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Indus Valley Civilization marks the beginning of the history of India. It flourished around 4700 years ago in the western part of Asia which comes in contemporary Pakistan and Western India.

Discovery and Time 

Indus Valley Civilization existed between 3300-1500 BC in three phases namely early, mature and late phases. 

  • It was discovered in 1921 and belonged to Bronze Age. 
  • Indus Valley Civilization was located on the banks of the river Indus, particularly at the bends that provided water, easy means of transportation of produce and other goods, and also some protection by way of natural barriers of the river.

Indus Valley CivilizationIndus Valley Civilization

Geographical Extent and Important Sites: 

Covered parts of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and some parts of western UP.

  • In Pakistan: Major sites in Pakistan are Harappa (on Ravi in Western Punjab), Mohenjodaro (on Indus), Chanhudaro (Sindh), etc.

  • In India: In India, major sites are Lothal, Rangpur, Surkotda (Gujarat), Kalibangam (Rajasthan), Banwali (Hissar), and Alamgirpur (Western UP). The largest and the latest site in India is Dholavira in Gujarat. Dr. J.P. Joshi and Dr. R.S. Bisht were involved in it.

Question for Indus Valley Civilization
Try yourself:Which of the following sites is NOT a major site of the Indus Valley Civilization in Pakistan?
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Three phases of IVC are: 

• the Early Harappan Phase from 3300 to 2600 BCE,

• the Mature Harappan Phase from 2600 to 1900 BCE, and 

• the Late Harappan Phase from 1900 to 1500 BCE.

Indus Valley Civilization | General Test Preparation for CUET

Town planning and Structures

The Harappan culture was distinguished by its system of town planning. Harappa and Mohenjodaro each had its own citadel or acropolis, which was possibly occupied by members of the ruling class. 

  • Below the citadel in each city lay a lower town containing brick houses, which were inhabited by the common people.
  • The remarkable thing about the arrangement of the houses in the cities is that they followed the grid system. 
  • Granaries constituted an important part of the Harappan cities. 
  • The use of burnt bricks in the Harappan cities is remarkable, because in the contemporary buildings of Egypt mainly dried bricks were used. 
  • The drainage system of Mohenjodaro was very impressive.
  • In almost all cities every big or small house had its own courtyard and bathroom. 
  • In Kalibangan many houses had their wells. 
  • At sites such as Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat), the entire settlement was fortified, and sections within the town were also separated by walls.


The Harappan villages, mostly situated near the flood plains, produced sufficient


  • Wheat, barley, rai, peas, sesame, lentil, chickpea and mustard were produced.
    Millets are also found from sites in Gujarat. While rice uses were relatively rare.

  •  The Indus people were the earliest people to produce cotton. While the prevalence of agriculture is indicated by finds of grain, it is more difficult to reconstruct actual agricultural practices.

  • Representations on seals and terracotta sculpture indicate that the bull was known,
    and archaeologists extrapolate shows oxen were also used for ploughing.

  • Most Harappan sites are located in semi-arid lands, where irrigation was probably
    required for agriculture.

  • Traces of canals have been found at the Harappan site of Shortughai in Afghanistan,
    but not in Punjab or Sindh.

Art and Craft: 

The Harappans were very well acquainted with the manufacturing and use of Bronze.

  • Copper was obtained from the Khetri copper mines of Rajasthan and Tin was possibly brought from Afghanistan.
  • Textile impressions have also been found on several objects.
  • Huge brick structure suggest that brick-laying was an important craft. This also attests the existence of a class of masons. 
  • The Harappans practised boat-making, bead making and seal-making. Terracotta manufacture was also an important craft. 

Model CartModel Cart

  • The goldsmiths made jewellery of silver, gold and precious stones. 
  • The potter's wheel was in full use, and the Harappans produced their own characteristic pottery, which was glossy and shining.

Question for Indus Valley Civilization
Try yourself:What materials were used by the Harappans for making jewellery?
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Economic Life:

The importance of trade in the life of the Indus people is witnessed by the presence of numerous seals, uniform script and regulated weights and measures in a wide area. 

  • The Harappans carried on considerable trade in stone, metal, shell, etc. 
  • Metal money was not used and trade was carried by barter system. 
  • They practised navigation on the coast of the Arabian Sea.


  • They had set up a trading colony in northern Afghanistan which evidently facilitated trade with Central Asia.
  • They also carried commerce with those in the land of the Tigris and the Euphrates

Religious Life:

In Harappa numerous terracotta figurines of women have been found. In one figurine a plant is shown growing out of the embryo of a woman. 

