Maharashtra is bordered on the northwest by Gujarat, on the north northeast by Madhya Pradesh, on the east by Andhra Pradesh, on the south by Karnatka and on the west by the Arabian sea. The state came into being in May 1960 when the former Mumbai state was recognised, with part forming Maharashtra state the remainder becoming Gujarat state. It has an area of 307,713 sq km. The capital of Maharashtra is Mumbai (population, 1991, greater city 12,596,243).
Running parallel to the seacoast of the state are the Western Ghats, a highland area with elevations of about 2,134 mtr. Between this area the Arabian Sea is a narrow strip of land known as the Konkan. Inland is a large plateau crossed by a number of rivers, notably the Krishna, Bhima, Godavari. In adition to Mumbai, there are several other major cities, including Jalgaon, Chandrapur, Ichalkaranji Pune. Maharashtra is one of the India's leading states in terms of agricultural, industrial production. The chief crops include rice, wheat, jowar, bajra, sugarcane, groundnuts, cotton. Livestock raised include buffalo other cattle, sheep, goats, poultry. Industry is concentrated mainly in Mumbai & Pune. Industries include cotton-wool-textiles, electrical machinery, mechanical engineering, electronics, transport, the production of sugar, industrial alcohol, chemicals, food etc.
Within it compass of mountains plains, seacoast valleys, Maharashtra has innumerable tourist attractions-scenic grandeur, beauty spots, hill resorts, in immensely rich heritage of art, architecture sculpture, vast forests with wild life.
Early in the 19th century a party of British officers scrambling over the thickly wooded slopes of the Sahyadri hills discovered these caves buried under debris and screened by foilage. Strung out in a sweeping horseshoe shape in an inner fold of the hills, the caves were a secluded retreat for Buddhist monastic orders and yet offered easy access to the trade routes that swung past here to the coast. With little more than hammer and chisel but with a deep faith inspiring them, these simple monks excavated chaityas, chapels for prayer and viharas, monasteries where they lived and taught and carried out ritual performances. The 29 caves at Ajanta, some unfinished, span a period of 800 years and contain numerous images of Lord Buddha. They depict the story of Buddhism, spanning the period from 200 BC to 650 BC.
Cave 1 houses some of the most well preserved wall paintings which include two great Bodhisattvas, Padniapani and Avaloketeshwara. Cave 2, 16 and 17 also contain amazing paintings, while caves. 1, 4, 17, 19, 24 and 26 boasts of some of the most divine sculptures. The flying Apsara of cave 17 and. the image of Buddha preaching in cave 17, and a couple of unforgettable works of art.
In their range of times and treatment the paintings of Ajanta are a panorama of life in ancient India.
Named after the last Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, this place offers an experience of timeless art and culture. It was known as ' khirki' (window) earlier due to its vital position that outfitted a window vista of Deccan Plateau.
Aurangabad is located in the northern part of the state of Maharashtra. Situated on the banks of the Kham River, this historical city is famous for its medieval monuments and cultural heritage. It is better known as the gateway to the ancient caves of Ajanta and Ellora.
Aurangabad was an important seat of the Mughal Empire for a short period. Thus, the city has many monuments speaking volumes about the grandeur of the Mughal architecture. There are many Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu temples also in this region.
The cave temples and monasteries at Ellora, excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment, are 26 km north of Aurangabad. Extending in a linear arrangement, the 34 caves. contain Buddhist Chaityas, or halls of worship, and Viharas, or monasteries, Hindu and Jain temples. Spanning a period of about 600 years between the 5th and 11 th centuries. AD. , the earliest excavation here is of the Dhumar Lena (Cave 29). The sculpture in the Buddhist caves accurately convey the nobility, grace and serenity inherent in the Buddha. Caves 6 and 10 houses images from the Buddhist and Hindu faith, under the same roof, the latter dedicated to Vashwakarma, the patron saint of Indian craftsmen. The Vishvakarma cave is both a Chaitya and a Vihara, with a seated Buddha placed in the stupa. Its two-storied structure sports a colourful pageant of dwarfs, dancing and making music. The Kailasa temple in cave 16 is an architectural wonder, the entire structure having been carved out of a monolith, the process taking over a century to finish. This mountain-abode of Lord Shiva is in all probability , the world' s largest monolith, the gateway, pavilion, assembly hall sanctum and tower, all hewn out of a single rock. The Jain caves are about a mile away from the Kailasa temple, amongst which cave 32, houses a beautiful shrine adorned with fine carvings of a lotus flower on the roof, and a yakshini on a lion under a mango tree, while cave 32 and 34 contain grand statues of Parasnath. The other lain caves sport the images of Tirthankaras and one of them, also has a figure of Mahavira.
