Maharashtra is a state in the Northwestern part of India. It is the second-most populated state in the country.
The capital of Maharashtra is Mumbai (previously Bombay), one of the most populous and famous metropolitan cities in India, and the country’s financial capital.
Maharashtra was ruled by Satavahana dynasty (2nd century), the Maurya empire (3rd and 4th Century BCE), the Chalukya Dynasty (6th – 12th centuries) and later by many more kings and empires such as Delhi Sultanate, the Tughlaqs, Bahmani Sultanate, the Portuguese, Faruqi dynasty, Maratha Empire (Peshwas) and eventually by the British - East India Company before India became independent.
After independence, princely states of the Deccan States Agency, were merged into what was then the Bombay State, which was created from the former Bombay Presidency (1950). Later some more Marathi speaking regions were merged into it and the state was christened “Maharashtra”, with Bombay city as its capital. The official name of Bombay was changed to Mumbai in the year 1995, under the Shiv Sena Government.
Maharashtra has about 43 prominent cities and towns which are divided into 36 districts. These 36 districts are grouped into 6 divisions, namely – Pune Division, Nashik Division, Nagpur Division, Konkan Division, Aurangabad Division and Amravati Division.
Mumbai city, Mumbai suburban, Thane districts which are most populous fall under the Konkan division.
There are 12.3 crore (12.3 million) people in Maharashtra, out of which 65.99 % are Hindus, 20.65 % are Muslims, 4.10% are Jains, and remaining Sikhs, Christians, or Buddhists.
The people belonging to Maharashtra state are known as Maharashtrians, and most of them are vegetarians.
Maharashtrian culture has a mix of a vast majority of religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and a little bit of Buddhism too.
Muslims, Christians, and people of other religions are counted as minorities due to their collective population being lesser than that of Hindus in the state (Hindus occupy more than 75% of Maharashtra). In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is the deity having most temples and devotees in the state, and the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi (in August or September) is celebrated pompously and hugely here every year.
Places to Visit
Maharashtra has some of the best places to visit which attract visitors in its natural bounties, majestic architectures, and splendid beaches. Some of the best places to visit in Maharashtra are given below.
- Malvan – Famous Fishing Ports:
A quaint little town with stunning beaches, sprawling backwaters, and ancient forts in the background, Malvan is the perfect spot for someone looking for some solitude and adventure sports as well. Malvan beach, Tarkarli beach, Sindhudurg fort, Malvan Marine Sanctuary, etc., are some of the best places to visit here where you can go for scuba diving, dolphin sighting, snorkeling, or just strolling alongside the beach.
- Amboli – For the Nature Buffs:
Nestled atop the Sahyadri Hills of Western Ghats at 2260 ft., Amboli is a delightful retreat from the hectic life and offers spectacular views of the landscape from high points where you can reach through trekking. Some major attractions here are Amboli Falls, Shirgaonkar Point, Nangarta Falls, Madhavgarh Fort, and Sunset Point.
- Lonavala – Picnic Spot:
Close to Mumbai, Lonavala is the go-to spot for people who want to escape the clutter of city life and rejuvenate themselves by spending some time in the bounty of nature. Known for its waterfalls and soothing scenery, Lonavala is an ideal place for a gala time with best places such as Tiger’s Leap, Lonavala Lake, Rajmachi Wildlife Sanctuary, Koregad Fort, Amrutanjan Point, and may more.
- Mahabaleshwar – A Dreamy Getaway:
Sitting atop the Sahyadri Mountain Ranges and once a summer capital of Bombay, Mahabaleshwar is another place with dreamy landscape and is often populated with the love birds. This quiet and enchanting place with spots such as Mahabaleshwar Temple, Venna Lake, Lingamala Falls, Elephant’s Head Point, and many more, is an ideal getaway to experience the beautiful nature and indulge in some spiritual and adventure activities.
- Alibaug – A Serene Town:
A very peaceful town and home to some of the best beaches in Maharashtra, Alibaug is the place you should head to in summers for a respite from the hustle-bustle of the city. Visit the soothing Alibaug beach, Akshi Beach, Nagaon Beach, Kolaba Fort, Kanakeshwar Forest and much more and spend your weekend making happy memories.
- Nashik – Temple, Ghats, and more:
Thriving on the banks of Godavari River, Nashik is an ancient holy town with its association from the Hindu mythology Ramayana. Home to various temples and shrines which is visited by devotees year-round, Nashik has beautiful architecture in temples and along with ghats it is one of the best places to visit in Maharashtra. Major attractions here are Ramkund, York Winery, Soma Wine Village, Chandon, Sita Gumpha, and Kala Rama Temple.
- Mumbai – The City of Dreams:
Bubbling with the amalgamation of old colonial charm and the bustling urban life, Mumbai is one of the most visited cities of India by foreign tourists. Home to several iconic tourist attractions such as the Gateway of India, Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Marine Drive, National Art Gallery, Film City, Coin Museum, and many other places, Mumbai is a must visit place despite of its crowd and humid weather for its tourist places and exotic food.
- Pune – The City of Historic Forts:
One of the major cities of Maharashtra, Pune is known for its leisurely vibes, good weather, and historical forts. An emerging IT hub, Pune is also a cultural centre and offers numerous experiences along with some major spots such as Shaniwar Wada, Aga Khan Palace, Sinhagad Fort, and many other forts and temples, to revive the history.
Maharashtra has many historical gems to see. Some popular sites of historical significance in the state are –
- Ajanta Ellora caves, in Aurangabad - Ancient rock-cut caves, UNESCO World heritage site.
- Gateway of India, in Mumbai – A colossal ancient arch with motifs in yellow basalt; overlooking the Arabian sea.
