Literally meaning “the great nation,” Maharashtra is one of the most industrially and commercially developed regions of India. Lapped by the waters of the Arabian Sea, its capital, Bombay or Mumbai (once a group of seven islands that constituted a portuguese princess’s dowry), is India’s most throbbing, pulsating metro and one of the great cities of the world. Home to the Indian film industry, Bollywood; the city, with its melting pot culture, is New York and LA rolled into one. Poona or Pune, the second biggest city, is another major Information Technology hub and a place for the young at heart.
The state houses scores of shrines of all faiths.Near Aurangabad, stands a remarkable, world heritage site – two series of temples carved out of living rock (formations still in progress) over the course of fourteen centuries. The Ajanta caves are a Buddhist relic dating back from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. Adorned with elaborate sculptures and paintings, they have withstood the ravages of time and are reminiscent of a timeless art. Some of the frescoes and sculptures are considered to be among the greatest achievements of Indian artists.
Kailasa Temple houses the world’s largest monolithic structure of its kind. Meanwhile, the forts on precipitous hills stand mute testimony to the resistance of the state’s legendary ruler, Shivaji, against the mighty Mughals. The state also has several beaches & hill resorts, including Matheran & Mahableshwar; the former being the smallest & cosiest hill station in the world, with its unique red, earth and sole vehicle for moving around – the horse!
State capital: Bombay / Mumbai
Of tourist interest: Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves, Ajanta & Ellora caves, Raigadh, Pratapgadh & Sinhgadh forts; Prince of Wales Museum, Victoria Terminus, Mausoleum of Chand Bibi, Haji Ali’s mosque, Panchgani, Matheran, Mahableshwar etc.
By air: well connected
By rail: well connected
By road: NHs 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 17 radiate from the city
Official website: www.maharashtratourism.gov.in