Short Essay On Town Planning Of Harappan Civilization In India

Town Planning System  

The Town Planning System of Indus Valley Civilization (Harappan Civilization) was city based. The excellent drainage and sanitation systems are remarkable.

Urban Cities: The Indus civilization flourished around cities. The ruins of the cities, so far unearthed, show remarkable town planning, and excellent system of drainage and sanitation of the Indus Valley Civilization. The city was the heart of the civilization. The life in the Indus cities gives the impression of “a democratic bourgeois economy” like that of ancient Crete.

Large cities divided into two parts: Both at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro and also at Kalibangan, the city was divided into two main parts. The higher and upper portion of the city was protected by a construction which looks like a fort. The ruling class of the towns perhaps lived in the protected area. The other part of the towns was lower in height than the former and common men lived in this area. The lower area of the towns generally spread over one square mile.


The main streets of Indus Valley ran from north to south and east to west intersecting one another at right angles. The streets were broad varying from 9 feet to 34 feet. They ran straight to a mile. They were suitable for wheeled traffic. Lanes were joined with the streets. Each lane had a public welt. Street lamps were provided for welfare of public.

Systematically built Buildings and Houses

The nature of the buildings at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro shows that the town dwellers were divided into various social classes. The rich and the ruling class lived in the multi-roomed spacious houses and the poorer section lived in small tenements. The public building and big houses were situated on the streets. The modest houses were situated on the lanes. Encroachment on public roads or lanes by building houses was not permitted. The houses can be divided into three main groups viz.

  • dwelling houses,
  • larger buildings,
  • Public baths.

Smaller houses had two rooms, while larger houses had many rooms. There were courtyards attached to big buildings. There was little artistic touch in the architectural design of the buildings belonging either to the rich or the poor. They were plain, utilitarian and comfortable to live. Some of the buildings were probably multi-storied.

Most of the houses had baths, wells and covered drains connected with street drains. Ordinary buildings had little ventilation arrangements, as doors and windows were rarely fixed in the outer walls. Doors of entrance were fixed not on the front wall but on the side walls. One could enter a house by the door facing the side lanes of the house. The doors were made of wood. Large buildings had spacious doors.

Building Materials

There was no stone built house in the Indus cities. Most of the houses were built of burnt bricks. But unburnt sun-dried bricks were also used. That portion of the buildings where contamination with water was possible, burnt bricks were used. For other parts sun-dried bricks were used. Most of the bricks were of equal size. The staircases of big buildings were solid; the roofs were flat and were made of wood.

Drainage System

The elaborate drainage system was a remarkable feature of the civilization. According to D. D. Kosambi, the drainage plans of the Indus cities definitely establish the separate identity or independent character of the Indus civilization. No ancient civilization before the Roman civilization had such an advanced drainage and sanitation system. Each house had horizontal and vertical drains. There were underground drains for the streets. These drains were covered by stone slabs. The soak pits were made of bricks. The house drains were connected with road drains.

Also read:Drainage System of Harappan Civilization (Indus Valley)

Great Public Bath and Granary of Indus Valley Civilization

There is an impressive building which was used as a public bath. The overall dimension of the Bath is 180 feet by 108 feet. The bathing pool is 39 feet by 23 feet with 8 feet depth. There is a device to fill and empty the water of the bathing pool. There are galleries and rooms on all sides of the bathing pool. Dr. Kosambi has provided an interpretation of the bathing pool and the adjoining rooms which is ingenuous. According to him, men used to bathe in the tanks as a ritual for the mother goddess to whom the citadel belonged. This public bath was attached to the Mohenjo-Daro fort where upper class people lived. Among the other large buildings there was a big hall which was perhaps used for public meeting.

There is the ruin of a great granary at Harappa measuring 169 fit x 135 fit. Attached to the granary were two roomed tenements with a common courtyard. These tenements housed the workers or the slaves who thrashed the corn to be preserved in the granary.

Declining Stage of the City

The advanced style of the Indus city life found in the earlier layers is absent in the later layers. In later layers there was a marked decline in civic discipline. Buildings encroached on the roads. Lanes were chocked with klins. Slums grew around. At Harappa and more clearly, at Mohenjo-Daro excavation has revealed the general shape of town planning system of the Indus Valley Civilization.


Modern archaeologists have been impressed by the perfectness of the town planning system of the Indus Valley civilization. The systematic construction of residential houses and public buildings, laying down of principal streets, etc. are comparable with the modern day city planning.

Also read:Essay on Harappa Civilization (Indus Valley Civilization)

Category: History of Ancient IndiaTagged With: Indus Valley Civilization, Planning

Harappan Civilization

Archaeological Discovery of Harappa

Archaeological investigations had been conducted in the third decade of the present century at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa situated in the Montgomery district of the Punjab, and the Larkana, situated in Sind.

