Monday, January 10, 2011

Maharashtra


Maharashtra  is a state located in West India. The word Maharashtra comes from Sanskrit words Maha meaning Great and Rashtra meaning Nation, thus rendering the name Maharashtra . It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India. It is the richest state in India, contributing to 15% of the country's industrial output and 13.2% of itsGDP in 2005-06.

Maharashtra is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Gujarat and the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Havelito the northwest, Madhya Pradesh to the northeast, Chhattisgarh to the east, Karnataka to the south, Andhra Pradesh to the southeast, and Goa to the southwest. The state covers an area of 307,731 km2 (118,816 sq mi) or 9.84% of the total geographical area of India. Mumbai, the capital city of the state, is India's largest city and the financial capital of the nation. Marathi is the language of Maharashtra.

In the 17th century, the Marathas rose under the leadership of Chhatrapati Shivaji against the Mughals who were ruling a large part of India. By 1760, Maratha power had reached its zenith with a territory of over 250 million acres(1 million km²) or one-third of the Indian sub-continent. After the third Anglo-Maratha war, the empire ended and most of Maharashtra became part of Bombay state under a British Raj. After Indian independence, Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti demanded unification of all Marathi speaking regions under one state. At that time Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was of opinion that linguistic reorganizaion of states should be done with - "One state - One language" principle and not with "One language - One state" principle. He submitted a memorandum to the reorganization commission stating that, " Single Government can not administer such a huge state as United Maharashtra". The first state reorganization committee created the current Maharashtra state on 1 May 1960 (known as Maharashtra Day). The Marathi-speaking areas of Bombay state, Deccan states and Vidarbha (which was part of Central Provinces and Berar) united, under the agreement known as Nagpur Pact, to form the current state.


History

Early History

Although some Paleolithic remains have been discovered, Maharashtra enters recorded history in the second century BC, with the construction of its first Buddhist caves. These lay, and still lie, in peaceful places of great natural beauty, but could never have been created without the wealth generated by the nearby caravan trade routes between north and south India.

Origins
The name Maharashtra first appeared in a 7th century inscription and in a Chinese traveler's account. Its name may have originated from rathi, meaning "chariot driver" and referring to builders and drivers of chariots who formed a maharathis, a "fighting force." This region seems to have attained prominence as early as 90 A.D., when king Vedishri made Junnar the capital of his kingdom, thirty miles north of Pune. For the 900 years ending in the early fourteenth century, with the overthrow of the Devgiri Yadavs by the northern Muslim powers, no historical information in this region is available. In 1526, first Mughal king, Babar, established his prominanace in Delhi and soon the Mughal power spread to the southern India. The Mughals were to dominate India till the early eighteenth century.

Poet-Saints


The regions's first Hindu rulers, based in Badami, appeared during the sixth century, but the eighth-century Rashtrakutas achieved a greater authority. Buddhism was almost entirely supplanted throughout the entire country by the twelfth century, in what has been characterized as a peaceful popular revolution attributable largely to the popular poet-saints. Maharashtra was one of the main channels that helped the emotional and emotional bhakti school of Hinduism spread from southern to northern India, thanks here to work of Jnanesvara (1271-1296) whose commentary on the Bhagwad Gita, the Jnanesvari, was significantly written in the day-to-day spoken language, Marathi, as opposed to classical Sanskrit. The most famous of his contemporary poet-saints was the tailor Namdev (1270-1350), whose passionate devotional hymns caught the popular imagination. The tradition they established continued to flourish, even when forced underground by Islam, reaching its zenith in the simple faith of the anguished Tukaram (1598-1650), whose wife and son died in a famine, and Ramdas, the "Servant of Rama" (1608-1681). Ramdas, both ascetic and political activist, provided the philosophical underpinning behind the campaigns of Maharashtra's greatest warrior, Shivaji.


The Maratha Reign


In the sixteenth century, regional Muslim powers like Nizamshahi, Adilshahi, and Qutubshahi established their prominence in the Deccan region. They basically served the Mughal empire but were autonomous to an extent. One of them, Nizamshahi was located in Ahmednagar, a town 95 miles east of Pune. Maloji Bhosle, Grandfather of Shivaji served for the Nizam as a Sardar. In 1595, Bahadur Nizam II honored him as 'Raja' for his courage in a battle with Mughals and gave him the estates of Pune and the fort of Chakan, near Pune. This is generally considered as the starting point of the Maratha history.

The Reign of Shivaji (1627 - 1680)

Shivaji Bhosle, founder of the Maratha empire, was born in 1627, in the fort of Shivneri, 40 miles north of Pune. In 1629, Shivaji's father Shahaji, who had succeeded his father Maloji, in Pune and Chakan, disengaged himself from the service of the Nizamshahi. Consequently, in 1635 the Nizam's army attacked Pune. Shahaji surrendered and his estates were returned to him. Soon, Shahaji put Dadaji Kondadev in charge of Pune,and as a caretaker for the Shivaji while he joined the Adilshahi in Vijapur, aprox. 400 miles south of Pune, which was soon to emerge as the most important power in the region as the other local powers slowly diminished.

In Pune, Dadoji built a palace 'Lal Mahal', for Shivaji and his mother Jijabai. At the age of sixteen (1643 AD), Shivaji took great delight in stirring up his friends' hopes and nursed the thought of becoming independent. He took the oath to make the land free at the fort Torna at the age of sixteen. This was the start of his lifelong struggle against Mughals and other Muslim powers. By 1647, Shivaji had captured two forts and had the complete charge of Pune. In 1657, he committed his first act of hostility against the Adilshahi by plundering a large booty in Ahmednagar. Thus, began a sequence of attacks on the Adilshahi.He slowly started capturing forts in the region, Purandar, Rajgad, Torna being most notable of his first achievements.

Disturbed by his continuing success, Adilshahi sent a famous Sardar, 'Afzalkhan' to destroy Shivaji. Afzalkhan knew that Shivaji's army, which was much smaller than his huge force would be unable to fight him on open land. He tried all the tricks in the book to make him fight on plains, but Shivaji was no less clever. He convinced Khan that he was very much afraid of him and requested him for a meeting at a place near Vai ( 100 miles south of Pune) which was densely wooded, mountainous region, and ideal for his army to fight. Khan still had plans to kill him in the meeting and Shivaji knew it well. Ultimately it was Khan who was killed and his unsuspecting army was completed washed out by Shivaji. After this, Shivaji went on a winning spree and spread his reach till Panhala near Kolhapur.

Meanwhile, Aurangzeb got concerned by Shivaji's rise to power. It was now clear that local Muslim Powers were unable to stop him. So he sent a huge Army, led by Mirzaraje Jaisingh to defeat Shivaji(1666). Jaising's army was much stronger than Shivaji and soon he lost most of his important forts. Realising that he was fighting a losing battle, he signed a treaty with Mirza and agreed to serve Aurangzeb, his young son, Sambhaji being made a sardar. He went to Delhi with Mirza to meet Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb gave a humiliating treatment to Shivaji and soon put him under house imprisonment under some excuse. It looked certain that Shivaji will be killed sooner or later by Aurangzeb. But this was not to happen, fortunately, for Maratha kingdom. Shivaji made a clever plot to escape and escaped with Sambhaji to south.

After this turning point, Shivaji never looked back and slowly regained his lost glory. By 1673, he had control over most of western Maharashtra and had made 'Raigad' ( Dist. Raigad , 150 miles southwest of Pune) his capital. He was ceremeniously enthroned as a sovereign king in 1673. By 1680, the year of Shivaji's death, nearly whole of the Deccan belonged to his kingdom. He had developed an efficient administration and a powerful army. He also encouraged a spirit of independence among the Marathas that enabled them to withstand for 150 years all attempts to conquer them. Shivaji's achievements amongst monumental difficulties were really spectacular and that is why he holds the highest place in Maratha history.

The Period of Unstability - 1680 to 1707

Shivaji was succeeded by his son Sambhaji. He showed the same vigor as his father, but was taken prisoner and executed by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, in 1689. Rajaram, Sambhaji's younger brother then took the throne, since Sambhaji's son, Shahu was still a minor. The death of Rajaram in 1700 seemed to end the power of the Marathas, but Tarabai, the elder widow of Rajaram, put her young son Shahu on the throne, at the tender age of ten, and continued the struggle against Aurangzeb who had come to south with the sole purpose of destroying Maratha kingdom. Between 1700 and 1703, Aurangzeb captured the fort of Sinhagad, near Pune. During the siege, his son prince Muhuil-Mulk died; so Aurangzeb changed Pune's name to Muhiabad, in the prince's honor. Shahu continued to fight against the Mughals and captured Rajgad, the former capital of the Maratha territory. The fight against the Mughals ended with the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 which was another turning point in Maratha history. After Aurangzeb, Mughal power never regained its status as main power in India and Balance of power shifted towards Marathas, which was soon to be controlled by Peshwas.

The Peshwe Dynasty - 1712 to 1818 

Balaji Vishwanath - 1712 to 1721
In 1712, Shahu died of smallpox and his minister or peshwa, Balaji Vishwanath took over the throne.

Negotiations between the Mughal court of Delhi and Balaji Vishwanath enabled him to send a large Maratha delegation to Delhi to assist the Mughals. The year 1718 marked the beginning of the Maratha influence in Delhi, to which they remained closely acquainted, till 1803. Balaji Vishwanath's health had suffered considerably, and he died in 1721.

Bajirao Peshwa ( Pahila Bajirao ) - 1721 to 1740
Bajirao, his elder son was awarded the title of peshwa after the death of his father . It was Bajirao's dream to extend the Maratha empire to North India. By this time, Pune had regained its status as capital of Maratha Kingdom from Rajgad. Rajgad was made capital by Shivaji beacuse it was a safe place, high in the moutainous, wooded area. As Pune was in plains, it always had a threat. By 1720's, Maratha power was spreading in large areas and the threat of local battles fought over forts did not exist much. Pune remained the capital till the end of Maratha empire in 1818.

In 1734, Bajirao captured the Malwa territory in the north, and in 1739, his brother Chimnaji drove out the Portuguese from almost all their possessions in the northern Western Ghats. Bajirao diedi in 1740 and left three sons behind him. It was Bajirao who built the 'Shanivarwada', the residence and ruling place for the Peshwas.

Nanasaheb Peshwa - 1740 to 1761

Nanasaheb succeeded Bajirao as Peshwa in 1740. He had two brothers, Raghunathrao, who later betrayed the Marathas and joined hands with the British, and Janardan, who died in his early youth.

Nanasaheb was ambitious and a multifaceted person.In 1741, when his uncle Chimnaji died, he returned from the northern districts and spent nearly a year improving the civil administration of Pune. The period between 1741 and 1745 was of comparative calm in the Deccan. Nanasaheb encouraged agriculture, protected the villagers and brought about a marked improvement in the state of the territory.

The scene changed in 1751, when the Mughals, supported by the French, advanced towards Pune, totally destroying every village in their way. The Marathas fought with great determination, and nothing but the French artillery saved them from total defeat. In 1754, Raghunathrao, Nanasaheb's brother started on an expedition to conquer Gujarat, the state north of Bombay. In 1756, Nanasaheb marched south to attack Karnatak. In the meantime, news spread that the war had broken out between the English and the French, in Europe.

In 1756, the fall of the formidable navy formed by Shivaji gave British their chance to regain importance in the region. The navy was headed by Kanhoji Angre and its destruction was a cruical blow to Maratha sea power. It was a sad outcome of neglect of navy by Marathas which turned out to be a horrible mistake. Marathas never regained control of the sea after that.

In 1761, the Marathas were defeated at the third Battle of Panipat against Ahmadshah Abdali , a great warrior from Afganistan. Marathas were fighting to save Delhi Sultanat and consequently their power in the north. NajibUddowla was the person responsible for calling Abdali. 14th January, 1761 was the D-Day. This was a cruical blow to the rising Maratha power from which they never recovered. They lost more than 100,000 men and dozens of important Sardars in the battle. Nanasaheb Peshwe ( Balaji Bajirao ) lost his brother, Sadashivrao ( After whom the Sadashiv Peth in Pune is named ), and also his first son, Vishwasrao, in this battle. This news shattered Balaji Bajirao, who died shortly afterwards, in the temple on Parvati hill in Pune. The Maratha power was at the zenith of its glory during Balaji Bajirao's (also called Nana Saheb Peshwa) reign. It never fully recovered from the crushing defeat at Panipat.

'Thorale' Madhaorao Peshwa - 1761 to 1772

Madhavrao, his second son then took over, but had to constantly face administrative disputes with his uncle, Raghunathrao. Despite of this, he achieved many remarkable victories and restored the shattred Maratha kingdom to a large extent. His outstanding achievements included defeat of Nizam (Hyderabad), Hyder (Karnataka) and Bhosle of Nagpur. He also had to fight wars with Raghunathrao whose greed for power never waned. Ultimately, Madhavrao took Raghunathrao prisoner in 1768; the same year when the Nizam attacked Pune.He was eventually defeated. Madhavrao, also called 'Thorale'or Greatest Madhavrao, is entitled to special praise for supporting the poor and for his sense of justice. Ramshastri Prabhune, the chief justice, has become a legend for his work. The people who rose to power in his rule were Mahadji Shinde, Nana Phadnis and Haribhau Phadke who became the key figures in the power structure after his death. He took ill in 1771 and died in 1772 at an early age of 27, causing yet another blow to recovering Maratha power.

Narayanrao Peshwa - 1772 to 1773

Narayanrao, Balaji Bajirao's third son succeeded the throne at Shaniwarwada as the next Peshwa. He neither had the courage to take any bold decisions nor administrative skills and soon became very unpopular among the people. In 1773, Raghunathrao, who had been imprisoned by Madhavrao, in a room in the palace in Pune, escaped with the help of the Gardi people . Narayanrao was murdered at the Shaniwar wada , owing to a conspiracy by Anandibai, Raghunathrao's wife.

'Sawai' Madhaorao Peshwa - 1774 to 1795

Raghunathrao was proclaimed the next peshwa, although he was not heir to the title. Narayanrao's widow gave birth to a son, Sawai Madhavrao, who was legally the next peshwa. Raghunathrao tried to maintain his kingdom by signing treaties with the English , and relied on them for manpower in exchange for money and territory. However his plans did not succeed. Raghoba was displaced from power by a clever plot by the 12 Maratha sardar's " Barambhainche karasthaan" ( Plot by 12 people ) including Nana, Holkar, Phadke Shinde . Sawai Madhavrao was then 

declared the next Peshwa. As he was only one year old at that time, Nana Phadnis became the main administrator with Phadke,Shinde,Holkar taking care of Military duties. These people handled the Peshwai well and with great unity till the premature death of Sawai Madhaorao in 1795. They defeated the rising British Power in 1784, near Pune and halted their advancements, temporarily. Sawai Madhaorao's death was the last blow to the Maratha empire and all the unity among its leaders vanished after his death causing a downfall of Peshwai in a short time.

'Second' Bajirao Peshwa - 1795 to 1802

Raghunathrao died in 1782, leaving behind him, two sons; Bajirao, who in 1817 confronted the British at the Battle of Kirkee, in Pune; and the younger, Chimnaji Appa. Bajirao became the next Peshwa after Madhaorao's death. Nana was still the administrator and the Peshwai remained in stable condition till his death owing to his superb administrative skills. Nana died in 1800 and Pune fell into the hands of the Sindia's ( Shinde) ; the former chiefs of Nana's army. They remained in power for a short while and in 1802, Bajirao reestablished himself in Pune, by signing the treaty of Bassein with the British. This essentially ended Peshwai , establishing British supremacy in the region. The capturing of the Ahmednagar fort in 1803, proved British supremacy in the Deccan. In 1804, General Wellesly proclaimed the Deccan in a state of chaos, established military rule and the Peshwas remained rulers for name's sake.


The British Raj - 1818 to 1947

Towards the end of 1805 Sir James Mackintosh, the Chief Justice of Bombay (1804-1811), came from Bombay to visit Colonel Close, the Resident at Pune. The Residency on the 'Sangam'(confluence of the Mula and Mutha rivers) Mackintosh describes as a set of bungalows, fitted conveniently and luxuriously. Pune city had its principal streets paved with stone, and was reckoned one of the best built native towns in India. The Peshwa's residence, that is the Shaniwar wada, added to Pune's glory. Between 1805 and 1811, under Colonel Close and for a short while under Mr. Russel, affairs went smoothly in Pune.

In 1811, Mr. Russel was succeeded by Lord Mountstuart Elphinstone. Bajirao was very disloyal to the British, and in November of 1817, he declared war against them. This battle was fought at Kirkee, that is the Cantonment area, in the east of Pune. The Peshwa fled and the power of the country passed from the Peshwas to the British by 1819. The rest of the nineteenth century witnessed a few minor uprisings in and around Pune, but the British established their supremacy. As the Maratha's were the key power in India at this time, their fall clearly marked the begining of British Rule in India.

The first step towards establishing a municipal government in the city of Pune, was taken in 1856, when the Pune Municipality came into existence under the Act of 1850. The fact that Pune is not recognized as a major tourist center, is probably because it cannot boast of outstanding artistic specimens of architecture, like those of Delhi or Agra. Yet, it is rich in its associations with the past.

In the early 20th century, the whole of India was in revolt against the British; yearning for freedom. Mahatma Gandhi launched his movement of nonviolence, and people participated by the thousands in the 'Chale Jao' ('go away') struggle. Paradoxically, Pune witnessed violence when the Chaphekar brothers killed a British police officer by the name of Mr. Rand. On one hand, as the violence overrode the city, improvements were made in the education of women and the abolition of child labor. Independence was attained in 1947, but that was not the end of violence.

Modern Maharashtra - 1947 to Present

At Indian Independence in 1947, western Maharashtra and present-day Gujarat were joined as Bombay state. The eastern districts were then part of Hyderabad State, but were later added to Bombay in 1956. The present state was formed in 1960 when the Marathi and Gujarati linguistic areas of former Bombay state were separated. Bombay city became the capital of the new state. 


Geography



Located in the north centre of Peninsular India, with a command of the Arabian Sea through its port of Mumbai, Maharashtra has a remarkable physical homogeneity, enforced by its underlying geology. The Sahyadri Range is the physical backbone of Maharashtra. Rising on an average to an elevation of 1000m. it falls in steep cliffs, to the Konkan on the west. Eastwards, the hill country falls in steps through a transitional area known as Mawal to the plateau level. The Konkan, lying between the Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri Range is narrow coastal lowland, barely 50 km. wide. Though mostly below 200 m., it is far from being a plain country. Highly dissected and broken, the Konkan alternates between narrow, steep-sided valleys and low laterite plateaux. The Satpudas, hills along the northern border, and the Bhamragad-Chiroli-Gaikhuri Ranges on the eastern border form physical barriers preventing easy movement, but also serve as natural limits to the state.

Except around Mumbai, and along the eastern limits, the State of Maharashtra presents a monotonously uniform, flat-topped skyline. The state area, barring the extreme eastern Vidarbha region, parts of Kolhapur and Sindhudurg, is practically co-terminus with the Deccan Traps. The State of Maharashtra has rivers such as the Krishna, Bhima, Godavari, Tapi-Purna and Wardha-Wainganga river.

The state enjoys a tropical monsoon climate; the hot scorching summer from March onwards yields to the rainy monsoon in early June. The rich green cover of the monsoon season persists during the mild winter that follows through an unpleasant October transition, but turns into a dusty, barren brown as the summer sets in again. The seasonal rains from the western sea-clouds are very heavy and the rainfall is over 400 cm., on the Sahyadrian crests. The Konkan on the windward side is also endowed with heavy rainfall, declining northwards. East of the Sahyadri, the rainfall diminishes to a meagre 70 cm. in the western plateau districts, with Solapur-Ahmednagar lying in the heart of the dry zone. The rains increase slightly, later in the season, eastwards in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions.

