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Ujjain is an ancient city in the Madhya Pradesh State of India. It is located on the eastern bank of Kshipra River. In ancient times when Buddha was preaching his new religious philosophy, the city then known as Ujjayini was the capital of Avanti Kingdom. A quarter millennium after the passing of Buddha in 250 BCE Mauryan Emperor Ashoka as a prince was the governor of the western territories of the Empire and lived in this city. He later became the Mauryan Emperor and the most important patron of Buddhist religion. After the decline of the Mauryan Empire, the Sunga and the Satavahana Dynasty rulers governed the territory around Ujjain. Later there was a struggle for control of Ujjain between the Satavahana and the Ror Sakas who followed the teachings of Shakumbari and were also known as the western Satraps. The city rose to prominence once again under the Gupta Dynasty period. Raja Vikramaditya, the Chandragupta II held his court in Ujjain. He was a great patron of Sanskrit language and literature. Nine famous poets collectively known as the Navratna or nine jewels of his court produced some famous works of poetry. Among these poets was the famous Sanskrit poet, Kalidas, who wrote the classic, Shakuntala, among many other very well known literary works. During the Gupta Dynasty period that was a relatively peaceful and prosperous time Ujjain became a very important center of research in diverse fields such mathematics and astronomy. Brahmagupta, a mathematician was pioneer in the use of zero as well as positive and negative numbers. Varahamihira discovered many trigonometric identities. Bhaskaracharya or Bhaskara II was another well known mathematician who wrote a work entitled Lilavati.
The downfall of the city started with the invasions of Islamic rulers starting with the second Islamic ruler of the Slave (Mamluk Dynasty), Sultan Iltutmish in 1235. There was indiscriminate destruction of secular and religious monuments and widespread looting of the Hindu temples. With time the region became a provincial kingdom until Mughal Emperor Akbar made it the capital of Malwa area and appointed a provincial governor. After decline of Mughal Empire in 18th century the Maratha Sindhia rulers established their control on this region. When Gwalior became the capital of Sindhia rulers Ujjain remained part of their territories. When the British East India Company won the 3rd Anglo-Maratha War the region of Gwalior and Ujjain as well as neighboring princely states became part of Central India Agency. In 1947 when India achieved its independence from the British, Ujjain and other princely states in central India became part of the Madhya Bharat State. After the linguistic reorganization of states in 1956 Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh State.
Ujjain is one the seven sacred cities for the Hindus and one of the four sites of the famous Kumbh Mela, the most popular religious fair of Hinduism that is held every twelve years. The Jyotirlinga deity in the Hindu temple of Mahakaleshwar dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of twelve most important ones in India and attracts thousands of religious pilgrims throughout the year. The temple is located on the banks of Rudra Sagar Lake. The deity of Mahakaleshwar is also known as Swayambhu meaning generating its own spiritual energy because it was not ritually established like other deities in Hindu temples. The idol is also called Dakshinamurti because it faces the Dakshin or south direction. These features of Mahakaleshwar make it a very unique temple among the 12 Jyotirlingas of India. There is an idol of Omkareshwara Mahadev is placed above the Mahakal shrine. The shrine of the consort of Lord Shiva, Parvati, is in the north of the sanctum sanctorum. To its west is the shrine of Ganesh and that of Kartikeya is on its east. As is traditional in Shiva temples there is an idol of Nandi Bull to the south of the shrine. The third floor idol of Nagchandreshwar is open to devotees only on the Nag Panchami festival day. During the day and night of Maha Shivratri festival there is a 24-hour worship of the idol accompanied by a very popular fair.
Other Hindu temples in Ujjain:
Harsidhhi Durga Temple
Chintaman Ganesh Temple
Gadh Kalika Temple
Kal Bhairav Temple
Triveni Navgraha Shani Mandir
ISKCON Krishna Temple
Sandipani Ashram is believed to be the place where Maharshi Sandipani taught Lord Krishna with his brother, Balarama and his dear friend, Sudama.
Kaliyadeh Palace is one of few still surviving ancient secular monuments in Ujjain.
Bharathari Caves are also well known among the ancient monuments of the city.
Among the Jain temples, Atishay Kshetra Temple in Jai Singh Pura, Tapobhoomi Temple, Avanti Parshwanath Temple, Hanumant Bagh Temple are popular with local and visiting devotees.
Ved Shala Observatory: Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh of Amber and Jaipur built five astronomical observatories in India in New Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Varanasi and Mathura. The one in Mathura was completely destroyed during the British colonial period. The observatory in Ujjain is well preserved and still functional.
2-star equivalent hotels:
Fort Amla Heritage Hotel – 12 rooms
Hotel Shipra Residency (MP Government Enterprise) – 28 ac rooms
Hotel Grand Tower – 22 rooms
ISKCON Hare Krishna Guest House
Distances from Ujjain in Kilometers and Miles:
Indore: 60 kilometers or 37 miles
Bhopal: 188 kilometers or 117 miles
Omkareshwar: 125 kilometers or 78 miles
Mandu: 139 kilometers or 86 miles
Maheshwar: 163 kilometers or 101 miles