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Harappan Civilization

The Harappan Civilization, also known as the Indus Valley Civilization, was one of the finest and greatest urban civilizations in the world. It derives its name from the archaeological convention of naming an unknown civilisation by its first excavated site. Flourishing along the basins of the major rivers in Asia - the Indus Valley River and the Ghaggar - Hakra River and its neighbouring regions, the site takes its name from an urban village that existed near the initial course of the famous river Ravi. The phenomenal site of Harappa is in Punjab, an archaeological site which is around 24 km/15 miles west of Sahiwal, northeast Pakistan. The approximate location of the Harappa village is around 6 km/3.7 miles from the ancient site. With a population of an odd 15,000 people, the village today is very small. However, one can still find a railway station that was constructed during the British rule.

With various ruins from the Bronze Age, this fortified city of Cemetery H and Indus Valley cultures is mainly located along Punjab and Sindh. The entire civilisation stretches from high mountains of Afghanistan and Baluchistan to the coastal areas of Gujarat, Makran and Sindh. The Harappa Civilisation had a total population of around five million inhabitants with around 23,500 residents in the city of Harappa itself. They occupied a considerably large amount of area, which summed up to more than 250 acres of land. The diverse, yet distinctly unique environment of the city, makes it perfect for those looking to get in touch with the incomprehensible history and culture of mankind.


The initial discovery work of the civilization was started in 1861 by the then Archaeological Survey of India. However, the first breakthrough was witnessed in 1920s with the excavation of Harappa city. Since then, there have been innumerable discoveries of intricate artefacts such as the Mohenjo-Daro, which is now, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with several major urban centres like Dholavira, Rakhigarhi and Ganeriwala. By 1999, as many as 1056 cities and settlements had been discovered. The civilisation is sometimes called the ‘Mature Harappan culture’, which is used to distinguish it from similar cultures. It is mutually divided into the Early Harappan and Late Harappan, which were the earlier and later cultures of the same Harappan Civilization.

Evidence suggests that the civilization was very advanced, as it was very stable for a rough total of thousand years. With a well-planned and executed urban township system, there was noticeable uniformity in the construction of houses, streets and drainage and water supply systems as well. The various localities and houses were fairly distinguished on the basis of those belonging to lower and higher classes of society. The remnants unearthed from the site also suggested that there was a visible production of durable metals and alloys like bronze, tin, copper and lead. The Great Bath at Mohenjo-Daro and its vast granaries are among the most famous public buildings. One can notice the constant use of burnt bricks in their construction, along with a vast majority of other public and domestic buildings.

Its inhabitants also had immense expertise in handicrafts and metallurgy. This can be seen in various carnelian products and seal carvings that have been unearthed from the site of the ancient Indus river valley. Recent archaeological findings have stated that there existed some form of a private enterprise within the legendary city of Argilos in Greece, with several links with Harappan Civilization. This shows the vast knowledge and widespread influence of this ancient Civilization.


The various destinations that form part of the Harappan Civilization make for some excellent tourist outings. Those who have an immense liking for history, artefacts, museums and ancient civilizations will have a great time witnessing the immense knowledge and love for details possessed by its inhabitants. The city can be easily reached in three hours via Multan Road from Lahore. Since the excavated archaeological site of the Harappan Civilization lies on the main road itself, tourists should have no trouble finding it. The Harappa Museum, though small in size, is a must visit as it houses several historically important artefacts. Navigation through the museum is also easy, thanks to the well-placed signboards and directions. One will come across the fine details on the bathing platforms, wells and most importantly, the intricate drainage system.

Also, several labelled mounds can be seen around the area, each showcasing the structures that were once present there. Ancient granaries and Harappan cemeteries can also be seen from time to time. Several Harappan artefacts have been replaced from time to time with the construction of a Sikh Gurudwara and a mosque inside the area. One must also visit the Baba Nur Shah Wali Shrine which is a tomb for the sacred saint.

How to Reach

By Bus

Harappa can be easily reached by bus. From Lahore, tourists can purchases a bus ticket to Sahiwal. The journey will take approximately 4 hours. With a distance of 24 km, from Sahiwal, one can take a bus to Harappa, which will take another 1 and half hours.

By Taxi

Those looking for a comfortable way to get to the site can hire a taxi which will take them directly to the place. The place can also be reached via Multan Road from Lahore. From Amritsar, the total distance to Harappa is 219 km which takes around 3 and half hours.

Best Time to Visit

The weather at Harappa is warm and pleasant during summers and generally cold during winters. One can visit the area at any given time of the year and witness the tremendous influence of the ancient Harappan workers.


Winters are usually very cold and it is not possible to stay around without proper insulation. It is advisable to use thick blankets and other warm material at all times.


Summer season in Harappa is considerably warm and reflects the immediate surroundings in fine detail. And since the area is windy, one must wear cool, bright clothing that does not allow much dirt and dust to settle.


The area receives occasional heavy showers during the months of July to September. Raincoats and umbrellas are a must.

Though the land of Harappa showcases the Harappan civilization at its best, it does not have much greenery or vegetation. Which is exactly why, it is a desirable destination for those who have a soft spot for archaeology and historical monuments.

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