Ujjain (/uːˈdʒeɪn/ (listen), Hindustani pronunciation: [ʊd͡ːʒɛːn], old name Avantika[4]) is a city in Ujjain district of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the fifth-largest city in Madhya Pradesh by population and is the administrative centre of Ujjain district and Ujjain division.[3] It is one of the Hindu pilgrimage centres of Sapta Puri famous for the Kumbh Mela held there every 12 years.[5] The famous temple of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is located in the center of the city. The city has been one of the most prominent trade and political centres of the Indian Subcontinent from the time of the ancient Mahājanapadas until the British colonisation of India.

An ancient city situated on the eastern bank of the Shipra River, Ujjain was the most prominent city on the Malwa plateau of central India for much of its history. It emerged as the political centre of central India around 600 BCE. It was the capital of the ancient Avanti kingdom, one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas. During the 18th century, the city briefly became the capital of the Scindia state of the Maratha Empire, when Ranoji Scindia established his capital at Ujjain in 1731. It remained an important political, commercial and cultural centre of Central India until the early 19th century, when the British administrators decided to develop Indore as an alternative to it. Ujjain continues to be an important place of pilgrimage for Shaivites, Vaishnavites and Shaktas.[6][7]

According to Puranic legend, Ujjain, along with Haridwar, Nashik, and Prayag, is one of four sites where drops of amrita,[8] the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled over from a kumbha (pitcher) while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda during the Samudra Manthana, or the churning of the ocean of milk.

Ujjain has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission.[9]