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Lothal Once a port for world trade

Posted On 2013-08-29

Lothal Once a port for world trade

Lothal is a pre-historic port found in India. This was actually a port city situated in the present Ahmedabad District of Gujarat. Lothal was excavated in 1954. Studies on the ruins of this ancient port city revealed that it was part of the Indus Valley Civilization that existed around 2400 BC.


The meaning of Lothal is ‘City of Dead’. It functioned as an outpost to important places in the Indus Valley Civilization, namely Harrappa and Mohenjo Daro. Being a port town, this city generated wealth and prosperity. It facilitated trade and commerce with major ports of West Asia. Lothal was a well-known center to manufacture and export beads. During its time, it was here that the Sabarmati River passed through before meeting with the Gulf of Khambat.


Lothal – A thriving port town


Although the Indus Valley Civilization flourished for more than 5000 years, none of its ruins are as well-preserved as the ruins of Lothal. Remnants of this ancient port city reveal that it was a thriving centre-place of trade. It was also a bustling shipyard. A visit to the site reveals so many aspects of this ancient civilization. For one, they were an organized group of people. They had better roads, strong brick houses, and closed drainage lines.


Lothal – An organized place


Lothal was once a pottery town. Its strategic location was noticed and it was made into a port city. Historians conclude that Lothal reached its peak in prominence around 2350 BC. The city had excellent underground drainage system. Even during that time weights and measures were used to erect structures with great precision.


• The infrastructure of this city was strong.

• It survived the onslaught of three raging floods.

• But it could not withstand a flood that happened in 1900 BC. This flood destroyed the city permanently.


Lothal’s dynamics


The walls of the structures found in Lothal have no intricate carvings. Interestingly, Lothal was not ruled by kings. Rather, it was ruled by a democratically elected group of councils. The ruins found in this ancient port city are flat and desolate. They are not exciting and may not generate interest. This aspect reveals that this city meant only business and was not perceived to be a city of art and crafts.

• It is at Lothal where India’s first ship-building yard operated from.

• The ship building ad breaking yard manufactured, modified, and destroyed ships and boats. It had a capacity to hold more than 30 ships at a single point of time.

• It had a total capacity of holding 30 tonnes of ship-able goods. 

• This metric indicates that Lothal was as prominent and large a port city as the present day Vishakapatnam.




It is interesting to note that within a span of a few hundred years Lothal disappeared into oblivion. It left behind no substantial evidence of the language people spoke in the region. There is not much information on how the port city was operated. Nevertheless, the city of Lothal gives us a peek into a glorious past we can be proud of.

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