5% as error margin. (6) Now they had to determine the middle town’s dimensions: I propose that its length was chosen to be fourninths that of the city, i.e.: Lt / Lm = 9/4 (the error margin is only 0.6%). (7) A strong indication that the proportion 9/4 was deliberately chosen is that we find it repeated between the outer castle and the middle town: Lm / Lco = 9/4, very precisely (0.2%). (This now fixes the castle’s dimensions.) In plain English, the length of the castle is to that of the middle town what the length of the middle town is to that of the city — clearly not an accident. This fundamental principle is called recursion, and we will return to it. (8) The middle town’s dimensions now fixed, its precise position within the city had to be set. The decision seems to have involved a choice to keep the middle town’s north-west corner equidistant from the city’s northern and western boundaries: P = Q. This is precisely the case as far as the map shows (9) Returning to the castle, with an error margin less than 0.7%, I found its inner length to be three-fourths of its outer length: Lci / Lco = 3/4. The width of the eastern and western fortification walls, K (half of Lco – Lci), being irregular the dimensions for Lci and Wci are averages; nevertheless, this attractive ratio is unlikely to be due to chance. (10) The architects chose the proportions for the ceremonial ground (Lg / Wg = 6, verified within 0.7%). (11) In addition, they chose the ground’s length to be exactly five-sixths of the middle town’s length: Lg / Lm = 5/6 (precisely verified within 0.3%). (12) Finally, the architects chose the proportions for the bailey (1 : 1).
With these raw data, the city’s geometry is completely defined; we can now work out other underlying features of Dholavira. As these calculations use only the most basic algebra, I give them only in outline (referring by their numbers to the preceding 12 basic choices). Below are some of the possible results (with the most significant ones emphasized in bold type).
(13) (3) and (4) give us A / Lt = 12/23; C / Lt = 8/23; D / Lt = 15/23. We therefore have A / Wt = 15/23 which is within 2.2% of 2/3, a proportion that may have tickled the architects’ hunger for perfect ratios, especially as it applies to the location of F, thus nearly two-thirds down the width of the city, also two-thirds down its length (since D / Lt has the same value). (14) Using A + B = Wt and C + D = Lt, we get A / B = D / C = 15/8.
(15) Using (8) in conjunction with obvious equations Lm1 + Lm2 = Lm, P + Lm1 = C, and Q + Wm + B = Wt, we get P / Lt = Q / Lt = 68/483. A fair approximation (within 1.5%) of this fraction is 1/7. (16) Another result from the same equations is Lm1 / Lm2 = 75/86, a fraction very close (by 0.3%) to 7/8. (17) (6) and (11) together yield Lg / Lt = 10/27 (correct to 0.9%).
(18) (7) and (9) together show that the castle’s internal length is precisely equal to one third of the middle town’s length (the error margin is a mere 0.4%): Lci / Lm = 1/3. This striking ratio must have appealed to the architects. (19) Combining it with (6), we get Lci / Lt = 4/27. This is just 0.2% away from the figure supplied by the actual dimensions, an excellent agreement. (20) Another consequence is Lco / Lt = 16/81, verified within 0.9%. (Bisht’s proposed Lco / Lt = 1/5 is 2.1% off, although this is an acceptable approximation.) (21) Finally, (9) also gives us K = Lco / 8 = Lci / 6. These are highly attractive proportions; the first yields 18.88 m, the second 19 m. The actual average (half of Lco – Lci) works out to 18.5 m, close enough in view of the irregular width of the castle’s fortification walls.
It has shown up two such open grounds which should have been put to multipurpose uses such as community gathering on festive or special occasions, royal ceremonies, sports and entertainment and commercial activities during trading season. Propositions are based on their location, architectural specialties and antiquarian tidbits that were found in course of excavation. There are two such closed arenas. One, lying between citadel and middle town and being provided with two major gates, one on each on east and west, measured 283 m E-W and 45 to 47m N.S (ratio 6:1). It was also furnished with tiered, stepped or sloping stands on all four sides. For convenience, we may refer it as stadium or rather the great stadiums while the other one, far smaller is called the little stadium. The latter that was separated by massive stand from, but connected through an opening to, the former, lay right under the shadow of the pre-eminent castle onto which it abutted at the north-western corner. Both the stadia should have been used for some common as well as some separate function. To conclude, we may add that the great stadium is perhaps the largest in length while both are the earliest so far as archaeology has evidenced.
