Maharashtra is one of the largest states in India, both in terms of population and area. Its booming capital Mumbai, makes it not only one of the most important states economically, but also a major gateway for overseas visitors. The name Maharashtra first appeared in a 7th century inscription and in a Chinese traveler’s account. Its name may have originated from 'rathi', meaning 'chariot driver', referring to builders and drivers of chariots, who were known as 'maharathis', or 'fighting force'.
The physical character of Maharashtra is predominantly that of a plateau. The Western Ghats flank the western coast of the state. The Satpura range covers the northern part of the state, while the Ajanta and Satmala ranges run through the central part. Maharashtra is contiguous to the Arabian Sea on the western side, while Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are its neighbours on the northern side. The eastern part of Maharashtra has its boundary with Madhya Pradesh, and on its southern side are the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The third - largest state of India, both in area and population, Maharashtra was formed in 1960, when the Marathi and Gujarati linguistic areas of the former Bombay state were separated. Bombay (Mumbai) city became the capital of the new state.
The first famous rulers of Maharashtra were the Satavahanas (230 BC to 225 AD), who were, actually, the creators of Maharashtra, and have left behind a plethora of literary, epigraphic, artistic and archaeological evidence. Then came the Vakatakas who established a pan - Indian empire Under them, Maharashtra witnessed an all - round development in the fields of learning, arts and religion. After the Vakatakas and a brief interlude of the Kalachuri dynasty, the most important rulers were the Chalukyas. Many other rulers followed the Chalukyas, but it was much later under Shivaji, that Maharashtra evolved as a cohesive entity.Descendants of a warrior tribe, the people of Maharashtra are very honest, hard working and hospitable. Filled with a zest for living and always on the move, their regard for women is legendary. Maharashtra, predominantly a Hindu society, with Ganesha as the principal deity, is also home to a host of other religious groups, including the enterprising Parsi community. Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati are widely spoken in this state.
The Maharashtrian love for art and culture is evident from their avid interest in theatre and dramatics. Their approach to music and dance is rather lusty. Mahashivaratri, Gokulashtami, Holi and Ganesh Chaturthi are the main festivals of this fun - loving state. Maharashtra boasts of a rich treasure trove of handicrafts and textiles. Maharashtrian sarees with their distinctive weave, colour and attractive 'pallus', priceless antiques, leather goods like shoes and handbags, jewellery and the very ethnic Kolhapuri sandals, are just some of the attractions the state has to offer.
No matter what kind of holiday you are looking for, you will find it in the state of Maharashtra: whether it is lazing along the 720 kms long coastline; or a peaceful retreat in the mysterious mountains; or quiet worship at some famous shrines; or revelation in cave architecture, art and culture; or daunting treks; or close and thrilling encounters with the impressive wildlife population. The important tourist centres in the state include Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, Kanheri, and Karla caves; Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Panchgani, Jawhar, Malshejghat, Amboli, Chikaldhara and Panhala hill resorts, and religious places like Pandharpur, Nasik, Shirdi, Nanded, Aundhanagnanth, Trimbakeshwar, Tuljapur, Ganapatipule, Bhimashankar, Harihareshwar and Shegaon - each complete in itself, and yet essential to the fascinating whole, that is Maharashtra.