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On an ancient trade route, Ujjain has a distinguished history with origins lost in time. As Avantika, it was an important city under Ashoka’s father; later Chandragupta II (AD 380–414) chose to rule from here rather than his capital, Pataliputra.

With the passing of the Guptas and the rise of the Parmaras, Ujjain became the centre of struggle for Malwa, before eventually passing into the hands of the Mandu sultans.

Following the demise of the Mughals, Maharaja Jai Singh (of Jaipur fame) became Governor of Malwa, building the observatory and several new temples. With his passing, Ujjain experienced more turmoil under the Marathas, until the Scindias finally took it in 1750. When they moved their capital to Gwalior in 1810, Ujjain’s prominence declined rapidly.