The other area in which the Harappans of Dholavira excelled spectacularly pertained to water harvesting with the aid of dams, drain, reservoirs and storm water management which eloquently speak of tremendous engineering skill of the builders. Equally important is the fact that all those features were integrated part of city planning and were surely the beauty aids, too,
The Harappans created about sixteen or more reservoir of varying sizes and designs and arranged them in a series practically on all four sides. A cursory estimate indicates that the water structures and relevant and related activities accounts for 10 hectares of area, in other words 10% of the total area that the city appropriated within its outer fortification. The 13 m of gradient between high and low areas from east to west within the walls was ideally suited for creating cascading reservoirs which were separated from each other by enormous and broad bunds and yet connected through feeding drains.
Six of the water tanks, one to east of castle and five of the series to south of it, have been fully or considerably exposed while a few others or other related features are testified in check digs. It was found to be the largest, grandest and best-furnished reservoir of rectangular shape measuring 73.40 m N-S and 29.30 m E-W (ratio 5:2) at the top while above that there should have been a 1 to 1.20 m high embankment as evidenced at four corners. Its floor was excavated into three levels the deepest of which was 10.60 m as has been ascertained so far. At three corners, the north-western, north-eastern and south-western, it was provided with a flight of 30 steps each while at the fourth, there should be a waste-weir that still remains to be determined by more excavation. While the embankment served as a broad walkway on two sides, it was found to be a part of a wide causeway connecting it to the entrance appurtenances of the castle and, on the west, it should be flush with a 20 to 22 m promenade that lay between the castle wall and the reservoir. Inside the water structure there was found a rock cut well with a few rock cut steps and a stone-made enclosure of a later date. It is well-nigh presumable that some kind of tank was there right from Stage I. It should have been elaborated during Stage III.
The present one was certainly a creation of Stage IV while during Stage V, it got damaged beyond repairs by the authorities – that, it become defunct forever. One thing is certain that it was accessible to all the city-dwellers whether living in citadel, middle town or lower town or even outsiders. Besides, it was, perhaps, by all on some social or religious occasions. It may also be added that it was created by partly excavated through the alluvium and partly by cutting the underlying rock and also that it was fed with the water from the Manhar largely. Another five making a series outside along the south of the citadel have excavated fully or partly. These are of varying sizes and depth were cut into soft sedimentary sandy limestone and make two mega-units with a somewhat staggered disposition. The first two from the east form one unit and the rest the second centrally located tank exhibit genuinely a rock cut architecture of excellence both in beauty and skill and also surely in importance and use. Consisting of both inlying and outlying features, it has a deep basin, an obliquely oriented deeper trough inside, a surrounding freeboard, two masonry flight of steps, an inlet and another rock cut outlet channel, besides outside features like a wide terrace on the west, a massive levee on the east, a stairway ascending to the covered south gate of the castle, a working platform on the south, a passageway between walls, emanating from the north22
eastern stairs. Running parallel to the defensive walls of the castle as well as the city, it is rectangular tank measuring 33.4 E-W and 8.90 to 9.45 m N-S while the upper lies at the depth of 5.90 m to 6.50 m and the lower one at 7.90 m below the ancient working level. In fact, the deeper level pertains to the trough that was cut in the eastern half of the general basin. It has measured 15.50 m long E-W and 5.65 m acoss with its vertical sides being 140 oblique to those of the main basin. The neatness with what the tank was cut is remarkable. The weaker veins of the rock were scooped out and plugged with superb masonry work. The remaining two rock cut tanks lay further west. All the tanks were interconnected with drain conducting water into each other. The surplus water finally flowed out through a masonry drain into another series of reservoirs excavated further west. All these reservoirs like the eastern one became defunct sometime during Stage V.
