Excavations at Kayatha (around 26 km from Ujjain) have revealed chalcolithic agricultural settlements dating to around 2000 BCE. Chalcolithic sites have also been discovered at other areas around Ujjain, including Nagda, but excavations at Ujjain itself have not revealed any chalcolithic settlements. H. D. Sankalia theorized that the chalcolithic settlements at Ujjain were probably destroyed by the Iron Age settlers.
According to Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, Avanti, whose capital was Ujjain, "was one of the earliest outposts in central India" and showed signs of early urbanisation around 700 BCE. Around 600 BCE, Ujjain emerged as the political, commercial and cultural centre of Malwa plateau.
The ancient walled city of Ujjain was located around the Garh Kalika hill on the bank of river Kshipra, in the present-day suburban areas of the Ujjain city. This city covered an irregular pentagonal area of 0.875 km2. It was surrounded by a 12 m high mud rampart. The archaeological investigations have also indicated the presence of a 45 m wide and 6.6 m deep moat around the city. According to F. R. Allchin and George Erdosy, these city defences were constructed between 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Dieter Schlingloff believes that these were built before 600 BCE. This period is characterised by structures made of stone and burnt-brick, tools and weapons made of iron, and black and red burnished ware.
According to the Puranic texts, a branch of the legendary Haihaya dynasty ruled over Ujjain.
In the Mauryan period, Ujjain remained the administrative centre of the region. From this period, Northern Black Polished Ware, copper coins, terracotta ring wells and ivory seals with Brahmi text have been excavated. During the reign of his father Bindusara, Ashoka served as the viceroy of Ujjain. Ujjain was subsequently controlled by a number of empires and dynasties, including the Shungas, the Western Satraps, the Satavahanas, the Guptas and the Paramaras. The Paramaras shifted the region's capital from Ujjain to Dhar.
Ujjain was an important literary centre of ancient India, called Adyapeetha, or foundation of Sanskrit learning, ethics, knowledge, science and art, and has been called, "Swarna Sringa", in local parlance, due to the golden towers of the many temples in this temple city. Raja Bharthari wrote his great epics, Virat Katha, Neeti Sataka, the love story of Pradyot Princess Vasavadatta and Udayan in Ujjayini, as the city was called during his times. The writings of Bhasa are set in Ujjain, and he probably lived in the city. Kalidasa also refers to Ujjain multiple times, and it appears that he spent at least a part of his life in Ujjain. Mrichchhakatika by Shudraka is also set in Ujjain. Ujjain also appears in several stories as the capital of the legendary emperor Vikramaditya. Somadeva's Kathasaritsagara (11th century) mentions that the city was created by Vishwakarma, and describes it as invincible, prosperous and full of wonderful sights.
During medieval times, Ujjain ultimately came under the Islamic rule, like other parts of north-central India. In 1235 CE, Iltutmish of Delhi Sultanate plundered the city, and destroyed its temples. However, Ujjain continued to be an important city of the region. As late as during the times of the Mughal vassal Jai Singh II (1688-1743), who constructed a Jantar Mantar in the city, Ujjain was the largest city and capital of the Malwa Subah.
During the 18th century, the city briefly became the capital of Scindia state of the Maratha confederacy, when Ranoji Scindia established his capital at Ujjain in 1731. But his successors moved to Gwalior, where they ruled the Gwalior State in the latter half of the 18th century. The struggle of supremacy between the Holkars of Indore and Scindias (who ruled Ujjain) led to rivalry between the merchants of the two cities. On 18 July 1801, the Holkars defeated the Scindias at the Battle of Ujjain. On 1 September, Yashwantrao Holkar entered the city, and demanded a sum of 15 lakh rupees from the city. He received only 1/8th of this amount; the rest was pocketed by his officers. A force sent by Daulat Scindhia later regained control of Ujjain. After both Holkar and Scindias accepted the British suzerainty, the British colonial administrators decided to develop Indore as an alternative to Ujjain, because the merchants of Ujjain had supported certain anti-British people. John Malcolm, the British administrator of Central India, decided to reduce the importance of Ujjain "by transferring a great part of that consequence it now enjoys to the Towns of Indore and Rutlam cities, which are and will continue more under our control."
After the independence India, Ujjain became a part of the Madhya Bharat state. In 1956 Madhya Bharat was fused into the State of Madhya Pradesh.
Ujjain is located in the west-central part of India, and is north of the upper limit of the Vindhya mountain ranges. Located on the Malwa plateau, it is higher than the north Indian plains and the land rises towards the Vindhya Range to the south. Ujjain's co-ordinates are 23°10′N 75°46′E with an average elevation of 494 m (1620 ft). The region is an extension of the Deccan Traps, formed between 60 and 68 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period. The city is on the bank of the river Shipra which flows into the nearby Chambal. The tropic of cancer also passes through a temple named Karkoteshwar, located near Harsiddhi Mandir in Ujjain.
According to the 2011 census, Ujjain has a population of 515,215, 264,871 of whom were male and 250,344 female. The sex ratio is 945 per 1000 males, and the child sex ratio is 929 girls per 1000 boys. The city has 58,972 children under the age of six. There were 30,573 boys and 28,399 girls, which formed 11.45% of the total population of the city.
The total literates in the city were 385,193, of whom 210,075 were males and 175,118 were females. The average literacy rate of the city is 84.43 percent. Male and female literacy were 89.66 and 78.90 percent, respectively.
Most of the regions surrounding the city are administered by the Ujjain Municipal Corporation (UMC). The city is administered by a Divisional Commissioner and a Collectorate Office as well as the Mayor. They are responsible for the town and Country Planning Department, Forest Department, Public Health Engineering, Public Works Department and MP Electricity Board.
Ujjain has been a metropolitan municipality with a mayor-council form of government. The Ujjain Municipal Corporation (UMC) was established in 1956 under the Madhya Pradesh Nagar Palika Nigam Adhiniyam. The UMC was established in 1886 as Nagar Palika, but the Municipal Corporation of Ujjain was declared on a par with the Gwalior Municipal Corporation. The UMC is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, libraries, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, local planning and welfare services. The mayor and councillors are elected to five-year terms.
The Ujjain Development Authority, also known as UDA, is the urban planning agency serving Ujjain. Its headquarters are located in the Bharatpuri area of Ujjain. It was established under the Madhya Pradesh Town and Country Planning Act, 1973.
Ujjain Lok Sabha constituency is one of the 29 Lok Sabha constituencies in Madhya Pradesh state in central India. This constituency came into existence in 1951 as one of the 9 Lok Sabha constituencies in the erstwhile Madhya Bharat state. It is reserved for the candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes since 1966. This constituency covers the entire Ujjain district and part of Ratlam district. Currently, Dr. Chintamani Malviya of the Bharatiya Janata Party is member of parliament who won in the Indian general elections, 2014.Vikram University
Maharshi Panini Sanskrit University
Mahakal Institute of Technology
School of Engineering and Technology Ujjain, Vikram University 
Ujjain Engineering College
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Business Management
Ruxmaniben Deepchand Gardi Medical College
Amaltas Hospital & Medical College (AIMS)
The city's government and private schools include:AadharshilA Academy
Govt. School for Excellence, Madhavnagar
St Paul's Higher Secondary School
Takshshila Junior College
Ujjain Public School
St. Mary's Convent School
Central School, Nagziri
Mahadji Scindia Public School, Chamunda Mata
Christu Jyoti Convent Senior Secondary School
Carmel Convent Sr. Sec. School
Saraswati Vidhya Mandir, Marutiganj, Ujjain
The Government of Madhya Pradesh has allotted 1,200 acres for the development of an industrial area on the Dewas-Ujjain Road near Narwar village. Originally named "Vikramaditya Knowledge City", the area was envisaged as an educational hub. Due to diminished investment prospects, it was renamed to "Vikram Udyog Nagari" ("Vikram Industrial City"). As of 2014, the government has conceptualised it as a half-industrial, half-educational area. The stakeholders in the project include the state government and the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Trust.
Ujjain is considered one of the holiest cities in India, and is a popular pilgrimage centre. Some of the notable sacred places in the city include:Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, an ancient temple that was destroyed by Iltutmish and then restored by the Scindias of Gwalior
Mangalnath temple, tropic of cancer passes through this temple
Kal Bhairav temple
Chintaman Ganesh temple
Gopal Mandir, built by Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur
Chamunda Mata temple, Ujjain
Other historic places in Ujjain include:Ved Shala
The Ujjain Simhastha is a mass Hindu pilgrimage, and one of the fairs recognised as Kumbh Melas. During the Simhastha, Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river. At Ujjain, it is held once every 12 years, on the banks of Kshipra river. It is also known as Simhastha, when it falls during Jupiter's stay in Leo of Simha. The latest Simhastha was held in Ujjain from 22 April 2016 to 21 May 2016.
Ujjain does not have any airport but has an airstrip on Deaws road which is used for air transport purposes. In 2013, the Government of Madhya Pradesh started a Ujjain-Bhopal air services as a joint venture with Ventura Airconnect. Due to very low booking, the ambitious project was scrapped. The main reason for the failure of the plan was improper timing. The nearest airport is the Devi Ahilyabai Holkar International Airport at Indore (57.2 km).
Ujjain Junction is the main railway station of Ujjain, and it is directly or indirectly well-connected to all the major railway stations in India. It lies on the Ratlam–Bhopal, Indore–Nagda and Guna–Khandwa route. To the west it is connected to Ratlam Junction, to the north it is connected with Nagda Junction, to the east it is connected with Maksi Junction, Bhopal Junction, and to the south it is connected to Indore Junction BG, Dewas Junction.
There are five railway stations in the Ujjain city and its suburbs:
Dewas Gate Stand and Nana Kheda Bus Stand are the two bus stands in the city that provide service to destinations located in the states. A large number of state run private buses are available for Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Ajmer, Khajuraho, Indore, Bhopal, Pune, Mumbai Kota, Mandu, Jhalawar and various other locations. The city has a well connected road network including Indore Road, Badnagar Road, Dewas Road, Agar Road, Nagda Road and Maksi Road. There are three state highways; 18 connects to Ahmedabad, 17 connects to jaora and 27 connects to Indore.
Other important regional highways passing through the city are:Indore – Ujjain Road via SH 27
Kota / Agar – Ujjain Road via SH 27
Bhopal / Dewas – Ujjain Road via SH 18
Ratlam / Barnagar – Ujjain Road via SH 18
Jaora / Nimach – Ujjain Road via SH 17
Maksi – Ujjain Road (Connects to NH 3)
Ujjain is to surrounded by ring road. MR-2, MR-5, MR-10 and simhastha bypass comes under this ringroad
Ujjain depends on an extensive network of auto rickshaws, city busses, private taxis and Tata Magic, that operate throughout the city, connecting one part with another. UMC has recently introduced city buses with a public private partnership project as the city was identified urban agglomerations with less than 1 million population under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the city. Ujjain is also home to the Ujjain Divisional Cricket Association which is affiliated to BCCI. The city does not have any stadiums, but hosted Ranji Trophy matches at Pipe Factory Ground in 1977 and 1980.
Kite flying is another popular activity in the city around Makar Sakranti.
There are a few playing fields in Ujjain:Madhav College Ground
Mahakal Institute of Technology Ground
Ujjain International Stadium
Vikram University Ground
The city has a government hospital, charak bhavan (for children and mothers) TB hospital and Ruxmaniben Deepchand Gardi Medical College.
Ujjain city was shortlisted under the Government of India’s flagship programmes Smart Cities Mission. Under the mission, UMC ( Ujjain Municipal Corporation)shall participate in the smart cities challenge by Ministry of Urban Development. As part of this, UMC is preparing a Smart City Proposal (SCP). SCP will include smart city solutions based on the consultations to be held with the key stakeholders of the city. UMC invited the suggestions from citizens of Ujjain to make ‘Ujjain as a smart city’. The citizens were able to post their views pertaining to basic services such as water supply, sewerage, urban transport, social infrastructure and e-governance.
Notable people who were born or lived in Ujjian include: