Maharashtra is a state in the western peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. It occupies the western and central part of the country and has a long coastline stretching along the Arabian Sea. The state has a well- developed social, physical and industrial infrastructure. Apart from 16 airports, the state has two major and 48 minor ports.
Maharashtra's infrastructure sector has grown significantly over the last decade, with a substantial rise in the number of industrial clusters and public-private partnership (PPP) projects. Apart from being a rich state as per all the major economic parameters, Maharashtra contributes in a large way to the national economy with a share of 15% in the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
The history of Maharashtra is rich with some of the greatest kings having ruled this region, leaving behind some of the greatest traces of cultural heritage. 350 forts in Maharashtra- depicting its historic past as strongholds against invading armies - stand testimony to its historical past. Each fort marks a military triumph, and each tells a story of strategy, warfare, intrigue and planning. All of them reconstruct the tale of their enterprising leader, Chhatrapati Shivaji, who went on to become one of the tallest kings in Indian history.
Maharashtra is also famous for its caves and rock-cut architecture, as in the Ajanta and Ellora caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Some temples in Maharashtra are architectural marvels and over 1000 years old. Maharashtra is home to several national parks with a large percentage of its forests and wildlife lying along the Western Ghats.
Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, is not only seen globally as the financial capital of India, but is literally the ‘Gateway of India’ which is secular, progressive and yet rooted in its culture. Home to the largest film industry in the world, Bollywood, thousands throng to the city each year, hoping to make their fortune in the city of tinsel and glamour. Maharashtra is known for its purogami (forward) culture. To know Maharashtra is to experience its diversity, rich with colourful sub cultures, all interwoven into one gigantic quilt.
Maharashtra is blessed with an abundance of natural wealth and cultural heritage. Food is an integral part of Maharashtra’s cultural heritage. The staple diet of Maharashtra includes wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, vegetables, lentils and fruit. The diet is rich in carbohydrates as traditionally the citizens were occupied in labor-intensive jobs like farming.
The food of Maharashtra spans the culinary palate with flavours from sweet to mildly spicy and spicy. Some of the traditional dishes like vada pav, pav bhaji, misal pav and pooran poli have become famous throughout the world. Shrikhand, yet another popular dish is said to have originated in Maharashtra. A gourmet’s delight, Maharashtra offers a variety of cuisine which spans the traditional to the modern.
The official language of Maharashtra is Marathi. While Marathi is popularly spoken in the state, other languages popularly spoken include Konkani, Hindi, Gujarati, English and other dialects/languages. Cities in Maharashtra are mostly metropolitan with a blend of cultures and will usually use English as their official academic and business language. Most of the people in Maharashtra are multilingual and usually speak both Marathi and Hindi.
The folk dances of Maharashtra include the famous Koli, Powada, Banjara Holi and Lavani dances. The Powada dance form portrays the achievements of Chhatrapati Shivaji and the different Maratha warriors. Koli music and dance originated from the fishermen community for their entertainment while the Lavani dance showcases socio cultural themes including romance, politics, tragedy and social evils.
Festivals like Nag Panchami, Ganesh Chathurthi, Gokul Ashtami, Makar Sankranti, Gudi Padwa, Bhau Beej, Narali Pournima and Shivaji Jayanti have originated in Maharashtra. Nag Panchami is devoted to the Snake God while Ganesh Chathurthi is an eleven-day long festival in honour of Lord Ganesh.
Traditionally, the occupation of the majority in Maharashtra was agriculture. Folks near the coastal region were involved in fishing activities. Over the years, many places have developed and industrialised, giving rise to various business and job opportunities for people from around India.
Gateway of India, the Sea Link, Siddhivinayak temple, the dargah (tomb) of Pir Haji Ali Shah, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Marine Drive in Mumbai; Sai Baba Temple in Shirdi; Mahalaxmi Temple in Kolhapur; Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple in Nashik, Mahabaleshwar hill station; and the Bibi ka Maqbara, Ajanta and Ellora caves in Aurangabad are a few of the famous places that attract large number of tourists.
Gateway of India, Mumbai
‘Pratapgad’ Fort, Satara
‘Bibi Ka Muqbara’, Aurangabad
Ajanta and Ellora’ Caves, Aurangabad