Monday, October 26, 2009
Musings on Dholavira...
This is a trip I'd not even dared to dream about..! All thanks to Mayank - my PhD guide, for making it happen. Dholavira - one of the bustling port cities of the enigmatic Harappan civilization, the ruins of which still evoke awe in contemporary architects and planners, with the kind of perfection achieved in their city layout.
Mayank was leading a team of scientists and students from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences (CBS), Mumbai, to see the site, which features prominently in his landmark study of the growth of astronomy in the Indian subcontinent. I was asked to go along as a surveyor!
We travelled from Mumbai to Bhuj by train and then took a bus to Dholavira. It was a lovely journey, right from the fafdas (have I spelt it right???) and jalebis we had for breakfast to the bus ride through the surrealist landscapes of the Rann of Kutchh to reach the little village that exists near the protohistoric site.
There is a Gujarat Tourism resort at Dholavira where we stayed and over the next couple of days we explored the site under the able guidance of J. B. Makwana, who had assisted R. S. Bisht in the excavations there and is a veritable treasure trove of information on Dholavira. The ruins have a citadel area - which consists of the castle and the bailey, and a middle and lower town. There are several large reservoirs for water (what could be the reason for this obsession with water for the Dholavirans - reservoirs, tanks, baths...?) and a cemetery beyond the town area.
I spent most of my time surveying the various features of the site with Jithin - the TIFR photographer and Mayank, notably an enigmatic circular structure that doesn't seem to belong to the general rectilinear structures that characterized the rest of the Harappan city. We have a few findings to report - we believe we have discovered the baseline to which the city has been laid out and a few (wild?) archaeoastronomical conjectures - but I will write about those separately!
The pic shows me in action at Dholavira, near the east gate of the citadel . Thank you, Mayank, for this lovely experience.