Exploring Harappa, the buried city

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I still remember my school days, when my Urdu teacher used to tell us about ‘Harappa’ and ‘Mohenjo-Daro’ civilizations which always intrigued me to visit these places. Knowing about the history of these cities made me more anxious to plan to visit these cities. I don’t know how it happened that my school announced to take us on the trip to Harappa and hearing this news I was like ‘flying in the air’.

Though the weather was not much favorable, but the passion of joining this trip made everything fine. It was the month of September during 2007 when 4 buses from our school set out on the journey to Harappa.

Harappa is situated in Punjab, Pakistan almost 24 Km away from Sahiwal. From Lahore, it takes almost 3 hours to reach Harappa which covers distance of 200 Km. The history reveals that Indus Valley Civilization covered the area equal to the size of Europe. The weather of this area was very humid and this land was covered with dense forests. Harappa is the foremost discovered site of Indus valley Civilization that flourished during 3500 BC to 1500 BC. The site shows traces of a well settled community living systematically with high hygienic standards at that time. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is 6 km from the ancient site. The ancient city of Harappa was incidentally discovered during British rule in early 19th century when bricks from the ruins were used as track ballast in the construction of the Lahore-Multan Railway. In 2005, a controversial amusement park scheme at the site was abandoned when builders unearthed many archaeological artifacts during the early stages of building work. A plea from the prominent Pakistani archaeologist Ahmad Hasan Dani to the Ministry of Culture resulted in a restoration of the site.

Harappa city over view

The culture of the people belonging to this civilization was so rich and they used to make different types of ornaments and miniatures. They also dealt with weaving, jewelry making and pottery e.t.c. As we reached there, we found the broken pieces of jewelry and different miniatures half buried under the sand which were the evidence to the culturally rich background of this civilization.

Harappa city Craving 1Harappa city carving 2









The whole area was buried under the heaps of sand dunes with a clear definition of the boundary wall. The first part we visited was having a deep hole in the land about which the guide told us that it was the well from which the people of the city used to get water. Harappa city well

The whole area was buried under the heaps of sand dunes with a clear definition of the boundary wall. The first part we visited was having a deep hole in the land about which the guide told us that it was the well from which the people of the city used to get water.

As we moved on, we saw a big wall having some sort of carvings on it. Closely examined, the carvings showed that people of that time were highly interested in sculpture work. The carvings on the wall had the pictures of men, women and animals with a beautiful description of the life style of the ancient residents of this city. One can easily learn about the living style and cultural heritage of this civilization through this piece of art.

When we started moving ahead, just then I got notice of my feet slipping inside my joggers and to know the reason, I took out my feet and what I saw was… My half jogger was full of sand which was causing difficulty for me to walk. It seemed like my joggers were eating all the sand on the way. I mentioned this thing because one should also take precautionary measures for using a good footwear in order to avoid any such situation.

The next spot we walked to, was a large piece of land with a number of low heighten bricked walls making a puzzle like pattern which were actually the houses where people of that time used to live. These houses were so much close to each other jumbled all around making it difficult to differentiate where the boundary of one home ends and the other starts.

One of my friends found out a beautiful bangle from the sand while walking to the next spot. The bangle was too much heavy and simply made. The size of the bangle was so big that it could easily run through our arm to the shoulder bone. But the smooth structuring of the bangle was so much commendable.

The architectural design of the remnants of this civilization revealed that the ancient people were so much creative and involved in making something very different. They used seals having the pictures of animals like elephant, horses, tigers and buffaloes along with scripts in their own language not only to enhance the beauty of these walls but also to make it something inimitably extraordinary.

Harappa city seal 1

Far away from this sandy fragment of land, we were now standing outside the shrine of Baba Noor Wali Shah, whose history goes back to 17th or 18th century. The grave of this saint is 9 meters long and the people of that area believe that it was his actual height and that’s why this grave is named as “Nau Gazza Qabar” (9 meters long grave). People living there presently visit this shrine on regular basis. I couldn’t believe my eyes watching such a long grave and I’m sure that if he was still alive, then I might be equal to only one of his fingers.

Harappa city grave

After reciting Fateha, we continued our tour. The guide asked us to visit a nearby located museum of Harappa where all the secured remnants of this civilization were displayed. The museum wasn’t so much far away.

Harappa city Museum

As we entered the museum, our eyes were widely opened after having a glance of a variety of ornaments, jewelry and dressing samples. The first showcase had beautiful earrings, necklaces, bracelets, bangles and rings made of bronze, wood, colorful stones, sand and beads. The guide from the museum told us that this jewelry is so much heavy for us to wear. He said that if we try to put any of these earrings to our ears, it will weigh down causing the pierced whole tear apart. But still it was so much alluring to me.

The next showcase had a number of pieces of miniatures and ornaments in the shapes of animals, men, women, the means of transportation and many other things. Some of these art pieces were in the form of colorful pottery and decoration items with beautiful carvings and scriptures. Without any ambiguity, these samples clearly indicated that ancient Harappan people were very much artistic and talented, knowing the best methods of the formation of culturally rich items.

Harappa city Jewelry 1Harappa city Jewelry 2

Harappa city Museum showcase 1 Harappa city museum showcase 2

Moving on further, when we looked inside the show case with cornered eye glance, a feeling of awe went through our bodies. It was a skeleton of any one from the people belonging to Indus Valley civilization. The skeleton was settled straight on a stretcher like thing, giving an impression as if someone was lying on the bed. Seemed a little bit scary!

Harappa city skeleton showcaseThe other sections of the museum had different ornaments and pottery which was used by the people of that time regularly. The common feature in all of these remnants which all of us observed was the creative use of simplicity in all aspects whether it is about the jewelry or pottery, decorative items or ornaments or even if it comes to the carvings on the walls, all of them have this thing in common.

For me, it was the best ever tour especially because being a Pakistani makes it mandatory for us not only to get information about the cultural heritage or historical review of our territory but also to visit and explore each and every corner of our beloved country.

Wardah Farooqi is a Mass Communication graduate. She has earned experience at an earlier stage through volunteering for…

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