Maharashtra

Capital
Mumbai
Population
9 97 52 247
Area
3,07,690 km²
Languages
Marathi

Time to visit
October to March
Climate (°C)
Mar - June: Warm
June - Sept: Monsoon, warm
Nov - Feb: Mild, pleasant

About

Maharashtra is one of India's largest and least explored states, with few travellers venturing into its cave temples or remote forts. Maharashtra has a little of everything, a perfect mixture of India, both ancient and modern.

It is a large, populous and economically important state. From Mumbai most travellers head south to the beaches of Goa, southeast to Pune and its famous ashram or northeast to the World Heritage listed cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora.

The Western Ghats run parallel with the coast; the rest of the state stands on the high Deccan plateau, stretching some 800 km east.Maharashtra with Mumbai as capital was formed in 1960 when the Maratha and Gujrati speaking areas were again separated. It has strong links with Gandhi and India's Independence

How to get here

Air
Bombay is well linked to major cities of India

Rail & Bus
Well connected by to all major cities and towns of India

Places to visit

Elephanta Island - Ratnagiri - Mumbai - Pune - Ajanta Caves - Ellora Cave

.: Elephanta Island
10 km northeast of Mumbai, lies the Elephanta Island, known for its great cave shrine excavated in the 6th century. The island was named by the Portuguese, after the majestic carved elephant on the island. A flight of 100 steps takes you to the top of the hill where the cave temple of Elephanta stands. The temple houses large pillars that seem to hold the ceiling which is made of cross beams. The sculptures display the changing moods of Lord Shiva, and reflect the immense faith of the unknown architects. In the month of February, the island hosts the Elephanta Festival.

Maharashtra means "The Great State"

.: Ratnagiri
The Tilak Smarak, believed to have been the home of the great freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, is the landmark here. The Patit Pawan Mandir was the first temple built for non-Brahmins by another great freedom fighter, Swatantryaveer Savarkar. Ratnagiri also has the Bhatye Beach, the Coconut Research Centre, Ratnadurg Fort, Bhagwati Bunder (sea-port) and the seafood processing centre at Mirya. The Thebaw Palace, built for the king and the queen of Burma in 1910-11, is also worth a visit.

.: Mumbai
Mumbai,formerly known as Bombay, derives its name from the local deity Mumba Devi, whose temple is still there. The Portuguese predecessors of the British preferred to think of the name as Bom Baim, the Good Bay. Bombay was once a cluster of seven islands called Heptanasia by Plotemy in AD 150. Mumbai is home to people of all Indian creeds and cultures.

.: Pune (Poona)
The most important landmark of Pune is the residence of the self-proclaimed guru, Bhagwan Rajneesh, also known as Osho. The ashram in Pune still attracts thousands of devotees, sightseers, curious onlookers and lots of controversy. The Shanwarawada Palace with its pleasant gardens and huge outer walls is also a must visit in Pune.

The Raja Kelkar Museum withmajor exhibits like the 17th century miniatures of musical instruments, antique potter, and unusually, betel-nut cutters and brass padlocks. The Gandhi National memorial, in the Aga Khan palace is also an important landmark. The 8th century rock-cut temple, the Ptaleshwar Temple on a hill a little outside town is one of the most popular temples, dedicated to goddess Parvati.

.: Ajanta Caves
It was only in the 19th century, that the Ajanta group of caves, lying deep within the Sahyadri hills, cut into the curved mountain side, above the Waghora river, were discovered. A group of British officers on a tiger hunt, stumbled on these ancient works of art. They depict the story of Buddhism, spanning the period from 200 BC to 650 AD. The 29 caves were built as secluded retreats of the Buddhist monks, who taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas, the ancient seats of learning, and nerve - centres of the Buddhist cultural movement.

.: Ellora Caves
The Ellora caves,there are 34 of them carved into the sides of a basaltic hill, 30 kms from Aurangabad. The finest specimens of cave - temple architecture, they house elaborate facades and exquisitely adorned interiors. These structures representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, were carved during the 350 AD to 700 AD period.

The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain.



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