Forests comprising only 17% of the state area cover the eastern region and the Sahyadri Range, while open scrub jungle dots the plateaux. The soils of Maharashtra are residual, derived from the underlying basalts. In the semi-dry plateau, the regur (black-cotton soil) is clayey, rich in iron, but poor in nitrogen and organic matter; it is moisture-retentive. Where redeposit along the river valleys, those kali soils are deeper and heavier, better suited for rabi crops. Farther away, with a better mixture of lime, the morand soils form the ideal Kharif zone. The higher plateau areas have pather soils, which contain more gravel. In the rainy Konkan, and the Sahyadri Range, the same basalts give rise to the brick-red laterites productive under a forest-cover, but readily stripped into a sterile varkas when the vegetation is removed. By and large, soils of Maharashtra are shallow and somewhat poor.
Water is the most precious natural resource of the state, greatly in the demand, and most unevenly distributed. A large number of villages lack drinking water, especially during the summer months, even in the wet Konkan. Barely 11% of the net sown area is irrigated. Perched water tables in the basalt aquifers have contributed to increased well irrigation, which accounts for approximately 55% of the irrigable water. The granitic-gneissic terrain in the eastern hilly area of Vidarbha accounts for all tank irrigation. Tube-wells in the Tapi-Purna alluvium and shallow wells in the coastal sands are the other main sources of water.
Water is the most precious natural resource of the state, greatly in the demand, and most unevenly distributed. A large number of villages lack drinking water, especially during the summer months, even in the wet Konkan. Barely 11% of the net sown area is irrigated. Perched water tables in the basalt aquifers have contributed to increased well irrigation, which accounts for approximately 55% of the irrigable water. The granitic-gneissic terrain in the eastern hilly area of Vidarbha accounts for all tank irrigation. Tube-wells in the Tapi-Purna alluvium and shallow wells in the coastal sands are the other main sources of water.




Places of scientific significance
Main article: Lonar crater lake

A crater lake is situated on the outskirts of Lonar town in district Buldhana, Maharashtra. The impact of a huge meteor that descended on earth from space carved out a bowl roughly 1.8 kilometre in diameter believed to be formed 50,000 years ago. The size and age make it the largest and oldest meteoric crater in the world. It precedes its nearest rival, the Canyon Diablo in Arizona in the United States, by a clear 2.30 centuries. Today, Lonar Lake is the third largest natural salt-water lake in the world. The peculiarity about the Lonar crater is that it is almost perfectly circular in shape. Apart from scientific significance Lonar also occupies a place of prominence in ancient Indian scripts. According to Sanskrit literature, Lonar was called ‘Viraj Kshetra’ in ancient times


Protected areas of Maharashtra


Several wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and Project Tiger reserves have been created in Maharashtra, with the aim of conserving the rich bio-diversity of the region. As of May 2004, India has 92 national parks, of which five are located in Maharashtra. A large percentage of Maharashtra's forests and wildlife lie in the Zadipranta (Forest rich region) of far eastern Maharashtra OR eastern Vidarbha.

Lions at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the world's largest national park within city limits.

Navegaon National Park, located near Gondia in the eastern region of Vidarbha is home to many species of birds, deer, bears and leopards.
Nagzira wildlife sanctuary lies in Tirora Range of Bhandara Forest Division, in Gondia district of Vidarbha region. The sanctuary is enclosed in the arms of the nature and adorned with exquisite landscape. The sanctuary consists of a range of hills with small lakes within its boundary. These lakes not only guarantee a source of water to wildlife throughout the year, but also greatly heighten the beauty of the landscape.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Project, a prominent tiger reserve near Chandrapur in Vidarbha. It is 40 km away from Chandrapur.
Pench National Park, in Nagpur district, extends into Madhya Pradesh as well. It has now been upgraded into a Tiger project.
Chandoli National Park, located in Sangli district has a vast variety of flora and fauna. The famous Prachitgad Fort and Chandoli dam and scenic water falls can be found around Chandoli National Park.
Gugamal National Park, also known as Melghat Tiger Reserve is located in Amravati district. It is 80 km away fromAmravati.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park, also known as Borivali National Park is located in Mumbai and is the world's largest national park within city limits.
Sagareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, a man made wildlife sanctuary situated 30 km from Sangli. Ancient temples of Lord Shiva and Jain Temple of Parshwanath located in Sagareshwar are a major attraction.
Maldhok Sanctuary, situated in Solapur district. Some of its part is in Nagar district. The sanctuary is for a bird which is sometimes known as The Great Indian Bustard.

Apart from these, Maharashtra has 35 wildlife sanctuaries spread all over the state, listed here. Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuaryare the important ones.

Apart from the above, Matheran, a Hill station near Mumbai has been declared an eco-sensitive zone


Economy

Favourable economic policies in the 1970s led to Maharashtra becoming India's leading industrial state in the last quarter of 20th century. Over 41% of the S&P CNX 500 conglomerates have corporate offices in Maharashtra. However, regions within Maharashtra show wide disparity in development. Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Aurangabad and western Maharashtra are the most developed. These areas also dominate the politics and bureaucracy of the state. This has led to resentment among less developed regions like Vidarbha, Marathwada, Konkan and Khandesh .

Maharashtra's gross state domestic product for 2008 is forecast to be at 673,700 crore (US$146.19 billion) at current market prices. The state's debt was estimated at 36 per cent of GDP in 2005.

In 2007 Maharashtra reported a revenue surplus of 810 crore (US$175.77 million).Maharashtra is the second most urbanised state with urban population of 42% of whole population.

Maharashtra is India's leading industrial state contributing 15% of national industrial output and over 40% of India's national revenue. 64.14% of the people are employed in agriculture and allied activities. Almost 46% of the GSDP is contributed by industry. Major industries in Maharashtra include chemical and allied products, electrical and non-electrical machinery, textiles, petroleum and allied products. Other important industries include metal products, wine,jewellery, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, machine tools, steel and iron castings and plastic wares. Food cropsinclude mangoes, grapes, bananas, oranges, wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, and pulses. Cash crops include groundnut,cotton, sugarcane, turmeric, and tobacco. The net irrigated area totals 33,500 square kilometres.

Mumbai, the administrative capital of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India, houses the headquarters of almost all major banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and mutual funds in India. India's largest stock exchangeBombay Stock Exchange, the oldest in Asia, is also located in the city. After successes in the information technology in the neighboring states, Maharashtra has set up software parks in Pune, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nashik, Now Maharashtra is the second largest exporter of software with annual exports of 18,000 crore (US$3.91 billion) and accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country's software exports, with over 1,200 software units based in the state.Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Navi Mumbai is the busiest port in India. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai is the busiest airport in South Asia as per passenger volume.

The coast of Maharashtra has been a shipbuilding center for many centuries. The expertise and the manpower available in the local area make this business more attractive.This is reflected by the number of companies operating shipyards in the state such as Bharati Shipyard at Ratnagiri and the upcoming Rajapur Shipyards at Rajapur, apart from the state owned Mazagon Dock Limited at Mumbai.

Mumbai is the home for the world's largest film industry- Bollywood, Hindi filmmaking industry. Maharashtra ranks first nationwide in coal-based thermal electricity as well as nuclear electricity generation with national market shares of over 13% and 17% respectively. Maharashtra is also introducing Jatropha cultivation and has started a project for the identification of suitable sites for Jatropha plantations.

Ralegaon Siddhi is a village in Ahmednagar District that is considered a model of environmental conservation.

An international cargo hub (Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur, MIHAN) is being developed at Nagpur. MIHAN will be used for handling heavy cargo coming from South-East Asia and Middle-East Asia. Project will also include 10,000 crore (US$2.17 billion) Special Economic Zone (SEZ) forInformation Technology (IT) companies. This will be the biggest development project in India so far.

Prominent Indian and foreign automobile makers such as Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Skoda Auto, Fiat, General Motors andVolkswagen are also either based in or have a manufacturing presence in Maharashtra.

Government


Like all states in India, the nominal head of state is the governor, appointed by the Union Government. The Governor's post is largely ceremonial. The Chief Minister is the head of government and is vested with most of the executive powers. Maharashtra's legislature is bicameral, one of the few states in India to have a bicameral type. The Vidhan Sabha(Legislative Assembly) is the lower house consisting of directly elected members. The Chief Minister is chosen by the members of the Vidhan Sabha. The Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council) is the upper house, whose members are indirectly voted through an electoral college. Maharashtra is allocated nineteen seats in the Rajya Sabha and forty-eight in the Lok Sabha, India's national parliament.

The capital city Mumbai is home to the Vidhan Sabha – the state assembly and Mantralaya, the administrative offices of the government. The legislature convenes its budget and monsoon sessions in Mumbai, and the winter session in Nagpur, which was designated as the state's auxiliary capital.

After India's independence, most of Maharashtra's political history was dominated by the Indian National Congress. Maharashtra became a bastion of the Congress party producing stalwarts such as Y.B. Chavan, one of its most prominent Chief Ministers. The party enjoyed near unchallenged dominance of the political landscape until 1995 when the right wing Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured an overwhelming majority in the state to form a coalition. After a split in the Congress party, former chief minister Sharad Pawar formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), but formed a coalition with the Congress to keep out the BJP-SS combine. The 2004 elections saw the NCP gaining the largest number of seats to become the state's largest party, eroding much of the Shiv Sena's base. Under a pre-poll power sharing agreement, the Chief Minister would be from the Congress while the deputy Chief Minister would be from the NCP. Prithviraj Chavan is the current Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar is the Deputy Chief Minister. Now new parties emerging in Maharashtra's politics specially Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)(Marathi: महाराष्ट्र नवनिर्माण सेना) based regional political party operating on the motto of "Sons (of)for the Soil"[27] founded on the March 9, 2006 in Mumbai by Raj Thackeray after he left the Shiv Sena .

The 2009 elections saw the Congress-NCP alliance winning with clean sweep to the BJP-Shivsena alliance.




ART AND CARFTS
ART

The growth of crafts in society is a sign of the cultivation of sensitivity and the stirring and mellowing of humanism. It stands for man's endeavour to bring grace and elegance into an otherwise harsh and drab human existence. Actually, man's elevation from gross animal existence is marked by his yearning for something beyond the satisfaction of mere needs and creature comforts. It is the yearning that found natural expression in crafts.
- Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
Crafts do not grow in isolation. They are basically in the service of the society. Society's culture can be measured from the arts and crafts it lived with. Arts and crafts find unhindered patronage and wide appreciation in a society that has been elevated to great cultural heights. Such society establishes values and norms that give the guidelines of life to all its members, rich and poor. Artists and craftsmen in such society exist as an integral part of it and crave to achieve excellence and reach to perfection in their work.

From the law-books, the Niti-Shastra, from the writings of Manu and Kautilya, we learn the responsibility of the state and the public to protect and patronize the artists and craftsmen. The system of taxation makes it compulsory for society to foster and support the artist and craftsmen Matsya Purana mentions that every home should have a door frame in carved wood as a sign of welcome to visitors.
This tradition of carved wooden frames and carved wooden balconies supported by brackets of animals, birds, and human forms is a part of architectural design of homes, palaces and temples as well as other community places built all over India.
There are many palaces, temples and private homes in Maharashtra, in which we see plenty of intricate and charming woodwork. In places like Pune, Wai, Satara, Nasik Chandwad, Palshi, Paithan there ar Wadas (havelis) full of excellent wood carvings. Several temples in Konkan (Sindhudurg), in places like Achre, Kunkeshwar, Sawantwadi, Aakeri have pillars and projected beams very intricately carved by the local craftsmen.
Since our contemporary architecture is totally changed and has no place for any carvings or others crafts, the craft of wood carving gradually disappeared and with that vanished all our craftsmen.
When we probe into the cultural history of Maharashtra of the last three hundred years, we come across very interesting accounts of our crafts and craftsmen which have been meticulously recorded in gazetteers and reports of various collectorates during the British rule. Our crafts were shown in several exhibitions in the Western counties and they were highly praised. George C. M. Birdwood published his book, 'The Arts of India' in 1880, in which he had given plenty of information about, the then prevailing crafts in Maharashtra. Several crafts mentioned by him are not being executed today. But some major which have survived or have been revived and handed down to the present generation of craftsmen were also going through a difficult period due to lack of patronage, because under the British rule, the lifestyle of patrons of arts and crafts was also undergoing a great change.
George Birdwood had paid high tributes to the craftsmen of Maharashtra as he had given several examples of their crafts in great detail. It is very interesting to know that the Thakurs and Katharies of Matheran Hill were imaginative craftsmen who could design ornaments. Birdwood records. "Mr. W.G.S.V. Fitz Gerald sent to the Annual International Exhibition of 1872 a collection of grass ornaments worn by the wild Thakurs and Katharies of Matheran and the Western Ghats of Bombay, which had been made by Dr. T. Y. Smith, the accomplished Superintendent of that hill station, and by the side of these grass collars, necklaces, bracelets, anklets and girdles, were exhibited also examples of the gold jewellery of thick gold wire, twisted into girdles, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and collars worn all over India and which are fashioned in gold exactly as the Matheran ornaments are fashioned in grass."
Writing about the gold jewellery, Birdwood has mentioned that, "the repousse gold jewellery of Sawantwadi in mythological design is the best in Western India." He has also stated that "the hemispherical golden ornament worn by women, both at Bombay and Cairo, on top of their heads, of which ones sees in collection such fine specimens from Sawantwadi and
Vizianagram". No goldsmiths in Sawantwadi make such ornaments today.
Some reference about wood carving in Maharashtra has already been made. From the documentation of Birdwood we come to know that the craftsmen from Sindhudurg (Ratnagiri) were experts in designing and executing carved articles for various purposes. They used Sinsapa (Shisam) or Bombay black wood and teak for various carving purposes. According to Birdwood, "teak for the beams and pillars, brackets, and door-posts and doors of native houses is carved in
Rajapur and Deogarh talukas of the Ratnagiri Collectorate."
A good deal of inlay work was being conducted in Bombay in the latter part of the 19th Century. This inlay was made up of tin wire, sandal-wood, ebony, sappan (Brazil) wood, ivory, white, and stained green, and stag horn. "Bombay inlaid work" was familiar for ornamental furniture such as book-stands, work-boxes, blotting- cases, ubiquitous glove, boxes and card cases, which go by the name of "Bombay boxes".



Crafts

Metal work in copper, brass and other alloys was being conducted in several places in Maharashtra for centuries. Old records reveal that there was a large manufacture of idols in all the metals at Nasik & Pune. Good brass utensils were also made at Kelshi and at Begmandli in the Ratnagiri Collectorate. Bombay Copper Bazaar was also equally known as recorded by Birdwood. He had observed that: "The most active industry in the town of Bombay is the manufacture of brass and copper pots and other untensils in universal use among natives of India. The Cooper Bazaar opposite Mombadevi Tank is the busiest and the noisiest, and one, of the most delightful streets in all the native town. Mr. Terry states (Maclean's Guide to Bombay) that, there are 1,069 coppersmiths, and 1,536 blacksmiths in Bombay."
That Copper Bazaar of Bombay does not exist now. In today's stainless steel age', hand made metal crafts cannot survive. But in Nasik, even today there are hundreds of craftsmen who have their workshops and shops in a particular lane known as Tambat Ali. Some of the craftsmen can still execute untensils and vessels with traditional designs.
Objects such as ghangal, abhishek patra, ghagar (water pot), pan-patra, laman-diwa (hanging oil lamp), samai etc are today collected by art loving people as decorative objects and not as objects of utility. Several highly artistic craft objects such as kalamdan, pan-dan, nutcracker (adkitta), foot scrubbers, toilet box, pali (spoon) for rituals and various types of oil lamps, which we see in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, Pune and in other collections may have been executed in Nasik and Pune. Murbad is also known for copper and brass work. Along with other utility vessels Murbad produces miniature kitchen vessels and utensils as toy objects for girls to play with and get education for becoming future housewives.
Diemaking craft of Parola in Jalgaon district is one of the surviving crafts of Maharashtra. In Parola there lives a family name Jade who have been practicing the craft of diemaking for the last four generations.
Some diemaker families have also settled in Virar and Sopara near Bombay. They make dies, fully hand carved, without the use of a pantograph. They have also developed their own carving instrument out of hard steel, which are numbering about two hundred.
Dies are carved on thick bronze plates and the bronze is obtained from South India in the form of old traditional utensils especially the thick serving plates.
Images of Gods and Goddesses are carved into dies, negative and positive and the print is taken on relatively thick silver or copper foil. The icon is known as take and used for worshiping. It is sold in the shops situated near temples.
Maharashtra can boast of producing a variety of textiles. The Marathas extended their patronage to industrial and other textile activities after they succeeded the Mughals. They adopted some forms of Islamic fashions. But their special regard for traditional Hindu garments encouraged the development of textile centres.


Following is the list of centres along with their products:


Paithan- asavali or paithani saris pitambara, kinkhab.
Yeola- paithani, jamdani, pitambara
Aurangabad- himroo and mashru
Balapur & Sangamner- chandrakala saris
Daulatabad- muslin
Ter- muslin, cotton
Shahugad- shahugadi
Nasik & Pune- brocade
Nagpur- Silk bordered dhotis
Amravati & Bhir- pasodi saris
Solapur Kolhapur & Tuljapur- khanas, cotton
Ahmednagar- all types of cotton
Dharwad- khanas, dharwadi saris
Pandharpur- ghongodi, pasodi, pitambara
Akola- pasodi, shela
Out of all these products, paithani, himroo, mashru and brocade are the special types of textiles and they are rich in both, the material and craftsmanship. However, in brocade, Banaras excels, hence Pune and Nasik cannot compete with it.
Mashru is a mixed variety of striped cotton and silk weave. It was generally used by the ladies as an undergarment. The basic warp is of silk and the weft is of various colored
cottons. The term mashru is derived from share, meaning "legal". The weaving of pure silk fabrics at prayers was prohibited among the Muslims and hence this pattern was introduced. Paithan and Aurangabad were the famous centres of mashru production. Himroo is a similar variety of mixed silk and cotton but with a texture that is almost as fine as muslin. It is used as veils, head-dresses, bridal robes and saris. It is costlier than mashru. Paithani is the most costly high quality silken gold embroidered textile which has an interesting history. Paithani is called as Mahavsatra.
Against this broad historical backdrop we can now see which crafts of Maharashtra have overcome the dark periods and once again re-established their vital existence to arrest the attention of the art lovers and connoisseurs of the present times.
Some crafts have inevitably disappeared because of the changing environment and the life style of contemporary Indian society. Some crafts were totally neglected and forgotten.
But some traditional craftsmen who used to produce their craftsmen who used to produce their crafts with high degrees of excellence patiently suffered the isolation when their craft lost patronage. However they preserved their technique in the lean period and waited for things to change. Things did change after Independence and new opportunities were offered to them. Once again they rose to the occasion and produced their art objects with the same dexterity and aesthetic vision which was once considered as a hall mark in the world of specialized crafts. This is a story of the revival of Paithani- the rich silken gold embroidered sari of Paithan.
Another example is of a traditional goldsmith applying his technique to produce the imaginative silver jewellery. Today the silver jewellery of Hupri (near Kolhapur) is considered the best in the country.
Revival of lacquer work and other crafts of Sawantwadi is another interesting story. The rich traditional craft of Chitaris (painters) of Sawantwadi had almost vanished a few years ago. Today this world famous crafts has been revived and the new generation of craftsmen are engaged in creating their craft objects with the same traditional skill.
Maharashtra can take pride in these three revived crafts which we shall now study in depth.

Festival Of Maharashtra
Maharashtra is the canter of many religious and cultural traditions. In Maharashtrian villages, life revolves around fairs and festivals.

