Tuesday, February 13, 2007

About a trip to Lothal

In Ahmedabad, when I was in my fifth standard, I went with my classmates on a day trip to Lothal. Our teachers had made an excellent choice: there could not have been a more direct way to introduce us kids to history. But I wasn’t interested; I was too busy, during the trip, in trying to get the attention of Palak, a girl who sat next to me in class. I remember playing either badminton or Frisbee with her outside the museum building in Lothal; it was the high point of my day. And on the return trip home, I remember looking through the tinted glass windows of our specially rented bus and working myself into a romantic thrall by playing in my mind, over and over again, a maudlin Bollywood song of the time - the title song from the Rishi Kapoor-Sridevi starrer Chandni.

Some vague memories of Lothal have remained: the ruins for which the site is famous; and the displays well preserved in glass cases at the museum. I am aware that even without the distraction of Palak I was quite incapable, at that age, of comprehending the significance of Lothal. But with the sort of thirst I have for history now, no excuse will do: I feel like kicking myself for not having been more attentive or exhibited some curiosity.

Lothal, of course, was one of the urban centers of what is today collectively referred to as the Indus Valley civilization, which flourished about five thousand years ago (the Wikipedia links provide excellent information on this). So I hope to do proper justice the next time I visit Lothal. And perhaps I’ll make it up also by visiting Harappa and Mohenjodaro - cities that were contemporaries of Lothal, and that are now in modern day Pakistan.

Other places I would love to visit: Takshashila (or the anglicized Taxila), also in Pakistan, where, roughly two millennia after the decline of the Indus valley civilization, the wily Chanakya and the brilliant Sanskrit grammarian Panini are supposed to have studied; and, to turn now to some cultures halfway across the world, I'd also like to visit the Mayan sites of Chichen Itza and Tikal, Machu Picchu of the Incas in Peru, and finally, closest to where I am now, the 11th century Cahokia mounds of the Mississipian Native American cultures near St. Louis.

The image above is a recreation of Lothal as envisaged by the Archaelogical Survey of India. Credit for the image also goes to this group and website.


RKI said...

There, this is how I would like you to start off all your discourses on history, though you stopped short of describing Lothal at length here(all thanks to Palak Mehta :)

Hari said...

Aha, so finally I got the combination right! I wish now that there were many such stories, so my posts would be more about these stories than the historical topics in question :)

But seriously, there's not much on Lothal here because I don't know much about it. It will probably be the topic of some future "discourse", to use your wonderful word :)

kunal singh said...

hi hari,
Lothal is really interesting. I was lucky to visit it last week. Here is some info which you might find useful while planning your trip: