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National Maritime Heritage Complex


Recently, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, reviewed the project process of National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC), Lothal in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. NMHC complex will have Asia’s Biggest Under Water Marine Museum and India’s Grandest Naval Museum.


GS II: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Lothal
  2. Heritage Value
  3. National Maritime Heritage Complex

About Lothal

  • Lothal was one of the southernmost sites of the Indus Valley civilization, located in the Bhāl region of what is now the state of Gujarat.
  • The port city is believed to have been built in 2,200 BC.
  • Lothal was a thriving trade centre in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and ornaments reaching West Asia and Africa.
  • The meaning of Lothal (a combination of Loth and (s) thal) in Gujarati is “the mound of the dead”.
  • Incidentally, the name of the city of Mohenjo-daro (also part of the Indus Valley Civilisation, now in Pakistan) means the same in Sindhi.
Discovering Harappan sites:
  • Indian archaeologists started the search for cities of the Harappan Civilisation post-1947 in Gujarat’s Saurashtra.
  • Archaeologists led the team which discovered a number of Harappan sites at the time, 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 excavations:
  • Additionally, the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa discovered marine microfossils and salt, gypsum crystals at the site, indicating that sea water once filled the structure and it was definitely a dockyard.
  • ASI unearthed a mound, a township, a marketplace, and the dock.
  • Adjacent to the excavated areas stands the archaeological site museum, where some of the most prominent collections of Indus-era antiquities in India are displayed.

Heritage Value

  • Lothal was nominated in April 2014 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its application is pending on the tentative list of UNESCO.
  • Its heritage value is comparable to other ancient port-towns around the world – including Xel Ha (Peru), Ostia (Port of Rome) and Carthage (Port of Tunis) in Italy, Hepu in China, Canopus in Egypt, Gabel (Byblos of the Phoenicians), Jaffa in Israel, Ur in Mesopotamia, Hoi An in Vietnam, as per the dossier.
  • In the region, it can be compared with other Indus port towns of Balakot (Pakistan), Khirasa (in Gujarat’s Kutch) and Kuntasi (in Rajkot).

National Maritime Heritage Complex

  • National Maritime Heritage Museum will be established at Lothal in Gujarat.
  • 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 – Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park.
  • It is India’s first maritime museum in Gujarat
  • 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 UTs.
  • The museum will act as an independent research centre for archaeology of boat building, reconstruction of maritime history and materials traded.
  • It will hold display of salvaged materials from shipwreck sites in Indian Ocean waters.
  • The NMHC is being developed with the aim of displaying India’s diverse maritime heritage and also help Lothal emerge as a world-class international tourist destination.

-Source: Indian Express, PIB

June 2024