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Dholavira - "Bhoot Pradesh"

       I would like to present in the beginning of this write-up, the last and  parting remark made by the guide, "Dholavira is a - Bhoot Pradesh". Our guide at Dholavira was more pragmatic than many of the dogmatic historians and archaeologists. During my visit to Dholavira, our guide started his narration like a parrot, broad streets, beautiful houses and under ground  tunnels for water drainage. The only difference from the description about Mohenjo Daro is that he was describing that the tunnels were meant for rain water collecting instead of the usual interpretation that the tunnels were meant for "cleaning  drainage".

                     To make the conversation more lively, I introduced my theory of "Burial chambers" to him. The initial reaction of the guide was hostile, but he gradually mellowed down. At the fag end of the field trip, which took around two hours time, he gave me a positive news. He stated that during his childhood his mother and village elders used to warn him that the archaeological site was "Bhoot Pradesh" and he should not play around that place. 
                    He was a practical man,  he further stated that, "The fear of ghosts" only had kept this place intact for so many centuries". Otherwise the villagers nearby would have pilfered this archaeological site for those "dressed and polished stones" for construction of their houses. The same explanation applies to all Indus civilization sites excavated. These sites are surviving as on today because of the fear of "Ghosts". Thanks to "Ghosts" for saving "historical sites", which provide some  evidences for our country's historical antiquity. 

                     Now, let us analyse  this tunnel in a more professional way. The above given photo shows the tunnel at "Dholavira Archaeological site". See the dressed stones and height of tunnel , a full grown man can easily walk through this tunnel. What is the standard explanation for this tunnel?  A tunnel for rain water collecting, water passes through the tunnel to enter the massive water tanks located within the excavated site. There are six or seven such large water tanks surrounding the core citadel area. One simple logic is enough to refute this theory,  water will simply run by gravitational force to reach the big water tanks , which are located at a lower elevation than the citadel, there is no need for big tunnels to harvest rainwater.

                 Now, my explanation is that it is an "entrance tunnel" to a "ancient burial chamber". This theory has already has been explained in detail, in my book and the details can be seen by following the links. (Necropolis theory) and ( Criticism of old theories)

                    This above given photo shows a chamber, which could not be explained by the guide. The standard explanation is that it could be another water tank. It could not be a water tank because there is no water chute leading to this chamber, and other surrounding water tanks are at lower level than this chamber. Further the walls of this chamber are porous and not water tight. In addition to this chamber, there exists another chamber side by side of same proportion with a separating wall of two feet thickness. If the chamber had been built for water collection, there is no logic in building a separating wall to make into two separate water tanks. 

                      Possible explanation is that it could be a burial chamber or could be a shaft leading to a burial chamber. Dholovira is an exciting place on the archaeologists point of view because the site has been only partially explored and further excavations could lead to burial chambers and possible new artefacts.  

Other supporting evidences for the " Necropolis theory":

1. There are many burial pits and chambers on the southern side of the supposed to be citadel.
Ref--ASI --website ---

2. There are six or seven water tanks surrounding the citadel, which could be large burial chambers instead of water tanks as being explained now.

3. The tunnels, as shown above could be passage ways leading to "Dungeons", if there had been any ruling elite in this place in ancient times.But,the excavators of this site themselves are afraid of proposing such an explanation. Hence, the assumption of "entrance tunnel" to a burial chamber is a reasonable explanation. 

4. There is a massive well in the centre of citadel, which could be the "shaft grave", similar to the shaft grave found in Greece. See the note given below about the shaft grave in Encyclopaedia of Britannica. See the following websites,  good photographs of Dholavira's well is available in these web pages. 
Archeological survey of India -website:
other websites:-

R.S Bisht revisits the Harappan site in Dholavira

5) Pushkarini (Stepped Tank) (or) cist grave:
(Photo courtesy ASI)
There is a grave chamber located very near the well. The cist grave is the small square pit in the middle of the chamber. Most probably the "cap stone" of the "cist" has been removed. Because of that reason, it gives an appearance of a pit inside the larger pit. However, ASI calls it as PushKarini (Stepped Tank).
follow the below given link of ASI ---

Arguments against "Stepped Tank" Theory:
1) This pushkarini is just next to the deep well. If there is a deep well nearby, how water will be there in a shallow water tank near to a well?
2) Is there any logic of building shallow pushkarini, beside a deep well?
3) Those seven are eight big water tanks are located in the area surrounding the citadel area, where this pushkarini is located. This pushkarini is very small compared to the massive water tanks.
4) Those massive water tanks are located in lower elevation than this pushkarini, so the outcome will be that no water will stay in this pushkarini even in rainy season.
5) The conclusion is that it is not a pushkarni, but could be a cist grave or pit grave.

