The city of Mumbai is synonymous with the world of glamour. We know Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, as the fashionable world of films and television. But Maharashtra culture has a lot more to offer than just Bollywood. In fact, Bollywood is just one of the jewels in the gem studded crown of Maharashtra. It is the third largest state in India and is one of the richest states in terms of history, geography, culture and tourism.
The vast stretch of land encompassing hills, forests, beaches and rivers stands facing the Arabian Sea on the west. The varied natural and cultural diversity are enough to leave you stunned. According to economic parameters, it is also the wealthiest state of India.
History of Maharashtra
Maharashtra has a glorious past which has been instrumental in shaping its present glory. It has been ruled successively by many famous rulers and dynasties such as the Mauryas or the Satavahanas. The state flourished heavily during the Satavahana rule and established trade relations. After the fall of the Satavahanas, the most prominent rulers were the Vakatakas.
However, the state rose to glory and fame under the rule of the Chalukyas, followed by the Rashtrakutas who established a stable kingdom. They were also responsible for the making of the Ellora caves, known all over the world for its exquisite art and architecture. The next in the line of the rulers were the Yadava’s who were responsible for the creation of all the magnificent temples of Maharashtra like those at Hottal, Gondeshwara, Khidrapur.
The rulers also built a number of forts at places like Devagiri and Panhala till Allauddin Khilji defeated them. Maharashtra owes a major part of its historical and cultural significance to its most well-known ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji. Shivaji was the first ruler to establish an independent rule in the state in the 17th century. Under his rule the Maratha kingdom became the Maratha Empire and expanded itself to its full glory. However, it lost to the British rule in 1819. After independence, the state of Maharashtra as a primarily Marathi speaking state was established on 1st May, 1960.
Maharashtra offers you a travel package that you can hardly deny.
Firstly, you can have a view of the Western Ghats or the Sahyadri mountains that forms a natural boundary on the western side and separates the Konkan coastline from the Deccan plateau. These mountains offer breath-taking views of the misty landscape as far as your eyes can reach. Maharashtra has a number of hill stations in the Western Ghats, such as, Amboli, Lonavla, Khandala, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, etc. All these places make wonderful weekend destinations as well as the most romantic honeymoon spots.
Secondly, people loving the beauty of lush green forests can find their interests in the state of Maharashtra. Navegaon National Park, Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Melaghat Tiger Reserve, Radhanagri Sanctuary and others are home to different species of flora and fauna. The jungle safaris can get you close to a tiger walking with majestic gait in front of your jeep. You may also be lucky to spot a rare, exotic bird somewhere. Maharashtra has several ecological hotspots owing to its rich forests full of flora and fauna.
Tourists who are interested in wildlife are thus often seeing visiting here. For instance, the Melaghat Tiger Reserve gives you the opportunity to not only view a tiger but also some rare species of animals like the forest owlet or flying squirrel.
Lastly, if you want to lose yourself in the vast stretch of white sandy beaches and watch the sun set into the sea, Maharashtra offers you 700km of Konkan coastline. The waves of the Arabian Sea lashes at the foot of the Konkan coast and create some of the most magnificent beaches in the country.
Apart from the very well-known Marine Drive and Juhu Beach of Mumbai which are generally crowded, you can also escape to the serene beaches of Madh, Kihim and Marve. From beaches bustling with crowd to some romantic getaway, Maharashtra offers you all kinds to choose from.
A vibrant spirit is the trademark of Maharashtrian culture. The ten-day Ganesh Utsav is the biggest festival celebrated in the state and the entire population participates in the festive spirit. A burst of colours can be vividly seen in the music and dance of the state. The graceful Lavani dance performed by the women draped in colourful Navwari or nine-yard sarees and the Koli dance performed by the fishermen tribe of the state mark the vivacious culture of Maharashtra.
Maharashtra is also known for the courage and modern, free thinking shown by its leaders. There have been a number of women leaders like Rani Lakshmibai, Savitribai Phule and Ahilyabai Holkar who have upheld female strength. The spirit is still inherent in the Maharashtrian spirit till date and is a marked feature of the way of life here.
Historical sites and places of interest
Maharashtra has some of the most ancient heritage sites in the country. These only point out to its glorious past. Most of the Maharashtrian sites are Hindu because a majority of the population follow Hinduism. But Maharashtra has a secular, cosmopolitan and multicultural heritage.
While the Konkan belt has the Ashtavinayak Yatra where all the eight facets of Ganapati are depicted, the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves are prominent Buddhist architectural sites. A visit to Maharashtra is incomplete without a visit to the Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta Caves to understand how rich the historical and architectural heritage of India is.
The Ajanta and Ellora Caves were built while Buddhism was at its peak in India. These masterpieces speak volumes about the inimitable skill of Indian artists and craftsmen in the past. The Haji Ali Mosque of Mumbai is another famous religious site of the state thronged by thousands of people who come to pray here.
Maharashtra also has quite a few important forts that served as strong places of resistance against the armies invading the state. Most of them were built during the reign of Shivaji. Each of these forts was meticulously built as per plans and strategies of warfare. Last, but not the least, the Gateway of India built to commemorate the visit of King George V, is one of the most popular tourist sites in the country.
Standing in front of each of these historical sites will take you back to an era when India was in its most glorious phase. You can feel the goose bumps while staring at the level of meticulous effort that went into creating these wonders. Truly, the past glory of Maharashtra makes us extremely proud.
