Kalibangan: Insights into India's Ancient Civilization

Kalibangan, literally translating to “black bangles” in Hindi, is a fascinating archaeological site located in the northern Rajasthan state of India

A cylinder seal from Kalibangan showing the goddess doing battle

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Introduction to Kalibangan

Kalibangan: An archaeological site located in Rajasthan, India.

Importance: Crucial for understanding India’s ancient civilization.

Significance for Academic Purposes:

  • Key Site: Kalibangan serves as a key site for academic exploration.
  • Understanding: It helps in understanding the socio-economic, cultural, and technological aspects of ancient India.
  • Competitive Exams: Studying Kalibangan is highly relevant for students preparing for competitive exams related to history, archaeology, and civil services.
  • Historical Insights: Provides insights into the evolution of India’s civilization, contributing to a well-rounded knowledge base for exam preparation.
  • Interdisciplinary Learning: Offers opportunities for interdisciplinary learning by integrating history, archaeology, and anthropology.

Historical Background

Indus Valley Civilization

  • Flourished around 3300–1300 BCE in the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent.
  • One of the world’s earliest urban civilizations, known for its advanced urban planning, sophisticated drainage systems, and intricate trade networks.

Establishment of Kalibangan

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  • One of the prominent settlements of the IVC, located in present-day Rajasthan, India.
  • Significance: Served as a vital center for trade and commerce, showcasing the economic prowess of the IVC.

Kalibangan’s Timeline

  • Occupation:

    • Kalibangan was inhabited from around 3500 BCE to 1750 BCE.
    • At its peak, it was a bustling urban center with well-planned streets and residential areas.
  • Decline:

    • The decline of Kalibangan is believed to have occurred around 1750 BCE, coinciding with the gradual decline of the IVC.
    • Factors contributing to its decline include environmental changes, such as shifts in river courses, and possibly, socio-political upheavals.

Geographical Context

Location of Kalibangan

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  • Kalibangan is situated in northwest India, specifically in the state of Rajasthan.
  • It lies along the banks of the Ghaggar-Hakra River, which was once a significant water source.

Geographical Features

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  • The region around Kalibangan features a semi-arid climate with scattered vegetation and low rainfall.
  • It is characterized by flat plains interspersed with sand dunes, making it suitable for agriculture with proper irrigation.

Importance of the Ghaggar-Hakra River

Ghaggar River

  • The Ghaggar-Hakra River played a crucial role in sustaining ancient settlements like Kalibangan.
  • Its flow fluctuated over time, likely due to changes in climate patterns, impacting the viability of settlements along its banks.
  • Despite being dry today, it was once a major river system in the region, supporting agriculture and civilization.

Exploration of Kalibangan’s Layout and Urban Planning

  • Archaeological excavations at Kalibangan have revealed a well-planned urban layout.
  • The city was divided into distinct areas, including a citadel and a lower town.
  • Streets were laid out in a grid pattern, suggesting a systematic approach to urban planning.
  • Structures like granaries, residential complexes, and public baths reflect a sophisticated society with organized governance and economic activities.

Archaeological Discoveries

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  • Archaeological Discoveries: Uncovering of significant findings during excavations.
  • Artifacts Examination: Study of pottery, seals, tools, and structures.
  • Harappan Script Analysis: Investigation into the Harappan script and its potential for understanding ancient Indus Valley languages.

Cultural and Social Life

Lifestyle and Social Structure in Kalibangan

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  • Lifestyle: How people lived day-to-day, including their activities, occupations, and daily routines.
  • Social Structure: The organization of society, including any hierarchies or divisions based on factors like wealth, occupation, or social status.
  • Religious Beliefs: The spiritual or religious practices of the people, including any rituals, ceremonies, or beliefs in deities or supernatural forces.

Burial Practices and Rituals

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  • Burial Practices: How the deceased were treated and interred, including any burial customs or traditions.
  • Rituals: Ceremonies or rites performed as part of the burial process, possibly including offerings, prayers, or symbolic actions.

Evidence of Trade, Economy, and Craftsmanship

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  • Trade: The exchange of goods or services between Kalibangan and other regions, including any evidence of trade routes, imported goods, or specialized items.
  • Economy: How resources were managed and wealth was generated within the community, including any evidence of agriculture, trade, or other economic activities.
  • Craftsmanship: The skills and techniques used to produce goods or artifacts, including any evidence of specialized crafts, tools, or artistic expression.


  • Early Urban Settlement: Kalibangan is one of the earliest urban settlements discovered in the Indus Valley Civilization.

  • Strategic Location: Situated along the Ghaggar-Hakra river, its location provides insights into the civilization’s trade routes and strategic positioning.

  • Town Planning: The layout of Kalibangan reveals advanced urban planning, with well-defined streets, residential areas, and public structures.

  • Technological Advancements: Excavations at Kalibangan unearthed evidence of advanced metallurgy, including copper and bronze artifacts, showcasing the civilization’s technological prowess.

  • Script Discovery: The discovery of potsherds with Indus script at Kalibangan contributes significantly to our understanding of the Indus script and the civilization’s written language.

  • Cultural Insights: Artifacts found at Kalibangan provide insights into the everyday life, religious practices, and cultural activities of the Indus Valley people.

  • Collapse and Abandonment: Understanding the reasons behind Kalibangan’s abandonment sheds light on the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, possibly due to environmental changes or internal conflicts.