Each festival comes with its own colors and Cuisine. People do up their houses and surroundings and there is an air of celebration. The festival time is surely a must visit time in India.While the most hugely visible festival maybe the Ganesh Chaturthi, due to the large processions and the colourful images of Lord Ganesha, there are many festivals celebrated with as much enthusiasm and spirit.

Each festival signals the passing of old and beginning of new, and this in most cases is signifies by the victory of good over evil. Each festival has a significance and its mark is always felt in the daily lives of the people in India, specially in rural India.

tourism

Maharashtra - The most fascinating region of India. It is the state with rich cultural heritage and is a land of intense spirituality and religious faith. Maharashtra has to its credit pilgrimage centers with great landmarks in the evolution of Indian Temple architecture.

Maharashtra has 720 km. long sea face extending from Dahanu and Bordi in the north up to Goa proceeding southwards. If you have liking for sand, sea and surf, this State has a great many interesting options in store. You could arrange trips or get away on a weekend or during holidays. You could indulge in adventurous water sports or relax on golden sands. If you are interested in forts and their history, Maharashtra is the perfect place for your tour and a memorable holiday. It offers you a vast choice of majestic forts like Raigad, Rajgad, Pratapgad, Vishalgad,Panhala, and sea forts like Murud, Sindhudurg.

Places like Ajanta, Verul near Aurangabad are the ancient proofs of rich art-works of India. All festivals, in Maharashtra are a tribute to its rich culture and legacy. Ganesh Pooja, Gokul Ashtami, Diwali, Holi, Dussehra, Padwa etc. provide a common platform for people from all walks of life to interact with one another.

Maharashtra-Tourism Guide helps tourists with a detailed 'leaflet' of the place with a map and other details like 'best time to visit' and 'how to go'

Caves

Artistically built over a few centuries the Caves of Maharashtra have an extraordinary appeal and aura. They date back to the 2nd BC. Nestled in the remote Sahayadri Mountain Range, these caves have provided a place of residence to monks of different religions.

The paintings in the Ajanta caves or the sculpture of the Ellora caves, or the divine presence in the Elephanta caves, the visitors have always attracted the visitors all around the world. A visit to these caves induces a sense of discovery, a discovery of the self, and of the divine. Needless to say these are the favorite places of people interested in this subject to spend their holidays.

Ajanta

Ajanta caves are located at about 107 kms. from the city of Aurangabad. The rock-cut caves of Ajanta nestle in the form of a gigantic horseshoe.

For almost 700 years, the caves of Ajanta seem to have been abandoned abruptly. They remained cloaked in obscurity for over a millennium, till John Smith, a British army officer, accidentally stumbled upon them while on a hunting expedition in 1819.

The 'View Point' from where John Smith first glimpsed the caves, provides a magnificent sight of the U-shaped gorge and its scenic surroundings. A spectacular waterfall cascading down the cliff feeds a natural pool called the Saptakunda.

Ajanta caves have been designated as a World Heritage Site.

The caves of Ajanta can be classified into two distinct phases: the earlier Hinayana phase (1), in which the Buddha was worshipped only in the form of certain symbols. And the later Mahayana phase (II), in which the Buddha was worshipped in the physical form.

Speciality:

They are among the finest examples of earliest Buddhist architecture, caves-paintings and sculptures. These caves comprise Chaitya Halls, or shrines, dedicated to Lord Buddha and Viharas, or monasteries, used by Buddhist monks for meditation and the study of Buddhist teachings.

Typically, the paintings that adorn the walls and ceilings of the caves depict incidents from the life of the Buddha and various Buddhist divinities. Paintings of the Jataka tales, illustrating various stories relating to the previous incarnations of the Buddha as Bodhisattva, are the more interesting.

Aurangabad

Aurangabad Caves are artificial caves. They are dug out of the rather soft rock during the 6th and 7th century. These caves are found on two separate locations, called Western Group Caves (caves 1-5) and Eastern Group Caves (caves 6-10). Each group has five caves. The architecture and iconography is influenced by Tantric Hinduism.

Western Group Caves:

Cave 4 of the Western Group Caves is the oldest cave. It is a Hinayana Chaitya with a ridged roof like the Karla Cave near Lonawala. Chaitya (Sanskrit) is the word for a funeral monument. There is a stupa in front of it, which is now partially collapsed.

The other four Western caves are viharas, which are an early type of Buddhist monastery. It consists of an open court surrounded by open cells accessible through an entrance porch. The viharas in India were originally constructed to shelter the monks. Cave 3, the most fascinating cave of the Western Group. It is supported by 12 finely carved columns. They show sculptures portraying scenes from the Jataka tales.

Eastern Group Caves:

Cave 6 belongs to the Eastern Group Caves, and shows very well preserved sculptures of women, which are notable for their exotic hairstyles and ornamentation. There is also a large Buddha figure and an idol of Ganesh located in this cave.

Cave 7 is the most interesting of the Aurangabad caves. Most impressive are the sculptures, figures of women which are scantily clad and ornately bejewelled. They show the rise of Tantric Buddhism during this period. To the left of Cave 7 is a huge Bodhisattva praying for deliverance from the 8 dangers: fire, the sword of the enemy, chains, shipwreck, lions, snakes, mad elephant and demon (representing death)

Elephanta

Elephanta was formerly known in ancient times as "Gharapuri" or The Place of Caves. The Portuguese named it Elephanta after the great statue of elephant which they found on the seashore. They found monolithic stone elephant at the place where they landed and also named this a ilha do elephanta, island of the elephant. There was a stone horse too, a little further, which has vanished without a trace.

There are seven caves of which the Mahesha-Murti Cave is the most important. The main body of the cave, excluding the porticoes on the three open sides and the back aisle, is 27 m square and is supported by rows of six columns. The gigantic figures of Dvarapalas, or doorkeepers are remarkable.

Speciality:

The cave temple is spread over an area of approximately 5000 square metres. It can be reached by climbing a flight of more than 100 steps. Inside the temple, is a large pillared hall with rows of columns that hold up the roof of the cave.

Cross beams create the illusion of a ceiling. The series of marvelous sculptured panels, nine in all, which are set like tableaux on the walls, draw our attention. Very little is known about the architects and sculptors, who worked on this ancient architectural wonder. Each of the panel captures the volatility of Shiva's essentially paradoxic nature, and the magical interplay of light and shade, only intensifies the overall effect.

Ellora

The cave temples and monasteries at Ellora are excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment. They are 26 kms. north of Aurangabad. They extend in a linear arrangement. The 34 caves contain Buddhist Chaityas, or halls of worship, and Viharas, or monasteries, Hindu and Jian temples.

Spanning across 600 years between the 5th and 11th century AD, the earliest excavation here is of the Dhumar Lena. The most magnificent excavation is that of the Kailasa Temple (Cave 16) which is the largest single monolithic structure in the world. Interestingly, Ellora, unlike the site of Ajanta, was never 'rediscovered'. It was known as Verul in ancient times. It has continuously attracted pilgrims through the centuries to the present day.

Ellora has been designated as a World Heritage Site, to be preserved as an artistic legacy that will continue to inspire of generations to come.

FORTS

Standing as silent sentinels to history are the 350-odd forts of Maharashtra. Beaten by the sea waves, lashed at by the torrential Deccan rains, or scorched in the blazing sun, stand imposing ramparts and crumbling walls . the last lingering memories of Maharashtra's martial times. Nowhere in the country would you encounter such a profusion of forts. And such variety. Sited on an island, as at Murud-Janjira or guarding the seas as at Bassein, or among the Sahyadri hills, as at Raigad, whose zig-zag walls and rounded bastions sit like a sceptre and crown amidst hills turned mauve.
Most of the forts in Maharashtra whether up in the hills or near the seas are associated with Shivaji --the great Maratha warrior and an equally great fort builder. Moreover, these forts were treated as mini-cities, such as Panhala, which is now a hill station. The concept of the fort-city was, however, not peculiar to Shivaji alone. The Portuguese who came to India as traders and missionaries, built within a century of their coming, Bassein, a garden city to rival many a European capital.
Today, these forts numbed by sun and sleet, have not only been witness to changing times, but have also shaped them and within their walls throb the heart-beat of history.
Devagiri Daulatabad Fort

Devagiri (Daultabad of the later period), 11kms north-west of Aurangabad, is a famous for its formidable hill fort.  The fort is situated on an isolated cone-shaped hill rising abruptly from the plain to the height of about 190 metres.  The fortification constitutes of three concentric lines of defensive walls with large number of bastions.  The noteworthy features of the fort are the moat, the scarp and the sub-terranean passage, all hewn of solid rock.  The upper outlet of the passage was filled with an iron grating, on which a large fire could be used to prevent the progress of the enemy.  The Chand Minar, the Chini Mahal and the Baradari are the important structures within the fort.

The Chand Minar, about 63 metres in height, was erected by Alauddin Bahman Shah in 1435 AD to conquest of Daulatabad.  Opposite the Minar is the Jumma masjid, whose pillars originally belonged to a temple.  Close to it, there is a large masonry tank.  The Chini Mahal at the end of the lower for is the place where Abdul Hasan Tana Shah, the last king Golconda, was confined by Aurangzeb in 1687 AD.  Nearby is a round bastion topped with a huge canon with ram’s head, called Kila Shikan or Fort breaker.  The Baradari, octagonal in shape, stands near the summit of the fort.  The principal bastion at the summit also carries a large canon.

Though the city of Devagiri was founded in 1187 AD by the Yadava king Bhillan V, the fort was constructed during the reign of Singhana II (1210-46 AD).  It was captured by Ala-ud-Din Kalji in 12 94 AD, marking the first Muslim invasion of the Deccan.  Finally in 1318 AD, Malik Kafur killed last Yadava Raja, Harapal.  Then in 1327 AD, Muhammed-bin-Tughluq sought to make it his capital, by transferring the entire population of Delhi and changing the name from Devagiri to Daulatabad.  Then it was in the possession of the Bhamanis till 1526 AD.  The fort remained in Mughal control till Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 AD., when it passed on to the Nizam of Hyderabad.  The famous Ellora Caves are just 16kms away from Devagiri-Daulatabad.

Pitcures: View of Devagiri for and its citadel (top left) from the top of its entrance gate (above), and the Chand Minar (inset).  Country of the Jumma masjid, with old carved pillars (below, left), and the Kila Shikan canon with ram’s head (below, right)

Murud-Janjira Fort
Situated on a rock of oval shape near the port town of Murud, 165kms south of Mumbai, Janjira is one of the strongest marine forts of India (the word ‘Janjira’ is a corruption of the Arabic word Jazira for island).  The forts is approached by sailboats from Rajapuri jetty.  The main gate of the fort faces Rajapuri on the shore and can be seen only when one is quite close to it.  It has a small postern gate towards the open sea for escape.  The fort has 19 rounded bastions, still intact. There are many canons of native and European make rusting on the bastions.  Now in ruins, the fort in its heyday had all necessary facilities, e.g., palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, a big fresh water tank, etc.  On the outer wall flanking the main gate, there is a sculpture depicting a tiger-like beast clasping elephants in its claws.  This sculpture, its meaning difficult to interpret, appears on many fort-gates of Maharashtra.

Originally the fort was small wooden structure built by a Koli chief in the late 15th century. It was captured by Pir Khan, a general of Nizamshah of Ahmednagar.  Later the fort was strengthened by Malik Ambar, the Abyssinian Siddi regent of Ahmednagar kings.  From then onward Siddis became independent, owing allegiance to Adilshah and the Mughals as dictated by the times.  Despite their repeated attempts, the Portuguese, the British and the Marathas failed to subdue the Siddi power.  Shivaji’s all attempts to capture Janjira fort failed due to one reason or the other.  When Sambhaji also failed, he built another island fort, known as Kansa or Padmadurg, just 9kms north of Janjira.  The Janjira state came to an end after 1947.  The palace of the Nawabs of Janjira at Murud is still in good shape.


Raigarh Fort

Raigarh was Shivaji’s capital, the hill fort where he was crowned (1674 AD) and where he died (1680 AD).  Strategically situated on an irregular wedge-shaped mass of rock, detached from the main body of Sahyadri Mountains by a deep valley and inaccessible from three sides, Raigarh is 210kms south of Mumbai and 27kms north of Mahad.  The fort’s 5.12sq.kms hill-top plateau has three main points Hirakani in the west, Takamak in the north and Bhavani in the east.  There is only one pathway to Raigarh, probably in keeping with Shiviaji’s strategy “the fort’s approach should be easy for friends and impossible for foes”.  A motorable road leads to Chit Darwaja, about 2kms from Pachad, the village at the base, where lies the Samadhi of Jijabai, Shivaji’s mother.  A long climb from Pachad takes one to the Mahadarwaza, flanked by two massive bastions and a high curtain wall.
The top plateau is covered with a large number of remains of buildings and reservoirs.  Behind the Ganga Sagar reservoir are two high towers, in Muslim style.  Behind the towers is the Balekilla or citadel, entered by the Palakhi-darwaza.  On way to the right are remains of chambers of women of Royal families and on the left those of the Darbar of Shivaji.  On a low mound in the centre is the site of Shivaji’s throne.  Further north is the two-row market place, the Jagadishwar temple in an enclosure and the Samadhi of shivaji, and also that of his favourite dog, Waghya.

The history of Raigarh, earlier known as Rairi, is obscure.  In the 12th century Rairi was a seat of the Shirke-Palegar family.  After changing several hands, it was captured by Shivaji from Chandrarao More in 1656 AD.  Shivaji chose Rairi for his capital and renamed it as Raigarh.  The gigantic construction work was entrusted to Abaji Sondeve and Hiroji Indulkar.  In its heyday Raigarh had more than 300 houses, and structures.  After Shivaji, the fort remained in the hands of Sambhaji till 1689 AD, when it was captured by the Mughals.  Reverted to the Marathas in 1735 AD, Raigarh was surrendered to the British in 1818 AD.

Sindhudurg Fort

Sindhudurg fort stands on a rocky island, known as Kurte, barely a km, from the Malavan is 510kms south of Mumbai and 130kms north of Goa.  Sindhudurg was built in 1664-67 AD by shivaji when all his attempts to take the island fort of Janjira proved futile.  The construction was done under the supervision of Hiroji Indulkar, an able architect.  Shivaji had invited 100 Portuguese experts from Goa for the construction of the fort.  It is also recorded that 3000 workers were employed round the clock for three years to build Sindhudurg.  It was the body from the Sack of Surat that went into the building of Sindhudurg.
One of the best preserved forts of the Marathas, the 48 acre Sindhudurg fort has a four kms long zigzag line of 9 metres high and 3 metres wide rampart with 42 bastions.  Apart from the huge stones, the building material involved 2000 khandis (72,576kgs)of iron erecting the massive curtain wall and bastions. A notable feature is that the foundation stones were laid down firmly in molten lead.
The fort is approachable from the Malavan pier by a boat through a narrow navigable channel between two smaller islands of Dhontara and Padmagad.  The main gate, flanked by massive bastions, faces the city.  On the parapet, close to the entrance, under two small domes Shivaji’s palm and footprint in dry lime are preserved.  Also, in thefort there is the Shivaji temple - the only one of its kind in the country – where the image of Shivaji is without a beard! Inside the fort there are some temples, tanks and three wells.  It also houses some twenty Hindu-Muslim hereditary families.  On a rocky island between Sindhudurg and the coast stood the small for of Padmagad, now in ruins. It acted as a screen for Sindhudurg and was also used for ship-building.
After Shivaji, Sindhudurg passed through the hands of Rajaram-Tarabai, Angres, Peshwa and the Bhosales of Kolhapur.  It was briefly captured by the British in 1765 Ad And was renamed by them as ‘Fort Augustus’.  Later in 1818 AD, the British dismantled the fort’s defence structures.


Panhala Fort

Panhala or Panhalgarh, about 19kms north-west of Kolhapur, is possibly the largest and most important fort of the Deccan.  Roughly triangular in shape, the hill fort stands at a height of about 850 metres and has a circumference of approximately 7.25kms.  Half of its length is protected by a natural scarp reinforced by a parapet wall and the remaining half is surrounded by a strong stone wall strengthened with bastions.  The fort had three magnificent double walled gates, out of which two have survived.  The Teen Darwaza  to the west is an imposing and powerful structure.  There are a number of ruined monuments in the fort.  The most impressive among them are the three huge granaries.  The largest among them, the Ganga Kothi, cover nearly 950 sq m space and 10.7 metres high.  In the north-east corner there is a double story building, called Sajja Kothi, where Shivaji had imprisoned his errant son, Sambhaji.

Panhala was the capital of the Shilahara king Bhoja II during 1178-1209 Ad.  It was successively held by the Yadava and Bahamani Kings.  In 1489 AD, the fort and the territory was taken over by the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur.  Shivaji seized the fort in 1659 AD.  It was from here that Shivaji, when encircled by the forces of Siddi Johar, escaped one rainy night to Vishalgarh.  Later, the fort remained with the Marathas, except for a short period in between, when it went to the Mughals.  The fort remained with the Kolhapur State till India achieved independence.

The famous Marathi poet Moropanta (1729-94Ad) was bron and brought up at Panhala.  There is also the Samadhi of Ramachandra Amatya, the author of Ajnapatra, an important work on statecraft, including for construction.  Today, Panhala is a sort of hill station and provides all the necessary facilities for tourists.

Vijayadurg Fort

Vijaydurg, situated 48kms south of Ratnagiri, is one of the strongest marine forts on the west coast of India.  It is also an excellent harbour.  Built on a hill on the mouth of Vaghotan River, the fort was protected on three sides by the sea and on the east side by ditch, now filled up.  After crossing the front gate on the east, the path, skirting round the massive middle wall, enters the hidden inner gateway.  The strong triple line of fortifications had 27 bastions, some of them two-storeyed. Within the citadel there were many buildings and storehouses, now all in ruins except a structure called Rest House.  For the supply of water there were several wells and large tanks.

In recent years a submerged wall 100metres east of the fort has been discovered.  The under-sea wall is 3 metres high, 7 metres wide and 122 metres long.  How and why this sea-wall was built is not clear.  On the bank of the Vaghotan River, about 3kms from the fort, there was a wet dock where the Marathas used to build and repair their ships.

Vijayadurg is an ancient site.  Initially known as Gheria, it was enlarged by the Bijapur rulers and then strengthened and enlarged in the mid-17th century by Shivaji, to whom it owes its triple line of fortifications, towers and also its new name, Vijayadurg – Victory Fort.  During the time of Kanhoji Angre (1667-1729 AD), the naval chief of the Marathas, the fort was so strong and firmly held that it successfully withstood assaults of the European maritime powers.  Later in 1756 AD it fell to the combined operations of the English and the Peshwas.  However, it remained in the hands of the Peshwas till 1818 AD when finally it was surrendered to the English.


Hill Stations


Away from the pollution of cities, these towns offer a clean, calm and thoroughly refreshing environment, these are probably, the only places in India, where you can observe the fall of the land right up to the sparkling sea.

The hills, sometimes approaching the seashore and sometimes withdrawing miles away, seem to be playing an endless game with the sea. Situated in these mountains, some at an altitude of 2000 meters, are the hill stations of Maharashtra. Spreading along north to south, throughout its length are the rising Sahyadris also known as Western Ghats. Naturally hill stations falling in this region have become favorite holiday destinations. Many tourists agencies are involved in serving best possible holiday destinations. Also these hill stations are closer to big cities like Mumbai and Pune and are reachable within couple of hours. People are simply crazy to spend their holidays at these places.