Mumbai in Maharashtra is also home to Bollywood, one of the biggest film industries of the world. Mumbai is the place where an abundance of glamour characterises the world of films and fashion.
The dazzle, the razzmatazz and the enchantment with the world of Bollywood has made Mumbai a centre of attraction for the youth and many people have tried their luck to shine among the stars or get a glimpse of them. Bollywood or the film industry of Mumbai contributes a large portion to the GDP of the nation.
Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, is also the financial capital of India. It is one of the most important cities of the nation and houses some of the major industries which make it accountable for 17% of the nation’s entire industrial output. It is the single largest contributor in the economy of the nation and has a 15% share in the Gross Domestic Product of India.
Best time to visit Maharashtra
October to March is the best time to visit Maharashtra. This period offers a cool and pleasant weather to step outside and explore the place. After March humidity level starts to shoot up.
Places to visit in Maharashtra
Mumbai (previously known as Bombay)
Mumbai is an important sea port. It is the financial and industrial capital of India. Mumbai is known as the city of dreams and opportunities and is also majorly known for being the hub of Indian film industry (Bollywood). There it is not a huge deal to spot your favourite celebrity walking down the road or eating at the same restaurant as you. Mumbai offers a unique culture, food and places to explore.
Places to explore in Mumbai:-
- Gateway of India
- Mahalaxmi temple
- Siddhivinayak temple
- Afghan church
- Mount Mary church
- Haji Ali Dargah
- Jama masjid
- Marine drive
- Nariman point
- Juhu beach
- Versova beach
- Girgaum Chowpatty Beach
- Elephanta caves
- Kanheri caves
To do things in Mumbai: –
- Cruise tour
- Film city Bollywood tour
Must try local food:-
- Vada pav
- Bhel puri
- Sev puri
- Pav bhaji
- Pani puri
- Bombay duck fry
- Bombay sandwich
Mahabaleshwar is a small hill station in the Western Ghats. It used to be the summer capital of the Bombay province during British Raj.
Mahabaleshwar offers a number of places of attraction:-
- Arthur’s seat: Located 12 kms away from Mahabaleshwar, this is the queen of all places. This is the only place from where the geographical contrast between Konkan and Deccan territories can be seen. The place is named after Sir Arthur Mallet who lost his wife and children in a ferry accident at Savitri river. He was the first man to build a house at this location.
- Pratapgad fort: 20 kms from the Mahabaleshwar city, is this architectural beauty built by Maharaja Chatrapati Shivaji.
- Mahabaleshwar temple: This is a south Indian Hemadanta style of architecture temple of lord Shiva. Main attraction of the temple is the 550- year old, 6 feet tall Shivalinga.
- Krishnabai temple: It is a historical temple with tranquil surroundings. It is a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna as it is believed to be the source of Krishna river.
- Panchganga temple: This temple is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. This temple is at the merging point of five different rivers- the Koyna, Krishna, Venna, Savitri and Gayatri.
- Venna lake: It is a man-made lake constructed in 1942 by Chatrapati Appasaheb Maharaj. It is a beautiful picnic spot.
190 kms from Pune and 240 kms from Mumbai, Shirdi is an important religious place in India. The town is known as home of the great sage Sai Baba who passed away in the year 1918. It is not to which religion Sai Baba belonged but was respected and followed by both Hindus and Muslims.
Places to visit in Shirdi:-
- Sai Baba temple
- Abdul Baba cottage
- Gurusthan Sri Sai Baba
- Chavadi mandir
- Maruti mandir
- Lengdi Baug
Located at the banks of Panchganga river is this town Kolhapur. It attracts a lot of tourists as it houses an important pilgrimage centre- Mahalaxmi temple. It is famous for being the hub of Maratha film industry. The town is dotted with amazing archaeological sites, glorious temples, forts, monuments, gardens, lakes, and a rich cultural heritage. Kolhapur is also famous for its footwear (Kolhapuri chappal) which are exported to all over the world.
Aurangabad, also known as the ‘city of gates’ is a major tourist attraction in Maharashtra. It is called the city of gates as it is surrounded by 54 gates around the city border. Aurangabad is an abundance of rich cultural heritage.
Places to explore:-
- Ajanta caves: Carved in a horse shoe shaped hill are Ajanta caves. Situated near Waghora river, Ajanta caves are one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. They date back to the 2 nd century and served as monasteries till 9 th century. The carvings. Statues and mural paintings in the caves depict the life story and teachings of Lord Buddha.
- Ellora caves: Ellora caves are also a UNESCO World Heritage site. These caves date back to 16 th century. The caves house 34 temples and monasteries, and have a rich historical past.
- Bibi ka maqbara: Also called as ‘taj of deccan’ and ‘tomb of the lady’, Bibi ka maqbara is a replica of Taj Mahal.
- Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple: Built completely in red rocks, Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple is situated in Verul village.
- Panchakki mill: In the 17 th century, Panchakki mill was set up by Baba Shah Musafir to grind flour for saints and pilgrims. It is an engineering masterpiece.
- Sunheri mahal: it is an historical site and name ‘sunheri’ because of the golden paintings hung in the palace.
Everyone must visit this state at least once it life to witness both its glorious past and its glamorous present. The states is buzzing with people from all walks of life, and dazzling with vibrancy in spirit, colour and diversity.