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Indus Valley Civilization - Points to Remember for UPSC Civil Services Exam | Career Launcher

Indus Valley Civilization marks the beginning of the history of India. It flourished around 2500 years ago in the western part of Asia which comes in contemporary Pakistan and Western India. In this article, we will discuss important points of Indus Valley Civilization for the Civil Services Examination.

Generally, 1-2 MCQ type questions are asked in Prelims and question can be asked in the Mains exam well.

Introduction - Indus Valley Civilization

  • Indus Valley Civilization is also known as Harappan Civilization because Harappa was the first site to be excavated in 1921 under the supervision of Daya Ram Sahni.
  • The known extent of IVC is up to Suktagendor in Baluchistan in the west; Alamgirpur (UP) in the east; Daimabad (Maharashtra) in the South; and Manda (Jammu & Kashmir) in the north.
  • Indus Valley Civilization is the home to the largest of the four of its contemporary urban civilizations namely Mesopotamian or Sumerian Civilization, Egyptian Civilization, and Chinese Civilization.
  • While IVC is on the banks of Indus, Egyptian Civilization flourished on the banks of the river Nile, Mesopotamian Civilization flourished on the banks of Tigris or Euphrates river and Chinese Civilization flourished on the banks of Hwang Ho river.
  • Since it belongs to the Bronze/Chalcolithic age, it is also known as the Bronze Age Civilization.
  • In the 1920s, the excavations were carried out in the Indus Valley regions, where ruins of the old cities were found. The first city to be unearthed was Harappa.
  • In 1924, John Marshall, the then Director-General of the Department of Archaeology announced the discovery of Indus Valley Civilization

Important Sites of Indus Valley CIvilization



River Bank


Montegomari, Punjab (Pakistan)



Larkana, Sindh (Pakistan)



Baluchistan (Pakistan)



Sindh (Pakistan)



Ahmedabad (India)



Ganganagar (Rajasthan)




Sabarmati & Bhogva


Hissar (Haryana)



Sindh and Baluchistan





Phases of Indus Valley Civilization

Three phases of IVC are:

  • The early Harappan phase from 3300 BC to 2600 BC.
  • The mature Harappan phase from 2600 BC to 1900 BC.
  • The late Harappan phase from 1900 BC to 1300 BC.
  • The signs of a gradual decline of the Indus River Valley Civilization are believed to have started around 1800 BC and by 1700 BC, most of the cities were abandoned.

Features of Indus Valley Civilization

Urbanization & Town Planning

  • Town planning is the most important and distinguishing feature of the Harappan Civilization. Hence, it was called an urban civilization.

  • Towns were divided into parts namely citadel and lower town. Citadels were occupied by members of the ruling class and the lower town was inhabited by the common people. 

  • Another important feature of IVC is the drainage system. Drains were built of burnt bricks and covered by stone lids.

  • Chanhudaro was the only town without a citadel.

Agriculture & Economy

  • They grew wheat and barley on a large scale. Other crops that they grew included pulses, cereals, cotton, dates, melons, pea, sesamum, and mustard.

  • No clear evidence of rice has been found. 

  • Harappan people were mostly peasants and thus the Harappan civilization was an agro-commercial civilization. 

  • Harappans were the earliest people to grow cotton. 

  • Their most important artistic work are seals. Seals are made of steatite and they are square in shape. 

  • The most depicted animal is the bull. 

  • Bangle making and shell ornament making was also practiced. 

  • Land and sea trade was in vogue in Indus Valley Civilization.

  • A dockyard has been found at Lothal which is the longest building of Harappan Civilization.

Religion of Harappans

  • Pashupati seal has been found in Mohenjodaro in which a Yogi has been depicted. 

  • The Yogi on the seal is surrounded by buffalo, tiger, elephant, rhinoceros, and deer.

  • Signs of phallic worship has been found. 

  • Harappans worshipped the mother Goddess. It is evident from the terracotta figurine recovered from Harappa. 

  • A building called Great Bath has been found at Mohenjodaro. It was meant for ritual bathing.

  • No evidence of temples has been found in this civilization.

  • Amulets were found in large numbers 

Script of Harappans

  • The Harappans knew the art of writing.

  • More than 4000 specimens of scripts were found in excavations.

  • The script, however, is not alphabetical but pictographic and it has not been deciphered yet.

This is the brief overview of Indus Valley Civilization for the UPSC Civil Services Examination. This topic is extensively discussed in our General Studies-I course for the UPSC Mains exam.  

In the current scenario, while all the offline coaching for UPSC is closed, you can rely on our online courses and study material for your preparation. Get all the details of our online courses here. Get in touch with our course counselors to get more information about our courses. 

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