- Aga Khan Palace, Pune – Built in 1892; Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes are buried in the grounds of this palace.
- Elephanta Caves, on Elephanta island in Mumbai – An ancient Buddhist cave temple having an area of 60,000 sq feet. Another UNESCO world heritage site.
- Raigad Fort, Raigarh – A historical fort situated at a height of 2690 ft, having lush green valleys on 3 sides.
- Lohagad Fort in Khandala – A fort located 3600 ft high; loved by trekkers and architecture enthusiasts. (also, a UNESO world heritage site).
- Bibi-Ka -Maqbara, Aurangabad – A tomb built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb for his wife – also known as Taj Mahal of the deccan (as it resembles the Taj Mahal in Agra).
- Kolaba Fort, Alibaug – A 300-year-old fort with stunning views of the Arabian sea waters.
- Devagiri Daulatabad Fort, Daulatabad – a 12th century fort; offers a beautiful panoramic view of entire Daulatabad.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai – The capital city’s main train terminal, earlier known as Victoria terminal (during the times of British rule in India) having stunning architectural beauty, with Victorian and Gothic influences.
Maharashtra has many great places which are perfect for a short vacation or a weekend getaway, such as -
- Khandala (what to see/do - Rajmachi Fort, Bhushi Lake, Valvan Dam, Shooting point)
- Mahabaleshwar (what to see/do - Mahabaleshwar temple, Rajpuri caves, Mount Malcolm, Pratapgarh Fort, Morarji Castle)
- Lonavala (what to see/do - Kune falls, tiger point, Karla caves, Pawna Lake, Lohagarh Fort, Bhaja caves, Nagphani)
- Matheran (what to see/do - Prabal Fort, Charlotte Lake, Shivaji’s Ladder, One Tree Hill Point)
- Panchgani (what to see/do - Table Land, Pandavgad Caves, Kamalgad Fort, Rajpuri Caves)
- Amboli (what to see/do - Nagata Falls, Parikshit Point, Madhavgarh Fort, Kawaleshlet Valley, HiranYakeshi Temple)
- Alibaug (what to see/do - Kolaba Fort, KanakeshwarDevasthan Temple, Alibag Beach)
- Nashik (what to see/do – Panchvati, Pandav Leni Caves, Sula Vineyards, Kapileshwara Temple, Jain Mandir, etc.)
Some thrilling activities and things to do in Maharashtra for adventure lovers are –
- Paragliding (in Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar)
- Trekking (Vasota Fort Jungle trek, Sahyadri mountain range trek, Kalsubai trek)
- Waterfall Rappelling (in Vihigaon)
- Paragliding (in Kamshet, Hadapsar Airfield)
- Hot air ballooning (in Lonavala)
- River rafting (in Kolad, Kundalika rafting camp)
- Scuba diving (in Malvan)
- Bungee Jumping (in Lonavala)
- Wildlife safari (at the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries here like Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Tadoba National Park, Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, etc.)
- Caving (in Ajanta-Ellora, Elephanta, Bhaja and Karla)
The official language in Maharashtra is Marathi, but different regions in the state have their own dialects of the language. So, Marathi is native to the Maharashtra, and is its official language.
Apart from Marathi, a few other languages are also widely spoken including Konkani, Hindi and Gujarati. In most urban areas like Mumbai and Pune, English is also largely spoken, especially in professional contexts and situations.
Maharashtrian cuisine includes a variety of both mild and spicy dishes. Peanuts and fresh coriander are used generously in many dishes, and so is Methi (fenugreek leaves). Some popular dishes include Kanda Poha (a savoury dish made with flattened rice, turmeric, chillies, peanuts, and lots of onions), Thaalipeeth (a pancake made with rice/millet flours), Modaks. (Steamed dumplings – mostly consist of jaggery). Goat, Chicken and Fish are the most used in non-vegetarian dishes.
Maharashtra is also known for its famous street foods such as Vada Paav (Paav buns stuffed with potato patties and chutney), Paav Bhaji (Toasted buns served with spicy mashed mixed vegetable curry and lots of butter) and Bombay Sandwich (which primarily contains a spicy potato curry, and a green coriander chutney).
Trains, Planes and Buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Maharashtra. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, buses, local metro train and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.
Airports – Maharashtra has 7 domestic airports connecting to other states and cities in the country, and 3 International airports connecting to cities within the state as well as other parts of the country.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International airport, Mumbai
- Pune Airport, Pune
- Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur
- Aurangabad Airport, Aurangabad
- Jalgaon Airport, Jalgaon
- Kolhapur Airport, Kolhapur
- Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Airport, Nanded
- Ozar Airport, Nashik
- Shirdi Airport, Shirdi
- Sindhudurg Airport, Sindhudurg
Railway Stations – Maharashtra has a total of 589 train terminals/railway stations (at least one for each city/town, and more than 1 in some big cities) that connect to other cities and towns within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the major train terminals and junctions in the state are:
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
- Pune Junction, Pune
- Kalyan Junction, Kalyan
- Thane Railway Station, Thane
- Mumbai Central Railway Station, Mumbai
- Nagpur Junction, Nagpur
- Nasik Road Railway Station, Nashik
- Solapur Junction, Solapur
- Bandra Terminus, Mumbai
- Bhusaval Junction, Bhusaval
- Lonavala Railway Station, Lonavala
Bus Terminals – Maharashtra has its own line of state-run MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at MSRTC stops/terminals that are available in every division and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in the state are located in almost every city and town - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.
Blessed with diverse topography, Maharashtra is a blend of serene beaches, spectacular landscape views from the hills, majestic modern and colonial architecture, and delectable food, which fulfils the wanderlust of all kinds of travelers be it a nature lover, an adventure buff, a foodie, or a history enthusiast.