Amboli

Amboli is one of the hill resorts in Maharashtra. Situated at an altitude of 690 mtrs, the place offers great respite from drudgery and routine boredom. It is perched on one of the peaks of the Sahyadris in the southern end of Maharashtra state. The place is within 10 kms from Sawantwadi railway station and 64 kms from Belgaum Airport. State transport buses going to Sawantwadi from Belgaum and Kolhapur halt at Amboli. Known for its greenery, the place boasts of serene and clean weather throughout the year. It receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon and so it is an enchating spot for young people. This is the birth place of the river Hiranyakeshi. It is hidden in the thick jungle of the Sahyadris. During summer cool breezes comming from the top of the mountain not only cool your body but also envigourate your spirit.

Holiday homes are available. One can visit this place for one day picnic, if living nearby. You canwatch from here the green Konkan and the golden beaches if you have binoculars. Watching sunset from here is a treat for one's eyes. Bauxite mines and excavation nnearby is another spot one can visit.

Points

One can visit the numerous view points for a pleasant view of the lush green hills. Sea view Point offers a rare view of the land all the way to the Konkan coast.spend hours by yourself angling for fish at Hiranya Keshi or picnic at the Nagatta Falls, Mahadev Gadh and Narayan Gadh.

Speciality

The Bauxite Mines, around 8 kms. away, is a pleasant outing. Amboli has a cool and revitalizing climate - a perfect relief in summer.

If you are looking to spend a few days in seclusion with your family, Amboli is an ideal choice.

Transport Facility

For transport taxis and auto-rickshaws are available you also have the option for horseback and bicycles could add to the feeling of getting away from it all.

Getting There

Belgaum 64 kms. away, is the nearest airport and the convenient railhead is Sawantwadi, Ratnagiri and Belgaum.

Chilkhaldara

This is the place where Bheema killed the villainous Keechaka in a bout and threw him into a valley. It came to be known as Keechakadara. Chikhaldara is a corruption. There is lot to enjoy in Chikhaldara.

Located at an height of 1117 m. Chikhaldara has an annual rainfall of 155 cms. The temperatures vary from 39°C in summer to 5°C in winter.

Speciality:

It is the only hill resort in the Vidarbha region, It is the only coffee growing area in Maharashtra. It has plenty of wildlife- panthers, sloth bears, sambar, wild boar, even the rare species like wild dogs.

Near by is the world famous Melghat Tiger Project. The charming beauty of Chikhaldara can be enjoyed from Hurricane Point, Prospect Point and Devi Point.

Other interesting junkets include Gawilgadh and Narnala fort, the Pandit Nehru Botanical Gardens, the Tribal Museum and the Semadoh Lake.

When to Visit:

The best time to visit is October to June.

Jawahar

The picturesque beauty of the Dadar Kopra Falls, the captivating Hanuman and Sunset Points are the just some of the many reasons why Jawahar is known as the 'Mahabaleshwar of Thane District'.

Close by is Shirpamal, where Shivaji Maharaj camped on his way to Surat.

The temperature in Jawhar stays between 26°C to 30° C at an altitude of 520 m..

Speciality:

Jawhar is famous for the lively Warli paintings. It is one of the few tribal kingdoms in Maharashtra. It's famous for plentiful of flora and fauna and a wonderful climate. Jai Vilas, the palace of the tribal lords, and the relics of Bhupatgad are worth visiting.

Getting There:

Nashik is the nearest airport. Three convenient railheads are Nashik, Igatpuri and Dahanu. From Mumbai it is 180 kms. away by road; from Nasik 80 kms., from Kasa 39 kms., and from Trimbakeshwar 56 kms.

Lonawala, Khandala and Karla

Lonawala and Khandala are two delightful little hill stations on the western slopes of the Sahyadris, 5.5 kms. apart, situated between Mumbai and Pune, at an altitude of 620 m.

They are quite popular as health resort, there are a number of sanatoria spreading across the hills in the towns.

Khandala is smaller and calmer of the two. But, taking a stroll through Lonawala's market could yield some wonderful surprises. Both towns offer picturesque views of the surrounding hills. In the monsoon, with a myriad waterfalls, it is really worth visiting.

Speciality:

Karla is a quiet place situated at about 13 kms. from Lonawala, It is the site of the largest Chaitya caves in India, built in 89 B.C. It is amongst the best-preserved Buddhist temples in India. They represent the peak, in terms of design purity, of this style of temple architecture.

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar is one of the most popular hill stations in Maharashtra, with abundant of natural beauty. it meanders leisurely for 5 kms. at an altitude of 1372m. It was the summer capital of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency.

While away the hours boating at the placid Venna Lake. Explore the walks or the thirty points that offer panoramic views of the valley. Bathe in the clear waters of the numerous waterfalls.

Also, one can visit, Pratapgadh Fort, 25 kms away, where Shivaji dramatically beat Afzal Khan. And the elegant nine hole golf course built on the edge of a cliff worth visiting. Linger through the tiny lanes of the market shopping for everything from shoes to delicious strawberries, blackberries, jams and jellies.

Transport Facility:

Taxis and rickshaws are easily available though a bicycle, which you can hire by the hour or for the day, is the best way to get around.

Temperature vary from 13oC in winter to 29 oC in summer with a yearly rainfall of 663 cms.

When to Visit:

The best time to visit is October to June.

Getting there:

Pune is the nearest airport, 120 kms. away.

Pune is also the most convenient railhead, though Wathar at 62 kms. is the nearest.

Mumbai is 290 kms. away by road via Pune and 247 kms. via Mahad.

Matheran

Matheran is an undulating hilltop cloaked in shady trees, that sprawls dreamily at an altitude of 810 m. The journey involves an enthralling 2 hrs ascent in a toy train.

With monkeys jumping on and off, the valley glides by serenely or a tough 10 km. hike through thick forests.

Cliffs of Matheran with steep drops to the plains below offer eye-catching viewing points. These panoramic vistas, by day and night, leave you feeling appalled. The Hart Point offers a view of the glittering lights of Mumbai at night.

Interesting Points:

Around all the Matheran is a series of such exquisite points that are popular sides of picnic and partying at night. Louisa Point, Sunset point, Charlotte Lake, the Panther's Caves, Rambag Point, Garbut Point, onetree hill, Alexander point, cilia point, Panorama Point, lords point and Paymaster Park are other attractions, especially for children. The charm of the British and Parsi homes is an alluring draw.

The main marketplace offers a diversity of items such as cane and leather articles, hats, chappals and the sweet delicacy - CHIKKI!

Vehicles are not permitted in the town, which makes it a very quiet, serene place free of pollution.

Temperatures vary from 14°C in winter to 30°C in summer, with an annual rainfall of 525 cms.

When to Visit:

October to May is the best time to visit.

Getting There:

Mumbai, 100 kms. away is the nearest airport. Neral 21 kms. away, is where you transfer to the toy train. Mumbai is 108 kms. away by road, via Karjat and Neral. Pune is 120 kms. away.

Popular Hotels in Matheran:

Following is list of popular hotels in Matheran shared by our readers:

Anand Ritz - good place to stay and
Khan's Hookahs and Tikkas - famous for food
Rugby hotel
Usha Ascot
rangoli resort
Richie Rich
Gujarat Bhavan
Kumar Plaza
Lords
Brightland Resorts
Byke
Hotel Cecil

Panchgani

Panchgani is named after the five hills around it. At an altitude of 1330 m it is just 40 m below Mahabaleshwar. These 35m lead to a breathtaking 18 km approach, that swoops around bends, offering outstanding views of the River Krishna on one side and the coastal plains on the other.

Temperatures vary from 15°C in winter to 35°C in summer, with an annual rainfall of 215 cm.

Speciality:

Panchagani is the perfect residential hill-station, with the Raj marked ineradicably all over it. It can be seen in the architecture of the old British buildings. The Parsi houses and the boarding schools of the area have been around for a century or more.

For glimpses of a vanished era, one must visit to some of the old British and Parsi houses. Saunter along the walkways, thickly covered by lush trees and vegetation.

Things to Enjoy:

The Krishna, running through tiny hamlets, farms and ravines, hundreds of meters below. Must visit is the Table Land, a flat mountain peak and relish your eyes on the coastal plains, looking like miniature water colors.

Pick a horse from one of the numerous stables and canter along unexplored routes through hidden lovers' lanes, to the caves and Kamalgadh Fort.

Panchagani is the one of those rare places that doesn't crowd anyone, yet in its own dawdling way deeply touches every visitor.

Transport Facility:

Taxis are easily available, bicycles (and horseback) are recommended for traveling long distances.

When to Visit:

September to May is the best time to visit.

Getting there:

Pune 98 km away, is the nearest airport and the most convenient railhead. Panchgani via Mahad is 266 km. There is another route to this beautiful place via Pune.

Malshej 

Malshej Ghat holds special value for hikers, trekkers and adventure lovers. The nature here is at its best. No wonder then that the most exotic migratory flamingoes choose it as their monsoon abode. Close at hand is Shivneri Fort (approx 40 kms.)., birthplace of the legendary Shivaji. The unusual hill has Buddhist Caves dating to the 3 rd century and is surmounted by an important historic fort.Nearest airport is Mumbai, 154 kms. Nearest railhead is Kalyan. Mumbai-Malshej Ghat, 154 kms. via Murbad. Pune-Malshej Ghat via Alephata, 164 kms. Alephata-Malshej Ghat, 39 kms.

Maharashtra Pilgrimage

The most fascinating region of India - Maharashtra. It is the state with rich cultural heritage and is a land of intense spirituality and religious faith, which is reflected in the profusion of temples presented here. A pilgrimage is a term primarily used in religion and spirituality of a long journey. Sometimes, it is a journey to a sacred place or shrine of importance to a person's beliefs and faith. Pilgrims are those people of every religion who participate in journey to pilgrimages.

Karavir Kshetra (Kolhapur)

Mythologically it is said that Kolhapur was founded by Daitya called Kolhasur (fox demon), who then was troubling people, so Deity Mahalakshmi came to rescue and killed him. The city was named after him, honouring the dying demon's last wish. Hence the name Kolhapur. It is said that no one counts pillars of the Mahalakshmi temple, anyone who tries, calls himself death.

Kolhapur was a princely states of British India, during the British Raj under the Deccan division of the Bombay Presidency, and later the Deccan States Agency. Kolhapur was considered the fourth most important Mahratta principalities, the other three are Baroda, Gwalior and Indore. The state flag was a swallow-tailed orange pennant.

Many of the old palaces hae been converted into corporation offies and schools.

Kolhapur is also known as 'Dakshin Kashi' [Kashi in South] and the city is situated at the banks of River Panhaganga.

Places to visit

Bhavani Mandap, Temple of Ambabai (Shri Mahalaxmi), Rankala lake, Shalini Palace, Juna Rajwada (Old palace), Papachi Tikti (Chappal lane), gujri (jwellers' lane), Keshwrao Bhosale theatre, Deval Club for music lovers, Khasbag.

Bhimashankar

Bhimashankar is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines. Bhimashankar is a beautiful black rock structure built in the Nagara style of architecturei. Important thing is this temple dates back to the mid 18th century. A small path behind this temple goes to a natural Shivlinga in the riverbed, only visible when the water level is low.

Bhimashankar is 128 kms. away from Pune. The route to Bhimashankar is via Manchar. One can go to this place, full of natural beauty and lovely scenery, and be back to Pune in one day. Bhimashankar is a good paradise for nature lovers, trekkers, jungle lovers and bird watchers. It is recommended to visit the place for at least 2/3 days. The best seasons to go to Bhimashankar are monsoon and winter. There is a beautiful temple of Lord Shiva which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. Lord Shankara after getting angry, killed Rakshas Tripurasura. The heat generated from their war caused the origin of river Bhima. That is why it is called 'Bhimashankar'.

Interesting Points

Besides the temple, the two picturesque lakes, Kamalja Devi and Hanuman and the highest point, Nagphani is the special interest of tourists. It is exactly shaped as the hood of the snake. Tungi Padar and Peth forts just below and the Matheran Range is visible in the distance.

When to go

While thousands gather in this temple during Mahashivratri and Tripuri Purnima.

Kunkeshwar

Kunakeshwar is a small sea-side pilgrimage centre in Devgad taluka of Sindhudurga district in Maharashtra. It is about 6-7 kms from the taluka headquarter. It is famous not only for its scenic beauty, but also for the ancient temple said to have been built by some unknown sea-farer. The temple is of Shiva or Ishwara. It is facing East and the background of the Arabian Sea increases its serene and solemn atmosphere. The village by the same name is typical Maharashtrian konkani village having coconut and betelnut palms in plenty, and so calm and quiet one.

How to go

The nearest Railway Station:-Kankavli, on Konkan Railway route. There are regular state transport buses from Devgad. If one wants to avail of air service facility, one has to land at Panaji (Goa) airport and take train to Kankavli.

When to visit

The best season is winter i.e.from October to March,when the climate is cool. In summer the climate is hot and due to humidity, may cause uneasiness.

Where to stay

There are some good lodgings available at Kankavli. Private accommodation is also available at Kunakeshwar itself.It is more convenient as well as cheaper than regular lodgings.

Thing to enjoy

Away from the polluted city air,inhalation of serene and cool air will be a matter of enjoyment. The scenic beauty of green mangroves,the gentle ,calm and cool breezes to soothe the tired city lungs,clean golden beach and fine sunshine.

Speciality

Those who love fish, may find this place a perfect sea-side resort.In summer plenty of world famous alphonso maangoes and Solkadhi to satisfy your desire and thirst for perfect drink. Kokam is another Ayurvedic drink for those who love Indian food and drink instead of Cola or Pepsy.

So visit Kunkeshwar once and you will find yourself fascinated by it.

Jyotiba

Jyotiba is a pilgrimage centre 8 kms from Panhala. The hill is named after the deity Jyotiba. Thousands of pilgrims visit this temple every week. The ancient temple is situated on the top of the hill. There are plenty of state transport buses from Kolhapur.

A nearby place, Girawali is a peacock bay ! One gets a beautiful view of the farm pond from the top and picturesque journey to this place colors the mind. Refresh yourself in these green valleys !

Ghrishneshwar

The Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple is one of the holiest and ancient shrines of India. This temple is the holy abode of one of the 12 jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. The temple is located at a distance of 11km from Daulatabad near Aurangabad in Maharashtra and less than half a kilometre from Ellora. Aurangabad is well connected with all the places in the state as well as country. There is an airport and also a railway station. It has regular bus services connecting it with all major places. Tourists can also take taxis from Auragabad.

The Ghrishneshwar temple was constructed by Ahilyabhai Holkar, who also re-constructed the Kasi Viswanatha temple at Banaras and the Vishnu Paada temple at Gaya. Grishneshwar is also known as Ghushmeswara, Kusumeswar, Grushmeswara. It is said that a woman named Kusuma worshipped the Shiva Linga everyday by immersing it in a water tank. Envious of her piousness, her husband’s first wife murdered her son. Mourning with pain Kusuma continued worshipping the Shiva Linga. When she dipped the Linga in water Lord Shiva appeared in front of her and gave life to her son. Since then Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Jyotirlinga Ghusmeshwar.

The temple is made up of red sand stones built in 18th century and is a fine example of medieval architecture. The idols of God Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesha and Shiva are placed inside the temple. Devotees of Hindu rush to the place during Maha Shivratri to get blessings since it enshrines a jyotirlinga. The best time to visit Grishneshwar is during the Maha Shivratri.

Pandharpur

Pandharpur hosts the "Kuladivat" of Maharashtra State- Shree Vitthal and Rukmini. It is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Maharashtra. It is located 65 km west of Solapur, on the banks of the river Bhima, which is also known as Chandrabhaga. Well connected by roads to practically every city in Maharashtra, railway track also exists. Pandharpur falls on Miraj-Kurduwadi-Latur track. From Solapur numerous local level transport buses commute to Pandharpur.

This temple, covering a vast area, has a total of six gates. The eastern entrance to this temple is known as the Namdev gate. The sanctum enshrines a standing image of Vithoba. In the temple of Vithoba, 'Pad-Sparsha-Darshan', is a special ceremony. Irrespective of caste any devotee can enter the sanctum sanctorum and can place his/ her head at the feet of Vitthal. The worship of Vishnu-Vitthala at Pandharpur is derived mainly from the puranas and has been augmented by the contribution of the great Vaishnava saints of Maharashtra and Karnataka from the 13th through the 17th centuries like Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Sant Eknath, Tukaram, Purandara Dasa, Vijaya Dasa, Gopala Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Chokhamela, Janabai and many others.

Four major festivals - Ashadhi, Kartitki, Magh and Chaitra Ekadashis are yearly celebrated. Out of these, Ashadhi and Kartitki Ekadashis attract a crowd of about 8 to 10 lakhs. That is why, Pandharpur is known as the greatest centre of attraction for the masses. The palanquins (Palkhis) of various saints from different locations come together at Wakhri, 5 kilometers away from Pandharpur. And then, the pilgrims take holy bath in river Bhima and usually stand in queues 3km long in order to take "Darshana" of Lord Vitthala.

Tuljapur

Known for the holy temple of Tulja Bhawani (Goddess Durga). It is said that before venturing on a military expedition, King Shivaji always sought her blessings. Legend has it that the Goddess gifted him a sword - the Bhawani Talwar-for success in his expendition. According to the legend prevailing a demon by name Matanga, created havoc upon the devas and the humans who approached Bhrahma for help were advised to request Mother Goddess Shakti, who then took up the form of the destroyer, and powered by the other (Sapta) Maataas Varaahi, Bhrahmi, Vaishnavi, Kaumaari, Indraani and Saambhavi vanquished him to enable to peace to reign again.

Tuljapur is one of the four Shakti Peethas of Maharashtra where mother Goddess, Shakti is worshipped. The temple is located on a hill known as Yamunachala, on the slopes of the Sahayadri range in Maharashtra near Sholapur. Nearest railhead is Solapur on South Central Railway. Nearest airport isAurangabad 257-km.
Road: Tourists can take bus from Osmanabad 19-km away from Tuljapur or Solapur, which is 40-km away from Tuljapur.Mumbai-Tuljapur, 452 kms via Solapur. Aurangabad-Tuljapur, 257 kms.

The important festivals celebrated are Gudi Padva in the month of Chaitra, Shriral Sashti, Lalita Panchami, Makara Sankranti and Rathasaptami. The deity is taken out in procession on Tuesdays. Navaratri is also celebrated with great fanfare.

Historic records speak of the existence of this temple from as early as the 12th century. The temple is on the eastern side of the lower fort. As one enters from the gateway one has to descend nearly some fifteen feet to reach the first stage of the temple Prakara. This stage consists mainly of the large tank known as the Kallola tirth.

The image of Bhavani is three foot high made of granite. The idol worshipped has eight arms holding weapons, bearing the head of the slain. This image is supposed to be swayambhu'-selfborn, created without the medium of human agency. The lowermost right hand holds a trident, the next one a dagger, the one above this an arrow and the uppermost right hand wields the chakra. In the uppermost left hand is a shankh, next is a bow, the third one carries a bowl and the lower most left band holds the knot of bair on the head of the asur. The right leg is planted firmly on the body of Mahishasur, the left one is on the ground, between the two is the head of the asur gripped by the lower left arm.

Nashik

Nashik is a city in the state of Maharashtra in Western India. It is a city of pilgrimage for many Hindus. The banks or Ghats on the Godavari at Nashik are considered to be sacred. It is believed that all the Sins are washed out by taking Holy dip in the Kundas (Ponds) constructed in the river. Also by performing the last rites, Moksha is attained by the deseased soul. The river in the Ramkunda (Pond) flow from North to South, hence the river becomes Dakshin Wahini i.e. flowing towards South. This gives the Ramkunda a unique place or religious importance. Almost daily 3 to 5 thousand pilgrims come and take Holy dip on the ghats.

