Maharashtra, literally means ‘The Great Land’. As the name
itself suggests, Maharashtra has a great diversity of riches
to offer. The World Heritage listed cave temples of Ellora
and Ajanta rank among the world’s most stunning feats of art
and architecture. Popular hill stations like Mahabaleshwar,
Lonavala and Khandala in Maharashtra are endowed with
abundant natural beauty and attract many tourists every
year. It’s booming capital Mumbai, makes it not only one of
the most important states economically, but also a major
gateway for overseas visitors.
Located in the northern center of peninsular India, the
state of Maharashtra consists of the high Deccan plateau,
which is separated from the straight Konkan coastline by the
Ghats. One of the three major regions of the state is the
Sahyadri range with an elevation of 1000m. Lying between the
Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri Range, Konkan is a narrow
coastal lowland, just about 50km wide and with an elevation
below 200m. The third important region is the Satpura hills
along the northern border, and the
Bhamragad-Chiroli-Gaikhuri ranges on the eastern border form
physical barriers preventing easy movement. These ranges
also serve as natural limits to the state.
During third and fourth centuries BC, the region of Konkan
remained under the control of the Mauryans, whose policies
led to great advancement in the fields of trade and Buddhist
learning in the region. Then the Satvahanas came to rule
this region, who were the creators of Maharashtra and have
left a plethora of literary, epigraphic, artistic and
archaeological evidence. In succession came the great rulers
of the Vakataka, Chalukya, and Rashtrakuta empires making
Maharashtra a great center of culture and art. Yadavas were
the last of these kingdoms that lost their power and a long
period of Muslim rule started here. From the middle of the
17th century, a new group of warrior people came to dominate
the scene in Maharashtra and elsewhere in India called
Marathas. It was only after defeating the Marathas that the
English could establish their control on India.
The glittering and bustling city of Mumbai is the largest
metropolis as well as the financial, commercial, industrial
and celluloid capital of India. It is the cosmopolitan city
with the potpourri of cultures and glamour. Mumbai is also
the capital of Maharashtra, and is the hub of cinema and
film industry; the Indian Hollywood, which is known as
Mumbai was initially a cluster of seven islands of Colaba,
Mumbai, Mazagaon, Old Woman's island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel
and Matunga Sion, inhabited by the Koli fishing community.
It became an important trading center and port city after
the English King Charles II gave it to the East India
Company in 1668. The islands were named 'Bombay' by the
Portuguese meaning 'good bay' in Portuguese. In 1996, it was
officially renamed Mumbai, the name being derived from
Mumbadevi, the goddess of the Kolis.
The islands were earlier ruled by a succession of Hindu
dynasties, invaded by Muslims in the 14th century, and then
ceded to Portugal by the sultan of Gujarat in 1534. In 1662,
these islands were given to the English King Charles the
Second, as a part of the wedding dowry for the Portuguese
princess, Catherine of Braganza. In 1668, Bombay was given
to the East India Company. In the 18th century, the city
grew into a major port with the shifting of the shipbuilding
industry to Bombay from Surat. Bombay played a formative
role in the struggle for Independence, hosting the first
Indian National Congress in 1885 and the launch of the Quit
India Movement in 1942. Bombay later became the capital of
the state of Mahrashtra. Mumbai as it is called today offers
a beautiful range of attractions for its visitors. From
nature lovers to science freaks to the common tourists, the
city of dreams Mumbai, has something special to offer to
Mumbai is located on India's central-western coast along the
Arabian Sea. The city developed for 150 years in isolation
from its hinterland and still seems to belong in a different
world, to the huge predominantly Hindu state of Maharashtra,
which encompasses a 500km coastal strip, a portion of the
Western Ghats and a significant part of the Deccan plateau.
Colaba: Every visitor to Mumbai comes to look at the
exaggerated colonial marker known as the Gateway of India, a
yellow basalt arch of triumph officially 'opened' in 1924.
The Gateway of India is a historical gateway built in
British style. This is an exaggerated colonial marker
conceived after the visit of King George V in 1911.
