MAHARASHTRA is India's third largest state in terms of area and second largest in terms of population after Uttar Pradesh. Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra as well as commercial capital and largest city of India.
Maharashtra is bordered by Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa states and Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. On the western coast of Maharashtra there is Arabian Sea.
In Rig Veda, Maharashtra was known as Rashtra, In Ashoka's inscriptions it was Rashtrik, and afterwards it was known as Maharashtra, as attested by Huein-Tsang and other travellers. The name Maharashtra appears to have been derived from Maharashtri, in an old form of Prakrit, an ancient Indian language.
Maharashtra came under Islamic influence for the first time after the Delhi Sultanate rulers Ala-ud-din Khalji, and later Muhammad bin Tughluq appropriated parts of the Deccan in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Tughlaqs in 1347, the Bahmani Sultanate of Bijapur took over, governing the region for the next 150 years. By the 16th century, central Maharashtra was ruled by numerous autonomous Islamic kingdoms that owed allegiance to the Mughals, while coastal region was annexed by the Portuguese, in their quest to seize control of the spice trade.
By the early seventeenth century the Maratha Empire began to take root. The Marathas, native to western Maharashtra, were led by Chhatrapati Raje Shivaji Bhosale, who was crowned king in 1674.
Shivaji's son and successor, Sambhaji Bhosale was captured and executed by Aurangzeb, the Mughal in the late 1680s. The Mughals forced Sambhaji's younger brother, Rajaram Bhosale to flee into the Tamil-speaking countryside. He retreated to the Jinji Fort|great fortress of Jinji (sometimes anglicised to Ginjee) to barely recover in the early 18th century, in somewhat changed circumstances.
With the arrival and subsequent involvement of the British East India Company in Indian politics, the Marathas and the British fought the three Anglo-Maratha wars between 1777 and 1818, culminating in the annexation of Peshwa-ruled territory in Maharashtra in 1819, which heralded the end of the Maratha empire.
The British governed the region as part of the Bombay Presidency, which spanned an area from Karachi in Pakistan to most of the northern Deccan. A number of the Maratha states persisted as princely states, retaining local autonomy in return for acknowledging British sovereignty. The largest princely states in the territory of present-day Maharashtra were Nagpur, Satara and Kolhapur; Satara was annexed to Bombay Presidency in 1848, and Nagpur was annexed in 1853 to become Nagpur Province, later part of the Central Provinces. Berar, which had been part of the Nizam of Hyderabad's kingdom, was occupied by the British in 1853 and annexed to the Central Provinces in 1903. A large part of present day Maharashtra called Marathwada remained part of the Nizam's Hyderabad state during British rule.The British rule was marked by social reforms, an improvement in infrastructure as well revolts due to their discriminatory policies. At the beginning of the 20th century, A non-violent struggle started by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and later led by Mahatma Gandhi began to take shape. In 1942, the Quit India Movement was called by Mahatma Gandhi which was marked by a non-violent civil disobedience movement and strikes.
Finally, on 1st of May 1960, Maharashtra came into existence when Mumbai Presidency State was split into the new linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Maharashtra is divided into thirty-five districts, which are grouped into six divisions: Aurangabad Division, Amravati Division, Konkan Division, Nagpur Division, Nashik Division, and Pune Division. These are official revenue divisions of government of Maharashtra.
Geographically, historically and according to political sentiments Maharashtra has five main regions: Vidarbha or Berar (Nagpur and Amravati divisions), Marathwada (Aurangabad Division), Khandesh and Northern Maharashtra (Nashik Division), Desh or Western Maharashtra (Pune Division), and Konkan (Konkan Division).
The Indian Railways covers most of the Maharashtra and is the preferred mode of transport over long distances. Almost the entire state comes under the Central Railways branch which is headquartered in Mumbai. Most of the coast south of Mumbai comes under the Konkan Railway. Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation buses, popularly called ST or MSRTC, link most of the towns and villages and have a large network of operation. These buses, run by the state government are the preferred mode of transport for much of its populace. In addition to the government run buses, private run luxury buses are also a popular mode of transport between major towns.
Mumbai has the biggest international airport in Maharashtra. Nagpur is the second city having an international airport. It has regular flights to Sharjah and Bangkok besides large number of domestic connections. Pune has a limited capacity international airport with flights to Dubai and Singapore. Other large towns such as Aurangabad, Ratnagiri, Kolhapur and Nashik are served by domestic airlines. Ferry services also operate near the capital, linking the city to neighbouring coastal towns.
Maharashtra has three major ports at Mumbai (operated by the Mumbai Port Trust), the JNPT lying across the Mumbai harbour in Nhava Sheva, and in Ratnagiri, which handles the export of ores mined in the Maharastra hinterland.
Hindus form the majority of Maharashtra population & the culture of Maharashtra reflects that. There are many temples in Maharashtra some of them being hundreds of years old. These temples are constructed in a fusion of architectural styles from borrowed from North and South India.
The folk music of Maharashtra is of various types like Gondhal, Lavani, Bharud, Powada, etc.
One of the earliest instances of Marathi literature is by Dnyaneshwar with his Bhawarthadeepika (popularly known as Dnyaneshwari). The religious songs called bhajans by saints like Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram, Namdev are very poular. Modern Marathi literature has its share of great poets and authors. P. L. Deshpande, Kusumagraj, Prahlad Keshav Atre, Vyankatesh Madgulkar are a few of them. A large number of books are published every year in Marathi.
Women traditionally wears a nine yard sari and men a dhoti or pajama with a shirt. This, however, is changing with women ine urban Maharashtra wearing Punjabi dresses, consisting of a Salwar and a Kurta while men wear trousers and a shirt.
As in all of India, Cricket is widely followed and played. Kabaddi is also played. Childrenís games include Viti-Dandu (Gilli-danda in Hindi) and Pahkada-pakadi (Tag).
Hindus in Maharashtra follow the Saka era calendar. Gudi Padwa, Diwali, Rangapanchami, Gokulashtami and Ganeshotsav are some of the festivals that are celebrated in Maharashtra. Ganeshotsav is the biggest festival of Maharashtra which is celebrated with much reverence and festivity throughout the state and has since some time become popular all over the country. The festival which continues over ten days is in honour of Ganesha the God of learning and knowledge.
There are lots of tourist places in Maharashtra. Donít forget to see those places in other regions of Maharashtra.