  • The Harappans, therefore, looked upon the earth as a fertility goddess and worshipped her in the same manner as the Egyptians worshipped the Nile goddess Isis. 
  • The male deity is represented on a seal with three horned heads, represented in the sitting posture of a yogi. 
  • This god is surrounded by an elephant, a tiger, a rhinoceros, and has a buffalo below his throne. At his feet appear two deer.The depicted god is identified as Pushupati Mahadeva. 
  • Numerous symbols of the phallus and female sex organs made of stone have been found. 
  • The people of the Indus region also worshipped trees and Animals. 
  • The most important of them is the one horned unicorn which may be identified with the rhinoceros and the next important was the humped bull. 
  • Amulets have also been found in large numbers.


  • Not yet deciphered.
  • The script is not alphabetical but pictographic (about 600 undeciphered pictographs).

End / Decline of Indus Valley Civilization:

The IVC declined around 1800 BCE but the actual reasons behind its demise are still debated. One theory claims that Indo-European tribe i.e. Aryans invaded and conquered the IVC. 

  • In later cultures various elements of the IVC are found which suggest that civilization did not disappear suddenly due to an invasion. 
  • On the other hand, many scholars believe natural factors are behind the decline of the IVC. 
  • The natural factors could be geological and climatic. 
  • It is believed that the Indus Valley region experienced several tectonic disturbances which causes earthquakes. Which also changed courses of rivers or dried them up. 
  • Another natural reason might be changes in patterns of rainfall. 
  • There could be also dramatic shifts in the river courses, which might have brought floods to the food producing areas. 
  • Due to combination of these natural causes there was a slow but inevitable collapse of IVC.

Features of Harrapan Period: 

1. Town Planning: 

  • During the Harappan period, the structural pattern of the settlement was changed. There were now two distinct parts: the citadel on the west and the lower city on the east. 
  • Citadel: The citadel was situated on a higher level and looked like fortified parallelogram. The fortification was built throughout of mud- bricks. The northern half of the citadel contained residential buildings of the elite. The southern half of the citadel contained some five to six massive platforms, some of which may have been used for religious or ritual purposes. 
  • Lower City: The lower city was also fortified and within the walled city, there was a grid of streets running north-south and east-west, dividing the area into blocks. The houses were built of mud-bricks, baked bricks being confined to drains, wells, sills, etc.

Indus Valley Civilization | General Test Preparation for CUET

  • Beside the above two principal parts of Kalibangan, there was also a third one, situated 80 m east of the lower city. It consisted of a modest structure, containing four to five 'fire-altars' and as such could have been used for ritualistic purposes. 
  • Of the finds obtained from this excavation, a cylindrical seal and an incised terracotta cake are quite significant. 

Question for Indus Valley Civilization
Try yourself:
What were the two distinct parts of the settlement during the Harappan period?
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2. Terracota: 

The best terracota figure from Kalibangan is that a charging bull which is considered to signify the "realistic and powerful folk art of Harappan Age".

3. Seals: 

Most noteworthy is a cylindrical seal, depicting a female figure between two male figures, fighting or threatening with spears.

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FAQs on Indus Valley Civilization - General Test Preparation for CUET

1. What is the geographical extent of the Indus Valley Civilization?
Ans. The Indus Valley Civilization was spread across a vast geographical area, including parts of modern-day Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.
2. What are some important sites associated with the Indus Valley Civilization?
Ans. Some important sites of the Indus Valley Civilization include Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Lothal, Dholavira, and Kalibangan.
3. How did town planning and structures contribute to the Indus Valley Civilization?
Ans. Town planning and structures were a significant feature of the Indus Valley Civilization. The cities were well-planned, with well-organized streets, drainage systems, and buildings made of baked bricks. The structures, such as the Great Bath and the Granary, reflect the advanced engineering and architectural skills of the civilization.
4. What was the role of agriculture in the Indus Valley Civilization?
Ans. Agriculture played a crucial role in the Indus Valley Civilization. The people were skilled farmers who cultivated crops such as wheat, barley, peas, and sesame. They also had an efficient irrigation system to ensure proper water supply to their fields.
5. How did the Indus Valley Civilization decline or come to an end?
Ans. The exact reason for the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization is still a subject of debate. However, factors such as climate change, ecological degradation, and the invasion of nomadic tribes are believed to have contributed to its decline. The cities were gradually abandoned, and the civilization disappeared by around 1900 BCE.
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