The Harappan Civilization flourished on the banks of the river Indus, now in Pakistan. That's why it is also called the Indus Valley Culture. The Harappan culture is older than the chalcolithic cultures but is far more developed from a technological viewpoint. It is called Harappan culture because it was discovered first in Harappa in the West Punjab, Pakistan by DR Sawhney and RD Banerjee from the Archeological Survey of India in 1921. Another prominent excavated site is the Mohanjo-daro (the mound of the dead people) in Sindh. These two are the most important civilizational sites which show its typical features in a mature form. Some other places with such remains are Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat), Banawali (Hissar), Chanhu Daro (Sindh) and Sanghol (Panjab).
By far, the most distinguishing feature of the civilization is its town-planning and architecture. Burnt bricks are used widely for the first time here. The towns are built on scientific lines, with roads cutting each other at right angles and having covered drains with an impressive drainage system. Each house had its own courtyard and a bathroom.
Of the excavations so far, two stand out - The Great Bath and the Great Granary of Mohenjo-daro. The Great Bath is an impressive structure, most probably used for ceremonial bathing. The Great Granary is the largest building in Mohanjo-daro.
The Indus people produced wheat, barley, rai, peas etc. Rice has been found in Lothal (Gujarat), which was used as a port also. They were the first to produce cotton, that is why the Greeks refer to it as Sindon (derived from Sindh).
Elephants, rhinoceros were quite well-known to them. Some evidence of the use of the horse is also found.
People used many tools made of stone also, but they were quite well-acquainted with bronze. The goldsmiths made jewellery of silver, gold and precious stones. Mercantile activities or trade was the most important economic activity in those times. Numerous seals, weights and measures prove it. However, they did not use metal money. They did their businesses by a barter system. From records, it seems that the Harappans carried on international business in the Persian Gulf region and long-distance trade in lapis lazuli, a precious stone.
The Harappans greatly respected Mother Goddess, whose terracotta figurines have been found. She was thought to be the originator and the goddess of fertility. The worship of the Pashupati Maharaj (later named Shiva in the Hindu mythology) was also quite prevalent. He is depicted as sitting in the centre of a seal with an elephant, a tiger and a rhinoceros and a buffalo. Of animals and trees, they worshipped the bull and the pipal the most.
We find many seals and figurines made of terracotta. We also find a metal image of a dancing girl. They are the biggest artistic achievements of these people.
The Indus Valley Culture existed between 2500 BC and 1800 BC. The two major cities disappeared around the 18th century BC, but the rest continued in run-down phases elsewhere. So far, the reasons for the decline and disappearance of the Indus Valley are unclear. Historians cite the desertification of the region, floods and earthquake as possibilities.