Nashik is 180 kms from Mumbai as well as 200 Km from Pune. There are frequent buses to Nashik from Dadar in Mumbai and Pune station Bus terminus. It takes 4 to 5 hours by road. A train called 'Panchavati' express also plies daily between Mumbai and Nashik. A rented car is the best option to move around the city. There is also a Nashik Darshan bus every day which shows you around the important tourist attractions in Nashik otherwise regional public transport service is also a good option. It lodges a great diversity of tourist attractions, religious domains and the nature at its bountiful and beautiful best. This land of exquisite grandeur witnessed 14 years of exile suffered by Lord Rama. The Lord spent his years of exile in the forests of this land.

Places to visit

Panchavati, Muktidham, Sundarnarayan Temple, Gondeshwar Temple, Kalaram Temple: in Panchavati
Sita Gufaa: Caves where Ram and Sita worshipped Lord Shiva during their exile. The shivlinga is still present at the same spot.
Ganga Ghat: Ramkunda, Panchavati, Veda Mandir: Trimbak road, 
Triambakeshwar: one of the 12 Jyotirlinga's of Lord Shiva, 30 kms from Nasik via Trimbak road.
Pandava leni: Pandav Caves, Nasik Mumbai highway.
Phalke Smarak: Water Park, located at the foot of Pandava Caves.
Jain Mandir: located at Vilholi on Nasik - Mumbai highway.
Bhaktidham: located in Peth Naka.
Sula Wines: Winery offers and wine tasting.
Chambharlena: Dindori road.
Someshwar: Gangapur road.

There are good restaurants all over the city. Coffee Shops/Cafes on College Road. A delightful town, usually bustling with fervent crowds, Nashik is a classic melange of the past and the present. It plays abode to most of the industries located in Maharashtra, including the Security Printing Press of the government, the nation's currency printer. The core of commerce and trade, it was earlier the country's largest market arena. Widely held as the land that produces the maximum varieties of fruits and vegetables, it is rightly labelled as the green belt area

Shirdi

Shirdi is on the Ahmednagar-Manmad Highway, 250 km from Mumbai, 205 km from Puneand 75 km from Nashik. You can fly into Nashik and then take a bus, taxi or train to Shirdi. Shirdi is accessible on the Central Railway line; get off at Manmad (65 km from Shirdi) or at Kopergaon (18 km). MTDC runs buses from all major destinations.

Shirdi is not only the famous place in Maharashtra but is well known place all over India and pilgrims come to Shirdi to worship the saint Sai Baba. The temple is a huge one and is recently renovated in 1998-99.

Shirdi was the abode of the saint Sai Baba, who lived here for 80 years - and died here over eighty years ago. It is said that Sai Baba himself calls his devotees to Shirdi and that his blessings can heal even the deepest wound. The town is tiny - just 2 square km of main street and a labyrinth of by-lanes - but packs in much passion.

Saibaba is believed to have arrived at the village of Shirdi when he was about sixteen years old. He took up residence in a Khandoba temple, where a villager (Mahalsapathi) at worship first called him Sai ("saint"). Bearing an extremely simple and ascetic life, Sai Baba lived in the village as a mendicant monk. His inherent charisma soon began attracting followers. He has been attributed numerous miracles which still live expanding the list of his devotees. Today Saibaba temples are all across India and even beyond. Devotees have established Sai temples in countries like Canada and Cuba.

Samadhi Mandir: The Mandir is built with stones and Baba's Samadhi is built with white marble stones. In front of the Samadhi are two silver pillars full of decorative designs. Just behind the Samadhi is Sai Baba's marvelous statue made of Italian marble which shows him seated on a throne. This idol was made by late Balaji Vasant. A railing is built in marble around the Samadhi and is full of ornamental decorations.

The routine of the temple starts at 5 o'clock in the morning with Bhoopali, a morning song, and closes at 10 o'clock in the night after Shejarati is sung. Only on three occasions the temple is kept open overnight. i.e. On Ramnavami, Gurupoornima and Dassera(Navaratri/Vijaya Dashami). Every Thursday and on each festival, a palkhi with Baba's photo is taken out from the temple.

Pilgrims throng for a brief "darshan" at Samadhi Mandir, the shrine of Sai Baba where his mortal remains were interred. The queues outside the mandir are endless, the throng inside is maddening, and the devotion intense. Pilgrims flock to Shirdi at any time of the year. Shirdi has a dry climate that swings to extremes, from a high of 40° C in May, to a low of 7° C in January. But the monsoon months - June to August - are pleasant, with scanty rains. Though the shrine is open through out the week, Thursday is Sai Baba's special day.

Masjid: where Sai Baba spent most of his life. The sacred fire called "dhuni" still burns here and its ash or "udhi" is smeared on devotees.

Chavadi: The Chavadi is a small building where Sai Baba used to spend every alternate night.

Guru Sthan: The Guru Sthan is the shrine where the Baba's spiritual leader took samadhi (gave up his body). The neem tree at the Guru Sthan where Sai Baba first sat when he came to Shirdi, is said to have absorbed miracle powers.

Lendi Gardens: where Sai Baba went for a walk and sat in meditation is a spot where devotees come to pray.

Khandoba Temple: is the oldest temple in Shirdi near the STA bus stop

Siddhivinayak Prabhadevi

The Siddhivinayak temple is located in the Prabhadevi area of Mumbai and is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. This 200 year old temple is one of the most popular Ganesha temples in the city. Every Tuesday devotees throng this temple in the firm belief that their wishes will be fulfilled. The temple was recently renovated in 1994, to accommodate the huge crowds that throng the temple everyday and especially during Ganesh Chaturthi festival. There are television sets installed outside for those who do not have time to wait in the long serpentine queues that lead to the temple inside.

It is one of the most popular Hindu temples of Mumbai city. The idol of Lord Ganesh is two and a half feet in height and two feet in width. An interesting feature of the Ganesh statue at the Siddhivinayak temple is that the trunk turns to the right, usually not often found on Ganesh idols.

On auspicious Tuesdays, the serpentine queue of worshippers is over 2kms long. People stand for several hours with offerings of flowers and coconut, waiting patiently for a two minute "Darshan" or meeting with the Lord. The path to the divine is never easy, but it is said that those who tread it with true devotion will always have their wishes fulfilled.


Alandi

Alandi is 20 km from Pune off the Pune-Nasik Road, Popularly known as Devachi Alandi (God's place). Situated on the banks of river Indrayani, is known for the samadhi of the saint poet Dnyaneshwar, who authored Dnyaneshwari, the Marathi commentary on the Gita. Regular buses from various points in the Pune city. Samadhi temple is worth to see and creates a pleasant atmosphere. This temple was built in 1570. You can also see the famous wall in Alandi on which Dnyaneshwar sat and flew the wall to meet Changdev.

Saint Dnyaneshwar spent his short life here. He inspired the entire Maharashtra to worship Lord Panduranga. The Palakhi in the month of Ashadh is very popular and many people walk almost 150 kms. from Alandi to Pandharpur. Two fairs are held annually here: one on Ashadhi Ekadashi and the other on Kartik Ekadashi. The other famous places in Alandi are Muktai temple, Ram temple, Krishna Temple, Math of Swami Hariharendra, Vitthal-Rakhumai temple and the famous wall.

Also situated on the banks of the river Indrayani, 31 kms away, is Dehu, the birthplace of Tukaram, the great 17th century poet-saint of Maharashtra. He lived here and taught people how to pray the god. He and Sant Dnyaneshwar were the popular saints and both worshiped Lord Vitthal. The 'Palakhi' in the month of 'Ashadh' from Dehu is one of the main attractions of Dehu. Many people are taking part in it from so many years till now.

Transport is easy with a number of State Transport buses from Pune. One can also find 'Dharmashalas' for a comfortable stay, but prior booking is necessary

Trimbakeshwar

Shri Trimbakeshwar Temple is located in the town of Trimbak at a distance of about 30-km from Nashik in Maharashtra near the mountain named Brahmagiri from which the river Godavari flows. Trimbakeshwar Temple is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva and as the source of the river Godavari. Just as Ganga is known as Bhagirathi and is one of the most important river in North India, in the same way, Godavari is also known as Gautami Ganga and is the most sacred river in South India.

The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is that it has three faces embodying Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Rudra (Shiva). All other Jyotirlingas have Shiva as the main deity. The entire black stone temple is known for its appealing architecture and sculpture. The construction of the temple was done in the Nagara style of architecture. It is surrounded by a massive stone wall and adorned with many sculptures. The structure today is a result of reconstruction done during the 18th century by the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao.

According to Shiva Purana, it is because of the earnest request of Godavari, Gautam Rishi and other Gods that Lord Shiva agreed to reside here and assumed the famous name Trimbakeshwar. Interestingly, locals refer to the river here as Ganga and not as Godavari. All the heavenly Gods promised to come down to Nasik, once in twelve years, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Leo. On this a grand fair is organized at this place(kumbha Mela). Devotees take a holy bath in the Gautami Ganga and then seek the blessings of Trimbakeshwar.

This Jyotirlinga named Trimbak, is the one which fulfills everyones desires. It emancipates all from their sins and miseries.The place is known for its scenic beauty in rainy season and is surrounded by lush green hills untouched by pollution. Anjaneri mountain, the birth place of Lord Hunuman is just 7 Km. form Triyambakeshwar.

According to historical records, Nashik is one of four places(Prayag, Nashik, Ujjain and Haridwar) where the elixir of immortality, the 'amrit'(nectar), fell to earth from a pitcher as gods and demons were engaged in the tussle to gain the ownership of the jar full of 'amrit'. The Kumbh Mela rotates among the four holy sites every three years.

The Kumbh Mela is marked by millions of devotees' plunge into the river Godavari that is believed would cleanse their souls leading to salvation. A ritual bath at a predetermined time and place is the major event of the festival. The annual festival of Shivratri is also celebrated with great pomp and show inviting thousands of pilgrims.

Ashtavinayak

Pali - Shri Ballaleshwar

One of the "Ashtavinayak" Shri Ballaleshwar is at Pali in Raigad district. Pali is around 115 kms. from Pune and 38 Kms. from Khopoli. The idol is believed to be "Swayambhu" as was found or not sculpted by human hands. The temple was named after devotee Ballal as Ballaleshwar to whom Ganpati revealed himself at this sacred spot. There are diamonds in the eyes and naval of Shri Ganesh's idol. The temple is made up of wood.

Theur - Shri Chintamani

Theur is 26 kms away from Pune, also known as Shri. Chintamani. The village is along the river Mulamutha. Ganesh as Chintamani is god who brings peace of mind and drives away all perplexities of the mind. The idol is believed to be "Swayambhu" ( Self Created ) as was found or not sculpted by human hands. It is believed that Brahma the creator once felt tharva that is restive. To still his mind he called upon Lord Ganesh. The place where Brahma achieved the quietude he was looking for is known as the Sthavar region or as Theur.

Lenyadri - Shri Girijatmaka

Lenyadri is 96 kms away from Pune. Lenyadri is also known as Shri Girijatmaka. Shri Girijatmaka situated on a hill on the banks of Kukdi river at Lenyadri. Girijatmaj Vinayak refers to the Ganesh as the son of Parvati. Girija is another name for Parvati and Atamaj means son. This is the only temple of the Ashtavinayak which is on a mountain and is set in a Buddhist cave-temple. There are 283 stairs to climb to reach the temple. The idol is believed to be "Swayambhu" as was found or not sculpted by human hands. Ganpati's tread ceremony was performed here. All the caves of Lenyadri are being taken care of by the Archeological Department of Govt. of India. The steps are not so easy to climb and hence recommended not to go in the evening.

Ranjangaon - The Maha Ganpati

Ranjangaon is one of the eight places associated with Lord Ganesha, popularly known as "Ashtavinayak". Ranjangaon is around 55 kms away from Pune. The original idol was very big but was hidden to prevent its destruction and now a days smaller idol was installed instead. Maha Ganpati is depicted as having eight, ten or twelve arms. It is after invoking this form of Ganpati that Shiva vanquished the demon Tripurasur and so he is also known as Tripurarivade Mahaganpati.

Morgaon - Shri Moreshwar

One of the Ashtavinayak, Shri Moreshwar is at Morgaon. Morgaon is at the distance of 64 kms from Pune, situated in the Baramati Taluka of Pune district in Maharashtra. The temple was built in 14th century by Moraya Gosavi. According to the legend Ganpati took birth as Mayureshwar riding a peacock to kill Sindhu ( who was son of Chakrapani ) also had powerful by worshipping Surya and was attacking Gods and imprisoned them. This is the place where head of Sindhu fell. It is believed that one Should start the "Ashtavinayak" yatra from Morgaon. This region is also known as the Bhuswananda. Shaped as a peacock, this region has in the past seen an abundance of peacocks and is therefore known as Morgaon (Mor - peacock).

Siddhatek - Shri Siddhi Vinayak

One of the "Ashtavinayak" Shri Siddhi Vinayak is at Siddhatek along the river Bhima in the Ahmednagar district and Karjat tehsil in Maharashtra.It is believed that it was here on the Siddhtek Mountain, that Vishnu acquired Siddhi. Lord Brahma once created a world with Ganpati's blessings and while this was going on, Vishnu woke up and two fierce demons Madhu and Kaitaba escaped from his ears. Vishnu fought with them for 5000 years, then Lord Shiva pointed out that Vishnu had started without worshipping Ganpati, so Vishnu invoked Ganpati on Siddhatek hill and , destroyed the demons successfully and consecrated the spot.

Mahad - Shri Varad Vinayak

Shri Varad Vinayak is at Mahad, set in the hilly region of Konkan in the Raigarh district and the Khalapur Taluka of Maharastra.Mahad is at the distance of 80 kms from Pune and 20 kms. from Khandala. A nandadeep has been lit in this temple which has been continuously lit since the 1892 Ganesh as Varad Vinayak fulfills all desires and grants all boons. This region was known as Bhadrak or Madhak in ancient times.

Ozar - Shri Vighneshwar

Shri Vighneshwar situated at Ozar near Junnar town. Ozar is around 102 kms from Pune and 10 kms. from Junnar. The Shri Vighneshwar temple was built in 1833. The temple is famous for its Deepmala's and its Golden dome. Lord Ganesh is known as Vigneshwara or the remover of all obstacles, this he achieved by vanquishing the demon Vighnasura. According to legend King Abhinandana performed many sacrifices to become Indra, Indra after hearing this sent Kala ( Time as destroyer) himself in form of Vighnasura to obstruct he sacrifices. At this all the world also halted and suffered. All Vedic rites also halted so the gods prayed to Ganpati. Ganpati defeated Vighnasura Making him one of the Gana's, Vighnasura requested Ganpati to use his name as prefix and stay at Ozar to which Ganpati agreed.

Khidrapur(Kopeshwar)

The Kopeshwar, Ancient & artistic temple situated on the bank of Krishna is an example of ancient sculpture. It was built in 11-12 century by Shilahar. In the interior you first see Vishnu (Dhopeshwar) and Shivling facing north. There is no Nandi. Nandi has a separate Mandir here. Separate Actor-Pendal, hall, old pillars, sculptures of gods & male-female artists in various poses are attractive. The ceiling is semicircular with matchless engravings. On the outside complete 'Shivaleetamrit' is carved.

When sati Parvati jumped into Daksha's sacrifice, Lord Shiva was upset. He got peace of mind in this temple. From entrance to Shivaling, we feel peace, coldness and dark. In Shravan, on Monday & Shivratri the mandir is crowded. The palanquin celebration is simply spectacular!

Wildlife in Maharashtra

Wild life parks in Maharashtra are home for a large number of animals and bird species, like the tiger, Crocodile, Bison, Gawa, Neelgai, Wild Deer, Sambar and rare migratory birds. Maharashtra has taken adequate steps towards setting up many wildlife parks and sanctuaries to protect these regions and promote them as tourist attractions. We have splendid opportunities to see a variety of wildlife in a spectacularly natural setting due to these parks.

Maharashtra is rich in natural beauty and is a paradise for nature lovers. There are many wildlife sanctuaries and wildlife parks within the state, having a wide range of vegetation. These wildlife parks are equipped with jeep rides, night safaris, comfortable accommodation and efficient transport. They can turn out to be your favorite holiday destinations. They offer an outstanding opportunity to view animals in their natural habitat. Apart from the existing wildlife sanctuaries, steps are taken by the state government to set up many new sanctuaries and parks.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

Bhimashankar is situated in the main Sahyadri Range, over 2500 feet above sea level, this region is gazetted as a reserved forest. The area of just 100 sq km, is densely forested with majestic towering trees festooned with numerous old trees, and is richer in fuana as compared to the rest of penensular India.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary has barking deers, sambars, leopards, wild boars, Hanuman langurs and Rhesus macaques wandering freely amidst the rich variety of flora is a nature lover's paradise. Perennial creepers - Jyotivanti trees, which glow in the dark during monsoon, add to the charm of the mist laden chilly atmosphere.

The Giant Squirrels live only in forests and keep to the summits of higher trees. They move from tree to tree taking leaps as long as 20 feet.These animals build large globular nests of twigs and leaves, among slimmer branches of trees. They are very shy animals and are sooner heard than seen. You can often hear its loud rattling call, that usually reveals its presence. The Malabar Grey Hornbill gliding amoung the trees are usually seen here. Here is helathy population of leopards and we can frequently spot pugmarks of these big animals.

Mahim Nature Park

Mahim Nature Park is situated near Dharavi which is Asia's largest slum. Mahim Nature Park comes across as a breath of fresh air. This educational park was the great idea of Shanta Chatterji, a busy corporate lawyer and the chairperson of World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Mahim Creek is the place where we find bird and marine life thrives. The park covered an area of 450 acres, main purpose behind this brainchild of Chatterji is to preserve the natural beauty and estuarine ecosystem of the region. The streams of the park allow the bird and marine life to flourish and wide range of life is sheltered due to the saline marsh land shaded by the Mangroves as it holds soil together.

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Melghat means 'meeting of the ghats' which is just what the area is, a large tract of unending hills and ravines scarred by jagged cliffs and steep climbs. Melghat area was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1974. Presently, the total area of the Reserve is around 1677 km². The core area of the Reserve, the Gugarnal National Park with an area of 361.28 km², and buffer area of the Reserve, the Melghat Tiger Sanctuary with an area of 788.28 km² (of which 21.39 km² is non-forest), were together re-notified by the state government in 1994 as Melghat Sanctuary.Two historic forts called Narnala and Gawilgarh guard the main east-west ridge. In 1803, in the Second Maratha War, Colonel Arthur Wellesley, who later became the Duke of Wellington, captured the Gawilgarh fort from the Marathas. Melghat was an automatic choice when Project Tiger was launched in 1973.

Best time to Visit: January to June.
Location: The Gaurilagarh Hills in Amaravati, Maharashtra.
Main Attraction: Tiger, Leopard, Sloth Beer

Borivli National Park

Mumbai is the only metropolis in the world with 104 sq kms of virgin forest within its borders, just waiting to be explored. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park, or as commonly known, the Borivili National Park. A miraculously preserved natural oasis in the heart of an urban sprawl, this park is very much within the city limits, yet far removed from its crowds and clamour.

Borivli is one of the few national parks that can be visited all year round. In the hot, dry summer months the jungle is a riot of colour as gulmohor, flame-of-the-forest and the flowering silk cotton enfold the otherwise brown forest in a crimson blush. Borivli in the rains has a charm of its own. The floor of the forest is a carpet of green. Streams, swollen with rain, tumble over boulder-strewn water courses. The rains draw trekkers, bird-watchers and nature lovers of all ages to this verdant paradise.

The ideal season to visit the National Park is from Nov. to Feb., when temperatures are below 30'C. The relative humidity is always above 60% very often exceeding above 80% during the monsoons.

How to get there?

By Rail: Borivli is a 40 minute train ride from Churchgate Station in South Mumbai.

By road: Borivli is accessible by road. Depending on the traffic, the trip could take around 75 minutes from Churchgate, driving along the Western Express Highway.

