UJJAIN: Located in the Malwa Plateau of Madhya Pradesh on the east side the Shipra River, Ujjain is one of the oldest living cities in the world. It is also one of the most sacred pilgrim towns of India, by virtue of Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
Mahakumbha or Sinhastha, one of the largest congregations of Hindu pilgrims in India, is held in Ujjain every 12 years. The city has hundreds of old temples including Harsiddhi MataTemple, one of the 51 Shaktipeetha temples of Goddess Durga.
Mentioned in Hindu and Buddhist texts by its ancient names like Avantika, Ujjayani or Kanishka, the city lying on the first meridian of the ancient Hindu geographers, was the capital of the Aryan Avanti kingdom (6th–4th century BCE). In the 2nd century BCE Ujjain was the seat of Emperor Ashoka, the last of the Mauryan rulers, and one of the most-influential early Buddhists.
The city was known to the Greek geographer Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE as Ozene, the capital of the western satraps – i.e., the Greek, Scythian, and Parthian rulers of western India. An important trade centre in ancient times, it passed to Chandra Gupta II of Magadha in 400 CE.
In 1234-35 Sultan Shams-ud-din Iltutmish raided Ujjain and destroyed the Mahakal Temple and the area remained in possession of Muslim rulers until its capture by the Marathas, who rebuilt the current structure in 1734 CE under Martha General Ranoji Shinde.
With the transfer of the capital to Lashkar in Gwalior (1810) and the rise of Indore, Ujjain declined in importance but remained a major centre of religious tourism, trade and industry with the establishment of a textile mill in 1891.
Today, Ujjain is the fifth largest city of Madhya Pradesh and has a population of approx. 6 Lakh. Apart from the growing influx of religious tourists, over 7.5 crore pilgrims visited the city within the duration of one month in Simhasth 2016.
The city has witnessed an average growth rate of 31 per cent in the last four decades. As per Ujjain Master Plan 2021, the estimated population of the city is around 7 lakh. Considering the decadal growth rate of 28 pc, the projected population of Ujjain by 2041 should be 11. 5 lakh.
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