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Houses in Ancient India Harappa and Mohenjodaro

In the earliest times, people lived without any kind of shelter. Sometimes they also lived in tents, or in caves. It was in the Neolithic period that people at different times in different places, started building houses in Egypt and West Asia probably about 10,000 BC. In Greece housing started around 6000 BC. But it was not until about 3000 BC that houses came to be built in England.

The Harappan civilization is marked as one of the earliest evidences of human civilization in India. This civilization can be traced in the ancient Indus valley civilization. The Indus valley cities were one of the first cities ever to have come into existence and formed the basis of civilization.

The Indus river valley civilization lasted from 3300 - 1700 B.C. It basically reached its peak from 2600 - 1800 B.C. The first city to be excavated was Harappa. The two main cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro that were excavated are situated in the present day Pakistan.

The hub of the Harappan civilization was mainly concentrated in the fertile plains of River Indus. These settlements so excavated have been found as distant as in Baluchistan in Pakistan and Gangetic plain in India. It is estimated that around 5000 years back, a group of nomads came to India from Sumeria. Sumeria is the modern day Iran.

They passed through the Himalayas where they discovered a rich and fertile land. This fertile land which was irrigated by a number of rivers like Indus, Ravi, Chenab, Sutlej and Beas comprised of the fertile plain of the modern day Punjab. As compared to Iran, this land was blessed with ample water and other natural resources. Iran was primarily a desert and a vast expanse of arid dry land. There was enough wood to burn and enough clay to make bricks.

The two main or prime cities in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization were Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The reason for this was mainly because of the kind of planning principles which were used here. The same level of planning have been followed without any changes at all the rest of the sites. The two cities were located at a distance of around 400 kilometers from each other.

The planning of the cities was done brilliantly. They had strong outer walls for defense and were spread over a square mile. The streets were planned and constructed in a way that it allowed smooth flow of traffic. Also the smoothly rounded corners made sure that carts could turn easily without hassles.

The cities were divided into 12 major blocks. The basic unit of city planning was individual household. A highly sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture is clearly evident in the Indus Valley civilization. The quality of municipal town planning suggests knowledge of urban planning and efficient municipal governments which gave a high priority to hygiene and sanitation.

The streets of Mohenjodaro or Harappa were laid out in perfect grid patterns. This feature was quite similar to the present day New York. The houses were protected from noise, odors, and thieves.

As seen in Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and the recently discovered Rakhigarhi, this urban plan included the world's first urban sanitation systems. Within the city, individual homes or groups of homes obtained water from wells. From a room that appears to have been set aside for bathing, waste water was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets.

Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes. The ancient Indus systems of sewage and drainage that were developed and used in cities of the Indus Empire were far more advanced than any found in modern urban sites in the Middle East. Additionally, they were also more efficient than those in some areas of modern Pakistan and India today.

All houses had access to water and drainage facilities. One gets the impression of a vast middle-class society. The advanced architecture of the Harappans can also be judged by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls. The massive citadels of Indus cities that protected the Harappans from floods and attackers were larger than most Mesopotamian ziggurats.

The purpose of the "Citadel" however remains debated. In sharp contrast to this civilization's contemporaries, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, no large monumental structures were built. There is no conclusive evidence of palaces or temples or, indeed, of kings, armies, or priests. Some structures are thought to have been granaries.

Found during excavation in one of the cities was an enormous well-built bath, which may have been a public bath. Although the "Citadels" are walled, it is however unclear that these structures were defensive. They may have been built to divert flood waters.

Concentrating on the kind or type of houses which existed in ancient India, these were one or two stories high. They were made of baked brick, with flat roofs. All these houses were almost similar. Each of such houses was built around a courtyard, with windows overlooking the courtyard.

The outside walls had no windows. Each home had its own private drinking well as well as its own private bathroom. Clay pipes led from the bathrooms to sewers located under the streets. These sewers drained into nearly rivers and streams.

The ancient Harappan cities did not develop slowly. As a result of which it can be inferred that whoever built these cities learned to do so from another place. As the Indus flooded occasionally, cities were rebuilt on top of each other.

Archaeologists have discovered several different cities. These cities were built one over the other, each built a little less skillfully. The most skillful was on bottom. It would appear that builders grew less able or less interested in perfection over time. Till date each city is considered a marvel, and each one greatly advanced for its time.

Their towns were laid out in grids everywhere on straight streets. These people were incredible builders. Scientists have found what they perceived as giant reservoirs of fresh drinking water.

In addition to this, they have also found that even the smallest house at the edge of each town was linked to that town's central drainage system. It could also be a strong possibility that they not only drained waste water out, but also had a system to pump fresh water into their homes which was quite similar to modern plumbing.

It was around the 1900 BC that signs of a gradual decline began to emerge. People started leaving the cities. Those who remained were the poorly nourished. As a matter of fact, around 1800 BC, most of the cities were abandoned.

In the aftermath of the Indus civilization's collapse, regional cultures emerged. These new cultures to varying degrees showed the influence of the Indus civilization. In the formerly great city of Harappa, burials have been found that correspond to a regional culture called the Cemetery H culture.


This site covers all areas for Ancient Indian History for kids. There are several essays to refer to for your school history study. We start off with ancient India timeline, various ancinet empires like the Mauryan empire and the Gupta empire. You will find information about ancient Indian society and culture, rulers, wars, costumes and several such facinating subjects. History of ancient India for kids is quite fascinating and long.