About Maharashtra

About Maharashtra

Welcome to Maharashtra. A land whose sheer size and diversity will stun you. Enjoy Mountains that stretch out into the mists as far as the eye can see. Her innumerous forts that stand proud and strong. Her scores of temples, sculpted into and out of basalt rock.

Her diverse and colourful cultures, woven into one gigantic quilt. Her festivals that galvanise the sleepy thousands into fervent motion. And her miles of silver, white beaches, stretched taut and inviting over the entire coast. Welcome aboard a travel package that gives you a glimpse into this vibrant and beautiful land.

Welcome to Maharashtra. A land untouched, unsullied, unlimited.

Her diverse and colourful cultures, woven into one gigantic quilt. Her festivals that galvanise the sleepy thousands into fervent motion. And her miles of silver, white beaches, stretched taut and inviting over the entire coast. Welcome aboard a travel package that gives you a glimpse into this vibrant and beautiful land.

Culture of maharashtra
  • A many-splendoured legacy
  • Even though the legend of Shivaji---and the fervour of the Ganpati revelry override most things, the spirit of Maharashtra is cosmopolitan, forward-thinking, tolerant and vibrant. While 80 per cent of Maharashtrians follow Hinduism, the state has a treasure trove of heritage sites that bespeak its multi-hued heritage---including those from its Jain, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian cultures. So be it the Ashtavinayak yatra in the Konkan belt—dedicated to eight beautiful facets of Lord Ganesha----or the Ajanta and Ellora caves near Auranagabad from the pre-Christian Buddhist Era, the Mother Mary Church at Mahim, or the Haji Ali mosque of Mumbai---there’s enough to keep connoisseurs of temples, forts, old monuments and art---gainfully preoccupied. Forts have played a vital role in the history of the state, given the rocky terrain of the Sahyadris and the need for strongholds against invading armies. Self-contained units with an economy and socio-political fabric all their own, the forts of Maharashtra built mainly around the time of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Each fort marks a military triumph, and each tells a story of strategy, warfare, intrigue and planning—something of interest to all students of political science, defence strategies and management. All of them reconstruct the tale of an enterprising leader in the Deccan arena, who with fortitude, popular support and vision went onto become one of the tallest kings of Indian history. Interwoven in folklore, along with the valour of Shivaji---the forts are a subject in their own self.

  • Etched in stone
  • Over 70 per cent of India’s rock-cave art to be found in the state. Of all these, Ajanta and Ellora, in the vicinity of Aurangabad, are world famous heritage sites and illustrate the degree of skill that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. Ajanta dates between 2nd to 1st century BCE, while Ellora was excavated aound 600 years later. All these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and are an important repistory of the essence of Buddhism. Meanwhile, The Elephanta Caves (of undated origin) are a network of sculpted caves located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri in Mumbai Harbour, 10 kilometres to the east of Mumbai, and a tribute to the legend of Lord Shiva.

  • The true spirit of God
  • The Bhakti movement—a medieval movement spread all over the country between the 13th and 17th centuries---that emphasized the true nature of God---as a democratic and loving entity who valued simplicity and heart-felt devotion over ritual and superstition, found resonance in the soil of Maharashtra as well. The roll-call of honour includes saint poets like Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Tukaram and Chokhamela, apart from several saints from the so-called lower stratas of society who have contributed richly to music, art and literature. The Warkari movement that every year in the month of June-July sees a plethora of farmers and myriad believers in Vitthoba (an avatar of Lord Vishnu) converge to Pandharpur in an annual pilgrimage, which begins with accompanying the palkhis of the late saints from their place of Samadhi/enlightenment. The Warkaris reach Pandharpur on the auspicious day of Ashadhi Ekadashi, chanting the name of God—and the saints. Propogating the values of non-violence, charity, austerity and vegetarianism, the Warkaris are an enduring symbol of tolerance in a chaotic world—even today. Several tourists from the world over participate in the pilgrimage, and come away, moved beyond words with the sheer force of conviction that unites men across all barriers.

