M.P. Institute of Social Science Research, Ujjain
मध्य प्रदेश सामाजिक विज्ञान शोध संस्थान, उज्जैन

The City

Historical Importance

Ujjain is an ancient city of Malwa region in central India, on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River . It is the administrative centre of Ujjain District and Ujjain Division of Madhya Pradesh. In ancient times the city was called Ujjayini. As mentioned in the Mahabharata epic, Ujjayini was the capital of the Avanti Kingdom, and has been the Prime Meridian for Hindu geographers since the 4th century B.C. Ujjain is one of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) of the Hindus, and the Kumbh Mela religious festival is held there every 12 years. It is also home to Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines to the god Shiva and is also the place where Lord Krishna got education with Balarama and Sudama from Maharshi Sandipani.

The earliest references to the city, as Ujjaini, are from the time of the Buddha, when it was the capital of the Avanti Kingdom. Since the 4th century B.C. the city has marked the first meridian of longitude in Hindu geography. It is also reputed to have been the residence of Ashoka (who subsequently became the emperor), when he was the viceroy of the western provinces of the Mauryan empire.

In the Post-Mauryan period, the city was ruled by the Sungas and the Satavahanas consecutively. It was contested for a period between the Satavahanas and the Ror Sakas (devotees of Shakumbari), known as Western Satraps; however, following the end of the Satavahana dynasty, the city was retained by the Rors from the 2nd to the 4th century B.C. Ujjain is mentioned as the city of Ozene in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, an antique Greek description of sea ports and trade centers in the western Indian Ocean. Following the enthroning of the Gupta dynasty, the city soon became an important seat in the annals of that empire. Ujjain is considered to be the traditional capital of King Chandragupta II, also known as Vikramaditya, at whose court the nine poets known as the navaratna (nine jewels) of Sanskrit literature are said to have flourished.

In the 6th and 7th centuries, Ujjain was a major centre of mathematical and astronomical research. The famous mathematicians who worked there included: Brahmagupta, whose book Brahmasphutasiddhanta was responsible for spreading the use of zero, negative numbers and the positional number system to Arabia and Cambodia; Varahamihira, who was the first to discover many trigonometric identities; and Bhaskaracharya, or Bhaskara II, whose book Lilavati broke new ground in many areas of mathematics.

Ujjain was invaded by the forces of the Delhi Sultanate led by Iltutmish in 1235, suffering widespread destruction and systematic desecration of temples. Under the Mughal emperor Akbar it became the capital of Malwa. During the last half of the 18th century Ujjain was the headquarters of the Maratha leader Scindia. The Scindias later established themselves at Gwalior, and Ujjain remained part of Gwalior state until Indian Independence in 1947. Gwalior state became a princely state of the British Raj after the Maratha defeat in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, and Gwalior, Ujjain, and the neighboring princely states were made a part of the Central India Agency. After Indian independence, the Scindia ruler of Gwalior acceded to the Indian Union, and Ujjain became part of the Madhya Bharat state. In 1956 Madhya Bharat was merged into the Madhya Pradesh state. At present Ujjain is famous for lord Mahakaleswar and learning place of lord Krishna.

Places to Visit

Mahakaleshwar Temple

266269897551acc4fc3186Mahakal of Ujjain is known among the twelve celebrated Jyotirlingas in India. The glory of Mahakaleshwar temple has been vividly described in varoius puranas. Starting with Kalidasa, many Sanskrit poets have eulogised this temple in emotive terms. The tradition of Mahakal in minds of the people is eternal Ujjain used to be centre point of the calculation of the Indian time and Mahakal was considered as the distinctive presiding deity of Ujjain. The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendour, reigns eternal in Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhara soaring into the skies, an imposing façade against the skyline, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupations, provides an unbreakable link with past traditions. One of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India, the lingam at the Mahakal is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself), deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti. The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, facing the South. This is a unique feature, upheld by tantric tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nagpanchami. On the day of Mahashivaratri, a huge fair is held near the temple, and worship goes on through the night.


