Ujjain is the largest city in Ujjain district of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the administrative center of Ujjain district and Ujjain division.
An ancient city situated on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River, Ujjain was the most prominent city on the Malwa plateau of central India for much of its history. It emerged as the political centre of central India around 600 BCE. It was the capital of the ancient Avanti kingdom, one of the sixteen mahajanapadas. It remained an important political, commercial and cultural centre of central India until early 19th century, when the British administrators decided to develop Indore as an alternative to it. Ujjain continues to be an important place of pilgrimage for Shaivites, Vaishnavites and followers of Shakta.
Ujjain has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under PM Narendra Modi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission.
Excavations at Kayatha (around 26 km from Ujjain) have revealed chalcolithic agricultural settlements dating to around 2000 BCE.According to Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, Avanti, whose capital was Ujjain, “was one of the earliest outposts in central India” and showed signs of early urbanization around 700 BCE.Around 600 BCE, Ujjain emerged as the political, commercial and cultural centre of Malwa plateau.
The ancient walled city of Ujjain was located around the Garh Kalika hill on the bank of river Kshipra, in the present-day suburban areas of the Ujjain city. This city covered an irregular pentagonal area of 0.875 km2. It was surrounded by a 12 m high mud rampart. The archaeological investigations have also indicated the presence of a 45 m wide and 6.6 m deep moat around the city.According to F. R. Allchin and George Erdosy, these city defenses were constructed between 6th and 4th centuries BCE.Dieter Schlingloff believes that these were built before 600 BCE.This period is characterized by structures made of stone and burnt-brick, tools and weapons made of iron, and black and red burnished ware.
According to the Puranic texts, a branch of the legendary Haihaya dynasty ruled over Ujjain.
In the Mauryan period, Ujjain remained the administrative centre of the region. From this period, Northern Black Polished Ware, copper coins, terracotta ring wells and ivory seals with Brahmi text have been excavated. During the reign of his father Bindusara, Ashoka served as the viceroy of Ujjain. Ujjain was subsequently controlled by a number of empires and dynasties, including the Shungas, the Western Satraps, the Satavahanas, the Guptas and the Paramara. The Paramaras shifted the region’s capital from Ujjain to Dhar.
Ujjain was an important literary centre of ancient India. The writings of Bhasa are set in Ujjain, and he probably lived in the city.Kalidasa also refers to Ujjain multiple times, and it appears that he spent at least a part of his life in Ujjain.Mrichchhakatika by Shudraka is also set in Ujjain. Ujjain also appears in several stories as the capital of the legendary emperor Vikramaditya. Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara (11th century) mentions that the city was created by the Vishwakarma, and describes it as invincible, prosperous and full of wonderful sights.
The Jantar Mantar at Ujjain was commissioned by Jai Singh II (1688-1743) of Jaipur
During medieval times, Ujjain ultimately came under the Islamic rule, like other parts of north-central India. In 1235 CE, Iltutmish of Delhi Sultanate plundered the city, and destroyed its temples.However, Ujjain continued to be an important city of the region. As late as during the times of the Mughal vassal Jai Singh II (1688-1743), who constructed a Jantar Mantar in the city, Ujjain was the largest city and capital of the Malwa Subah.
During the 18th century, the city briefly became the capital of Scindia state of the Maratha confederacy, when Ranoji Scindia established his capital at Ujjain in 1731. But his successors moved to Gwalior, where they ruled the Gwalior State in the latter half of the 18th century. The struggle of supremacy between the Holkars of Indore and Scindias (who ruled Ujjain) led to rivalry between the merchants of the two cities. On 18 July 1801, the Holkars defeated the Scindias at the Battle of Ujjain. On 1 September, Yashwantrao Holkar entered the city, and demanded a sum of 15 lakh rupees from the city. He received only 1/8th of this amount; the rest was pocketed by his officers. A force sent by Daulat Scindhia later regained control of Ujjain. After both Holkar and Scindias accepted the British suzerainty, the British colonial administrators decided to develop Indore as an alternative to Ujjain, because the merchants of Ujjain had supported certain anti-British people. John Malcolm, the British administrator of Central India, decided to reduce the importance of Ujjain “by transferring a great part of that consequence it now enjoys to the Towns of Indore and Rutlam cities, which are and will continue more under our control.”
After the independence India, Ujjain became a part of the Madhya Bharat state. In 1956 Madhya Bharat was fused into the State of Madhya Pradesh.
Ujjain is located in the west-central part of India, and is north of the upper limit of the Vindhya mountain ranges. Located on the Malwa plateau, it is higher than the north Indian plains and the land rises towards the Vindhya Range to the south. Ujjain’s coordinate are 23°10’N 75°46’E with average elevation of 494m metres (1620 ft). Region is an extension of the Deccan Traps, formed between 60 and 68 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period. The city is on the river bank of Shipra which falls into nearby flowing Chambal.