An ancient city situated on the eastern bank of the Kshipra 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 mahajanapadas. It is an important place of pilgrimage for Shaivites, Vaishnavites and followers of Shakta. It is a known Hindu pilgrimage centre with the Kumbh Mela held here every 12 years.