Good write -up on water harvesting at Dholavira ---follow the below given links---

Ref ---Encyclopaedia Britannica --- shaft graves, late Bronze Age (c. 1600–1450 BC) burial sites from the era in which the Greek mainland came under the cultural influence of Crete. The graves were those of royal or leading Greek families, unplundered and undisturbed until found by modern archaeologists at Mycenae. The graves, consisting of deep, rectangular shafts above stone-walled burial chambers, lie in two circles, one excavated in 1876 and the other not found until 1951. They were richly accoutred with gold and silver; carvings of chariots provide the earliest indication of chariots on the Greek mainland.
(model of shaft grave)

Ref ----http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/greekdeath/g/ShaftGraves.htm
Definition: At Mycenae, wealthy warrior chieftains and their families were buried in shaft graves such as have been found in "Grave Circles A and B" (walled enclosures) from the Middle or Late Helladic period. A shaft grave is an enlarged cist grave (a box grave made from rectangular stone slabs on their edges) that is entered from a shaft through its roof. After the burial, the shaft is filled in with dirt. On the top some had sepulchral stones. J.B. Bury says women wearing gold diadems with household items beside them were also buried in these graves.

6) Arguments against "Well Theory":
a) Please note that there exists a small cist grave next to the well, it is unusual to have a grave next to drinking water well. 
b) The only supporting evidence for "well theory" is that there exist a  platform for pulley and other structures to pull out water pails from the well.  
 c) This "well theory" could be easily refuted by explaining that any kind of underground burial chambers could  have required a pulley and lift mechanism for downloading  construction materials, mummified bodies and movement of people to access "burial chambers" for prayer and maintenance. 
 d) This method of "shaft graves" were developed to prevent easy accessibility to grave robbers and at the same time provide accessibility to legal persons. In addition to that mummified bodies could be accessed for  prayers and also periodical maintenance of burial chambers could be carried out. At the same time ancient people could  build new additional chambers inside the shafts for the other dead family members of royal families or noble families.

7. Citadel or Mastaba 
Picture (Left)courtesy Frontline magazine, dated july 12,2013, page no.72.
Picture(Right) courtesy Wikipedia.
                           The archaeologist who excavated this Dholavira site says that there was a citadel in the centre of the site. The walls shown above in the picture (Left) are being considered as  the remnants of  a citadel. But, if you see the picture of citadel wall, it can be seen that it is a sloping wall and not a perpendicular wall. How the fortification wall will be slopy in nature? The walls of a fort are always vertical and perpendicular to the ground. If you have a sloping wall in the fort, the enemy will climb the walls very easily and the entire purpose of fort will be defeated. But, reality is that the walls of Dholavira are slopy and it can not be a citadel. Whereas consider the walls of mastaba shown in the picture on the right side, the walls are slopy at 30 degree angle and exactly match with the picture of mastaba shown in the picture. The only other explanation for the structure in Dholavira  is that it is a Mastaba.

Other supporting evidences for Mastaba Theory:
a) Entrances to this citadel are not aligned in straight line, they are in different alignment more like a labyrinth than like a citadel.
b) The enclosed area of this citadel is very small, fort requires large area for people living within the fort.
c) There are only water tanks, but no proper living quarters are identified within the fort.
d) There is no palace like structures --court room, living room, dining room of royalty or nobles.

7a)Below given is the extract of article on mastaba at Wikipedia
                                   The word Mastaba comes from the Arabic word for a bench of mud, likely because when seen from a distance it resembles a bench. It is also speculated that the Egyptians may have borrowed ideas from Mesopotamia since at the time they were both building similar structures.

                                  The above-ground structure was rectangular in shape, it had sloping sides, a flat roof, was about four times as long as it was wide, and rose to at least 30 feet in height. The mastaba was built with a north-south orientation which was essential for Egyptians so that they may be able to access the afterlife. This above ground structure had space for a small offering chapel equipped with a false door to which priests and family members brought food and other offerings for the soul (ba) of the deceased. Because Egyptians believed that the soul had to be maintained in order to continue to exist in the afterlife. These openings “were not meant for viewing the statue but rather for allowing the fragrance of burning incense, and possibly the spells spoken in rituals, to reach the statue.”

                                     Inside the mastaba, a deep chamber was dug into the ground and lined with stone or bricks. The exterior building materials were initially bricks made of sun dried mud which was readily available from the Nile River. Even as more durable materials of stone came into use, the cheaper and easily available mud bricks were used for all but the most important monumental structures. The burial chambers were cut deeper until they passed the bed rock and were lined with wood. A second hidden chamber called a "serdab" , from the Persian word for “cellar,”. This chamber was used to store anything that may have been considered as an essential such as beer, cereal, grain, clothes and other precious items that would be needed in the afterlife. The Mastaba housed a statue of the deceased that was hidden within the masonry for its protection. High up the walls of the serdab were small openings because according to the ancient Egyptians the Ba could leave the body but it had to return to its body or it would die.

8. Similar is the case of citadel being excavated at Khirsara village at Katch district, Gujarat, India. The walls of the citadel are slopy. (Ref --Page.no.72,Frontline Magazine, June 28, 2013) 

 9. As said by the guide, " It is the Bhoot Pradesh, not a living place".