Indus Valley Civilisation

Map of Indus valley civilisation

      Indus Valley Civilisation

One of the oldest and important civilisation that was expected to have taken place around 2500-1500BC is Indus Valley Civilisation. It is difficult to say exact period of this civilisation. With some similarities between Indus and Mesopotamia civilisation it can be said that it existed about 2,500 years before Christ. This Civilisation flourished along the banks of river Indus and its tributaries which are located in present day Pakistan and Afghanistan. Unlike other different civilisation that took place either in Europe or China, Indus Valley Civilisation is one of the biggest and unique civilisation.. What makes this civilisation unique as compared to other civilisation is that people of this civilisation neither built any monument nor mummies. There were no violent battles or wars during this period. People lived with love and principles in this civilisation. That is the reason this civilisation is so successful and popular even today.  Indus Valley Civilisation started in the Bronze Age in the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro both now in Pakistan. Other places where this civilisation flourished are Lothal, Dolavira currently in Haryana and Gujarat. Indus Valley Civilisation is also called as Harappan civilisation. The Harappan civilisation came to light only when the archaeologists discovered the reminants in Harappan city around 1920. Another important civilisation was Vedic Civilisation.

Mohenjo daro Priest king

Indus Valley Civilization - Lifestyle

Lifestyle of Indus Valley people

Even today we do not have precise information about the lifestyle of the people during this period. But as and when new sites are identified by archaeologists through excavations, we are collecting more and more information about their food habits, lifestyle and social life of people. One thing that can be said is people of Indus Valley Civilisation seems to be very intelligent as the houses in this period were constructed based on proper architecture. They had proper drainage system; houses were constructed neatly with brunt bricks. The discovery of Naushera in Pakistan has further yielded to the process of transformation from early to mature Harappan phase. After excavation and careful study it is said that the town of Mohenjo-Daro or the Mound of bead was perhaps built and rebuilt many times.

Mohenjo-Daro likely was, at its time, the greatest city in the world. At that time as many as 35,000 people lived and worked in this massive city, which occupied 250 acres along Indus River. Mohenjo-Daro sat beneath the soil for thousands of years, a preserved relic of the ancient Indus Valley civilization

The houses were neatly constructed with burnt bricks and had flat roofs. The houses were either single or double storied with courtyard and wells. The wells had steps and many rooms, these rooms were probably for changing and also were used as cooling rooms during summer. On the west side of the main road citadel (a high raised building) were done.  On the east side of the main road proper residential area surrounded by massive brick wall was constructed.

Drainage System in Indus Valley Civilisation

 Water and drainage systems

Drainage system was well connected in Indus Valley Civilisation. All the drains from the house were connected to one big drain on the road. The roads were around 10feet wide. Every house had an independent pit which collected all sediment and allowed water to flow to the main drains passing underneath the main street of the town. A great bath, which is being evacuated in Mohenjo-Daro, shows how good were the water systems...The great bath is surrounded by rooms and it is assumed that people used to take bath during auspicious days. Some houses are said to have big granaries. Those granaries were 50 feet or 15 metres in length and 20 feet or 6 metres in width.

The most interesting construction of Mohenjo-Daro was its Great Bath. It is considered a remarkable feature of Indus Valley Civilisation. The house which contains the Great Bath was 180 feet or 55 metres in length and 108 feet or 33 metres in width. The Bath itself is 39 feet or 12 metres in length and 23 feet or 7 metres in width. It is 8 feet or 2.5 metres in depth. There were steps from both sides to enter into the Bath. The walls and the floor of the Bath were very strongly constructed for preservation of water. There was outlet to drain out water in order to clear the bath.

Fresh water was brought in from a huge well nearby. A number of small and big rooms were there around the bath. On one side alone, there were many small rooms. Those rooms were perhaps used to change dress after bath. Verandas were there around the Bath. Behind the verandas were the galleries for people to sit and see.

In the opinion of Sir John Marshall, the Great Bath was the most attractive of all buildings discovered at Mohenjo-Daro.

The urban water systems of the Indus people were much more advanced than those found in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. One of the most remarkable features of Mohenjo-Daro is its system of brick-covered drains that were a precursor to a modern sanitation, an idea that didn't really take hold until 4000 years later as a way to stem cholera outbreaks during the Industrial Revolution.

water system during Mohenjo daro


The granary in Mohenjo-Daro clearly shows that wheat and barely was produced. Even now we can see the remains of husks in the granary. People were also eating beef, mutton, pork, and poultry as their main food. Number of fruits like melon, pomegranate coconut fruit and banana were also included in their diet. Food was prepared on the earthenware pottery.  The earthenware was having intricate design and was baked to give it strength. They also used utensils made of copper, bronze and silver.


