Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the construction of the National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) site at Gujarat’s Lothal. NMHC at Lothal is being developed as a one-of-its-kind project to display India’s rich and diverse maritime heritage.
About ‘Lothal’ –
- Lothal was one of the southernmost sites of the Indus Valley civilisation, 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.
- Lothal: A port city —
- Archaeologist SR Rao led the team which discovered a number of Harappan sites including the port city of Lothal.
- 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.
- Additionally, the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa discovered marine microfossils and salt, gypsum crystals at the site.
- This indicated that sea water once filled the structure and it was definitely a dockyard.
- In later excavations, ASI unearthed a mound, a township, a marketplace, and the dock.
- 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.
- As per the dossier submitted to UNESCO by India, heritage value of Lothal 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.
- In the region, it can be compared with other Indus port towns of Balakot (Pakistan), Khirasa (in Gujarat’s Kutch) and Kuntasi (in Rajkot).
About the ‘National Maritime Heritage Complex Project’ –
- The project began in March 2022, and is being developed at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore.
- It will have several innovative features such as —
- Lothal mini-recreation — It will recreate Harappan architecture and lifestyle through immersive technology;
- Four theme parks — Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park.
- It will also house the world’s tallest lighthouse museum, 14 galleries highlighting India’s maritime heritage starting from the Harappan time till today.
- The National Maritime Heritage Complex at Lothal will act as a centre for learning and understanding India’s maritime history.