Indus Valley Civilization

Architecture of Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilization was an ancient urban civilization in the Indian subcontinent. The architecture of Indus Valley Civilization was also one of the notable works of that era. In 1856 AD, when a railway track between Karachi and Lahore was being laid, this civilization came to light. This civilization was developed along the Indus River and the Ghaggar –Hakra River, in the area of modern Pakistan and north-west India and Afghanistan. Indus Valley Civilization was started during the Bronze Age. So, the Indus Valley civilization was a Bronze Age Civilization (3300-1300 BCE).

The first city to be discovered by the excavation was Harappan and therefore this civilization is known as ‘Harappan Civilization’ or ‘Mature Harappan Culture’. The site of Harappa was explored in 1920, under the supervision of Mr. Dayaram Sahni & Mr. Swaroop Vasta.

Indus valley civilization facts

Indus Valley Civilization was an urban civilization with an emphasis on functionalism and technicalities. These civilization cities are noted for urban planning, building materials, drainage systems, water supply systems, and the cluster of large non-residential buildings and also the Architecture of Indus Valley Civilization. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization also developed new techniques in handicrafts and metallurgy.

Indus valley civilization map

The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that lies in the north-western regions of South Asia. Harappan civilization was one of the most important landmarks in the prehistory of the Indian subcontinent. The civilization also gives an excellent example to the modern world with its construction techniques and architectural styles in various ways.


Building Materials :

Houses built by the people of Indus Valley are from different strata of the society, usually exhibit variations of the raw materials. The materials used, the style of construction, the bricklaying techniques, and also the binding materials for construction of the building. In the Indus cities, there is a remarkable uniformity in the selection of materials and construction techniques. They have usually used locally available materials in the whole construction process. So, the most common building materials were mud bricks and burnt bricks, woods, and reeds. For instance-

Also Read: Temple Architecture

  • Foundations & Walls: Mud Bricks, Baked bricks, and Stones.
  • Door & Windows: Wood.
  • Flooring: Rammed Earth that was often covered with clean sand. Some rooms were paved with terracotta tiles.
  • Water System: Private Wells in the courtyards for drinking and bathing.
  • Toilets: Bathing areas and drains were made up of baked bricks.
  • Size of the Bricks: The average size of the mud and baked bricks is in the ratio of 1:2:4 (7 cm x 14 cm x 28 cm) was used in the house construction whereas different size (10 cm x 20 cm x 40 cm) of bricks was adopted for the construction of city walls.
  • Mortar: Lime and Gypsum Mortar are used to bind the baked bricks.
  • Drainage System: A brick-lined drainage channel flowed along both sides of every street. Removable bricks were placed at regular intervals for easy cleaning and inspections. Also, all the drains of various lanes and streets were connected to the main drain. Drains are covered with bricks.

Architecture of Indus Valley Civilization

Architecture of Indus Valley Civilization can be grouped into three different categories with some variations of rebuilding and modifying original structures:

1. Private Houses –

  • The first category is the private houses with rooms arranged are around a central courtyard that offers privacy from the outside. The doors and windows are opened onto the side lanes of the houses.
  • Houses were at least two stories high.
  • On average, the walls were 70 cm thick as well as the ceilings were over 3 m high.
  • The doors were made with wooden frames and a brick socket set in the threshold served as a door pivot.
  • Some of the door frames were painted and possibly carved with simple ornamentation.
  • The Windows area situated on both the stories and also had shutters with latticework and grills above and below the shutters. These shutters were also facilitating for the penetration of light and air without disturbing the privacy from outside.
  • Generally, the private bathrooms were provided in the individual houses.

2. Housing Complexes (Group of Houses) –

  • The second category is the Housing Complexes, which includes large houses surrounded by smaller units.
  • Complex passages gave ways for access to the interior rooms and numerous rebuilding phrases that indicate the repeated organization of spaces.
  • Outer units many have been for the houses of relatives or services groups that are connected to the parent house.
  • Stairs were incorporated to provide access to the upper floors.
  • Windows were provided at a considerable height from the road level to the floor level. Also, the windows are protected with stone jali for proper light and ventilation inside the house.

3. Public Buildings-

  • The third category of the building includes large Public structures. For these, they have many access or routes from one area of the site to another.
  • Markets and public gatherings or meetings have been held in open courtyards. Also, the other buildings had been specified for administrative or religious functions.
  • Most of the houses or groups of the houses had private bathing areas and toilets as well as private wells for water.
  • The upper story of the buildings was constructed in the lighter materials like timber, compacted with earth on flat planks resting on timber beams.
  • Openings were made up of woods and also they were spanned by wooden lintels.