The Drainage System of the Indus Valley Civilization was far advanced. The drains were covered with slabs. Water flowed from houses into the street drains. The street drains had manholes at regular intervals. Housewives were expected to use pits in which heavier part of the rubbish will settle down while only sewerage water was allowed to drain off. All soak pits and drains were occasionally cleaned by workmen. In every house there was a wellconstructed sink, and water flowed from the sink into the underground sewers in the streets. This elaborate drainage system shows that the Indus Valley people were fully conversant with the principles of health and sanitation
The citadel has yielded an intricate network of storm water drains, all connected to an arterial one and furnished with slopes, steps, cascades, manholes (air ducts / water relief ducts), paved flooring and capstones. The main drains were high enough for a tall man to walk through easily. The rainwater collected through these drains was stored in yet another reservoir that was carved out in the western half of the bailey.
The main sewer, 1.5 meters deep and 91 cm across, connected to many north-south and east-west sewers. It was made from bricks smoothened and joined together seamlessly. The expert masonry kept the sewer watertight. Drops at regular intervals acted like an automatic cleaning device. A wooden screen at the end of the drains held back solid wastes. Liquids entered a cesspool made of radial bricks. Tunnels carried the waste liquids to the main channel connecting the dockyard with the river estuary. Commoner houses had baths and drains that emptied into underground soakage jars.
The main streets of the city are entered from north to south, with connecting streets east to west, and thus dividing the city into large rectangular or square blocks on a grid pattern. The main streets running across the length of the lower city from north to south are a little over 9 meters in width while the others are 2 to 5 meters. The subsidiary lanes leading to the interior of the city blocks are much narrow allowing not more than two people side to side. The subsidiary lanes are generally ‘dog-food’ i.e. going straight for some distance in one direction, turning left or right round the corner of some burning, turning again in the previous direction ending up at some door front.
The street layout showed an understanding of the basic principles of traffic, with rounded corners to allow the turning of carts easily. These streets divided the city into 12 blocks. 26
The houses in Indus valley is an amazing example of a native people, without the benefit of technology, adapting to local conditions and intuitively producing architecture eminently suited to the climate. The average house in the city appears to have stood at least two storey’s high as suggested by the thickness of the enclosing wall and by remnants of wide staircase where the step sand risers still survive to considerable height fro the occupation level on the ground floor.
The houses were built o plinths rising above the street level, with flights of steps recessed in the wall at the front door. The doors of the houses usually opened on to the side lanes rather than on to the main streets, which might have been considerably busy in the waking hours of the crowded cities.
The general plan of the residential houses suggests a square or a slightly oblong courtyard open to the sky and surrounded by rooms and chambers. This courtyard served the multiple functions of lighting the rooms, acting as a heat absorber in summer and radiator in winter, as well as providing an open space inside for community activities. There were no openings toward the main street, thus ensuring privacy for the residents. The entrance door normally led to an antechamber with passages towards the kitchen, pantry and living rooms. The rooms and parlors usually had one or two windows placed high above the floor, and covered by alabaster lattice to keep out of excess glare of he scorching sun during summer. Each house had an indoor kitchen and outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen would be used when it was warmer so that the oven wouldn’t heat up the house, and the indoor kitchen for use when it was colder.
The roofs of the houses appear to have been flat, supported upon a framework of wooden beams and purlins, covered with terracotta brick tiles, and made waterproof by rammed earth and a further plaster of impervious day. Though the timberwork could not survive the debris of the collapsed roofs and terracotta conduits for letting the rainwater out from the roof tops have been found in sufficient number.
The houses are built with bricks of nearly uniform dimensions, 27.94cm in length, 13.42cm in breadth, and 6.35cm thick. The average weight of a single brick is such that one person can easily hold it up with one hand. This factor is 28
indicative of the economy of the labour force employed in the construction of houses. The profusion of burnt bricks used in all construction indicates a broad-based commercial tradition of a brick-making industry. The designs and sizes of the houses indicate some variations in the social status of the owners. Some houses are larger than others with more suites of rooms and larger courtyards. The courtyards are normally placed towards the northern sides of the houses. The entrances lie through antechambers or room accessible from the narrower side lanes. In some case, they are also opened in the courtyards bordered by a street. The outer walls of the houses are mostly plain and featureless, except where broken by the entrance doors or rubbish chutes. Even a cursory glance at the layout of the different houses suggests that they were used for other purposes than residential. Some of the houses with larger courtyards probably served as industrial units use of he built-up areas.