The observatory was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Raja Jaisingh of Jaipur in 1719 when he was in Ujjain as the Governor of Malwa under the reign of king Muhammad Shah of Delhi. Besides being a brave fighter and a politician, Raja Jaisingh was exceptionally a scholar. He studied books on Astro-mathematics available in the Persian and Arabic languages at that time. He wrote books on astronomy himself.

Miraza Ulook Beg, the grandson of Temurlung and an expert on astronomy, built an observatory in Samarkund. Raja Jaisingh constructed observatories in Ujjain, Jaipur, Delhi, Mathura and Varanasi in India by permission of king Muhammad Shah. Raja Jaisingh set up new instruments in these observatories employing his skills. He made alterations in a number of main Astro-mathematical instruments by observing the activities of planets himself for eight years in Ujjain. Thereafter the observatory remained uncared for two decades. Then as per suggestations of Siddhntavagish (Late) Shri Narayanji Vyas, Ganak Churamani and (Late) Shri G.S. Apte, the first Supreintendent of observatory, (Late) Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia renovated the observatory and funded it for active use. Since then it has been continuously functioning.

The four instruments viz. Sun-Dial, Narivalaya, Digansha and Transit instruments are made by Raja Jaisingh in the observatory. The Shanku(Gnomon) Yantra has been prepared under the direction of (Late) Shri G.S.Apte. Having arrived at the last moments of its position, the Digansh Yantra was re-constructed in 1974 and the Shanku Yantra was re-built in 1982. Marble notice boards displaying information about the instruments were prepared, both in Hindi and English in 1983. The observatory was renovated in 2003.  In addition, ten solar power operated solar tube-lights were installed with the help of Energy Development Corporation and beautiful banks constructed along the River Shipra at the observatory site under the auspices of M.P. Laghu Udyog Nigam. An automatic telescope having 8 inches diameter to facilitate visitors see planets through it has been installed in Simhasth 2004. A new ephemeris in the shape of a balloon has been recently launched in the Institution.

Recently, village Dongla in the Barnagar block of Ujjain district has been identified as a place of astronomical importance. Keeping in view the fact, Government of Madhya Pradesh in collaboration with the Central Government has started building an observatory of national importance.

Kalidas Academy

Mahakavi Kalidasa is known to be the greatest repository of our national heritage. The serenity of his artistic accomplishment has earned for him a high place in the galaxy of world poets. Kalidasa’s imagination holds in perfect fusion the two elements of natural beauty and human feelings. He has continued to display his relevance through the centuries. Surcharges with wider human sympathy and universal appeal his character has remained truly Indian. Thus, Kalidasa continues to shine throughout the world as one of the greatest exponent of Indian culture.

In keeping view of his memory at Ujjain, the department of culture of the government of Madhya Pradesh established the Kalidasa Academy, in the year 1978. The basic idea of establishing Kalidasa Akademi in Ujjain is in twofold. Firstly , to keep the memory of the great poet-dramatist Kalidasa constantly refreshed. The other is to establish a multi-disciplinary institution which would project the totality of classical tradition with Kalidasa as its centre; provide facilities for research and study in Sanskrit classical and traditional performing arts and their adaptation for contemporary stage in different cultural and linguistic millions. The Kalidasa Akademi is designed to recapture the contribution of entire sanskrit classical tradition, theatre and fine arts and to represent its unique aesthetic vision to the international community.

Other places of Importance in Ujjain

1-            Badegnesh ji Ka Mandir

2-            Chintaman Ganesh

3-            Mangalnath

4-            Siddhavat

5-            Kal Vairav

6-            Gopal Mandir

7-            Pir Matsyendranath

8-            Gad Kalika

9-            Sandipani Ashram

10-         Vatrrahari Caves

Places around Ujjian

1-            Agar-66 Kms:    Ancient Archeological Site

2-            Dewas-37 Kms: Chamunda Temple

3-            Maski-39 Kms: Ancient Jain Temple