Often called the 'Gateway to the Heart of India', Maharashtra is quite larger than most states in the country. Owing to its proximity to the Western Ghats, it is blessed with a picturesque backdrop of the mountains on one side and has the beautiful Konkan coastal belt on the other.
Maharashtra, the land of everything unlimited invites you into its widespread plethora of attractions. The second most populous state sits majestically right next to the heart of India. Adorned by the beautiful Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats with high mountains that disappear in the morning mist, while the sprawling belt of the Konkan Coast mesmerises by its white beaches. The ruins of the ancient forts and palaces in Pune and Ratnagiri among others proudly narrates the story of the then mighty rulers of Maharashtra. Centuries-old temples situated in places like Pandharpur, Ozar are still rooted in their traditions, offering sanctuary to pilgrims. As do the humble hill stations of Mahabaleshwar, Lonavala, Matheran, nestled cosily in nature, provide respite to travellers from the hustle and bustle of the cities.
People of diverse culture and religion live amicably in this state, which is why there is much ado about the culture of Maharashtra which while retaining its original Marathi culture has beautifully embraced the other cultures that have come to call this state their home. Apart from being rich in history, traditional arts and culture, it is also famous for its economy primarily because Mumbai -the financial capital of India is situated here and the entertainment hub - the film industry also finds its origin in this state. The amalgamation of these varieties of things that this state offers makes a visit here absolutely worthwhile.
Houses many iconic attractions of India. Lazy beaches, lush green mountains, cosmopolitan cities and World Heritage Sites. The extraordinary Ajanta and Ellora Caves. Can be visited throughout the year depending on the theme of your holiday.
Some areas can be over-crowded. Blistering summers.
Perfect for adventure and nature lovers. Beautiful place for religious people. Honeymooners can enjoy the state's hill stations.
Maharashtrian cuisine is one which can tickle and surprise your taste buds, with food ranging from mild to really spicy food as well as flattering deserts to indulge in. Vada Pav (Potato filled cutlets with Buns),Misal (A spicy gravy of pulses garnished with onions), Onion fries, etc. are the everyday food of the people here and are items with which the state cuisine is identified.
The staple diet includes, rice, Dal, chapattis and a vegetable dish generally accompanied by pickle for taste. A heterogeneous and vibrant mix of cultures derived from the people with diverse backgrounds who move here, gives the cuisine here countless varieties, with absolutely nothing that you cannot find here. Each of these diverse and colourful elements and cuisine styles find themselves a unique place in the state's menu. Typically, a South-Indian breakfast will lead to a Maharashtrian lunch, a Gujarati snack and end with a Punjabi Dinner. Add a Bengali sweet if you want. This is how Maharashtra borrows food cultures from all over and makes them its own.
Though influenced by the culture of Mumbai - the capital city and the largest metropolitan coupled with the fact that the Cinema industry resides here, the people of Maharashtra are still deeply rooted in their traditions and age-old customs. With the fast paced advances of technology in the state, they play the balancing act pretty well. The simplicity of the people is glimpsed through every little things they do and even though they may embrace fashion, their lifestyle is largely on the theme of simplicity. Marathi is the native language that is widely spoken in different dialects. However, Hindi is also a popular language used with a more slanged altercation. Marwari, Gujarati, tribal languages in the more central part of Maharashtra are other languages that are broadly spoken. People of all religions reside here, though populated primarily by Marathis, Gujaratis and Marwaris, one may find Parsi's, Christians, South Indians, among others.
Maharashtra is located in the northern centre of peninsular India. It is surrounded by the Arabian Sea in the west, Gujrat on the north, Madhya Pradesh on the east, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on the south. The state has Deccan plateau which is separated from the straight Konkan coastline by 'Ghats'. Rivers like the Godavari, Krishna, Tapi and Narmada flows through the state. It has 35 districts which are grouped into six divisions- Amravati Division, Aurangabad Division, Konkan Division, Nashik Division, Nagpur Division and Pune Division.
The rich history of Maharashtra takes us back to the time when the region of Konkan came under the control of Maurayans in the third and fourth centuries. After the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire, the Satwahanas (230 BC - AD 225) came to rule this region. Pratishthan or modern Paithan was their capital. In succession came the great rulers of the Vakataka, Chalukya, and Rashtrakuta empires making Maharashtra a great centre of culture and art.
Yadavas were the last of these kingdoms that lost their power in the early 12th century and a long period of Muslim rule started in Maharashtra. Then, in the 17th century, Marathas came over to rule the region. Shivaji was the first great ruler of Marathas and Britishers established their rule only after defeating the Marathas.
The vibrant fairs and festivals of Maharashtra depict the crux of its culture, traditions and beliefs. Everyone celebrates all festivals with immense enthusiasm and energy. Some of the important festivals celebrated here are- Ganesh Chaturthi- It is held in the month of August to celebrate the birth of Lord Ganesh. Beautifully decorated Ganesh idols are set up in homes, and on the last day, the God is taken out in a procession accompanied with dance and music, and finally immersed in nearby rivers. Nag Panchami- It is another important festival in which snakes are worshipped. Snakes are made out of clay, and people offer milk or sweets to the deities. Sangli in Maharashtra is famous for snake catchers, and people come to watch their exciting performances with snakes. Gudi Padwa- This festival celebrates new year as per Hindu calendar. Gods are worshipped and Prasad of neem leaves, gram pulse and jaggery are distributed. Narali Pournima- It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Shravan month as per the Hindu calendar. Pola is a harvest festival in which bullocks are honoured and respected.
Maharashtra is famous for myriad forms of art. Some of them are- Kohlapuri Footwear- Kohlapuri style is popular in the state which originated in the district of Kolhapur. They are hand-made leather footwear. Sawantwadi Crafts- Sawantwadi is a small town in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, which is famous for its Sawantwadi crafts. These favourite arts mostly include lacquer ware. These include traditional lacquered furniture painted with hands and light fittings. Bidri Work- The Bidri ware is an old craft that originated in Aurangabad and makes use of zinc and copper as raw materials. Artisans use this art form to make decorative pieces. Mashru and Himru fabrics- These are shiny fabrics made up of cotton and silk. Himru shawls are well-known. Ajanta Paintings and Warli Paintings can also be purchased.
One gets to see the interesting traditional attire of Maharashtrians only during festivals. Men usually wear Dhoti and pheta which is a Marathi word for turban. The women here wear choli and nine-yard saree, which is known as Nauwari Saadi or Lugda. When it comes to jewellery, women wear the famous Kohlapuri Saaj mainly on festivals. It is a particular type of necklace made in Kolhapur. Other items are also made with the combination of gold beads, red and white stones and pearls.
The state offers you a wide variety of nerve-racking adventures. Paragliding- Kamshet, Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar along with surrounding regions are one of the best locations for paragliding in Maharashtra. White Water Rafting- Kundalika river offers an excellent opportunity for this adventure. Hot Air Balloon ride- Lonavala, a hill town in the western part of the state, is very famous for hot air balloon ride in India. Wildlife Safaris- Tadoba Tiger Reserve and Satpura National Park are two beautiful reserves in Maharashtra. You will get to see an excellent variety of wildlife here. Camping- Camping amidst lush greenery and serene views is a lifetime experience. Kambre and Koyna are the best campsites in Maharashtra.