Prince of Wales Museum: Prince of Wales Museum is
designed in the Indo-Saracenic style. It is one of the
finest buildings constructed during British rule. Prince of
Wales museum was constructed in honour of the Prince of
Wales on his first visit to India.
Mahalaxmi Temple: One of the famous temples of
Mumbai, Mahalaxmi temple is devoted to the Goddess of
wealth, Mahalaxmi. Idols of Hindu goddesses; Mahalaxmi,
Mahasaraswati and Mahakali are also situated in the temple.
Tomb of Haji Ali: The Mosque at the tomb of Haji Ali
is a magnificent piece of architecture standing on an
island. Hundreds of devotees arrive everyday to pay homage
to the saint, Haji Ali.
Marine Drive: Built on land reclaimed from Back Bay
in 1920, Marine Drive runs along the shoreline of the
Arabian Sea from Nariman Point past Chowpatty Beach to the
foot of Malabar Hill. It's one of Mumbai's most popular
promenades and a favourite sunset-watching spot. It is also
called the Queen's Necklace because of the dramatic curve of
its streetlights at night.
Chowpatty Beach: Chowpatty is a famous beach that
offers fun activities such pony rides, acrobatic
performances, food and juice stalls etc; together with a
wonderful view of the coast. Chowpatty beach holds a special
attraction both for tourists as well as for local people.
The attraction of Chowpatty enhances many folds during
Maharashtra's most famous festival of Ganesh Chatturthi.
Images of lord Ganesh, the elephant headed god, is paraded
through the city streets and immersed in the sea.
Kalbadevi Bazaar: Trip to Mumbai is incomplete
without a visit into the bazaars of Kalbadevi, north of
Crawford Market. The narrow lanes of this predominantly
Muslim area are hemmed in by laundry-draped chawls, and
seething mass of people that often bring Mumbai's traffic to
a standstill. It's in complete contrast to the relative
space, orderliness and modernity of South Mumbai. Apart from
the shopping opportunities, this area is also home to the
Jama Masjid and the Mumbadevi Temple dedicated to the patron
goddess of the island's original Koli inhabitants.
Juhu beach: Located 18 km north of the city centre, it's a
major beach site on the shores of the Arabian Sea and is one
of the posh localities of Mumbai where one can find the
ostentatious bungalows of famous film personalities of
Bollywood. It's also a favourite film-shooting site among
the filmmakers as many film shootings are often held here.
Located in Sahyadri hills near the west coast of India, Pune
is a fascinating city with a healthy climate all year
around. Pune is the second largest city of Maharashtra and
was home for a long time to the Maratha leader, Shivaji.
The most important landmark of Pune is the residence of the
self-proclaimed guru, Bhagwan Rajneesh, also known as Osho.
The ashram in Pune still attracts thousands of devotees from
around the world. Other tourist spots in the city are the
Shaniwara Wada Palace and Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. The
Tribal museum in Pune is an excellent museum which documents
the cultures of Maharashtran tribal communities from
Sahyadri and Gondwana regions. It also displays a vibrant
collection of festival masks, paintings and other absorbing
relics. The Gandhi National memorial in the Aga Khan palace
is also an important landmark of Pune. The 8th century
rock-cut temple, the Pataleshvara temple on a hill a little
outside town is one of the most popular temples, dedicated
to goddess Parvati. There is a famous Muslim shrine, the
Qamarali Darvesh that has a stone that is reputed to
The city of Aurangabad is famous for its ancient monuments
and cultural heritage. Owing to its proximity with world
heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora, Aurangabad has a great
importance. It is the gateway to these world heritage caves.
These sites have Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples. The city
boasts of Bibi-ka-Makbara, a tomb that has some resemblance
to the Taj Mahal.
Aurangabad has played an important role in the history of
medieval India by virtue of being strategically located at
the intersection of North and South India. The heritage of
Aurangabad is linked with different Muslim rulers and
dynasties of India. The city was founded in 1610 AD, on the
site of a village named Khirki, by a local Muslim noble
Malik Ambar. His son Fateh Khan ruled it and named the city
as Fatehpur in 1626 AD. Aurangzeb, the last great Mughal
ruler, took over this city in 1653 AD and renamed it as
Aurangabad. Due to its strategic location in peninsular
India, he made Aurangabad his capital. He used this city as
a base to defeat the rising power of the Marathas.