The foundations of houses were made of mud bricks and baked bricks or stones. Massive foundations of gateways were made of eroded mud-bricks. Granaries had solid brick foundation that extended for 50 meters east 27 meters north south. The foundation of granary was divided into 27 squares and rectangular blocks by narrow passageways, two running east west and eight running north south.
Mud bricks and baked bricks or stones were used for he walls of the houses. An average size of mud brick and baked brick (7x14x28cm) was used in house construction. A different size (10x20x40cm) was used in building of city walls.
DOORS AND WINDOWS
The doors of the houses usually opened on to the side lanes rather than on to the main streets, which might have been considerably busy in the waking hours of the crowded cities.The rooms and parlors usually had one or two windows placed high above the floor, and covered by alabaster lattice to keep out of excess glare of he scorching sun during summer.There were no openings toward the main street, thus ensuring privacy for the residents. The doors and windows were made with wood and mats.
The floors of the house were generally hard-packed earth that was often re-plastered or covered with bricks or fired terracotta cakes.
The roofs of the houses appear to have been flat, supported upon a framework of wooden beams and purlins, covered with terracotta brick tiles, and made waterproof by rammed earth and a further plaster of impervious day. Though the timberwork could not survive the debris of the collapsed roofs and terracotta conduits for letting the rainwater out from the roof tops have been found in sufficient number.
OVERVIEW OF MATERIALS
The most commonly used materials are the mud brick and baked bricks, wood and reeds. In some area where stone were readily available, dressed stone replaced baked bricks.
The floors of the house were generally hard-packed earth that was often re-plastered or covered with bricks or fired terracotta cakes. Mud bricks and baked bricks or stones were used for he walls of the houses. An average size of mud brick and baked brick (7x14x28cm) was used in house construction. A different size (10x20x40cm) was used in building of city walls. The doors and windows were made with wood and mats. Some of the important public buildings were made entirely of wood. The drains were made of baked bricks. Drains were provided with wooden sluice or perhaps a grill for safety of the walled city. The roofs of the houses appear to have been flat, supported upon a framework of wooden beams and purlins, covered with terracotta brick tiles, and made waterproof by rammed earth and a further plaster of impervious day. There were terracotta conduits for letting the rainwater out from the rooftops. At times roofs were made of wooden beams covered with reeds and packed clay. The floor of water tanks is watertight due to finely fitted bricks laid on the edge with gypsum plaster. For further waterproofing, a thick layer of bitumen was laid along the sides of the tank and also beneath the floors. Brick colonnades were present along all the edges of the granary.
Large granaries were located near each of the citadels, which suggested that the state stored grains for ceremonial purposes, times of shortage and possibly the regulation of grain production and scale. The granaries of Indus valley cities were brick structures that were built on a massive brick foundation over 45 meters north south and 45 meters eastwest. Two rows of six rooms that appear to be foundations are arranged along a central passageway that is about 7 meters wide and partly paved with baked bricks. Each room measures 15.2 by 6.1 meters and has three sleeper walls with air space between them. A wooden superstructure supported in some places by large columns would have been built on top of the brick foundations, with stairs leading up from the central passage area. Small triangular opening may have served as air ducts to allow the flow of fresh air beneath the hollow floors.
No special concentrations of burned grain or storage containers were discovered by the earlier excavators and the interpretation of these structures as granaries is based on comparisons with Roman buildings and has no parallels with any building tradition in South Asia. Most scholars agree that there is little evidence for the construction of massive granaries and that these structures should only be seen as evidence for large public buildings. Rulers and state officials probably did meet in such large public buildings and many of them may have been used for specific religious functions, but their specific function will always remain a mystery.