Karnala National Park

Just a short drive outside Mumbai on the Mumbai-Pune Highway to Goa, is the densely forested Karnala Bird Sanctuary, a pleasant surprise away from Mumbai's concrete jungle.Between Pen and Panvel lies Karnala bird sanctuary. Karnala is 120 k.m. away from Pune and 13 k.m. away from Panvel.

The whole area is lush green and rich with natural habitation of various birds like Red Vented, Bulbul, Horn Bill, Myna, Owl, Robin McPie and many others. Best time to visit for bird watching is from October to April. However if one wants to enjoy the greenery, it has to be during the monsoons. Karnala forest was declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1962.

The latest wildlife census proved the sanctuary to be a refuge for more than 140 species of resident and over 40 migratory bird species.

How to get there

From Panvel regular buses and autorickshaws(6 sitters) going towards Pen will drop you at Karnala, but the frequency is very less after 6.00-7.00 PM. The fare is around Rs.10.00.

From Vashi (New Mumbai) - 32km. (one Way)
State Transport buses run from Mumbai Central to Karnala. You can hire an Taxi from Mumbai or Pune and shouldn't be very expensive.

Nagzira sanctuary

Nagzira wildlife sanctuary is located in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra. The sanctuary is enclosed in the arms of the nature and adorned with exquisite landscape. The sanctuary consists of a range of hills with small lakes within its boundary. These lakes not only guarantee a source of water to wildlife throughout the year, but also greatly heighten the beauty of the landscape.

This sanctuary has a number of fish, 34 species of mammals, 166 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles and four species of amphibians. The invertebrate fauna includes, besides a number of insects and ant species. Wild animals found here are the tiger, panther, bison, sambar, nilgai, chital, wild boar, sloth bear and wild dog.there is also ten tigers, panthers and one elephant. its an awesome tourist place

How to get there

By Road: Nagzira Wildlife Santuary is about 170 km away from Nagpur. Sakoli 22 kms,Tirora 22 Kms and Gondia 50 Kms. 
By Rail : Nearest rail head is Tiroda 19 kms.
By Air : Nearest airport is Nagpur 122 kms.
Nearby Attractions - Nawegaon National Park at 50km, Itiadoh Dam at 65km,Tibetian camp at Gothangaon at a distance of 60km, Pratapgad 70km, Tadoba 210km,Pench (Maharashtra) 140km, Pench (Madhya Pradesh) 160km and Kanha National Park 120km.

Navegaon national park

The Navegaon National Park is one of the most popular forest resorts in the Vidarbha region. It is located in the Navegaon area of Maharashtra, at a distance of approximately 150 km from Nagpur city.

Navegaon National Park consists of a deer park, an aviary and three beautifully landscaped gardens. Covering an area of 135 square kilometers, Watch Towers are located at suitable points to enable to proper view of wild life. Tigers, panthers, bison, sambar deer, nilgais, chital, wild boars, sloth bears, and wild dogs dominate the park. Jungle safari and boat riding on the lake are the other points of interest. The weather remains pleasant around the year. But the best time to visit the park is either in the months of April and May or during winter.

How to get there

By Air: Nearest airport is at Nagpur, 142-km away from the park.
By Rail: Deulgaon on Chandrapur-Gondia railway line is the nearest railway station, 2-km away from the park.
By Road: The nearest bus stand is Navegaon 10-km away from the park.
Timings: 4 am to 7 pm
Best Time to Visit: April and May (wildlife) and October to June (birds)
Highlights: Deer Park, Aviary, Three Landscaped Gardens and Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Dajipur Bison Sanctuary

The Dajipur Bison Sanctuary is situated on the border of Kolhapur and Sindhudurg districts. Surrounded by rugged mountains and dense forests, it is located at a height of 1200 mt. Dajipur is an isolated jungle and is home to many spectacular wild animals and birds. The main attraction here is the Indian bison, locally known as the Gava. Apart from that several species of deer and monkeys, wild boar, smaller mammals, and the occasional bear are seen. The watchtower near the Manora watering hole, gives good sightings of animals.

One gets a good view of dense forest and backwaters of Radhanagari dam while in a bus.

How to get there?

Summer is the best time to visit Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary. 
By Air : Nearest airport is Belgaum
By Rail : Nearest railhead is Kolhapur on South Central Railway.
By Road : Mumbai-Dajipur: 490 kms. Kolhapur-Dajipur: 80 kms. Radhanagari-Dajipur: 30 kms. Phonda-Dajipur: 20 kms.

Tadoba National Park

Tadoba National Park is the oldest national park of the State of Maharahtra and since 1993, a Project Tiger Reserve. Tadoba-andhari Tiger reserve has an area of 625.40 sq. km. This includes Tadoba National Park, created in 1955 with an area of 116.55 sq. km. and Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary created in 1986 with an area of 508.85 sq. km.

Along with around 50 tigers, Tadoba Tiger Reserve is a home for rare Indian wildlife like, Leopards, Sloth Bears, Gaur, Wild Dogs, Hyenas, Civet and Jungle cats, and many species of Indian deer like Sambar, Cheetal, Nilgai, and Barking Deer. The Tadoba lake sustains the Marsh Crocodile, which were once common all over Maharashtra. Tadoba is also an ornithologist's paradise with a varied diversity of aquatic birdlife and Raptors.

How to get there?

Best Season : Summer District : Chandrapur
Airport : Nagpur (91 km)
Railway Station. : Warora (51 km)
From Mumbai : 936 km via Nagpur

Kalsubai Harishcandragad National Park

The Kalasubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the Ahmednagar district of Maharshtra. The Kalasubai Harishchandragad Wildlife sanctuary spreads from Kalasubai to Harischandragad in Akole Tehsil of Ahmadnagar district.

In the ancient times, a lady named "Kalsu" came to nearby Indorey village to work. However, having faced indignation at the hands of her employers, she left the place and eventually died at this spot. Therefore, the name Kalasubai. A small temple is built here, in her memory.

The area is part of Sahyadri hill ranges. The Kalsubai sanctuary is challenge to trekkers as it is most rugged, hilly area and difficult to get accessibility. Kalasubai is the highest (1646 m) peak of Western Ghats in Maharashtra. It is also a paradise for nature lovers.

The mammals found here are Leopard, Jungle cat, Palm civet, Mongoose, Hyena, Wolf, Jackal, Fox, Wild Boar, Barking Deer, Sambar, Hare, and Bats. The most attractive animals are Indian Giant Squirrel and Porcupine. The reptiles found in this sanctuary are Monitor Lizard, Fan-Throated Lizard, Turtles and many species of snakes. Among the birds are the common hill and grass land birds. One can also spot water birds such as White Necked Storks, Black Ibis, Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Water hens.

How to get there?

Best Time To Visit: August To December 
By Air : Nearest Airports from the sanctuary are situated in Pune and Mumbai.
By Rail :Nearest Railway Station is Ghoti on Mumbai - Bhusaval rail line and is on the Mumbai Agra National Highway No - 3. 
By Road : The nearest bus station is situated at Bhandardara.

Konkan

Maharashtra has 720 km. long sea face extending from Dahanu and Bordi in the north up to Goa proceeding southwards. If you have liking for sand, sea and surf, this State has a great many interesting option in store. You could arrange trips or get away on a weekend. You could indulge in adventurous water sports or relax on golden sands. If you are interested in forts and their history Maharashtra is the perfect place for your tour. It offers you a vast choice of majestic forts like Khanderi, Undheri, Malvani, Goa, Murud, Sindhudurg and Suvarnadurg.

There's so much you can do during beach holidays. Study temple and churches. Stroll through whispering coconut groves, hills and valleys. Look for tiny, picturesque villages. Acquaint yourself with different people and their lifestyle. Savor the flavor of Konkan cuisine Solkadhi, bangda, pomfret, curry, modak, rice, chapattis, dishes with jackfruit, kokam sherbet and the world famous Devgad alphonso mangoes.

Beaches

Bassien

In the beginning of the seventeenth century Bassein used to be a place for ship-building. It was here that the Marathas besieged the Portuguese in 1739.

Hidden by brushwood and palm groves, the ruins of the Portuguese Fort still stand here. It's 10 kms. to the north-west lies Nalasopara village, the capital of the Konkan.

Nalasopara is believed to have been Gautama Buddha's birthplace in one of his previous life. Many Buddhist relics were discovered here.

To the north of Nalasopara is the the Agar of Bassein.

One can visit Vajreshwari temple and Akloli hot springs which are at about an hour by bus from Bassein station.

Also, worth watching is Ganeshpuri with the Sadguru Nityanand Maharaj Samadhi Mandir, the Bhimeshwar temple and the other ashrams.

There are several beautiful churches in Bassein, a reminder of the Portuguese presence.

Getting there: Bassein Road, on Western Railway, is the nearest railhead.
By road, Bassein is 77 kms. along the Mumbai- Ahmedabad highway.

Dahanu Bordi

Dahanu, is a quite seaside town with a virgin, uncluttered beach. It's situated in Thane district.

The Dahanu-Bordi stretch is 17 kms. This once-barren land was developed under Iranians.

Dahanu is full of fruit orchards. It isa famous for its chickoos.

From Dahanu one can visit Udwada - with a large, beautiful temple of Zoroastrians. It's a special place of attraction for Zoroastrians.

And amazingly, this fire has been kept alive for almost a thousand years.

Getting there :
Dahanu Road is the nearest railhead, which is just 2 ½ hours from Mumbai. By road Mumbai is 145 kms. away.

Ganapatipule

Ganapatipule has always been one of most famous tourist spots in Maharashtra , especially for those who crave for silversand, gentle breeze and murmuring sea. It's also famous for the 400 - year old Swayambhu Ganapati. Set along the western coast of maharastra, is a small little village called Ganapatipule. It is known for it's scerene beach. Unlike most beaches, the Ganapatiphule beach is as natural and pristine as ever.

Travelling to Ganapatipule by road is a sheer ride of joy. Here you can see the real beaty of 'konan' region. Narrow roads, red soil, roofed houses, clean courtyards, innumerable fruit- bearing trees (including mango, banana, jackfruit, etc.) and casuarinas lining the cost greet you.

Besides the beach Ganapatipule is also an important pilgrimage spot. The temple of the 'Swayambhu Ganapati' is known for its unique idol of Lord Ganapati. Swayambhu' or self originated, not manmade, 'Ganapati' or the lord of 'ganas' or army. 'Pule' or sand dune. That's why the name Ganapatipule. The temple is 400 years old and is situated at the side of see and at the foot of a hill. Most piligrims believe in taking a 'pradakshina' around the hill instead of just the temple. Pradakshina is a form of showing obeisance wherein devotiees walk in a circle around the idol of the deity or around the temple.

Geographic location :
Approximately 375 kms south of mumbai, along the 'konkan' coast.

Climate:
The climate is hot and humid. In summer the temprature is around 38 C.May is the hottest month. Monsoon is between June and October. Rains are usually plentiful and regular. The winter season is perhaps the most pleasant with temperatures dropping at nights.

Languages spoken :
Marathi is the most widely spoken language along with local dialect of 'konkani'.

How to get there :
BY ROAD : Mumbai to Ganapatiphule ( via Mahad) is 375 kms. Pune to Ganapatiphule (via satara) is 331 kms. Kohlapur to Ganapatiphule is 144 kms.

BY RAIL : The nearest railhead is ratnagiri 50 kms on the Konkan railway

Mandwa Kihim

Just Eleven miles north of Alibag and easily accessible from Mumbai, Mandwa is a beautiful, serene beach.

One can enjoy a long view extending right up to the Gateway of India. with its beautiful of coconut groves Mandwa village has a charm of its own.

One can enjoy wonderful tent holiday, at the nearby Kihim beach.

Unspoilt and isolated, this beautiful place has a soothing effect on all city dwellers. For a nature lover Kihim has lot to offer. Woods are full off thousands of rare species of flowers, butterflies and birds. This was one of favorite retreats of Dr. Salim Ali, a renouned birdwatcher.

Near from the shore is the Kolaba Fort. Just a. 15 kms. from Alibag is Chaul, an historic place where one can spot Portuguese ruins, Buddhist caves, the Hamam Khana, a church, a temple and even a synagogue.

Getting there: The nearest railhead is Pen, 85 kms. by road, Kihim is 136 kms. from Mumbai. The distance by sea between Gateway of India and Mandwa (Rewas) is 10 nautical miles

Marve Manori Gorai

Away from crowds and pollution of Mumbai, are these three beaches that have become popular tourists spot for Mumbai's fun lovers.

Marve, is the closest and the quietest are a lovely little fishing village.Low hills along the beach offer you spectacular views of sunrise and sunset. Gorai and Manori, a little further away, are more crowded with revelers. They are famous for all night beach parties.

A fifteen-minute ferry ride from marve or Borivali takes you to Gorai and Manori.

Getting there: Malad, a station on the suburban section of WR, is the nearest railhead.

By road, Marve is 40 kames. From Mumbai via Malad.

The longer route, via Bhayander, is 85 kames

Vengurla Malvan

Further south to Mumbai lies Vengurla well known for its for long stretch of white sands, and hills covered with cashew, coconut, jackfruit and mango groves.

The town has two well - known temples : the Shri Devi Sateri temple and the Rameshwar Mandir.

Vengurla is historically known as a trade centre.

To the west-north-west lie the Vengurla Rocks, also called the Burnt Islands.

On what was once an inner island, and is now part of the mainland, lies the old town of Malvan, almost hidden by palms.

The rocky terrain of Malvan holds two Ports : the Sindhudurg and Padmagad .

Malvan is known for its salt pans. Formerly it was a trading zone. It is famous Chinese clay pottery and the special 'Malvani cuisine' which is quite distinct from Konkan food.

Getting there : The closest railhead is Kudal on Konkan Railway. By road, Malvan is 514 kms. away from Mumbai, 200 kms. from Ratangiri. Vengurla is 522 kms. from Mumbai

Vijaydurg Sindhudurg

Visit Sindhudurga, a district having tourism potential. This district is being developed by the govt. of Maharashtra as a tourism district. Sindhudurga district is situated in the southern butt end of Maharashtra. Situated between the Sahyadri mountain ranges on the east and the Arabian sea in the west, this district boasts of its natural beauty.

It is abundant with dense green forest and coconut & arica nut palms. Houses with steeple shaped red roof tops add to the natural beauty of the region. Thi sdistrict is famous for many tourist attractions. One can enjoy the pleasures of hill stations and glories of sea-shore in this district.

Vijaydurg and Sindhudurg were naval bases during the rule of Maratha King Shivaji

Vijaydurg or Fort Victor was build around the seventeenth century by Shivaji. The triple line of walls,the numerous towers and the massive interior buildings makes it almost invincible.

It was once seized by the British and renamed Fort Augustus, Sindhidurg or the Ocean Fort at the Malvan port.

Within its precincts are temples holding shrines of Maruti, Bhavani, Mahadeo, Jarimai and Mahapurush, and of Shivaji. It is the only such shrine in the country.

As for Vijaydurg and Sindhudurg beaches, they offer the visitor one of the most serene and beautiful coastal views in India.

How to go

This district is accessible from Panaji, the capital city of Goa, Belgaum, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri.
By Road: National highway No. 14 winds through this district touching important places like Kankavali, Sawantwadi and Kudal. State transport buses are available to many spots in the district.

By Train: The world-famous Konkan railway, one of the miracles achieved by Indian Railways, by itself is worth ti call a beautiful thing. This railway, woth its modern amenities, has centered to the taste of tourists. This tailway halts at three important stations vis. Kanakavli, Kudal and Sawantwadi. Rajapur and Kudal respectively are the nearest railheads on Konkan Railway. Sindhudurg by road is 510 kms. and Vijaydurg 425 kms. from Mumbai vis the Goa highway.

By Air: The nearest airprt is at Panaji in Goa from where one can visit Sindhudurga by bus or train.

Accomodation

Good accomodation is available in the town. A typical Malvani fish curry and solkadhi are special items you should not miss. Different fish dishes are available for fish lovers. One can visit cashew nut processing factory and taste the cashew. if you happen to visit this place during summer (April, May and June), you'll surely like to taste the king of fruits, Alphonso Mango & jack fruit, purple jamun and such other fruits.

Murud Janjira

Formerly it was the capital town of the Siddis of Janjira. Murud is today popular for its alluring beach, whispering casuarinas, coconut and betel palms, and an ancient fort.

On a small hill to the north is the shrine of Lord Dattatraya. The 300-years old fort of Janjira is an architectural marvel. It was considered to be invincible. The palace of the Nawab and the Janjira caves are also a must see. And just a few kilometers away are two pristine beaches : Nandgaon and Kashid.

Nandgaon is famous for its Ganapati temple and the annual fair held in honor of this Hindu god every February.

Getting there:
Roha on Konkan Railway is the nearest railhead. Mumbai is 165 kms. by road.

Velneshwar

To the North of the Shastri river lies the serene village of Velneshwar.

The quiet, coconut beach offers the visitor the perfect place for swimming or just relaxing.

There is an old Shiva temple which is often attracts pilgrims.

Velneshwar is the focus of attention in March, when the Maha Shivaratri fair is held in honor of the God Shankar or Shiva.

Getting there:

The nearest railhead is Chiplun on Konkan Railway.

By road, Mumbai via Chiplun and Guhagar is 370 kms. away

Shriwardhan Harihareshwar

Tender winds, soft sands and inviting waters make Shriwardhan Bay tempting to beach lovers.

And if one cares for sea-food, there is no end of mouth-watering delicacies to sample here.

And if you like adventurers you can even take a small boat to the north side of the bay and explore a land where the 'Peshwas' or the Prime minister of Maratha Kingdom, originally resided.

The 'Peshwa Smarak' is of interest to most people who visit Shriwardhan. The town of Harihareshwar is known for its serene and charming beach and is also famous for the temple of Harihareshwar.

Getting there:
The nearest railhead is Mangaon on Konkan Railway. Mumbai by road is nearly 200 kms. away. The nearest Mumbai - Goa highway point is about 60 kms., at Goregaon, which is about 170 kms. from Mumbai

Tarkarli

Tarkarli is a favourite spot with creek and sea-shore. Blue sea, silver moonlight and unpolluted atmosphere have attracted tourists from all over India.

How to go

State transport buses are available from Malvan (10 kms). Accomodation: MTDC tents are available. private paying guest accomodation is being developed.

What to see

Clean and long beach, blue sea and coconut palm and arica nut palms.

Cuisine

All varities of fish fresh from the sea and creek available. Solkadhi one should not miss!

Dhamapur

Dhamapur is a typical Konkani village. It is a paradise for the lvers of serene atmosphere and virgin natural beauty. Situated among small hills and dense green trees and coconut and arica-nut palms, this had become a favorite tourist spot.

One can get state transport buses from Malvan. It is accessible by road only:13 kms from Malvan.

What to see

A beautiful lake with blue, unpolluted, crystal-clear water is a pleasure for eyes. 
Temples: Temples of Bhagawati and Bharadi Devi are worth visiting. Kokani folks are staunch believers and they have maintained there holy places well. Calm and quiet atmosphere of konkani village, with cow-dung polished yards give you full satisfaction, physical conforts and mental peace.
Accomodation is available at Malvan.

Kondura

Kondura has become famous because a novel of the same name in Marathi has been written by C.T. Khanolkar. The place has gained enigmatic characteristics. It is a cave in a small hill named Kondura.

How to go: One can get state transport buses from Vengurla (a taluka place). It is accessible only by road. Fishery is the main business of the people in the surrounding area.

Accomodation: Lodging and boarding facilities are available.

Cuisine: Fish fantacy- all varities of fish available.

What to see: 1) Kondura cave 
2) Mango, cashew, coconut research center.