People of Indus Valley Civilisation worshipped female Gods and Pashupati. It can be suggested that people often worshipped some sort of image. The most commonly found figurine is that of a female deity which has been called as Mother Goddess. Some seals also show animals sitting on a yogic position. Some Indus Valley Civilisation seals have swastic on it. One such seal shows that of one horn animal surrounded by rhino, buffalo on the right and an elephant,  tiger on the left which makes us to believe that those people worshipped Lord Shiva or Lord of beasts called as Pashupati. Worshipping of peepul tree was another important faith. The discovery of large number of seals with peepul tree on it suggests that tree was considered as sacred.  This shows that the people of IVC realised the importance of the eco system, which included flora and fauna in the life of humans. Some texts quote that Jainism existed during this period.

People believed in life after death. Hence, people buried the dead bodies along with all house hold items and food items like wheat, jewellery etc. Even if they were cremated they preserved the ashes..


Men and women wore colourful robes. Women wore jewellery of gold and precious stone. Among the treasures found was a statue of women wearing a bracelet. Bracelets with similar designs are worn today in India.

The basic costume of ancient society was a  long cloth wrapped around the lower part of the body, and a loose fitting garment for the upper body, which was usually another length of fabric. A headdress was also worn, mainly by the men.

Women in Indus Valley Civilisation wore a variety of garments. The first being a skirt type garment, with a blouse and scarf. Second is a sari, which is a long fabric wound around the body with the loose end thrown over the shoulder, which was worn mainly by tribal women.

Men also had a choice in their clothing though not as varied as the women. Men usually wore a dhoti, which is a long of fabric wrapped around the waist. This could be left as a skirt or brought through the legs and made into a pants type garment. Male headdress was also a length of fabric, wrapped around the head, called a Turban. Women also sometimes wore the turban.

Clothing was made from resources found in each region. Cotton and wool were the most abundant, since silk was not introduced from China until around the 1st century BC. People also enjoyed lavish embroidery and embellishments. Gold being the preferred, though there was also an abundance of silver and precious gems.

Economy and currency

Economy during IVC

Agriculture was the main occupation during IVC. Wheat and barley was their main occupation. The IVC economy was mainly dependent on trading. The land near the Indus River was very fertile due to heavy rainfall. This led to produce plenty of crops of wheat and barley. Traders used trade routes to bring raw materials into the towns and cities. Archaeologists have found weights and measuring sticks which suggest that there were trade centres within the cities. They had trade relations with other countries. Gold and silver copper and other precious stones which have been evacuated in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa suggests that trading was done with foreign countries. The people of IVC used weights and measures in their business trading transactions. They used 16 and its multiples in measurement and weights. Trading seals have been found in Mesopotamia which shows trading was done with other countries.  Mesopotamians wrote about importing goods from the Indus people which further support the idea of trading partnership between the two civilisations.

Currency used during IVC

Money was not probably used during IVC. They carried exchange system through barter. In return for the finished goods and possibly food grains they procured metals. The urban people used measures and weights for trade and transaction. The Harappans also knew the art of measurement. Sticks inscribed with measure marks have been found and one of those made in bronze. Seals were made of silver served as symbols of authority. They were used for stamping. However there are few stamped objects called sealing’s in contrast to Egypt and Mesopotamia. Seals were used as annulments.

Reasons for decline of IVC

The exact reasons for the decline of the one of the most unique and beautiful civilisation is still not clear. Many reasons have been postulated for the decline. People of IVC were loving and caring. They had no weapons to fight. The invasions of the Aryans may have led to the decline of this civilisation. Aryans were skilled fighters. The lighter skin coloured Aryans might have pushed the dark coloured skin Dravidians to south of India. The change in the course of the Indus River might be another reason for decline. Less rainfall, natural disaster like earthquake increase in population might have all caused the reason for decline of IVC.  There is also the probability of some epidemic like cholera wiping out this great civilisation.

Whatever might be the reason the lifestyle of people of IVC is worth reading and understanding. They were very good architects, good planners and above all caring and loving people. The IVC people were very resolute and flexible and continued to evolve even in the face of adversities such as declining monsoon. People shifted their crop patterns from large grained cereals like wheat, barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought resistant and species like rice in the later part.

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