Numerous circular working platforms that were built inside small rooms or courtyards. These circular working platforms may have been used for husking grain. One of these circular platforms had what may have been a large wooden mortar placed in the center. 35
Indus valley cities have shown various proofs of their extensive burial techniques. The excavations resulted in discovery of large cemeteries in various cities. The location of the cemetery depended on the wind direction so that polluted air of the symmetry could be avoided. It has been found that following types of pits were dug to bury the dead in different regions: Extended burials in rectangular or oblong pits with pots and pans. Extended burial with mud brick lining in the grave Extended burial with a mud brick tumulus over it. Extended burial in a coffin of rose wood with a lid of deodar wood. Extended burial in a rectangular grave, pit lined on four sides with mud bricks and plastered with mud and chunam. It contain more than 70 pots and pans below the body and in the sides. Rectangular memorial grave without any skeletal remains. Rectangular grave with a step with a large number of skeletons entered at different phases. Rectangular grave with brick lined walls and double skeletons. Round or oblong pot burials without any skeletal remains Round or oval pot burials with bone Ovoid grave pit only pots were put covered by a rectangular stone slab. Ovoid grave pit with a pot having a piece of charred bone and covered by a slab. Ovoid pit provided with a stone lining of slabs, some uncharred bones and pot sherds covered by a cairn of stones. Heap up stone or cairn over a pit having only broken pots, no skeletal remains. A rectangular Underground pit with a cist having walls of slabs covered with a small slab. Hemispherical large crescent shaped earthen accumulation. Cairn circle, a circle of stones packed with stones on the top. A large stone circle containing in its periphery several stone circles. Cenotaph, a stone cenotaph of over an earthen mound.
Like many amazing elements that Dholavira has yielded in respect of Indus civilization, another aspect of sepulchral architecture. The cemetery lies to the west of the city and covers a very large area. There are found a variety of cenotaphs which include regular rectangular and circular structures. So far as orientation is concerned, besides north – south, or northeast – southwest oriented structures, there are many which are east – west in longer axis which is certainly not Harappan in character. The most interesting are seven hemispherical constructions two of which were subjected to excavations. These were huge mud brick structures, having a circular plan and hemispherical elevation. While one was designed in the form of a spoked wheel, the other was without spokes. Both the structures were made over rock-cut chambers of large dimensions. Primarily, all sepulchral structures are devoid of skeletons although in most cases, they are furnished with grave goods mainly in the form of pottery. One of the hemispherical structures which has been exposed much, has yielded a necklace of steatite beads strung in a copper wire with a hook at either end, a gold bangle, beads in gold foil and other beads, besides specially made pottery. The hemispherical structures remind one of early Buddhist stupas. The kind of design that is of spoked wheel and unspoked wheel also remind one of the Sara-rata-chakra-citi and sapradhi-rata-chakra-citi mentioned in the Śatapatha Brahmana and Sulba-sutras. However, there is a solitary example of a grave with skeleton, with a copper mirror in it. Among smaller graves, there are cists, or cist in a cairn circle, or a circle or half-circle containing number of grave structures. Surely, the Harappans had a composite society having different ethnic / tribal communities following their own practices.
Recent excavations have added new dimensions in the field of religion and religious architecture. The excavation at Dholavira has given evidence of a) individual fire worship having a separate room in the house in which a pit housing a vertical terracotta stump with ash is placed, b) high altars in the citadel mound with a series of fire altars with brick-lined pits having ash and animal bones, c) outside the city on the east within a mud walled area a series of fire altars with pits containing ash. Besides this a sacrificial brick lined pit having animal bones has been discovered. Circular and square fire altars have been reported from Lothal and Vagad with ash and animal bones. A circular pit having 165 cm diameter with a pranala towards south, and a conical clay stump at the centre has been found within the pit having much ash at Nageshwar. The pit produced very high temperature as shown by its walls. The excavator feels 'the structure was used to produce intense heat like a pillar of fire'. More recently Banawali has also given the evidence of an apsidal temple with a fire altar. According to some, the Great Bath at Mohenjodaro was also connected with some ceremonial religious bath/s.