Kashid Beach

Kashid is an offbeat destination which is growing in popularity in travellers' itineraries. Sandwiched between two rocky hillocks, Kashid Beach on the shores of the Arabian Sea is one of the most beautiful stretches in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. It is located 30km from Alibag and 135km from Mumbai on the Alibag-Murud road.

Kashid is popular mainly because of its white sand, blue seas, green mountains, paddy fields, and rivulets. Kashid has a 3 km stretch of beach tucked in between two rocky hillocks with Casuarina groves all around the seashore.

How to get there

140 Km from Mumbai
135 KM from Thane
110 KM from New Bombay (Vashi)
Buses plying regularly between Mumbai central - Murud halt at Kashidbr 
Buses plying regularly between Thane - Murud halt at Kashid
Frequent service available for Alibaug from Mumbai, Thane. From there buses are available for Murud which halt at Kashid village.
Driving down to Kashid itself is a rejuvenating experience. Its around 140 Km from Mumbai / Thane. The road is quite good in condition except for few patches. The journey itself is very rewarding. 
Best season to visit : Oct to March

Major Cities of Maharashtra

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. Those divisions are Geographically, historically and according to political sentiments Maharashtra has five main regions:

Vidarbha (Nagpur and Amravati divisions)
Marathwada (Aurangabad Division)
Khandesh and Northern Maharashtra (Nashik Division)
Desh or Western Maharashtra (Pune Division)
Konkan (Konkan Division)

Maharashtra State in west central India; with area 307,762 sq km. Mumbai which is capital of Maharashtra(formerly Bombay), and other towns and cities include Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, Nasik, Nagpur, Solapur, Ulhasnagar, Thana, Aurangabad and Amravati. The state is divided by the heavily forested Western Ghats into the Konkan coastal plain and the Deccan plateau. The plain is subject to the southwest monsoon from June to September. The Godavari and Krishna rivers rise in the Western Ghats and flow eastwards across the Deccan. Marathi is the official state language and spoken by vast majority of its populace. Nearly 50% of the population speak Marathi. 80% of the population are Hindu, with Parsee, Jain, and Sikh minorities. The state was formed in 1960.

Mumbai and Pune combined is the major industrial area in Maharashtra. Pune is occupied by most of the IT companies with Mumbai producing about one-third of India's tax revenues. State's present economic importance originates from the trading role of Mumbai and a cotton-growing hinterland. In the 1970s, decentralization initiatives led to the rapid growth of other centres such as Aurangabad. Mumbai has the biggest international airport in Maharashtra. The big cities are always been attractions for relatively smaller cities nearby. Specially during holidays, weekends and festive season big cities attract crowds for shopping.

Maharashtra Industries include cotton processing at Mumbai, Nagpur, and Solapur, oil refining at Vasai, electrical goods, agricultural machinery, chemicals, and plastics; manganese ore, coal, iron ore, bauxite, and copper ore. India's first nuclear power plant is at Tarapur, which is 112 km/70 mi north of Mumbai. Agriculture products include rice (on the coastal plain), cotton, millet and wheat on the Deccan, dairy farming, groundnuts, sugar, and fruit.

Mumbai

Mumbai, formerly Bombay, the capital of state of Maharashtra, is the most populous city in India. Along with the neighbouring suburbs of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it forms, at 19 million, the world's fifth most populous metropolitan area. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. Its port handles a large proportion of her maritime cargo.

Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment center of India, accounting for 25 per cent of industrial output, forty per cent of maritime trade, and seventy per cent of capital transactions to India's economy. Mumbai is one of the world's top ten centers of commerce by global financial flow, home to such important financial institutions as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the National Stock Exchange (NSE) of India and the corporate headquarters of many Indian companies and numerous multinational corporations. The city also houses India's Hindi film and television industry, known as Bollywood. Mumbai's business opportunities attract migrants from all over India.

Places to Visit

Siddhivinayak Temple, Prabhadevi
Mahalaxmi Temple, Mahalaxmi
Nariman Point
Juhu Choupaty
Girgaon Chaupaty
Sahar International Air-Port
Gate Way Of India
Walkeshwar
Elephanta Caves
Nehru Planetorium, Worli
VT (Victoria Terminus) / CST Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus [World Heritage Property]
Tsarapore Aquarium
Jahangir Art Gallery, Fort
BARC [Bhabha Atomic Research Center]
Hajiali (Dargah)
Film City, Aare
Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Borivli
Prince of Wales museum, Fort
Hanging Garden
Queen's Garden/ Jijamata Udyan,

How to Reach

By Air: Many International (Sahar Airport) and domestic airlines (Santacruz) connect Mumbai with all major tourist centres in India and rest of the world.
By Rail: Regular trains connect it with all major cities like Aghamedabad, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Calcutta, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madras, Nagapur and Trivandrum.
By Road: Mumbai is connected by good motorable roads with all major tourist centres. Major IT hub of India, Pune (180 km away) is connected by express high-way which is one of the remarkable events that has lead to speedy transportation in state.

Pune

Pune is located in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Pune is the 7th largest city in India, it is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra. It is situated at the eastern edge of the Western ghats on the Deccan plateau.

Pune is widely considered the cultural capital of Marathi-speaking Maharashtrians. Pune is known as Oxford of India as it has a reputation for its several esteemed colleges and educational institutions. It has a very strong presence in the automobile sector and is on its way to consolidate its position as the 'Detroit of India' too. Pune city once referred as 'pensioner's paradise' and now Pune is fast emerging as an important Information technology hub of India. Its cosmopolitan population speaks several other languages like English and Hindi.

Pune's Fame began when king of Maratha Empire 'Chhatrapati Shivaji' came to stay here with his great mother Jijabai in 1635-36. They lived in Lal Mahal. Kasba Ganpati Mandir was built by Jijabai. In the early 18th century, prime minister of Chhatrapati Shahu, Peshwe Baji Rao wanted to make Pune his home. He built his palace on a ground near the Mutha river which is now known as Shaniwar Peth. The palace built in Shaniwar Peth is known as Shaniwar Wada.

In 1817 the Peshwas were defeated and the British forces took over the town. The British built a large cantonment to the east of the city. The city passed into British rule after the defeat of Marathas in the Battle of Ashti in 1818. Army bases established by the British on the outskirts of the city were later converted into cantonments of Pune and Khadki. The Pune Municipality was established in 1858. A number of esteemed educational institutes also came up here in the latter half of the 19th century.

During the struggle for Indian independence the presence of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar dominated the political scene for six decades. It was the home to some reformers who were stalwarts of the national movement, like Mahadev Govind Ranade, R.G Bhandarkar, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde and Jyotirao Phule. Pune's reputation as an educational and research node grew after independence with the establishment of University of Pune, National Defence Academy (NDA), National Chemical Laboratory, College of Engineering, Pune, SP College, Fergussan College.

Points of Attraction

The Aga Khan Palace, the tribal museum, old central market, the osho ashram and the Shaniwarwada Palace are the main tourist attractions of Pune. The most interesting place to look out for is the Raja Kelkar Museum, which houses an interesting collection of artifacts and antiques belonging to the 17th, 18th and the 19th century. The old central market consists of a large octagonal central tower with Gothic features and arms radiating from it. The Central market is a reminder of the colonial period. A Jewish merchant, Sir David Sassoon, built it in the year 1867. The David Synagogue is an important heritage site and one of the finest synagogues in India.

The Aga Khan Palace is a historical monument where many freedom fighters were imprisoned during the Quit India movement of 1942. Another tourist attraction of Pune is the Shaniwarwada Palace. It is known for its light and sound show. The light and sound show at the Shaniwarwada Palace takes you back to the days of the mighty Maratha Empire.

There are many other places to visit in Pune

Lonawala and Khandala
Sinhagad
Aalandi and Dehu
Theur
Jejuri
Bhimashankar
Mahabaleshwar
Matheran
Panchgani
Purandar
Shivaneri

Transportation

The city has two main railway stations, Pune and Shivajinagar. Pune local/suburban trains connect Pune Railway Station to the industrial towns of Khadki, Pimpri and Chinchwad. Local trains run from Pune up to Lonavala and from Mumbai up to Karjat and Khopoli, the authorities are trying to connect Lonavala and Karjat by local rail so that travel between all the stations becomes seamless. Road travel between Pune and Mumbai has improved significantly with the construction of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Inter-city luxury buses, both state owned and private ones, also connect Pune with other major cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. A brand new International Airport for the Pune metropolitan region is going to start and the Govt of Maharashtra has entrusted responsibility for the Pune International Airport project to MIDC. PMT and PCMT together form the backbone of Pune's public transport service. Within the city, auto rickshaw is a common mode of transport. Air-conditioned taxis, operating mostly on pre-paid fare basis, are only at the Pune Airport or at the Pune Railway Station.

Economy

Pune is the major industrial center. Pune has world famous companies like two-wheeler manufacturers, Bajaj Auto, automobile majors are Tata Motors, India's largest passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturer, DaimlerChrysler, it has an assembly line for its Mercedes-Benz brand, Kinetic Engineering, Force Motors Ltd (previously known as Bajaj Tempo) Then other engineering goods industries situated in pune are Bharat Forge Ltd, world's second largest forging company, Cummins Engines Co Ltd, has its Research & Technology India center, Thermax Limited a global player providing sustainable solutions in energy and environment, Alfa Laval, Sandvik Asia, Thyssen Krupp (Buckau Wolff), KSB Pumps, Finolex, Greaves India, Forbes Marshall, etc.

Pune has electronic companies like Whirlpool and LG have appliance manufacturing plants. Food majors like Frito Lay and Coca Cola. The international air connectivity had helped many volume produce growers in the surrounding districts to export their goods conveniently.

Pune has achieved additional reputation because of the presence of IT parks like

Rajiv Gandhi IT Park at Hinjewadi
Magarpatta Cybercity
MIDC Software Technology Park at Talawade
Marisoft IT Park at Kalyaninagar
International Convention Center (ICC)

Global majors: BMC Software, NVIDIA, HSBC Global Technology, IBM, Red Hat, Siemens, EDS, UGS, I-Flex, Cognizant, Symantec, SunGard Data Systems, Versant Inc., Zensar Technologies, T-Systems and SAS Research and Development India Pvt Ltd have a major presence in Pune. New Entry: IPdrum, which is a new entrant in the Voip business, has also established a branch office in Pune. Pune is also emerging as a prominent city for Business Process Outsourcing due to the availability of skilled English speaking manpower. BPO companies: Convergys, WNS, Infosys BPO, EXL, Wipro BPO and Mphasis have started operations in Pune. Software companies: Infosys, Sasken, Fluent, Tata Elxsi, Xansa, TCS, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, Patni, Satyam, Cybage, KPIT Cummins, Aztecsoft (Disha), Persistent Systems, Geometric Software Solutions Limited, Neilsoft and Kanbay Software have their major presence in Pune.

Speciality

Pune is known as The Oxford of the east because of wellknown institutions in the city and its popularity amongst students. Pune is the largest center for Japanese learning in India and the JLPT exams are held in Pune annually (December). The Japanese language training is provided by the University of Pune among others. Some schools in Pune also train students in other languages like German, French, Russian. Pune has several colleges offering bachelor and masters courses in engineering and technology.

Sawaai Gandharva Sawaai Gandhrava is the biggest classical music festival in Pune. Every year it is celebrated in New English School, Ramanbag Pune. In December Pune hosts the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival. It is dedicated to the classical forms of music — both Hindustani and Carnatic. Many renowned artists perform through 3 consecutive days creating a hype unique to this city. It is eagerly awaited festival in the city, and it attracts music lovers from Pune and other parts of Maharashtra and India.

Food Pune is famous for quality in food. Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale and Kaka Halwai are famous for their sweets and bakarwadi. Pune has its own speciality of Mastaani, Thick milk-shakes with ice-cream scoops topped with chopped dried fruits called Mastaani, Sujata mastani and Kaware cold drinks are famous for this. Pune residents are known for their liking for food. Light snacks like wafers fresh potato chips, a fried spicy snack called Chiwda a fried potato pattie and bun sandwich called wada pav are available everywhere Joshi Wadewale is famous for wada pav. Another type of Maharashtrian food is, Misal - a mixture of sprouted cereals, puffed rice flakes, lots of spices and special Tarri (soup) with bread, is available in almost all restaurants. Besides this, Pune has many places serving south indian food, available at Vaishali Restaurant at F.C. Road and Gujarati and Rajasthani food, available at Rajdhani, Sukanta, Rutugandh.

Nagpur

Nagpur is the third largest city in the western Indian state of Maharashtra after Mumbai and Pune. Nagpur is one of the major industrial cities of Maharashtra. Nagpur is important geographically as it lies practically at the centre of India with the country's geographical centre (Zero Mile) being situated here. Nagpur is well-known throughout India as a trade centre for high-quality oranges grown in the surrounding region and hence the city is also known as Santra Nagari.

In Nagpur, cool environment of Gavilgad Fort, which is 200-300 years old attracts visitors. Lonar Lake is the third largest natural salt-water lake in the world. Marbat and Ramjanam rath yatra are the local festivals, which are enjoyed by the millions every month. Visiting the city during this time is really enjoying. Tourists can also organized excursions for Adasa, Khekranala, Ramtek, Pavnar, Markanda, Dhapewada, Nagardhan and Nawegaon Dam.

Points of Attraction

Deekshabhoomi : It is the largest hollow supta in the world. It is famous throughout India as the site where Dr. B. R. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism to promote his efforts to overcome discrimination against lower-caste and untouchable Hindus. Dalits and Buddhists from all over the country converge to Deekshabhoomi every year on Ashoka Dashmi.

Sitabuldi fort: It is the near Kasturchand Park which is the site fierce battle between the British and the Bhonsle Empire in 1817.

The Sri Poddareshwar Ram Mandir in Ram Nagar is the most popular religious spot in the city. The ancient Shri Mahalaxmi Devi temple 17km from the city is the town of Koradi draws devotees to its doors throughout the year, especially during annual Navratri festival. Prominent places of worship for other religions are also situated in the city. The Catholic Seminary located at Seminary Hills is one of the finest in the state. A Buddhist Dragon Palace Temple located on the outskirts of the city has become popular tourist spot in recent times due to its exquisite architecture and serene environment.

Magnificent Forts of Balapur: The forts of Balapur are named after goddess Baladevi. Balapur has turned into a seat of pilgrimage and a tourist spot over the years. It is located between the two rivers of Mana and Mhais. This place is at a distance of 6 km from the railway station.

Gavilgad Fort:It is located near the hill station of Chikhaldara in Amravati district. The Hindu rulers originally constructed Gavilgad fort. It is located at a height of about 370 ft above sea level (MSL). Historians believe that it is 200-300 years old, although the fort's history is not known till date.

Vidarbha Pandhari Kundinpur: It is located on the banks of Wardha River in Tiwsa Tehsil of Nagpur. It is about 120 km from Nagpur. There organize an annual ten-day fair during Karthik Purnima that attracts not less than 50000 devotees.

Markandeya Temple: It is located in Chamorshi Tehsil in Gadchiroli district. The shortest route is via Milswali-Sakhri, which is about 183km. Markandi can be also reached by taking Nagpur - Chandrapur - Mul Road.

The city also contains a many lakes that are popular recreation spots - Telangkhedi (which underwent major renovation recently), Ambazari Lake, Gandhisagar, Gorewada, and Sonegaon to name a few. With its scenic gardens and recreation facilities, the Ambazari Lake has historically been one of the most popular spots in Nagpur, a status that it retains to this day. The Zoo contains several rare species of birds and animals. Pench forest reserve, which is the setting for Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, is 45 miles to the north of Nagpur. The Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground (VCA) in Nagpur is one of the nine test venues in the country. A new stadium of VCA having capacity of 80,000 people is coming up on Wardha road.

Transportation

This city is well connected by road with major cities and villages in and out the state of Maharashtra. Bombay Calcutta NH-6 and Kanyakumari Varanasi NH-7 pass through the city. Nagpur is connected with domestic flights with the cities of Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi Hyderabad, Pune, Bhubaneswar and Raipur. Sonegaon airport in Nagpur is nearly 8 km south of the city. Two flights arrived Nagpur daily from Mumbai. Electrified broad gauge railway track connects Nagpur to all four major cities and villages of India. Nagpur railway station is an important rail junction on the Central and Southeastern lines.

Speciality

Nagpur is an important city for the scientific community as it is home to the headquarters of a number of national level scientific and governmental establishments like the National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute (NEERI), Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), National Research Centre for Citrus, National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Aluminium Research and Development Centre, the Indian Bureau of Mines, India's Intellectual Property Training Institute, the National Academy of Direct Taxes, the Chief Controller of Explosives of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation, and the South Central Zone Cultural Centre in addition to a regional office of the Indian Meteorological Department.

Nagpur is known throughout India as the birthplace and headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist organization. Nagpur is also an important city for the Indian armed forces as the headquarters of Maintenance Command of the Indian Air Force. Staff College for the Indian Armed Forces are located here. Nagpur suburb named Kamptee is home a neatly laid out cantonment of the Regimental Centre of Indian Army's Brigade that is made up of the National Cadet Corps' Officers' Training School, Institute of Military Law, and other establishments of Indian Army. National Civil Defence College in Nagpur provides civil defence and disaster management training to pupils from all over India and abroad. The city is also the home for Indian Air Force's giant IL-76 transport planes, Gajraj.

Nashik

Nashik is in the northwest of Maharashtra, 185 km. This city is known as Grape City. Nashik is located o th ebanks of Godavari river and is important mythologically, historically, socially and culturally. Known for the temples on the banks of the Godavari, it has historically been one of the holy sites of the Hindu religion. It is one of the four cities that hosts the massive Sinhastha Kumbh Mela once every twelve years. Nashik was known as the city of roses (Gulshanabad). Now known as the city of Grapes. Efforts are on the growth of export quality rose farming and wine industries. This city is the third most industrialised city in Maharashtra after Mumbai and Pune.

Points of Attraction

Panchavati: River Godavari flows through Nashik and its Northern part is called as Panchavati. There are five Banyan (Vad) trees and hence the area is called Panchavati. Nearby is Sita Gumpha (cave) where Sita is said to have stayed for some time. 
Ramkund/Gandhi Memorial: It is believed that Shriram has taken bath here in this kund so this kund is called as Ramkund. It is situated near Gandhi Lake. A dip in this kund is considered pious. Near kund a memorable monument is made out of white marble, in memory of the Father of the Nation. His ashes were dropped in Ramkund after Gandhiji passed away on 30th January 1948. 
Kalaram Mandir: This temple was built by Peshwas. It was built with black stones. There celebrated great utsav on Ramnavami, Dasara and Chaitra Padwa. The stones of this temple were brought from Ramshej. It took 12 years to build the temple with 2000 workers. The apex of the temple is made up of 32 tons of gold. In 1930, Dr. Ambedkar performed Satyagraha, to allow the entry of Harijans into the temple. 
Muktidham: Muktidham temple is situated on Nashik road. This mandir is the magnificient piece of architecture. It is built with marble form Makran in Rajastan, and by Rajastani scluptors. Speciality of this temple is that 18 chapters of Geeta written on the walls. After visiting this temple every Hindu feels that he has visited all four dhams. One cn see replicas of all twelve Jyotirlingas over here. 
There are many ganapati temples in Nashik like Navshya Ganapati, Dholya Ganapati, Tilya Ganapati, Varad Vinayak, Khandave Ganapati , Main Road Ganapati. Many more temples.

Transportation

Reaching Nashik is easy as the Nashik railway station is one of the major stations of the Central Railway. Nashik is 220 km away from Pune. Nearest airport is Mumbai or Pune with a distance of 175 km.

