Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

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An Introduction to the Indus Valley Civilization-

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the earliest civilizations of the Bronze Age 3300-1100 BCE). The civilization was situated in modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Western India and was located on the well-irrigated flood plains of the river Indus. It was probably the first modern civilization in the world.

The Indus Valley Civilization had about 1000 cities and settlements out of which Mohenjadaro and the Harappa cities were the biggest and most advanced. The civilization was ahead of its time in regards to city planning, sanitary systems, public utilities and so on and henceforth.

The Indus Valley civilization was discovered in the 18th century, and since then excavations have been going on unearthing more of the civilizations cities to reveal its secrets. Through ongoing investigations over the years, we have come to know a lot about this great civilization. We shall discuss each of those findings in the following article.

Architecture in Ancient India-

Architecture in Bronze age was in its formative years. Cultures all across the world were still attempting to build necessary structures to fight the vagaries of nature. It was during this period that the Indus Valley Civilization was at its peak. The civilization had proper town planning and public utilities which would come only after centuries. In fact, the villages and the towns in the region are still less advanced as compared to Indus Valley Civilization. The houses/huts in the area are mostly reminiscent of what it would have been like thousands of years ago.

Features-

Now that we have a fair idea in regards to the Indus Valley Civilization let us understand the advances the civilization made in respect to architecture.

Proper Town Planning-

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

One of the most striking features of the architecture of the Indus Valley Civilization is that their cities were well planned. The evidence of this fact can be seen in the towns of Mohenjadaro and Harappa. The cities of the Indus Valley Civilization were planned on the gridiron pattern. The city was divided into blocks by way of streamlined roads. Furthermore, the towns were divided into public and private spaces. The public spaces consisted of granaries, warehouses, public baths, the Royal Palace, assembly halls and praying areas. While the private parts of the cities mostly consisted of the houses for the citizens. The public spaces in a city were designed to be on the higher ground whereas the private spaces were meant to be located on the lower ground. This was deliberately done so that in the case of flooding or a natural disaster the town could assemble at the assembly hall and mitigate against the loss of life.

The Typical Indus Valley Civilization House-

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

Houses in the Indus Valley Civilization varied according to the class and affluence of the resident. Thus, the wealthier and the more affluent people resided in bigger as large as three story houses while the less wealthy were restricted to single story homes.

The average house had a living room, space for cooking and a toilet and an area for bathing. The houses were connected to the main sewage system which disposed of the waste. The houses also have accessible terraces and service lanes. The complexity of the structures as mentioned above varied according to affluence and class.

Sewage & Drainage Systems-

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

The sewage and the drainage system of the Indus Valley Civilization were one of the most striking features of development in the bronze age civilization. All the houses and the other structures were connected to the central sewers water drainage systems to dispose of waste. The Indus Valley Civilization also had wells, tanks and other water storage and conservation systems. The Indus Valley Civilization also was the first civilization in the world which had running water being supplied to residences through a network of underground water pipes. This goes on to prove the advancement of this very ancient civilization.

Roads –

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

The road network in the Indus Valley Civilization was also well developed. As stated above, the Indus Valley cities followed a gridiron pattern of development. Thus, the roads were placed perpendicular to each other. Just like in modern cities all across the world, the roads were designed to be wide enough to allow for movement of carts, goods and people alike. Thus, it is safe to say that the road network of the Indus Valley Civilization was fairly well developed.

Great Bath-

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

Another feature of the Indus Valley cities was that they had great (public) baths. This was centuries before similar concepts were formulated in the West. These baths were similar to public baths in the current context. One has to understand that the civilization was great in the management of water resources. They greatly used gravity to manage their water resources. Some researchers also claim that they had developed pulley systems for the same. Whatever the case, the great baths are an indication of the technological advancement of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Irrigation Systems-

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

The Indus Valley Civilization had also developed a highly efficient and an effective water irrigation system. The majority of the civilization was engaged in agricultural activity. Thus, a major thrust of all developmental work by the authorities was developing a successful irrigation system. As mentioned earlier, this provides us with even more evidence in regards to the technological advancement of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Granaries & Warehouses-

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

There is also evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization developed a number of storehouses and warehouses for trade and commerce. Another reason for building up such infrastructure could have been to protect agricultural produce and goods alike from natural disasters such as floods.

Construction Material-

Indus Valley Civilization- Architecture in Ancient India

The Indus Valley Civilization was ahead of its time even in respect to the building materials that they used. The majority of the buildings were constructed with the help of well-burnt bricks. Some of the Indus Valley cities also used sun-dried bricks (adobe) for construction. There is also evidence which shows the use of wood in the structures.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the Indus Valley Civilization was way ahead of its time not only in respect to architecture but also a number of other activities such as pottery, trading, developing ports of commerce, development of a weighing scale and so on and henceforth. This goes on to prove the point that while time flies by it is not necessary that we advance as a species. From this case study, it is clear that a lot of the technical advancements which were made by this civilization were lost in time. Our aim should learn as much from these civilizations and not repeat their mistakes again.

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