The modern state of Maharashtra is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the West, Gujrat and the Union Territory of Dadara Nagar haveli to the North West,Madhya Pradesh to the North & North East, Chhattisgadh to the East, Karnataka to the South, Andhra Pradesh to the South East and Goa to the South West.
The antiquity of the human habitation in the state goes back to the stone age period (1.27 million years ago). Numerous sites with the stone age tools have been reported on the bank of various rivers as well as in the river vallies. Numerous Chalcolithic sites have been located and some like Inamgaon(1300 BCE to 700 BCE) were extensively excavated.
During the historical period (after 6th century BCE) the rule of the Mauryas (4th century BCE to 2nd century BCE) is clearly seen in Maharashtra. Remains of the inscriptions of Ashoka have been found in the state. A long lasting rule over the state was that of the Satavahanas (1st century BCE to 3rd Century CE).This was a very flourishing period of the state. The international trade with the western world was in full swing during this period. The ports in Maharashtra played a major role in this. The result can be seen in the excavation of a number of Buddhist rock cut caves like Bhaja, Pitalkhore, Karla Nasik etc patronised mainly by the trading community. The Western Kshatrapas were ruling from Gujrat but they had conquerred some o the the Satavahana territory for some time. The Satavahanas defeated these rulers in 78 CE and regained their land. The Satavahana rule expanded not only in the whole of the modern state of Maharashtra but also in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
After the decline of the Satvahana rule, many small kingdoms were established in diferent parts of Maharashtra like the Abhiras, Traikutakas etc. But in 4th century CE the Vakataka rulers came to prominence. They had two branches both ruling in Vidarbha. Some of their rulers had patronized the cave excavation activities at Ajanta in 5th century CE.
Maharashtra was ruled by a few rulers in the 6th -7th centuries CE .like the Kalachuris (Madhya Pradesh) and Western Chalukyas (Karnataka). But a stable rule started in 8th century CE when the Rashtrakutas came to power. They were also involved in the creation of the world famous caves at Ellora. Their rule was extended not only in Maharashtra but also in Karnataka. At one point of time they had conquered the entire region between the states of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
The Yadavas (10th century to 13th century CE) were the next rulers in the state. Their rule lasted for a long time over the parts of central and eastern Maharashtra. The Shilahara rulers were contemporary to them ruling in the western and southern Maharashtra. This period marks the efflorescence of the temple building activity in Maharashtra. Impressive temples were constructed at a number of places like Hottal, Nilanga, Khidrapur, Gondeshwara etc. some forts like Devagiri, Panhala were also built during this period. The Yadavas were defeated by Allauddin Khilji of the Delhi Sultanat.
Muhammad bin Tughluq shifted his capital to Daulatabad (Devagiri) from Delhi for some time. After the decline of the Tughluqs the Bahmani Sultanat started ruling over Maharashtra in the 14th century CE. The Faruqi ruled over Khandesh region and the Gujrat Sultans ruled over Mumbai and surrounding regions in the 14th – 15th centuries CE. After the disintegration of the Bahamani Empire the Nizamshahi and Adilshahi rule over different parts of the state. In the 17th century CE Chhatrapati Shivaji established his independent rule in Maharashtra. He coronated himself as a sovereign ruler in 1674 CE. This local Maratha kindom expanded itself into the Maratha Empire in 18th and early 19th centuries CE until the Britishers took over it in 1819. Since then with the contribution of numerous freedom fighters Maharashtra played a major role in the struggle for the independence. On 1st May 1960 the separate Marathi speaking state of Maharashtra was created on public demand. Since then the state has been leading in all fronts in the country.