Speciality

There are five "Industrial Zones" in the Nashik area and its outskirts (Satpur, Ambad, Sinnar, Igatpuri and Dindori). These estates house corporations like Mahindra and Mahindra, MICO (Bosch), VIP Luggage, Crompton Greaves, GlaxoSmithKline, Graphite India Ltd. (Formerly Carbon Everflow Ltd), Larsen & Toubro, ABB Group, Siemens, Samsonite, Ceat and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Software companies like Aress Software, WNS. It is home to an important thermal power plant (Eklahare) and a National Treasury Printing Press India Security Press at Nashik Road.

Tourists can also organize trips to Shirdi, Trimbakeshwar, Dudhasagar Waterfalls, Saptashringi Devi Temple, Nandurmadhmeshwar, Bhandardara Jawhar and Nandur Madhameshwar Bird Sanctuary, which are not so far the city.

Solapur

Solapur is in south eastern Maharashtra, India. Solapur is one of the biggest cities in Maharashtra, situated near the borders with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Gramdiwat of Solapur is Siddharameshwar. Solapur is located on the major road and rail routes between Mumbai and Hyderabad, on banks of river Sina. It is famous as a center of Jains.

Points of Attraction

Siddheshwar Lake, Pandharpur, Mangalwedha, Machnur, Akklakot, Ground Fort, Siddheshwar Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Parasnath Temple, Adinath Temple, Masjids, Churches and Agyari are the attractions of this place. Bhui-Kot Castle - castle of 15th century and under the Bahamani period, Hutatma Garden, Tuljapur - Tuljabhavani Temple (45 km away), Naldurg Fort (approx. 45 km towards Hyderabad). Hipparga Lake - a scenic nature area.

Pandharpur is the holiest place in Maharashtra for Hindus, with its Vitthal-Rakhumai temple on the banks of the Bhima river. This river is called as 'Chandrabhaga' because of its shape is like half moon. It is only 70 km from Solapur.

Akkalkot is only 38 km from Solapur which is a holy place due to the shrine of Akkalkot Swami. Akkalkot is considered to be an important center of Datta. The Vatavriksha Temple of Shri Swami Samartha and Akkalkot Swami math are important religious places, which are visited by many devotees.

Tuljapur is in Osmanabad District, 40 km from Solapur has goddess Tulja Bhavani. She is known as the family deity of Maharashtra and especially Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire. The slogan of the Maratha warriors is "Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji".

Across the border in Gulbarga District of Karnataka, is Ganagapur, another place of pilgrimage. The city of Bijapur in Karnataka, 109 km from Solapur, is widely known for its 'Gol-Gumbaj', a highly regarded piece of architecture.

Transportation

Local Municipal Bus Service is available for local trasportation. Solapur is 433 km away from Mumbai and 244 km from Pune. Solapur is well-connected with metro-cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bangalore with rail and roads.

Speciality

Solapur has many educational institutes. Government Polytechnic Solapur, Dr. Vaishampayan Memorial Medical College, College of Architecture, Dayanand Institutions Founded in 1940, Solapur University, Walchand Institute of Technology these are some educational institutes in Solapur.

Solapur has some great personalities like Dwarkanath Kotnis, Walchand Hirachand Doshi, Sushilkumar Shinde, Minister of Power (Delhi), Former Chief Minister (Maharashtra), Atul Kulkarni, Suresh Gupta, SEBI.

Kolhapur

Kolhapur is situated in the south west corner of Maharashtra, India and on the banks of the river Panchganga. Hills and forts like Panhala fort and Jyotiba temple hill surround the city. The city is also famous for Kolhapuri Chappals. There is national stadium for a form of wrestling known as Khasbag.

Points of Attraction

Rankala Lake, Panhala, Mahalakshmi Temple, Bhavani Mandap, Jyotiba Temple, Town hall Museum, Gaganbawda, Dajipur, Ramling, Bahubali, Radhanagri Dam, Katyayani Mandir, Narsinha Wadi.

Transportation

KMT (Local Municipal Bus Service) is available for local trasportation. The Kolhapur Railway Station has daily train service to Mumbai via Pune. Trains connect Kolhapur to Tirupati, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. There runs a weekly train every Tuesday to delhi viz. Nizamuddin Express. The city has an airport, near Ujlaiwadi, 13 km from the city and there is a flight daily from Mumbai to Kolhapur. State transport to major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nasik etc. is also available from the Central Bus Stand. Private buses also available from Kolhapur to Pune every night with very affordable rates. Daily Volvos are available for important cities like Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur, Aurangabad, etc.

Speciality

Kolhapur has many educational institutes. University, Autonomus Institutes, Engineering Colleges, Medical Colleges etc. Shivaji University, Kolhapur Institute of Technology [KIT], Kolhapur, D.Y. Patil College of Engineering and Technology, Kolhapur, Tatyasaheb Kore Institute of Engineering and Technology Warnanagar, Dr. J.J. Magdum College of Engineering [Jaysingpur], Bharati Vidyapeeth's College of Engineering these are main Engineering Colleges. D.Y.Patil Medical College, Kolhapur, Yashwant Ayurvedic Medical College,Kodoli, R.C.S.M Govt. Medical College these are medical colleges.

For entertainment Kolhapur has Keshavrao Bhosale Natyagruha, Shahu Smarak Bhavan. This city has two main industrial areas, Gokulshirgaon and Shiroli. The Shivaji Udyamnagar area is famous for electrical and other metal fabrication workshops. Kolhapur has many Co-Operative Sugar Industries.

Kolhapur has many well known personalities like Chattrapati Shahu Maharaj, Jayant Narlikar (astrophysicist), V. Shantaram (Marathi movie director/producer), Lata Mangeshkar, Dr. Vasant Gowarikar, Asha Bhonsle, Suresh Wadkar, Suryakant Mandare (Marathi movie actor), Chandrakant Mandare (Marathi movie actor), Dr. Satish Patki (national award-winning gynecologist, medical research founder), Ganpat Patil (Marathi movie actor), Tejaswini Sawant (Shooter), Rajnikanth (famous actor from south film industry), V.A. Alias Tatyasaheb Kore (Sahakar Maharshi, creator of Warananagar).

Sangli

Sangli is situated in west-central part of India. Sangli District is located in the western part of Maharashtra. It is bounded by Satara and Solapur districts to the north, Bijapur District to the east, Kolhapur and Belgaum districts to the south, and Ratnagiri District to the west. Sangli has total 8 talukas. Sangli, Miraj, Tasgaon, Aatpadi, Kawathemahankal, Vita, Jat, Aashta. The city name Sangli is devised after it's six lanes (Saha -Gallies). Sangli is the administrative headquarters of Sangli District.

Points of Attraction

Ganpati Temple, Haripur Sangmeshwar Temple, Tasgaon Ganapati Temple, Sagareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Chandoli Wildlife Sanctuary, Dandoba Hills Forest Preserve, Audumbar, Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, Famous Tasgaon Ganesh Temple, Bagetil Ganapati Temple, Haripur, Mahatma Gandhi Vachnalay.

Transportation

Railway Stations: Sangli, Miraj, Bhilavadi, Kirloskarwadi, Takari all are central railway stations. Mumbai is about 390km from Sangli, Pune 220km, Banglore 630km. Buses are avilable for local transportation. State transport to major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nasik etc. is also available from the Central Bus Stand. Private buses also available from Sangli to Pune with very affordable rates.

Speciality

Sangli is the biggest trade market place for turmeric powder in the entire country, also the Asia's biggest sugar plant is situated here. Today, more than 90% of the turmeric trade in India takes place in Sangli. City is known as 'Sugar Belt' of Maharashtra. The district has more than thirty sugar factories, which makes it among the highest sugar-producing districts of India. It also has oil seeds, commodities and fruit market. Sangli is also known for high quality grapes. Krishna Valley Wine Park of Sangli has been recognized as an Agri-Export Processing Zone by the Indian government.

The city derives its name from "Saha Galli" ("Six Lanes" in Marathi). Sangli city is known as Natyapandhari, the birthplace of Marathi drama. A historic Ganpati temple built in the 18th century by ruling Patwardhan dynasty of Sangli, appointed by Peshwas of Pune. The temple attracts thousands of devotees year around. Sangli is a well known place for its lok kala, cultural activities, Educational facilities and its very own Co-operative principles.

City has educational institutes like Walchand College of Engineering, Padmabhushan Vasantro Patil Institute of Technology Budhgaon, Rajarambapu Institute of Technology Islampur, Bharati Vidyapeeth, Latthe Education Society polytechnic. Government Medical College Miraj, Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College, Wanlesswadi, Bharati Vidyapeeth Dental College, Wanlesswadi, Annasaheb Dange Ayurvedic Medical College, Ashta, Rajarambapu Patil Ayurvedic Medical College, Islampur these are some of medical colleges. Miraj and Sangli together has more than 800 hospitals.

Deccan Education Society Institute of Management Vishrambaug, Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Management Rajawada Chowk, CSM Institute of Management KWC College these are some of the management colleges. Appasaheb Birnale College of Pharmacy, Govt. College of Pharmacy Miraj, Miraj Medical Center College of Pharmacy these are pharmacy colleges. Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College. Appasaheb Birnale College of Architecture, SNDT Women's College, Kasturbai Walchand College, Willingdon College, Chintamanrao Commerce College, Garware Women's College, LGR Purohit Kanya Prashala, Rani Saraswati Kanyashala, city high school.

Aurangabad

Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb named this city as Aurangabad. Before Aurangabad it was called Fatehpur. This city is gateway to the World Heritage Sites of Ajanta and Ellora caves. Aurangabad developed as a modern city, provides all comforts and modern facilities, several luxury budget and star hotels, which caters the tourists of the city.

Points of Attraction

Aurangabad Art Emporium and Madilgekar Art Studio are some of the important art galleries in Aurangabad.
Aurangabad Caves, Bibi Ka Maqbara, Himroo Factory, Panchakki
Daulatabad, Khuldabad Anwa Temple, Pitalkhora Caves, Lonar Crater, Paithan
Sunheri Mahal Museum, University Museum, Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum

Caves

Aurangabad caves are few kilometers away from the famous Bibi Ka Maqbara. These caves are excavated between 2nd and 6th century AD. Aurangabad caves are a fine piece of architecture and carved out of the hillside. Viharas are the major chunk of caves in Aurangabad. Total number of caves is twelve; out of which cave number 3 and 7 are the most fascinating ones. Cave number 1 to 5 are in the western group and caves from 6 to 10 are in the eastern group. Tantric influences are noticeable in Aurangabad caves.

Panchakki

Panchakki is situated at a shrine of a saint, Baba Shah Musafir. Panchakki (Water Wheel) derives its name from the mill that was used at the early days. This mill is driven with the water brought through earthen pipes from the river 6km away.

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Prince Azam Shah, son of Aurangazeb built Bibi Ka Maqbara in 1678 in the memory of his mother Begum Rabia Durani. Bibi Ka Maqbara is situated 5 km away from Aurangabad. This mausoleum is a replica of the famous Taj Mahal. It is very much similar to Taj Mahal, somehow the architecture fails to produce the magic of the Taj. Hence, it is considered to be a poor imitation of the Taj Mahal.

Festivals

The Aurangabad Festival Committee orgnizes festivals. These festivals promote the rich local culture, talent, art and heritage of the city. Festivals are organized to explore the hidden talents and to increase the vibrancy of this historic city. Generally festivals fall in December. The festival has programmes of culture, local art and heritage, through classical dance performances, folk songs, popular songs, Mushaira, Ghazals and Qawalli. The festival also exhibits local handlooms and handicrafts like Paithani Himroo, Bidri and Paperwork. Festivals include, traditional bullock cart race, heritage walk for senior citizens, marathon, inter-school and inter-college competitions, etc.

Dussehra is celebrated for ten days. On the tenth day, a fair is held when people greet each other with offerings of 'Apta' leaves that symbolize good luck. Thousands of devotees visit Bhavani Temple in Karnapura locality of Aurangabad on this day.

Buddha Jayanti is organized in the city as an important festival. Community halls and public places are remained crowded for mass prayers. Religious processions are also taken out on this day.

Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important festival in Maharashtra; this festival is celebrated in Aurangabad as well with great zeal. Ten day long celebrations are organized. On the last day, the clay images are taken in a procession and immersed in the river.

Khultabad Urs on this festival Muslims gather at the tomb of Khawaja for five days each year during the month of Rabi-Ul-Awal. This festival is known as the Khultabad Urs.

Mahashivratri is celebrated during the months of February or March every year. Worshipers throng to at Grishneshwar temple to worship Lord Shiva on this day.

Shivaji Jayanti is celebrated in May. This is the birth anniversary of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the great Maratha ruler. A procession with lezims, a traditional musical instrument and floats is taken round to the city.

Paithan Fairis celebrated in the months of March or April every year. Pilgrims gather to pay homage to saint Eknath Maharaj at Paithan on the banks of the river Godavari. This fair runs for 10 days with great enthusiasm.

How to Reach

Aurangabad airport is located at a distance of around 10 km east of the town. This is directly air-linked to Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur and Udaipur. Aurangabad is known to be the gateway to the region, as most of the visitors who are coming from outside reach Aurangabad once just after the arrival or before leaving the state.

Several luxury and state run buses too are running between Mumbai and Aurangabad that extends up to Ajanta/Ellora Caves. Two trains leave daily from Mumbai for Aurangabad. Tapovan Express departs Mumbai early morning that arrives Aurangabad by late afternoon, while the Devgiri Express is an overnight train.

Speciality

Aurangabad is rich in its culture, heritage, its art and crafts. Whenever we think of Aurangabad, himroo shawls, mashroo and kimkhab weaves click on one's mind, The silver inlay craft of Bidri ware and the well-known fine paithani silk sarees too are world famous. All these things not only relate to the rich art and craft of the region but also reflect the expertise and dedication of the artistes on their works. Many outsiders come to this city to shop these world famous crafts.

Amarawati

Amaravati is situated in the right centre of the northern border of the Maharashtra State. Cotton, jowar and tur (lentil) and oranges are the main productions of this city, lying at the Tapi basin. In this city there are many tourists attractions listed here.

Points of Attraction:

Satidham Temple
Ambadevi Temple
Shri Bhakti Dham Temple
Chatri Talao
Wadali Talao
Melghat Tiger Reserve
Wan Sanctuary

Satidham Temple:

Satidham Temple is situated in the heart of the city at Rallies Plot, the temple has beautiful idols of Lord Krishna and Radha, Lord Ram and Sita, Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva and Satiji. A fair is organized on the occasion of Krishna Janmashthami every year. Huge devotees attend the fair.

Ambadevi Temple:

It is believed that Lord Krishna abducted Rukmini from this temple. This temple is situated in the heart of the city.

Chatri Talao:

Chatri Talao was built in the year 1888 on a small spring called Kali Nadi. This talao is situated 1 km away from Dasturnagar Square on the Malkhed Railway Road. This small reservoir was built to supply drinking water to Amravati city now it gets water from Upper Wardha Dam. A small garden and boating facility is also available here.

Wadali Talao:

Talao is situated 3 km away from the Amaravati Camp on Chandur Railway Road. This Wadali Talao was built for clean and fresh water supply to Amravati Camp. There is a small garden with a zoo here. This is one of the best places for kids. People usually come here during weekends and enjoy boating.

Shri Bhakti Dham Temple:

Temple is situated at Amravati Badnera Road and has beautiful idols of Lord Krishna and Radha. There is also an idol of Shri Sant Jalaram Bappa. There is a small park for children behind this temple.

This is one of the coffee-growing areas in Maharashtra. This hill resort in the Vidarbha region is situated at an altitude of 1118 meters above the sea level. Chikhaldara has a wildlife sanctuary with abundance of wildlife, viewpoints, lakes and waterfalls, it is a very popular summer retreat.

Melghat Tiger Reserve:

Melghat area was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1974. the total area of the Reserve is 1676.93 sq. km. It is located in Chikhaldara and Dharni tehsils of on the Satpuda hill range. It spreads over an area of 1676.93 sq km. It is one of the last remaining habitats of Indian tiger in Maharashtra.

Wan Sanctuary:

Wan Sanctuary is situated at Melghat area of Amravati district. Mainly it is an extension to the Melghat Sanctuary on the southeastern part. This hilly rugged terrain has tropical dry deciduous forests. This area is rich in floral and faunal biodiversity.

This sole hill resort in the Vidarbha region is situated at an altitude of 1118m above the sea level. This is one of the coffee-growing areas in Maharashtra. Chikhaldara is full of deep valleys with full of velvet mist and majestic trees. Having a wildlife sanctuary with abundance of wildlife, viewpoints, lakes and waterfalls, it is a very popular summer retreat.

How to Reach:

To reach Amarawati, Nagpur is the nearest airport (155 km). Nagpur is the terminus of the branch line of Central Railway on Mumbai-Kolkotta main line. It is well connected by road with the important towns and cities within the state and outside the state.

Ratnagiri

This city has the distinction of being the native place of three Bharat Ratna awardees, namely Maharishi Karve, Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane and Dr.B.R. Ambedkar. Ratnagiri is the district place. Great freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born here. In 1731 Ratnagiri came under the control of Satara kings; in 1818 it was surrendered to the British. A fort was built during the Bijapur dynasty and strengthened in 1670 by the Maratha king Shivaji, which is located on a headland near the harbour. It is one of the ports of the Konkan coast. It has a palace where the last king of Burma, Thibaw, and later Veer Savarkar, were confined.

Ratnagiri has nine talukas. Mandangad, Dapoli, Khed, Guhagar, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Sangameshwar, Lanja and Rajapur. The chief rivers in Ratnagiri are the Shastri, Bor, Muchkundi, Ratnagiri river.

Points of Attraction

Ganga of Rajapur: This is the natural phenomenon. But it is just like a miracle because every 3 years the well forms 14 small pools of water of different temperatures about 3 ft apart. People believed that the holy Ganga Mata appears to the devotees there. Geologists have theorized that this is a rare case of a large natural syphon from a nearby mountain.

Temples/caves: Visitors meet frequently Parashuram Temple near Chiplun, Ganapatipule and Pavas. Caves in the Chiplun, Khed, Dabhol, Sangameshwar, Gauhani Velgaum and Vade Padel are also worth visiting. The Buddhist legend in the Papanch, Sudan and Srath Appakasini record the conversion of Konkan to Buddhism as early as the lifetime of Gautama (BC 560-481). Shivsamarth gad at sawarde near chipalun is also worth visiting with all sculptures from Shivaji Maharaj era.

Malgund: Great poet Keshavsoot born in Malgund. This is small village about 1 km away from Ganpatipule. Marathi Sahitya Parishad has constructed Keshavsoot Smarak a beautiful monument in memory of great poet.

Pawas: Swami Swaroopanad a spiritual leader made this place his abode. So Pawas achieved prominence, besides its natural beauty and serenity. Now the place where Swami Swaroopanand is used to reside is converted into Ashram.

Jaigad Fort: Jaigad fort is 35 km from Ganapatipule and at the entrance of the Sangameshwar river. This 17th century fort offers a commanding view of the sea. Jaigad fort is situated at a sheltered bay. Its beach is small and safe.

Ratnagiri Fort: Fort built during the Bahamani rule. The fort is horseshoe shaped, with a length of 1300 metres and width of 1000 metres. Surrounded by sea on three sides, with land touching it on the fourth side. On one of the sea facing sides, part of the cliff has collapsed to reveal a cave. The 'Siddha Buruj', still has a lighthouse, that has stood here for years. A picturesque temple of The Goddess Bhagwati is one of the important places of worship in the area of the fort.

Transportation

The way to go to Ratnagiri by road is, ideally from Bombay, which is 373 kilometres away, or also from Goa, which is closer at 200 kilometres. State transport to major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nasik etc. is also available from the Bus Stand. Private buses also available with very affordable rates.

Speciality

Ratnagiri Mangoes (Ratnagiri Hapus Aambe) are very popular in all over India. Mangoes from Devgad are also very famous.

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