ANAMIKA

'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lothal

Within a week of our visit to Pundareekapuram in the deep south of this country, I found myself in the far west, driving south-west from Ahmedabad along what must be one of our best toll-free highways. An easy 80 kilometers from the city, atop a mound that rises a dozen or so feet from utterly flat country, is Lothal, ('the place of the dead' in the local language; curiously, 'Mohenjodaro' too means something similar), now an intensively studied Harappan site.

The ruins here, dating back a full 4000 years (and more) have nearly doubled my 'archeological span' (for I had not seen any remnant of civilization in this country dating farther back than 3rd Century BC). They have been extensively described in Wikipedia and elsewhere.

Much of the ancient brickwork looks neat and tidy, just like in pictures from Pakistani Harappan sites, although some amount of 20th century repair using cement and stuff has happened all over, spoiling the effect somewhat. Having seen pictures of (and written about) the wells of Mohenjodaro, I was excited to see a harappan water-well at Lothal - although unlike the Mohenjodaran ones, this solitary specimen does not have towering walls.

A guide, who bore a certain resemblance to Narendra Modi, showed us the 'warehouse' (with its solid, cubical brick platforms), the 'bead factory', and so forth... On the walls were a couple of smooth, inverted hemispherical structures formed by shards glued together (the gluing itself must have been the handiwork of modern restorers) which he referred to as 'matkas' and did not explain. He then pointed out a certain enclosure as 'ladies toilet' and added "I am saying this from my own imagination".

And then, there are some waste-water-drain-looking structures, which, though neatly made, looked quite shallow. The entire complex can be contained by a square of 100 meters side.

That of course, leaves out the famous 'dock', a very big and very neat rectangular depression, now looking more like a vast, shallow tank. If it really was a ship-building center/port, it would have held several dozens of vessels the size of modern mechanized fishing boats.

Interestingly, although photography is freely allowed, one is not supposed to record the site in *any* movie form, not even short digicam clips.

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