The city of dholavira had a number of massive gateways at its entrance. The gateways, usually located in mid of the cardinal directions were the first point of contact with other contemporary cities. There were other smaller ones on the entrance to the fortified. Seventeen gates, all built in the fortification walls with equally interesting add-on components, have been exposed so far. Their number-wise break up is: cattle, bailey, stadiums, middle town and annexe
Being fairly much preserved, those bear immense archaeological and architectural significance interestingly, each castle gate is designed differently. Four of them, constructed somewhat, if not precisely, in the centre of each arm of the fortification, were regular gates while the fifth as an additional one in the eastern wall served some specific purpose as the flight of its broad steps stopped just halfway down from the top and did not descend onto the ground outside. The south gate was a concealed passageway leading one through open stairs to an exquisite rock cut reservoir. The remaining three, one each on east, west and north, shared a few common features which comprised besides broad and deep passageway and stairs, a high front terrace and a connected pathway with outward gentle slope. All these were duly provided with in the west gate. There the similarity ended. The east gate was more elaborate with a built-in chamber, large and elevated above the sunken passageway which in turn was connected to stairs rising onto the interior of the castle. The north gate was however the most elaborate and the most elegant and imposing on a vantage location commanding over sprawling cityscape and enchanting landscape. It had two large and elevated chambers flanking the sunken passageway which in turn was connected to an L-shaped staircase ascending from the inner end. Its lofty front terrace, 6m high and 12m deep, was connected to an equally broad pathway with a slope towards the east where it terminated separately onto the little as well as great stadium. The north gate is also remarkable for yielding a spectacularly large inscription made up of 10 unusually big Harappan letters which were surely inlaid on a wooden board since decayed but fairly determinable for its size and shape which matched well with the width of the doorsill of the gate and suggesting thereby that it was originally sported on the façade, right above the door of the gate so as to be visible from afar for its white brilliance.
Of very special should also be the pillars and the pilasters which adorned the interior of the chambers of both east and west gates. Those were mounted on the side walls of chambers for giving support to the respective roofs as well. Each wall had a central pillar and a pilaster at either end, mow represented by their lower members as those were composite ones. These members were skillfully sculpted and smoothened out of bright yellow or banded limestone that was quarried 2.5 km. from the side. Each pilaster has a long basal slab supporting a set of rectangular blocks on what rested the superstructure made of mud concrete bricks, which was most likely encased with three wooden planks with their tongues being close fit into grooves that were cut on each top block while the third plank, was, perhaps, fixed into the other two by side angle joints. Likewise the central pillar, too, has a basal slab supporting a set of square blocks followed by a beautifully carved circular member with concave profile and flattened bottom and top surface. While all those were in situ, there were also found two dislodged ones, both having convex profile as well as tenon hole provision on either flat surface of each. Plausibly, the shaft of the column was wooden one. Contrarily, the central pillar of the western chamber of the north gate was found missing to be represented now by a robber's pit. The corresponding one is the other chamber also suffered from vandalism that was certainly wrought by the late Harappans. Luckily, all its members, which were met with the east gate, were found there although lying topsy-turvy in the pit that was caused right under the precise location of the pillar.
In all, certainly in the north gate, there was a door with double leaves within a massive frame with a sill of limestone at either end of the deep passageway. At each end, there were, perhaps, two doors, one above another as this gate seems to be a double-storied construction with a possibility of a continuous wooden floor running wall-to-wall all over across the chambers and above the sunken passage so as to make a large magestic hall decorated with aesthetic pillars and pilasters and approachable from the rear side, besides the staircase. We may not be elaborating on the other gates in the city. However, the east gate of the great stadium and the similarly located gate of the middle town, both intercommunicating with the lower town, were also quite elaborate and impressive. Significantly, the west gate of the same stadium was connected with a long and broad corridor with a storm water drain running underneath. The late Harappans gate openings were simple and unpretentious. They were also however using many a Harappan gates. Very likely, the north gate and also the east gate inter alia served the purpose of royal procession on occasions and the little stadium had a role in that too.