Historical Lothal must make it to top Indian tourist spots: expert

‘With its earliest-known dock, Gujarat site merits Taj-like popularity’


New Delhi, May 11: As a historically important sea-side place, Lothal merits major development as India’s top tourist places on par with Agra or Kerala, according to a top scientist with acclaimed expertise in marine geology.

Lothal’s history of 5700 years in present-day Gujarat where it houses the world’s earliest known dock that facilitated big-time trade makes the site is one of the most prominent cities of the Indus Valley civilization, pointed out Dr. Rajiv Nigam, senior scientist at National Institute of Oceanography, Goa.

“Yet our country’s tourist names have largely been contained to a few celebrated names such as the magnificent Taj Mahal or the scenic beauty of the Malabar Coast,” he noted in a lecture at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) here.

Delving deep down the geological and historical of ‘Role of Sea Level Fluctuations in Shaping the Destiny of Ancient Towns along the Indian Coastline’, Dr. Nigam, who is known for his path-breaking studies in micropaleontology that studies fossils of 11,700 years ago to determine organisms’ evolution, said the famed trapezoidal water body at Lothal was “indeed a dockyard” that facilitated movement of ships.

Disputing counter-claims that it could have been a freshwater tank (23 km away from present-day shoreline), he said the water in the dockyard contained was marine since India’s west coast had a different sea-level 4,500 years ago, placing the structure closer to the Arabian Sea.

At the ‘Project Mausam’ talk on Tuesday evening, the expert went a step further to infer that the city of Lothal could be Lord Krishna’s now-submerged city of Dwaraka. “I am not here to establish the historicity of a mythological figure, but if Krishna did live, then the time period tallies with the age of place,” he added.

In this context, Dr. Nigam also said the controversial Ram Setu “has every looks of a manmade structure”—and is not a natural chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island off south-eastern Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island off north-western Sri Lanka. “This observation is not to argue that it was built by characters in the Ramayana; that could be another story altogether,” he said.

The hour-long lecture also took up ancient cities such as Dholavira (Kutch district), Gopakapattana (Goa) and Poompuhar as well as Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu) among others.

The speaker regretted that historical excavations related to marine geology often met with obstructions in the form of long queues seeking permission from various authorities to gain access to the sites.

IGNCA’s ‘Project Mausam’ is a multi-disciplinary project that rekindles long-lost ties across nations of the Indian Ocean ‘world’ and forges new avenues of cooperation and exchange. The project, launched by India in partnership with member states, aims to enable a significant step in recording and celebrating this important phase of world history from the African, Arab and Asian-world perspectives.

The 1985-founded IGNCA is a premier autonomous institution under the Union Minisry of Culture, promoting diverse as well as interdisciplinary programmes of research, publication, training, creative activities and performance in the field of arts and culture.

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