King Vikramaditya, or Vikram of the ‘Vikram and Baital’ fables, is a historical figure, after all. And behind this giant leap from fable to history is a little gold coin.
According to researchers of the Maharaja Vikramaditya Shodhpeeth in Ujjain, this coin is the first definitive archaeological evidence of the monarch.
There is a mention of Vikramaditya in the ancient text Bhavishya Puran that chronicles the names of Hindu dynasties. It says he ruled Malwa — which includes parts of present day western Madhya Pradesh and southeastern Rajasthan — from 57BC and Ujjain was his capital. But while stories about him abound, as the German philologist Max Mueller once said, there is no documentary evidence of his existence.
In December, a private collector brought this coin, found on the banks of the Kshipra in Ujjain, to Shodhpeeth for authentication.
Shodhpeeth researchers claim that while terracotta and copper seals and coins with references to Vikramaditya have been found, this coin with a portrait of the king on one side and typical first century BC symbolisms on the other is nailing evidence.
First Published in The Hindustan Times on April, 12, 2013