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  • Writer's pictureAnirudh Kanisetti

20. A Day in Ancient Ujjain

What was life in an ancient Indian city like? What were its sights and smells, and what kind of eccentric characters would it have been home to? Join us on a walk through Ujjain, one of South Asia's oldest cities, to find out.

Notes and Sources below.

Voice Credits (in order of appearance):

Narrator - Anirudh

Palace Chamberlain - Manoj

Syamilaka - Sreeram

Bhashpa - Keshav



  1. On the fortifications of ancient Ujjain, see Schlingloff, Dieter. Fortified Cities of Ancient India: a Comparative Study. Anthem Press, 2014. This is a fascinating interdisciplinary work, like most of the best stuff about ancient India, and I highly recommend it.

  2. I also used Schlingoff for the description of the palace and the layout of the city.

  3. Bhashpa and Syamilaka's gossip has been adapted and reworked from the Padataditaka of Syamilaka. I used GH Schokker's translation, which is available on Some descriptions of the city are also taken from there.

  4. A somewhat Orientalist but nevertheless useful resource (which I used for the wrestling match and description of entertainers) is Auboyer, Jeannine. Daily Life in Ancient India: from 200 BC to 700 AD. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2002.

  5. The most sympathetic portrayal of a courtesan that I've seen yet is in the Mrcchakatikam by Sudraka. It's also objectively a very good play. I used the translation by Padmini Rajappa.



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