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उज्जैन


The Udaypur Prasati, mentions Vakpati Vakpati I as the king of Avanti and it was probably in his region that the Rastrakuta Indra III halted at Ujjain while advancing with his army against the Pratihara Mahipala I. Malwa was lost in the time of Vakpati’s successor, Vairisimha II, to the invading forces of Mahipala I who avenged his defeat at the hands of Indra III by invading the empire of Rastrakuta. Mahipala and his Kalachuri confederate Bhamanadeva are said to have conquered the territory up to the banks of the Narmada including Ujjain and Dhar. The Paramara sovereignty in the Malwa remained ceased until AD 946 when Vairsimha II became dominant in the area. It was in his son Siyaka II’s reign that the independent Paramara rule in Malwa began. It is believed that it was this time that the capital was shifted to the area of the Mahakala Vana in Ujjain. From the 9th to the 12th centuries, the Paramaras became so identified with Ujjain that subsequent tradition converted Vikramaditya into a Paramara. The last Paramara ruler, Siladitya, was captured alive by the Sultans of Mandu, and Ujjain passed into the hands of the Muslims. Thus began a long era of misfortune and decay and the ancient glory of Ujjayini was lost in a morass of repeated inroads of attacking hordes. The invasion of Ujjain by Iltutmish in 1234 triggered off a systematic desecration and despoiling of temples. This tide of destruction was stemmed only in the time of Baz Bahadur of Mandu. The Mughal rule heralded a new era in reconstruction. Emperor Akbar put an end to Baz Bahadur’s hegemony over Malwa and had a city wall constructed for the defense of Ujjain. The Nadi Darwaza, Kaliadeh Darwaza, Sati Darwaza, Dewas Darwaza and Indore Darwaza were the various entrances to the city. In 1658 battle took place near Ujjain in which Aurangzeb and Murad defeated Maharaj Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur, who was fighting on behalf of Prince Dara. The actual scene of the battle is Dharmatpura, renamed Fatehbad by Aurangzeb, after the victory. The cenotaph of Raja Rattan Singh of Ratlam, who fell in the battle, still stands at the site. In the reign of Mahmud Shah, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh was made the Governor of Malwa, a great scholar of astronomy, he had the observatory at Ujjain reconstructed and built several temples. At the beginning of the 17th century, Ujjain and Malwa went through another period of seize and invasion at the hands of the Marathas, who gradually captured the entire region. The Maratha domination of Malwa gave impetus to a cultural renaissance in the region and modern Ujjain came into being. Most of the temples of Ujjain were constructed during this period. It was during this time that Ujjain became the meeting ground of painters of the Poona and Kangra styles. The impact of the two different styles of painting is distinctive. The examples of Maratha style are found in the temples of Ram Janardan, Kal Bhairava, Kalpeshwar and Tilakeshwar while the traditional Malwa style can be seen in the Sandipani Ashram and in many large houses of the local seths. In the Maratha period, the art of wood work also developed. Wood carvings were done on the galleries and balconies. But many excellent examples have either been sold as junk or destroyed. Ujjain finally passed into the hands of the Scindias in 1750 and until 1810, when Daulat Rao Scindia founded his new capital at Gwalior, it was the chief town of his dominions. The shifting of the capital to Gwalior led to a decline in the commercial importance of Ujjain. But the opening of Ujjain-Ratlam-Godhra branch of the Bombay-Baroda line corrected the balance. A considerable volume of trade mainly with Bombay, existed in cotton, grain and opium during the British Indian period. There is much to demonstrate that in the perspective of India’s long history, Ujjain enjoyed great importance in the battle for the empire and the constant struggle for supremacy. Political importance was compounded by the economic factor of Ujjain being situated on the main artery of trade between the North, the South and the West. This in turn contributed to Ujjain acquiring a cultural splendour of its own which is equaled by very few other cities in India. The names of Kalidasa and Ujjayini are inextricably linked together in the Indian traditions. It is in Meghdoot, a poem of a little over hundred verses, describing the anguish of a yaksha, separated from his beloved by a curse, sending a message to her in the city of Alaka through a rain cloud from his exile in Ramagiri (now identified as Ramtek near Nagpur) that Kalidasa’s love of Ujjayini finds full expression. The poet describes the imaginary passage of the cloud over Ujjayini, and it is almost as if he is loath to move on, for in 12 verses (27-38), there is a lyrical description of the city and the people which conjures up a vivid picture of a civilized attractive society, a leisured class, intensely practical and yet imbued with deeply religious and philosophical preoccupations. Aurangzeb gave numerous grants to temples belying tales of intense religious bigotry, which are preserved to this day by the families of the priests. He is said to have issued a firman giving blanket protection to Dara Shikoh’s guru, Kavindracharya Saraswati, after he killed his brother. Several manuscripts signed by Kavindracharya Saraswati are preserved in the Scindia Oriental Institute to this day.