Features :

Indus Valley Civilization was one of the ancient, well planned and settled cities in the Indian subcontinent. The basic layout of the settlement was established on a Grid –Iron pattern. This civilization is not only famous for these houses or groups of houses but also the well-integrated system of water supply and sanitation, public baths and toilets, streets, public places, and granaries, etc. Its elaborate drainage system and Architecture of Indus Valley Civilization are also one of the unique features of the city. The buildings are usually had two or more stories high.


The ruins of the site show that the Harappa Civilization peoples are skillful designers and also they were good builders. The different tools and techniques are used for the construction of Indus Valley Houses. They have been made by the skillful artisans and carpenters uniquely.

Decline of Indus Valley Civilization :

The Indus Valley Civilization vanished because of the profound ecological changes produced by its expansion and activities. The demand for baked bricks and the timber construction might have brought extensive deforestation in the entire region resulting in destructive floods and changes in the course of the river. The extensive use of bricks as a chief building material was also responsible for the demise of this flourishing civilization.

The energy and the activity of the people are reflected in their capacity to reconstruct the city after destruction. Because ecological imbalance and the condition of the Indus River did not support the region, which destroys this civilization. The Aryans invasions about the middle of the second millennium BC. Also, might have contributed to the fall of this great civilization.

Important Buildings of Indus Valley Civilization :


  • The Great Bath is one of the best-known structures among the ruins of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization at Mohenjo-Daro in Sindh, Pakistan. 
  • Archaeological evidence indicates that the Great Bath was built in the 3rd Millennium BC.
  • The Great Bath of Mohenjo-Daro is also considered ‘the earliest public water tank of the ancient world’.
  • The size of the public bath is 11.88 m x 7.01. Also, has a maximum depth of 2.43 m.
  • Two wide staircases, one from the North and another from the South that served as the entry to the structure. So, the stairs are provided at both the ends up to the bottom of the bath for easy accessibility.
  • The floor of the bath is made of burnt bricks.
  • A well in a room near the Great Bath has been found, which probably the only source of water for filling this Great public bath. 
  • Some small rooms with a front verandah exist around the Great Bath, which was supposed to be used as changing rooms and bathrooms.
  • A complete bathing establishment has been discovered, which probably is the most important public place and was used for religious purposes.


  • The biggest building at Mohenjo-Daro was food storage in Indus Valley Civilization i.e. Granary.
  • The size of the Granary is 47.5 m long and 15.2 m wide.
  • The foundation of the granary was divided into 27 squares and rectangular blocks by narrow passageways two running East to West and eight running North to South.
  • The structure build on the top of a tapered brick platform, the building had a solid brick foundation that extended from about 49 m in East to West and 27 m in North to South.
  • Some of these blocks had square sockets for holding wooden beams and pillars.

Download Indus Valley Civilization PDF Notes

Download Indus Valley Civilization Notes

Frequently Asked Questions

Who was the architect of Indus Valley civilization?

Dravidian’s were the architects of Indus Valley Civilization.

What is town planning in Indus Valley Civilization?

Indus Valley Civilization was one of the ancient, well planned and settled cities in the Indian subcontinent. The basic layout of the settlement was established on a Grid –Iron pattern.

What were the houses of the Indus Valley civilization made of?

The houses of the Indus Valley civilization made up of Bricks, i.e. Baked Bricks and Mud Bricks.

Who found Indus Valley civilization?

The site of Harappa was explored in 1920, under the supervision of Mr Dayaram Sahni & Mr Swaroop Vasta.

Which God did Indus Valley Worship?

The Lord Shiv

What was the plan of the city of Mohenjo-Daro?

The city of Mohenjo-Daro was planned in a Grid-Iron pattern.

What are the features of Indus Valley civilization?

Indus Valley Civilization was an urban civilization with emphasis on functionalism and technicalities. These civilization cities are noted for urban planning, building materials, drainage systems, water supply systems and the cluster of large non-residential buildings and also the Architecture of Indus Valley Civilization.

What language did Indus Valley speak?

The Harappan language

Who was the chief god of Indus Valley?

The chief god of Indus Valley People was the Kalan (Yama).

Which is the oldest civilization in the world?

The Sumerian civilization is the oldest civilization.

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