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Mohenjo Daro: UNESCO’s World Heritage Site

  • 07 Sep 2022
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: Indus Valley Civilization, Significance of World Heritage, Flood in Pakistan.

For Mains: Mohenjo Daro, UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

Why in News?

Pakistan’s Department of Archaeology warned that heavy rainfall in the Sindh province threatened the World Heritage status of Mohenjo Daro.

What threatens the Heritage Site?

  • Between August 16 and 26, 2022, the archaeological ruins of Mohenjo Daro received a record 779.5 mm of rain, which had resulted in “considerable damage to the site and partial falling of several walls, including the protection wall of the stupa dome”.
    • Muneer Area, Stupa, Great Bath and other important sites of these ruins have been badly affected by the natural disaster.
  • It is feared that the ruins of Mohenjo Daro might be removed from the World Heritage list, therefore the authorities of Sindh have called for urgent attention towards conservation and restoration work at the site.

What are the Key Points of Mohenjo Daro?

  • The site of Mohenjo Daro, literally meaning ‘Mound of the Dead' is one of the important sites of Indus Valley Civilization (IVC).
    • Sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation have been found in a large area extending from Sutkagen Dor in Balochistan near the Pakistan-Iran border to Alamgirpur in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh , and from Manda in Jammu to Daimabad in Maharashtra.
    • Other important sites of the Harappan civilization in India are at Lothal and Dholavira in Gujarat, and Kalibangan in Rajasthan.
  • Along with Harappa, Mohenjo Daro is the best-known site of the bronze age (3300 BC to 1200 BC) urban civilization.
  • It flourished in the Indus Valley between roughly 3,300 BC and 1,300 BC, with its ‘mature’ phase spanning the period 2,600 BC to 1,900 BC.
  • Civilization went into decline in the middle of the second millennium BC for reasons that are believed to include catastrophic climate change.
  • Excavation of Mohenjo Daro was started in 1920 and continued in phases until 1964-65, even now only a small part of the site has been excavated.
    • The prehistoric antiquity of Mohenjo Daro was established by Rakhal Das Banerji of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1922.
  • The site is famous for its elaborate town planning with street grids with brick pavements, developed water supply, drainage, and covered sewerage systems, homes with toilets, and monumental buildings such as the Great Granary and the Great Bath.
  • At its peak, it was estimated to have between 30,000 and 60,000 residents with a highly evolved social organization.
  • The ruins of the sprawling city of unbaked brick 510 km northeast of Karachi and 28 km from Larkana in Sindh were recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.

What are UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites?

  • About:
    • A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by UNESCO for its special cultural or physical significance.
    • The list of World Heritage Sites is maintained by the international 'World Heritage Programme', administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
    • This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
  • Sites:
    • There are around 1,100 UNESCO listed sites across its 167 member countries.
    • In 2021, ‘Liverpool — Maritime Mercantile City’ in the United Kingdom was deleted from the World Heritage List due to “the irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property”.
      • In 2007, the UNESCO panel delisted the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman after concerns over poaching and habitat degradation, and the Elbe Valley in Dresden, Germany, in 2009 after the construction of the Waldschloesschen road bridge across the Elbe River.
  • Sites in India:

What is UNESCO?

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. Which of the following characterizes/characterize the people of Indus Civilization? (2013)

  1. They possessed great palaces and temples.
  2. They worshipped both male and female deities.
  3. They employed horse-drawn chariots in warfare.

Select the correct statement/statements using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1, 2 and 3
(d) None of the statements given above is correct

Ans: (b)


  • Excavations at Indus Valley sites confirmed that the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization did not build large monumental structures. There is no conclusive evidence of palaces or temples—or even of kings, armies, or priests. The largest structures found are granaries. Hence, statement 1 is not correct.
  • The city of Mohenjo-daro contains the Great Bath, which may have been a large, public bathing and social area.
  • The clay seals discovered during various excavations reveal the presence of a male God. The seal with a male God wearing a headdress surrounded by various animals exhorts the belief in the male symbol of strength. The figurine of a female God found in the excavation also suggests their beliefs on the female as a source of creation. Hence, statement 2 is correct.
  • There is no evidence of horse drawn chariots during the Indus Valley Civilization. Hence, statement 3 is not correct.
  • Therefore, option (b) is the correct answer.


Q. To what extent has the urban planning and the culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss. (2014)

Q. Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Discuss. (2018)

Source: IE

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