  • A celebration of life, in all its festive hues
  • As per the government census of 2011, Hindus constitute over 80 per cent of the populations, Muslims 13.4 per cent, Christians 2.3, Sikhs 1.9, Buddhists 0.8 and Jains 0.8 in the state. The major celebrations include Diwali, the festival of lights, apart from Gokul Ashtami or Lord Krishna’s birthday, and the ten-day Ganeshotsav in August that marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha. The Ganesh festival is noteworthy for the fact that freedom fighters like Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak used it as a symbol of cultural pride in the resistance against the British Raj. The Ganesh Mandals that observe the festival in public places undertake several activities of socio-political relevance even today, and are an inalienable part of the local ethos. Christmas, Holi, and EId-i-Milad are also celebrated with traditional fervour. Come April, and apart from Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Maharashtra also celebrates the birthday of the late Bhimrao Ambedkar, one of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution and leader of the socially downtrodden. Bhimrao converted to Buddhism—in protest against the prevalent evils of Hinduism—and to this day continues to be a leading symbol of equality between all men. Lord Shiva also enjoys a major following, as evinced by the enthusiastic celebration of Maha Shivratri in February.

  • Carnival of colours
  • The women of Maharashtra patronize the nine-yard saree as opposed to the six-yard version prevalent in the rest of the country. Musical forms like Powada, a song praising the valour of a great ruler, and graceful dance forms like Lavani are something to be experienced in the various theatre and cultural festivals of the state. The fisherman aka Koli dance form are a nod to the contribution of the fisher-folk of the state.

  • Home of the intelligentsia and free speech
  • Amongst several other things, Maharashtra is also the pioneer of women’s rights and the Indian feminist movement. From the early 19th century onwards, the state saw a host of thinkers and reformers who campaigned against child marriage and Sati, whilst simultaneously upholding women’s education and widow remarriage. Prominent names include the late Justice MG Ranade, his wife Ramabai Ranade, Savitribai Phule and Pandita Ramabai As early as the 1930s cities like Pune (also known as a prominent educational hub and Oxford of the East) saw women cycling to school and college, apart from running errands. Cities like Pune and Mumbai are home to several active women’s rights groups across party lines, advocating equal opportunity and fair treatment. Little wonder that India’s first woman doctor aka the Late Anandi bai Joshi comes from the state. Warrior queens like Ahilyabai Holkar and Rani Lakshmibai are a reminder of how much Maharashtra has done for the upliftment of women. The year 1885 saw the establishment of the Indian National Congress in Bombay under the general secretary ship of AO Hume, with delegates from across the country in attendance. It also saw the establishment of the first Indian newspaper Darpan. The values of free and fair journalism, apart from the tradition of value-based Diwali anks (publications that come out in the festival of Diwali) that take up several socially relevant topics, tell of the educated, thinking and well-read middle class. Bombay or Mumbai—the capital of Maharashtra is not only seen as the financial capital of India, but is literally the Gateway of India secular, progressive yet rooted. It is also home to the largest film industry in the world, an industry whose turnover is more than that of the GDP of several small nations. An industry that sees thousands thronging to the city every year, hoping to make it big.

  • Tastefully yours
  • If you are in Maharashtra, you can’t leave without partaking of the local delights: from the street food like the lip-smacking vada pav and missal sold by vendors in every nook and corner, to say nothing of tangy chaat at Mumbai’s Juhu Beach. Other distinct delights include: Kolhapuri mutton (in tambda rassa aka brown curry and pandhra rassa aka mutton in a base of white), shrikhand and puran poli. Mango preparations including burfis, pulps and fruit concentrates derive their unique flavour from King Alphonso or “Hapus”---without a doubt the Lord of all mangoes. Do make a trip to the mango groves dotting Ratnagiri---or take home a crate.

History of maharashtra
  • Maharashtra – A Brief Timeline
  •            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.

Geography of maharashtra
  • The Gateway to India
  • The Gateway to India—that’s Maharashtra for you. With Mumbai--one of the finest ports of the world as its crowning jewel-- there’s much about the geographical and topographical character of the third largest state in India—after Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan—to command the traveller’s attention. With Madhya Pradesh to the north, Karnataka to the south, Chhattisgarh to the east and Goa to the south west, this western state of India plays host to the Arabian Sea through Mumbai, but is, nevertheless for the most part, a plateau. Predominantly consisting of two major relief divisions, namely the Deccan Tableland and Konkan (coastal) strip, Maharashtra covers an area of 307,713 km2.

