India, as the history tells us, has seen numerous prehistoric settlements & societies on the banks of the many rivers that feed the vast lands of the subcontinent. And while there some spectacular caves in India dating back to as early as 6000 BC, historians & archaelogists have been able to find ancient lost cities only as old as 3700 BC. Some of these ancient cities in India gave to the world the earliest planned settlements and the religions of Hinduism, Jainism, & Buddhism.
While not all have been discovered, many lost cities in India have been found & excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India. Here’s a list of some of them.
Ancient Hidden Cities In North India
Pre-dating most of the famous cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation, Rakhigarhi is one of the oldest and one of the largest settlements of that era. However – much like other cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro – paved roads, drainage system, large rainwater collection systems, storage system, terracotta bricks, statue production, and skilled application of bronze & precious metals were found at the excavated site.
Location: Hisar, Haryana
Established in: 4600 BC
Abandoned in: 1900 BC
Discovered in: 1965 AD
B. B. Lal, erstwhile DG of Archaeological Survey of India, stated: “Kalibangan in Rajasthan has given the evidence of the earliest ploughed agricultural field ever revealed through an excavation.” And then there are unique fire altars here that make it so important.
Location: Hanumangarh, Rajasthan
Established in: 3700 BC
Abandoned in: 1750 BC
Discovered in: 1919 AD; by Luigi Pio Tessitori, an Italian Indologist, who was working on Ram Charit Manas by Tulsidas
Ancient Hidden Cities In Gujarat
Lothal ranks high in the list of the lost cities of India belonging to the Indus Valley civilisation that were discovered and excavated. Though floods wiped off the town during that time, structures like wells, dwarfed walls, baths, drains, and paved floors can still be seen. This shows how strong the structures were even during that time.
Location: Saragwala Village in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Established in: 3700 BC
Abandoned in: 1900 BC
Discovered in: 1954 AD
Suggested Read: 10 Incomparable Places To Visit In Gujarat
A favorite of the archaeologists, Dholavira is one of the lost Indian cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation. The excavated site includes reservoirs, step well, and various other antiquities such as seals, beads, animal bones, gold, silver, terracotta ornaments, & vessels. Excavations here also brought light to the the well-planned designs and organised constructions during those times.
Location: Khadir Bet in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch, Gujarat
Established in: 2650 BC
Abandoned in: 1450 BC
Discovered in: 1967 AD – 1968 AD; by J. P. Joshi
Another lost city of the Indus Valley Civilisation, Surkotada was discovered in 1964. The ancient mounds and ruins here are hidden by sandstone hills covered with red laterite soil that gives the entire area a reddish brown color.
Location: Rapar Taluka of Kutch, Gujarat
Established in: 2100 BC
Abandoned in: 1700 BC
Discovered in: 1964; by Shri Jagat Pati Joshi
Suggested Read: 15 Mesmerising Places To Visit In Kutch This Winter
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Dwarka, the sacred city of Lord Krishna, is said to have been submerged 6 times in total. Huge pillars, antiques, and massive stone walls are visible under sea. However, it is yet to be confirmed if those belong to the times of Lord Krishna. Carbon dating could trace these recovered ruins only up to 15th century BC.
Location: Submerged near the present-day town of Dwarka, Gujarat
Established in: 1500 BC (estimated)
Abandoned in: 1443 BC (estimated)
Discovered in: 1983 AD
Ancient Hidden Cities In Central India & South India
The town needs no introduction. One of the famous historical places in India, Sanchi is known for its Ashoka pillar and Greco-Buddhist style of stupas that depict various scenes from the Jataka tales and stories of Buddha’s life. The relics of Buddha at the once lost city of India were painted with a Mauryan polish to make them glow like glass.
Location: Sanchi Town, Madhya Pradesh
Established in: 300 BC
Abandoned in: 1300 AD
Discovered in: 1818 AD; by British General Taylor
A port city on the banks of the Periyar River in Kerala, Muziris is one of the lost ancient Indian cities that have been discovered and excavated. Archaeologists have successfully found artifacts belonging to countries like Egypt, Yemen, Roman, and West Asia.
Location: Kodungallur, Kerala
Established in: 100 BC or before
Abandoned in: 1341 AD
Discovered in: 1945; followed by subsequent major discoveries in 1969, 1983, & 2007
The former capital of Ikshvaku dynasty and Buddhist town, Nagarjunakonda is an island in middle of the Nagarjuna Sagar dam in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. Excavations revealed Buddhist ruins, stupas, viharas (monastery complexs), chaityas (temples), and mandapams(pillared pavilions), and multiple white marble depictions of the Buddha’s life.
Location: Macherla, Andhra Pradesh
Established in: 225 AD
Abandoned in: 325 AD
Discovered in: 1926 AD; by archaeologists AR Saraswat and S Venkataramaiah
The Vijayanagar city is located on south bank of the Tungabhadra River in Bellary District of northern Karnataka. The city was built around the religious center of the Virupaksha temple at the famous UNESCO-listed world heritage site of Hampi. The lost Indian city was home to the Vijayanagar Kingdom that rose to its prime under the rule of Krishnadevaraya. However, some of the remains found here date back to around 300 BC. The city also finds a mention in the Hindu legend of Ramayana as Kishkinda – the realm of the monkey gods.
Location: Hampi, Karnataka
Established in: 1336 AD
Abandoned in: 1565 AD
Discovered in: 1800 AD; by Colonel Colin Mackenzie
Intrigued much? Then you’re surely going to love a visit to these ancient lost cities in India. Wait no more! Plan a holiday in India and visit these amazing destinations.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lost Cities In India
A. Hisar railway station is the nearest railway station and it is connected to cities like Ahmedabad, Jaipur, and you can hire a cab from this point to reach Rakhigarhi. You can also reach Rakhighari by road via Hisar.
A. Kutch desert wildlife sanctuary is one of the interesting places in Gujarat that you can visit from Dholavira and is totally worth visiting.
A. In 1565, the city of Vijayanagar was destroyed when Rama Raya, the then chief minister of the city who led the empire to the battle of Talikota in which it was completely destroyed by the combined forces of the Muslim states of Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, and Golconda
A. Lothal was the most thriving center of trade during ancient times and its trade of beads, gems and ornaments make it a quite important place of trade for South Asia and Africa. They were the pioneers of bead making and metallurgy about 4000 years ago.
A. Temperatures between November and February are quite pleasant in Dwarka and it is the best time to visit this historic place. Most of the tourists flock to this place during Janmashtami which is celebrated here in August/September.
A. Sanchi Stupa is famous as being one of the oldest stone structures which are built over the relics of Budha in 3rd Century BCE and is a very famous religious site.
A. Vijayawada is the nearest airport to Nagarjunakonda and is situated at a distance of around 65 km. It is well connected to the major cities through roadways. Macherla is one of the closest train stations and is only 20 km from Nagarajunakonda.
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