Seventy four-year-old Mahidpur resident, Dr Ram Chandra Thakur has a collection of over one lakh coins dating back to 600 BC.
Thakur, who has dedicated 55 years into numismatic research, plans to set up a second private museum of coins in Ujjain by early next year.
His first mini-museum is located in Mahidpur — about 55 kilometres from Ujjain. In a brief interview with HT, he talks about Ujjaini coins. Excerpts from the interview:
Why is Ujjain important from point of view of numismatics?
Ujjain fell on important trade route which connected Pataliputra (Bihar), Shravasti in Kosala to seaports in Sopara, Bharuch in Gujarat.
Being an ancient religious city and situated on holy river Kshipra, pilgrims who came here from other regions dropped the coins of their state in the river. Hundreds of coins were obtained through excavations which throw light on history of their regions.
The image of Rudra (Lord Shiva) was first inscribed on punch mark coins. They were found in Ujjain area and belong to 300 BC.
Rulers of Kanv and Shung dynasty who were Shiva worshippers propagated Shaivism through coins which belong to 100 BC. Thus coins excavated from Ujjain have enriched Indian history.
What are the main characteristics of Ujjaini coins?
They are defined by a symbol called Ujjaini symbol. This Ujjani symbol indicates the junction of four roads that lead to Ujjain which had been a big trading centre.
Some experts say this symbol represents Lord Shiva’s damaru, while others say that it represents four gates of Ujjain with four temples of Lord Shiva and temple of Lord Mhakal in the centre. Ujjaini punch mark coins are available from 500 BC.
Coins reveal history. Which part of history do coins reveal about Ujjain?
They throw light on rule of Gupta, Maurya, Shunga, Satvahan dynasty. Pushyamitra Shung performed Ashwamedh yagya and accordingly, we have found copper coins with depictions of horse with the word Pushyamitra.
Emperor Ashoka, the governor of Ujjain, also minted coins which mention Ujjaini.