A: Kalibangan is renowned for several discoveries, including:

  • World’s earliest ploughed agricultural field: Evidence of a ploughed field dating back to 2900 BCE was unearthed at Kalibangan, offering insights into early agricultural practices.
  • Unique fire altars: These structures suggest the presence of ritualistic or ceremonial activities, contributing to our understanding of the Indus Valley people’s spiritual beliefs.
  • Pre-Harappan and Harappan remains: The site showcases a fascinating transition between the pre-Harappan and Harappan cultures of the Indus Valley Civilization.

A: The Kalibangan civilization is not located directly on a river. However, the Ghaggar-Hakra River system, now mostly seasonal, is believed to have flowed near the site in ancient times.

A: While the exact date of initial discovery might be debated, Italian indologist Luigi Pio Tessitori is credited with bringing the Kalibangan site to light in 1953. Later, extensive excavations were undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the directorship of B. B. Lal between 1960 and 1970.

A: Kalibangan has yielded a wealth of archaeological treasures, including:

  • Evidence of a well-planned city: The fortified citadel and well-laid out streets suggest a sophisticated urban environment.
  • Pottery and black bangles: These are characteristic finds associated with the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • Seals, coins, and inscriptions: These artifacts provide valuable clues about the writing system, trade, and administration of the Indus Valley people.
  • Dwelling remains: Excavations have revealed the layout of houses, offering insights into the daily lives of the Kalibangan inhabitants.


1. Where is Kalibangan located?

  • a) Gujarat
  • b) Punjab
  • c) Rajasthan
  • d) Haryana
  • Answer: c) Rajasthan

2. Kalibangan is a part of which ancient civilization?

  • a) Mesopotamian
  • b) Egyptian
  • c) Harappan
  • d) Greek
  • Answer: c) Harappan

3. Which river is Kalibangan located near?

  • a) Ganga
  • b) Yamuna
  • c) Ghaggar
  • d) Godavari
  • Answer: c) Ghaggar

4. What type of settlement was Kalibangan?

  • a) Coastal town
  • b) Mountain village
  • c) Desert city
  • d) Riverine town
  • Answer: d) Riverine town

5. What is Kalibangan known for in archaeological studies?

  • a) Metalworking
  • b) Brick-lined streets
  • c) Evidence of plowed fields
  • d) Large palaces
  • Answer: c) Evidence of plowed fields

6. Kalibangan was excavated by which archaeologist?

  • a) Alexander Cunningham
  • b) Daya Ram Sahni
  • c) B.B. Lal
  • d) Mortimer Wheeler
  • Answer: c) B.B. Lal

7. What type of bricks were used in the construction at Kalibangan?

  • a) Stone bricks
  • b) Mud bricks
  • c) Burnt bricks
  • d) Concrete bricks
  • Answer: c) Burnt bricks

8. Kalibangan’s layout is similar to which other Harappan site?

  • a) Mohenjo-daro
  • b) Lothal
  • c) Dholavira
  • d) Rakhigarhi
  • Answer: a) Mohenjo-daro

9. What was a unique feature of Kalibangan’s town planning?

  • a) Circular streets
  • b) Grid pattern
  • c) Randomly placed houses
  • d) Underground tunnels
  • Answer: b) Grid pattern

10. Which period does Kalibangan belong to?

  • a) Neolithic
  • b) Bronze Age
  • c) Iron Age
  • d) Classical Age
  • Answer: b) Bronze Age

11. Which type of pottery is commonly found in Kalibangan?

  • a) Painted Grey Ware
  • b) Black and Red Ware
  • c) Red and Black Ware
  • d) Northern Black Polished Ware
  • Answer: b) Black and Red Ware

12. Kalibangan has evidence of which ancient practice?

  • a) Horse riding
  • b) Water harvesting
  • c) Fire altars
  • d) Written manuscripts
  • Answer: c) Fire altars

13. Which of the following was a major economic activity in Kalibangan?

  • a) Trade with Mesopotamia
  • b) Farming
  • c) Fishing
  • d) Textile production
  • Answer: b) Farming

14. What type of artifact is commonly found in Kalibangan?

  • a) Stone tools
  • b) Gold jewelry
  • c) Terracotta figurines
  • d) Iron weapons
  • Answer: c) Terracotta figurines

15. What did the streets of Kalibangan have for drainage?

  • a) Open trenches
  • b) Covered drains
  • c) No drainage system
  • d) Canals
  • Answer: b) Covered drains

16. The houses in Kalibangan were built using what material?

  • a) Wood
  • b) Stone
  • c) Mud bricks
  • d) Bamboo
  • Answer: c) Mud bricks

17. What kind of burial practices were found in Kalibangan?

  • a) Cremation
  • b) Inhumation (burial)
  • c) Sky burial
  • d) Water burial
  • Answer: b) Inhumation (burial)

18. What was a common household item found in Kalibangan?

  • a) Bronze utensils
  • b) Stone furniture
  • c) Clay pots
  • d) Wooden tools
  • Answer: c) Clay pots

19. Which script is found in Kalibangan inscriptions?

  • a) Brahmi
  • b) Indus script
  • c) Devanagari
  • d) Greek script
  • Answer: b) Indus script

20. Kalibangan means “black bangles” in which language?

  • a) Sanskrit
  • b) Persian
  • c) Hindi
  • d) Punjabi
  • Answer: c) Hindi
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