  • District-wise
  • Maharashtra is made up of 35 districts, which are grouped into six divisions, The break-up of the six divisions are as follows:
    1. Aurangabad Division (Marathwada) Aurangabad, Beed, Hingoli, Jalna, Latur, Nanded, Osmanabad and Parbhani,
    2. Konkan Division: Mumbai City, Mumbai Suburban, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Thane
    3. Nashik Division: Ahmednagar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nandurbar and Nashik
    4. Nagpur Division: Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Gondiya, Nagpur and Wardha,
    5. Pune Division: Kolhapur, Pune, Sangli, Satara and Solapur

  • Rocky terrain ahead
  • The Western Ghats form the source of several major rivers of Maharashtra, notable among them being Godavari and the Krishna. The rivers, along with their tributaries, flow eastwards into the Bay of Bengal, irrigating most of central and eastern Maharashtra. The Ghats are also the source of numerous small rivers, which flow westwards into the Arabian Sea.
    The Sahyadri Range is the defining geographical feature of Maharashtra. Rising on an average to an elevation of 1000m, it has Konkan on the west. Eastwards, the topography goes through a transitional area known as Malwa to the plateau level. The Konkan, lying between the Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri Range is narrow coastal lowland, barely 50 km wide. Though mostly below 200 m, it is far from being a plain country. Highly dissected and broken, the Konkan alternates between narrow valleys and low laterite plateaux.
    The Satpuras, hills along the northern border, and the Bhamragad-Chiroli-Gaikhuri Ranges on the eastern border form physical barriers preventing easy movement, and also act as natural limits to the state.
    This topography of the state is the outcome of its geological structure. The state area, barring the extreme eastern Vidarbha region, parts of Kolhapur and Sindhudurg, is practically co-terminous with the Deccan Traps.

  • Natural resources
  • Apart from mainly occurring rock Basalt; other rocks like- Laterites are found in the coastal humid and tropical region. Maharashtra is rich in in ore deposits. Granite, Granite gneiss, Quartzite, Conglomerates are found in the basement regions of Konkan rivers. Nanded is another region where pink Granites are found. Kamti of Nagpur region is famous for coal.
    Water is the most unevenly distributed natural resource. A large number of villages lack drinking water, especially during the summer months, even in the wet Konkan. Barely 11% of the net sown area is irrigated. The granitic-gneissic terrain in the eastern hilly area of Vidarbha accounts for all tank irrigation. Tube-wells in the Tapi-Purna alluvium and shallow wells in the coastal sands are the other main sources of water. Special wells are being made by the Government for the villages lacking water.
    The Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Bhandara and Nagpur Districts form the main mineral belt, with coal and manganese as the major minerals and iron ore and limestone as potential wealth.

  • Call of the Wild
  • Maharashtra is home to several national parks. Project Tiger, the Government of India initiative to preserve and increase the tiger population, has 4 major areas of concentration in the state namely Tadoba-Andhari, Melghat, Sahyadri and Pench. The Bor Wildlife Sanctuary of Wardha in Eastern Vidharbha was also declared a Special Tiger Zone by the government in 2012.
    A large percentage of Maharashtra's forests and wildlife lie along the western Ghats or western Maharashtra and eastern Vidarbha.
    The Gondia region in Vidarbha is home to two important parks: The Navegaon National Park,the nestling ground of of birds, deer and leopards, as well as the Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary with an assortment of wildlife. The Sanjay Gandhi aka Borivali National Park in Mumbai enjoys the stature of being the world’s largest national park within city limits. Sangli district, for its part, houses the Chandoli National Park, even as the Prachitgad fort and Chandoli dam are in the vicinity.Sagareshwar wildlife sanctuary, a man made sanctuary situated 30 kms from Sangli, contain ancient temples of Lord Shiva, apart from the Jain Temple of Parshwanath. For its part, the Maldhok Sanctuary in Solapur-Ahmednagar district is home to the Great Indian Bustard. The Bhimashankar wildlife Sanctuary situated in the western Ghats is famous for the Malabar Giant squirrel.

  • Hill stations of Maharashtra
  • The Sahyadris hold several beautiful hill stations in their lap, which are cool, beautiful and refreshingly serene. Best of all, they are usually near a city. These include Matheran, Lonavala, Khandala, Mahabaleshwar, Panchagani, Bhandardara, Malshej Ghat, Amboli, Chikhaldara Panhala, Panchgani, Sawantwadi, Toranmal, and Jawahar.

  • Star-treks
  • Sahyadri is every inch the trekker's paradise with its treasure trove of green hills, dotted lakes and forests. And if history is what holds your heart—apart from a love of the outdoors, choose any of its forts or caves from the Buddhist era. Noteworthy examples include:
    Rajmachi Fort along the Khandala plateau, and Karla Caves built around the 2nd century BCE, the Sinhgadh, Tikona and Lohagadh Fort in Pune; Kalsubai Peak, Raigad Fort in Konkan, and Rajgad and Shivneri, 65 and 110 kms respectively from Pune. Wakki Woods 30 km away from Nagpur is another lovely place to explore and, offers activities like bird watching, boating, archery, amongst other activities.