Indus Civilization

The civilization at Mohenjo-Daro, and Harappa, Nal and Kulli grew up in the valley of the river Indus and that is why it is referred to as the “Indus Civilization.”

Though the Indus civilization is considered to be one of the oldest culture in the world, but it was of urban nature. The town planning of harappa and mohenjo-daro was systematically done. Civic organisation was in place.

The Ruins of Harappa

It seems that the city at Mohenjo-Daro was destroyed and rebuilt several times. Traces of seven different layers have been found. The Harappan Civilization was city based, and this explains the remarkable progress of the city life at the time.

Life of Harappan People

The majority of the Harappan people were peasants, and they lived in villages. To the ruling community they were not dangerous at all, but were indispensable to them for economic reasons. But at the same time, the peasants were treated as slaves.

Towns Planning of Harappan Civilization

Remains of many travelling house have been discovered in the big city. They range from two-roomed house to large buildings which five feet in length and ninety seven feet in width.

Houses were built in rows on both sides of the road. Burnt bricks were used for building. There was no road obstruction by house-building.  There were houses in lanes also. The houses of rich people were large with several rooms. The poor people, however, lived in smaller houses.

Granary of Harappan Civilization

A granary has been discovered. The granary was constructed on the high foundation of the burnt bricks. A bath has been discovered at Mohenjo-Daro. This bath can be called one of the chief features of the Indus Civilistaion. This bath was for the use by the public.

Bricks made of burnt clay were used for construction of the reservoir to prevent outflow of water. The bath was probably constructed for religious purposes. After their bath, the worshippers probably used small rooms for change of dress, and offered worship to the temple of Mother Goddess which was adjacent to the public bath.

Civic Organisation of Indus Valley Civilization

The ruins of forts, one each at Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa and Kalikangan have been discovered.

The drainage system of Indus Valley Civilization was build in systematic order. Drains made of bricks of burnt clay were used for outlet of water from each house. Water flowing along the drain used to pour into the main gutter. A cover made of stone was put on the drain. There were underground drains along the roads. The drains of the houses were connected with the road drainage.

Also read:Drainage System of Harappan Civilization (Indus Valley)

Town Planning of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa

The Town Planning of Indus Valley Civilization very much systematic. The civic organisations of two cities were highly developed. Roads, dwelling houses, forts or large buildings confirmed to the same pattern. This compels the conclusion that the system of centralised administration had been in vogue in the cities for ages.

Also read:Town Planning of Indus Valley Civilization

The town planning of Harappan Civilization was observed by the scholars, and they assume that in building houses of the cities, close attention was given to their practical advantages. They built their houses in such a manner as they could last long, but the architectural and sculptural works of the dwellings were of low order.

Dress of Harappan People

The Indus people used garments made of cotton and wool. But much is not known about their garments. Perhaps, they used two separate pieces of cloth to cover upper and lower portions of the body. Men had beards, but generally got their moustaches shaven. They combed up their locks of long hair and got them tied by ribbons. Women preferred to dress their hair. Both men and women liked to use ornaments.

Also read: Harappan Culture (Culture of Harappan Civilization)

Harappan Civilization Art

Various painted and polished earthen pots were made here. Various toy-goods for children such as cow, lamb, elephants, buffaloes, monkeys, boars, heno etc. have been in addition to various forms of potteries, discovered here. Among the terra-cotta works, toy-carts have been found. They look like bullock-carts of the modern age.

Various containers and pots made of silver, copper and bronze, combs and needles, , mirrors, various weapons have been found in large number in the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro.

Harappan Seals

Seals made of soft sandstone have been found both at Mohenjo-Daro and at Harappa. Many terra-cotta, bronze and copper seals have also been discovered.

The writing on seals is perhaps their main scientific attainment. The language and meaning of these writings are yet to be deciphered. The inscription of the seals indicate that the people were literate. The writing techniques were more or less uniform.

Domestic Animals at Harappa Civilization

Domestic animals such as – cow, boar, buffalo, dog and lamb have been referred to in the writings of the scholars.

Food of Harappan People

Discovery of granaries prompts assumption that the Indus men were mainly agriculturists.

Cultivation was carried on the plains which lay by the side of the two cities. Corns as revenue were exacted from the side of the two cities. Wheat, barley and almonds of different kinds were the main food  of Harappan People.

Religion of Harappa

No reliable materials by means of which scholars can ascertain the religious belief of the Harappan and Indus people have, as yet, been available. Neither temple nor any image of any deity has been discovered at Mohenjo-Daro and other places.

Authors often suggest that the worship of the Mother of the world and of Shiva Pashupati was in vogue. They also worship the “Linga”. Worship of tree, snake, and animal was prevalent also.

Ornaments and Jewelry

Ornaments and jewelry made of gold and other metals were in much use. The women dressed themselves with gold ornaments with stone-pieces being set on the same.

Thank You.

Category: History of Ancient IndiaTagged With: Indus Valley Civilization


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