Location : In the northern center of peninsular India
State Capital : Mumbai
Area : 3,07,713 sq km
Language : Marathi, Hindi and English
Climate : Hot and Humid
Major Attractions : Ajnata and Ellora Caves, Gateway of India and Mahabaleshwar Hill station
Ideal Time to Visit : October to March
Maharashtra , The Land of Many Colors
Maharashtra is located in the northern center of Indian peninsular. It is encircled by the Arabian sea in the west and by Gujarat in the north. Madhya Pradesh surrounds Maharashtra from the northern and the eastern side whereas Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh lie to its south. Travel to this colorful land with numerous mountains, forts, beaches and caves. The state also has many temples that are sculpted into and out of basalt rock.
With diverse culture and traditions the state of Maharshtra is also keeping in pace with modernity. The state is known for its exciting festivals celebrated throughout year like Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Holi and Gudhi Parva, etc. The government of Maharashtra also organizes many fairs and festivals to attract tourists. Some of these are Pune festival, Ellora festival, Kalidas festival and Elephanta festival. Apart from these, the state is also renowned for its white shimmering beaches which are a visitor's delight. Thus, the vibrancy and the color of this beautiful land attracts many tourists form all over the world. Definitely, a must visit land.
According to a 7th century inscription the state's name ' Maharashtra ', was discovered. It is also mentioned in a Chinese traveler's account. The name is said to be originated from rathi, which means, "chariot driver". Once Maharashtra was full of builders and drivers of chariots who formed a maharathis, a "fighting force". Junnar, thirty miles north of Pune was established as the capital in 90 A.D by king Vedishri. In the early fourteenth century the Devgiri Yadavs were defeated by the northern Muslim powers. For the next 900 years, no historical information about this region is available. After the Mughals conquered India , the first Mughal king, Babur established his capital in Delhi in the year 1526. The Mughals then started expanding their power to the southern India and further dominated India till the early eighteenth century.
Shivaji Bhosle later known as Chattrapati Shivaji was the founder of the Maratha Empire. He was born in 1627 and at the age of sixteen Shivaji started his lifelong struggle against Mughals and other Muslim powers. He was determined to free his land at the fort Torna . Later, he conquered almost the entire Deccan by the year 1680, also the year of his death. He had developed an efficient administration and a powerful army. He also infused a spirit of independence among the Marathas, with which they fought and defeated the external powers for almost 150 years. He was very much respected by the people of Maharashtra and therefore was called Chattrapati Shivaji. Shivaji's freedom struggle and achievements are considered spectacular and are respected by providing the highest place in Maratha history.
Ajanta Ellora- A World Heritage Site
The Ajanta caves are located to the northeast of Aurangabad and are a little way off the main road. There are about 29 caves, built in a horseshoe shaped curve of the steep rocky gorge that emerges above the river Waghore. These caves date back to about 200 BC to 650 AD. Just after the Ellora caves were built, the site of Ajanta caves was abandoned and were slowly forgotten. In 1819 soldiers from a British hunting party re-discovered these caves, which remained unknown for centuries.
Situated about 30 kms from the northeast of Aurangabad lies the famous Ellora caves. They are cut into the hillside and are famed for their sculptures. The earliest caves are Buddhist, but the later ones are Hindu and Jain cave temples. The origination time of the caves is not confirmed. But the archaeologists believe that some of the later Buddhist caves were built at the same time when the early Hindu temples were being carved . There are 34 caves, of which 12 are Buddhist, 17 are Hindu and five Jain.
Mumbai - The Capital City of Maharashtra
The capital of Mahahrashtra, Mumbai is the largest metropolis in India and also its financial capital. It is one of the most vibrant cities, with an alive nightlife. The city is also the center of glamor and glitz due to the presence of Indian film industry. Mumbai is also a historical city having many attractions to offer to a visitor. Major travel attractions of this enticing city include the Gateway of India, Prince of Wales Museum, Haji Ali's Tomb, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus, Mumbadevi Temple and the famous Marine Drive . Apart from these, the Chowpaty and the Juhu beach are major highlights of the city, where tourists and local people gather to enjoy themselves.
The second largest city of Maharashtra , Pune, is the place which was home to the Maratha leader, Shivaji for a long time. This calm city was also resided by the self-proclaimed guru, Bhagwan Rajneesh, also known as Osho. Pune has many tourist spots, including, Shanwarawada Palace , Raja Kelkar Museum , Gandhi National Memorial, Samadhi, and Pataleshwar Temple .
Aurangabad - The City of World Heritage Site
Known for its medieval monuments and cultural heritage, the city of Aurangabad was the seat of the Mughal Empire for a short span. The Bibi-ka-Makbara, a tomb that has some resemblance to the Taj Mahal is the highlight of the city. Auranagbad is world famous city due to the presence of the Ajanta and Ellora caves regarded as the world heritage sites. These sites have Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples. Aurangabad is also famous for it's silk and cotton textiles.
The impressive Daultabad fort is situated about 15 kms from Aurangabad . At this place Mohammed Bin Tughlak built his capital, but soon returned back to Delhi . It was finally captured by Allauddin Khilji. The scenic views, located to the right of the Daulatabad fort are mesmerizing. Today, the fort is not in a very good condition. But some of the parts of the fort like the scary "Bhool Bhulaiya" is still in a better condition.
Mahabaleshwar- A Pristine Hill Resort
Mahabaleshwar, the mesmerizing hill station, overlooks the Krishna and Koyna valleys. It is situated at an altitude of 1372 meters and presents many picture prefect views. This untouched natural paradise is loved by people who admire nature and want to explore it. Specially, the filmmakers adore this place because it provides plenty of beautiful scenes for their films. Mahabaleshwar was the summer capital of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency. Mahabaleshwar is a lovely destination to visit, which has not lost its old charm, despite the increasing crowds that visit the town. There are many mighty mansions built during the days of the British, reminding of the of the British Raj.
Lonavala Hill Station
Lonavala is another famous hill station, providing an enjoyable getaway from the cities of Mumbai and Pune. The specialty of this place is a special candy made of peanut and jaggery which is popular all over the country.
Festivals of Maharashtra
The state of Maharashtra is the hub of many religious and cultural traditions. The fairs and festivals in Maharashtrian villages are a part of life.
Each and every festival has its own significance. People decorate their houses and festivities prevail all around. Though Maharashtra celebrates many festivals, but the most popular festival is the Ganesh Chaturthi. It is famous due to the large processions and the colorful images of Lord Ganesha.
Besides, there are many festivals celebrated with as much enthusiasm and spirit. Some of the important festivals celebrated here are Gudhi Parva, Nariyal Poornima, Parsi new year, Diwali, Holi, etc. Apart from these festivals the tourism department of Maharashtra also organizes many fairs and festivals to promote travel tourism in the state. Some of these festivals are Banganga festival, Kalidas festival, Elephanta festival and Ellora festival, etc.
Each festival has its own color and cuisine. Having their own importance these festivals are a way of life in India , specially in rural India .
By air : Maharashtra has five domestic airports and one international airport at Mumbai. Many of these airports have regular connections through the Indian Airlines and other domestic airlines. Mumbai is the best connected international airport in India and is connected with most of the important international destinations.
By Rail : Mumbai is the center of the railway network in Maharashtra owning three major railway stations and the headquarters of two Railway Zones in India . Mumbai is connected to most of the important cities in India by rail. Many important tourist spots in the state are directly connected to Mumbai by regular trains.
By Road : Maharashtra is said to have one of the beat road ways in India . All the important places within Maharashtra are conveniently connected to each other. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation as well as private operators provide good services connecting all the tourist centers in the state.