When Lord Buddha lived, and gave his message of “Four Noble Truths” during the reign of Bimbisara, the ruler of the Magadha empire, 2500 years ago, the famous city of Ujjaini or Avanti had already risen as a major urban centre. Ujjain was one of the four global seats of learning in ancient India along with Takshshila, Nalanda and Kashi. It had become a predominant commercial hub on the trade route between the Gangetic plain and the Arabian sea ports more than two thousand years ago. This region, which was part of the Maurya Empire, had touched the pinaccle of glory during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, whose wife was said to have come from Vidisha not far from Bhopal, which is now the capital of the Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh.
Ujjain also known Ujjayini, Avanti, Avantika, Avantikapuri is an ancient city situated on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River in the Malwa region of central India. The city is an mportant pilgirm town of Madhya Pradesh, and it is the administrative centre of Ujjain District and Ujjain Division.
In ancient times, the city was called Ujjayini. As mentioned in the Mahabharata epic and Buddhist literature, Ujjayini was the capital of the Avanti Kingdom. Traditionally exalted as one of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) of the Hindus, Ujjain is one of the four sites that host the Kumbh Mela (also called the Simhastha Mela), a quadrennial mass pilgrimage that attracts millions of Hindu pilgrims from around the country.
Ujjain is also home to the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines to the god Shiva. An ancient seat of learning, Ujjain is the place where Lord Krishna, along with Balarama and Sudama, received his education from Maharshi Sandipani. It is also known as the city of Temples.
In Indian mythology, the origin of the city is ascribed to the act of Sagar Manthan, which refers to the churning of the primordial ocean performed by the demigods and demons to discover a pot containing the nectar of immortality. The story goes that after the nectar was discovered, a fierce struggle ensued between the demigods and the demons to obtain the nectar for the attainment of immortality. During the chase, a drop of nectar spilled and fell on Ujjain, thus making the city sacred. According to legend, the river Kshipra that flows across Ujjain is regarded to have originated owing to the churning of the gods and goddesses.
Apart from the rich tapestry of myths and legends surrounding the city, Ujjain has stood witness to a long and distinguished history: it was home to legendary rulers including the renowned king Chandragupta II, great scholars such as Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya, and literary gems like Kalidasa. Since the 4th century BC, the city was considered the prime meridian by Hindu astrologers, and it was placed as the centre of the world in numerous ancient world maps. In the past, Ujjain was variously known as Arin, Aryn or Ozein to the outside world. Ujjain was the capital of king Vikramaditya (102 BC – 15 AD) empire and he ruled Ujjain for 100 years.