Regarded as one of the seven sacred cities for Hindus, Ujjain is an ancient city located on the banks of Shipra River in Madhya Pradesh. The city is also the venue for Kumbh Mela also known as the Simhastha Mela, held every 12 years.
The temple town is located on the banks of the Shipra River and was known as Ujjayini in ancient times. It is mentioned in Hindu epic Mahabharat, as the capital city of Avanti Kingdom. It is believed that two parts of the Skanda Purana were composed in the city.
The origin of Ujjain is connected to Sagar Manthan or (Churning of the ocean of milk) episode in Hindu mythology. Gods and the demons churned the ocean to collect Amrit which would grant immortality. While fleeing with the pot of Amrit, four drops fell at four different places. Besides Ujjai, Allahabad, Haridwar and Nashik are the places where Amrit fell. The Shipra River is also said to have originated as a result of the Sagar Manthan.
The Mahakaleshwar Temple, one of the 12 Jyotirling shrines of Lord Shiva is in Ujjain. Lord Krishna received education along with Balaram and Sudama from Maharishi Sandipani here in Ujjain.
Ujjain is a mix of the old and the new. The city’s heritage co-exists with the modern buildings.
Ujjain is the venue for many significant religious events like the Kumbh Mela. The festival celebrated every 12 years, witnesses the participation of devotees from across the globe.
The earliest reference of the city, then known as Avantika, can be found from the time of Gautam Buddha.
The city of Ujjain has a notable history and has been ruled by many rulers like Vikramaditya, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharya and Kalidasa. The city is mentioned in Buddhist literature as one of the four great powerful kingdoms along with Magadha, Kosala and Vatsa.
The city lies on the main trade route that connects North India to the Deccan that goes from Mathura to Mahismati (Maheshwar) via Ujjain.
Ashoka the Great, before he became emperor, lived near Ujjain as viceroy of the western provinces of the Mauryan Empire.
The city was invaded by forces led by Iltutmish in 1235 AD. The city became the capital of Malwa under the reign of Akbar. The city became the seat of power of the Scindias during the end of the 18th century. Later, Gwalior became the capital of the Scindias and Ujjain remained a part of the state of Gwalior till India got independence in 1947.
Ujjain is famous for the wide variety of handicrafts and artifacts in markets close to the Nanakheda bus stand.
You can also find beadwork, lacquer work and papier-mâché items in the market outside the Mahakaleshwar temple.
Tribal metal work, pottery and bamboo articles can be bought from the markets in Jawahar Nagar and Gopal Mandir Marg.
Where to stay
The budget hotels are clustered near Nanakheda bus stand which are close to the railway station as well.
Mid-range hotels can be found all over the city. Free Ganj area has a good number of mid-range hotels.
Where to eat
Ujjain is a treat for vegetarians with Kashmiri, Punjabi, North Indian and many other types of Indian cuisine easily available. Chinese cuisine is also available. Non-vegetarian cuisine is available in a few restaurants on University Road.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Ujjain is between October to March.