While reviewing the construction of the National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) site at Gujarat’s Lothal via video conferencing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening said, “There are many such tales of our history that have been forgotten. Lothal was not only a major trading centre of the Indus Valley Civilisation, but it was also a symbol of India’s maritime power and prosperity.”
The project began in March 2022, and is being developed at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore. It will have several innovative features such as Lothal mini-recreation, which will recreate Harappan architecture and lifestyle through immersive technology; besides four theme parks. It will also house the world’s tallest lighthouse museum, 14 galleries highlighting India’s maritime heritage starting from the Harappan time till today, as well as a coastal states pavilion displaying the diverse maritime heritage of Indian states and Union Territories.
One of the southernmost sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation, Lothal—located in the Bhāl region of what is now the state of Gujarat—is believed to have been built in 2,200 BC. It was a thriving trade centre in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and ornaments reaching West Asia and Africa.
Post-1947, in search for cities of the Harappan Civilisation archaeologist SR Rao led a team which discovered a number of Harappan sites, including the port city of Lothal. Excavation work was carried out in Lothal between February 1955 and May 1960. According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Lothal had the world’s earliest known dock, connecting the city to an ancient course of the Sabarmati river.
Later, the ASI unearthed a mound, a township, a marketplace, and a dock.Lothal was nominated in April 2014 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As per the nomination dossier submitted to UNESCO, “The excavated site of Lothal is the only port-town of the Indus Valley Civilisation. A metropolis with an upper and a lower town had in on its northern side a basin with vertical wall, inlet and outlet channels which has been identified as a tidal dockyard. Satellite images show that the river channel, now dried, would have brought in a considerable volume of water during high tide, which would have filled the basin and facilitated sailing of boats upstream.”