Kolhapur is located on the Panchganga river nestling along the Sahyadi ranges surrounded by hillocks and fortresses. Woven around the temple of Goddess Mahalakshmi built in the 9th century. There is a fable which recalls the Puranic past. Some verses in the Puranas suggest that the city is spiritually vibrant as Lord Mahadeva, dwells here in the form of water, Lord Vishnu in the form of rocks, goddesses in the form of trees and seers in the form of sand.
Chatrapati Shahu Maharaja's reign lent a progressive spirit to the city and the King extended his patronage to arts like theatre, music, painting sculptures, wrestling and crafts like tanning and Jewellery making.
This popular hill station was the summer capital of the Bombay presidency during the days of the Raj. At an altitude of 1372 metres, Mahabaleshwar has pleasant walks and good lookouts and the area has interesting historical connections with Shivaji. The station was founded in 1828 by sir John Malcolm.
Venna lake, within Mahabaleshwar, has boating and fishing facilities. In the village of Old Mahabaleshwar there are three old temples, although they are badly ruined. The Krishnabai or Panchganga ( five streams) temple is said to contain five streams, including in Krishna river.
Mumbai is home to people of all Indian creeds and cultures, a fascinating city, throbbing with life and for many people 'GATEWAY TO INDIA' .Mumbai is a group of seven islands (Colaba, Mahim Mazgaon, Parel, Worli, Girgaum and Dongri) whose inhabitants, the Kolis have given the city its Indian name Mumbai, after their Goddess, Mother Mumba Aai. The early Hindu rulers were conquered by Sultans of Gujarat who were later superseded by the Portuguese. The British, who followed, received these seven islands as a dowry when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza. The British in turn leased them to East India Company. A far sighted President of the company, the real founder of the present city , was Gerald Aungier. He invited Hindu and Parsi merchants from Gujarat to come to Bombay and develop it, giving them all help and city never looked back.
Situated on the Nag River from which the town takes its name, Nagpur is the orange growing capital of India. Long ago it was a center for the aboriginal Gond tribes who remained in power until the early 18th century. It is an important rail junction, a leading industrial center, with factories manufacturing cotton textiles, textile machinery, dyes and paper products.
Nasik is a bustling township with an interesting blend of the ancient and the modern. Mythology has it that Lord Rama, had made Nasik his temporary abode during the 14 years of his exile. The renowned poets Valmiki, Kalidas and Bhavbhooti have paid rich tributes to Nasik in their works. Nasik has always been the epic centre of commerce and trade. Ptolemy, the famous philosopher has made a mention of Nasik in 150 BC, leading researchers to believe that it was probably the country's largest market place. From 1487 AD this prosperous province came under the rule of the Mughals and was known as Gulchnabad. Emperor Akbar lived in Nasik and has written extensively about it in Ein-e-Akbari. During the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Nasik was known as the 'LAND OF THE BRAVE'.
Pune was home for a long time to the Maratha leader Shivaji.It later became capital of the Peshwas. The British capture the city after the battle of Koregaon in 1818 AD.
One of the city's most famous residents was the self proclaimed Guru, Bhagwan Rajneesh, later known as Osho. Although he died in 1990, the ashram he had set up in Pune still attracts thousands of devotees, sightseers, curious onlookers despite lot of controversy.
Lonavala & Khandala
Lonavala and Khandala are two charming little hill stations on the western slopes of the Sahyadris, 5-km apart, that straddle the Mumbai - Pune highway at an altitude of 625m, quite popular as health resorts. Blessed by the nature in bounty, the hill resorts have plethora of places of Tourist Attraction in Lonavala & Khandala - Beautiful Hills, Deep Green Valleys, Huge Lakes, Historic Forts, Waterfalls, etc.
Lonavala and Khandala offer breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls during the monsoon, and the surrounding mountains of the plains spread out to the horizon. A trip to these holiday resorts can be combined with that on the Karla, Bhaja, and Bedsa caves, which are very near from Lonavala.