The Aurangzeb caves situated near Bibi-ka-Makbara are among
the most important tourist destinations in Aurangabad.
According to archaeological evidence, these caves belong to
the Buddhist period and believed to have been constructed
before 11th century.
Ajanta & Ellora caves: Spectacular rock cut caves and cave
paintings exist at two nearby places, Ajanta and Ellora. The
site of the Ajanta caves is located 105 km northeast of
Aurangabad. The 29 caves are built in a horseshoe shaped
curve of the steep rocky gorge that rises above the river
Waghore. These caves were built as secluded retreats of the
Buddhist monks, who taught and performed rituals in the
Chaityas and Viharas, the ancient seats of learning, and
nerve centre of the Buddhist cultural movement. The Ajanta
caves dating from 200 BC to 650 AD are also famous for their
well-preserved frescoes (wall paintings), which vividly
depict the lifestyle of that period.
The Ellora caves, 34 in number, are carved into the sides of
a basaltic hill. Located 30 km northwest from Aurangabad,
these caves are famed for their sculptures. These structures
representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and
Jainism, were carved during the 350 AD to 700 AD period. The
12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre
dedicated to Hinduism, and 5 caves to the north are Jain.
Jain cave is very famous for its Yakshi statue. The Buddhist
Vishwakarma chaitya is another important site.
Bibi ka Maqbara: Another historic tourist destination
in Aurangabad, Bibi ka Maqbara is a mausoleum that was
constructed by Aurangzeb for his wife Rabia Durani. This
mausoleum is also termed as the 'poor man's Taj' owing to it
being a poor replica of the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. This
Maqbara is set in the midst of spacious and manicured lawns
decorated with fountains, pavilions and pathways.
Panchakki: Basically an ancient water mill, a mosque
is located inside the main enclosure. The entire area is
ornamented with dancing fountains.
Shani Shignapur: Located at a distance of 68kms from
Aurangabad, this village is popular for the ancient temple
dedicated to the Hindu deity Shani. An interesting feature
of this village is that not a single door, whether of homes
or of commercial complexes has locks.
Rock-cut structures are one of the most primitive forms of
architecture found in several parts of India. The Karla
caves in Maharashtra, built by Buddhist monks, are one of
the finest examples of this architecture. The caves are high
on the surrounding hills. They were selected in accordance
with the Buddhist prescription that the holy man should live
neither too near nor too far from human habitation. Not too
near to be distracted, nor too far to make begging rounds
impractical or to put the monks out of reach of people.
Nestling in the curvaceous mountain ranges of the western
ghats of Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar is situated at an
altitude of 1372m. It is a paradise for nature explorers and
peace lovers. Mahabaleshwar derives its name from the
presiding deity "Mahabali" whose shrine at the old
Mahabaleshwar Temple is a major attraction. Overlooking the
Krishna and Koyna valleys, Mahabaleshwar, opens up a whole
world of picturesque delight. A number of vantage points,
excellent views, pretty waterfalls and a lake with boating
and fishing facilities are some of its major attractions.
Panchgani is a picturesque little town near Mahabaleshwar in
the shade of groves of casuarinas and silver oak. Protected
from harsh winds by a tableland on one side and high cliffs
descending into a valley on the other, Panchgani has a
pleasant, bracing climate throughout the year. The hill
resort derives its name from the five hills that surround
it. Flocked by viewpoints, Panchgani is full of wonders, as
it overlooks the scenic magnificence of the Krishna Valley,
which extends many kilometers from east to west its numerous
hamlets, cultivated fields and sparkling rivers.
Situated 101km southeast of Mumbai, Khandala, a small hill
station offers a panoramic view of the lush green hilly
environs. Khandala is one of the important hill stations in
the state of Maharashtra and is the pride of the Sahyadri
Mountains. The place endowed with abundant natural beauty
and like Lonavala. Khandala is set amongst the hills and
valleys of the Sahyadri mountain range.