Ancient cities in India does possess its share of similarities and dissimilarities with the present Indian city scenario, and the more one dives into its depth, the more enamoured one becomes. The distinctive and individualistic mode of daily life, customs, cultures, celebrations, festivals, religious observances, caste system, sports activities, education, position of women, architecture, or any other possible facet can very much be studied in Indian ancient history. Indeed, it can also be comprehended that most of the contemporary Indian cultural refinement that any citizen witnesses today, has been heavily borrowed and inspired form these ancient Indian cities. This rather classic artistic amalgamation can be traced historically from the very foremost Indus-Sarasvati Civilization, the harbinger of ancientness into every later Indian city to evolve unto contemporaneity.
These ancient cities within India had in fact possessed some archetypal lineaments, which made them uniquely stand out in matters incorporating brick as the all-encompassing form of construction. The cities from ancient Indian times, also did possess well-planned streets, art of pottery, drainage ditches, bulky granaries and large bath sources for ritual cleansing. Constructed on a raised platform, most of the major buildings were made from brick. There also existed some small, two-room structures to enormous houses with two-storied with courtyards.
The history of ancient cities and civilizations in India is of the ages or eras in the evolution of Indian history generally, commencing from pre-historic era to the colonial era of modern India. The ancient civilization of India is also known in history as Indus-Sarasvati Civilization, the history of which can be traced back to the Bronze Age, beginning from 10,000BC, which had disseminated and prospered in the north western part of Indian subcontinent. Indus-Sarasvati principally had covered the regions of Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan present day Pakistan, especially the part of Sindh and Punjab and the now legendary cities of Dholavira, Kalibangan, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, Lothal, which are located in present day India and the cities of Harappa, Ganeriwala and Mohenjodaro in present day Pakistan
Ancient Indian cities have been described to belong to that bunch, which had existed before the arrival of Islam into India, precisely prior to the 8th century. These ancient indigenous cities included the major as well as minor cities, towns, villages in the localities of concentrated human settlements of ancient India, as have been mentioned in the Epics (Mahabharata and Ramayana as well as the Puranas). The cities bearing their very ancient `Hinduness`, have superlatively depicted and mirrored the vast and diversified culture of the then India, much of which remains in a legendary format with anonymity to present generation Indians.
The India of the yesteryears is supremely revealed while shedding some light upon the ancient cities of India, thus gaining some knowledge. From archaeological and repeated historical accounts, it can be comprehended that there did exist an astounding number of these ancient cities, each bearing its distinctive quality to be praised to the top. And the most intriguing fact that can be mentioned here is that, the cities are still just the same in modern times, with the exception that their names have been changed, with much dash of contemporaneity. Modern Indian cities have verily grown and improved upon themselves, upon the ruins of their forefathers - the ancient cities in India. There, sadly exists particular cities which do not exist today, just because of the fact that they could not stand the test of time and had to perish within oblivion.
Some of these ancient cities that existed in India, can be stated as under
Aror is located 8 km east of Rohri in present day Sindh, Pakistan. It had served as the ancient capital of Sindh and was once located on the banks of Indus River. The city was once the prime nucleus centre of commerce and trade. The main languages spoken by the people here in Aror are Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi. The religions followed by the people of Aror are Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism.
Kannauj was one of the most beautiful ancient cities in India, that was ruled by different rulers. The city was described as, "a city which raised its head to the skies and which in strength and beauty might boast of being unrivalled." Kanauj has incessantly served as a place of immense historical significance. The city had, much later, become a new district of the Uttar Pradesh Province on September 18, 1997.
Bairat is a much celebrated and momentous town in the northern Jaipur District of Rajasthan. It is located 52 km north of Jaipur and 66 km west of Alwar.
Kalibangan is a town situated in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. The town is precisely located upon the banks of Ghaggar River. This ancient city of India, Kalibangan has been since long considered, as the third important city amongst all the excavated Harappan sites, under the Indus-Sarasvati Valley Civilization. The word `Kalibangan` has been derived from two words - `Kala` and `bhangan`. Kali stands for black and bhangan implies bangle. The city had received its name from the innumerable pieces of terracotta bangles that were excavated here, to be preserved forever.
Sravasti is an exceedingly substantial Buddhist religious and research centre, located in the Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh. This ancient Indian city owns the supreme honour of sheltering Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens.
Sagala is believed to be the modern day Sialkot, located in northern Punjab, now falling in Pakistan. Sagala had once served as a great centre of trade and commerce, filled with business prospects.
Sitanagaram is a small and humble and ancient site located in the Guntur district of India.
Hansi is a town in the Hisar District of Haryana in India. The ancient Indian city of Hansi uniquely is known to possess 5 gates to enter Delhi. They majestically incorporate the Delhi Gate at the East, Hisar gate at the West, Gosain gate at North-West, Barsi Gate at South and Umra gate in the south west direction. The most crucial trait of this town is that, the altitude increases gradually as one enters Delhi city from any of the gates.
Kumbhoj is the name of an ancient town located in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra.
Kalpi is an ancient city of India, in Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh. Kalpi rather seizes stronghold from its sisterly counterparts, due to being conceived as the birthplace of sage Ved Vyasa, who had splendidly authored Mahabharata. The city of Kalpi is also renowned for its art of paper making.
Bhinmal is a town in the Jalore district of Rajasthan. Bhinmal had once served as the capital of ancient Gujarat. The earlier name of Bhinmal was Bhillamala. Bhinmal was, in particular instances, also acknowledged as Sriaml.
Tamralipta is the name of yet another decisive ancient city in India, situated on the Bay of Bengal, presently coming under West Bengal. Now the place is however identified as Tamluk. Tamluk derives its name from the Sanskrit word Tamra Lipta meaning "Full of Copper".
Urayur is a city located in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu. The word Urayur in Tamil stands for "the residence".
Dwaraka, that very ancient and very regal ancient Indian city, is situated in the state of Gujarat. According to Hindu mythology, Dwarka was the dwelling place of Lord Krishna. The meaning of the word Dwarka implies a "door".
Ujjain is located on the banks of river Shipra in Madhya Pradesh. According to Hindu Mythology, Shipra had originated from the much admired churning of the oceans by the Gods and the Demons, with Vasuki, the serpent, serving as the rope.
Osian or Osiyan is an ancient city in India, that is approximately located at a distance of 65 km from Jodhpur in Rajasthan. The city houses a number of temples and is presently a famous tourist spot. Osian gathers admiration and attraction, due to it being considered as an oasis amidst the desert of Rajasthan.
Bayana is a town in the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. The ancient name of the city was Sripatha or Sriprashtha or Shantipura. The city is claimed to have been discovered rather accidentally by an asura named Banasur.
Chunar is located in the Mirzapur District of Uttar Pradesh state. Chunar is well-known and intimately in style for its pottery work, especially clay toys.
Some of the other equally legendary ancient cities in India, much respected for its excavation finds and historical wonders include - Sopara, Agroha, Kurukshetra, Paithan, Vallabhi, Kalinjar and Tirunelveli.
The ancient Indian cities and towns visited by Xuanzang during his travel to India between 630 AD to 637 AD
- Swat Valley
- Buner Valley
- Chinabhukti (conceived as the modern day Firozpur)
- Pataliputra (Patna)
- Bodh Gaya
- Kanyakubja (Kannauj)
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