Maharashtra Tourism Destinations
Maharashtra combines modernity with a sophisticated past, spearheading the future India into the 21st century. The state is awash with relics running the gamut of its long history, from its famous rock-cut temples to the British boulevards of Mumbai. The region is justifiably famous for its independence streak, being the homeland of the Maratha Empire, led by the great Shivaji, which resisted Mughal expansion vehemently.
Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India, the center of the financial markets, manufacturing, and the media nucleus of the country. It is at the center of the largest metropolitan area in India, and it is known for its opportunities that attract millions of people across India looking for a better life. The city was an administrative capital of the British State of Bombay, and is nowadays the capital of the state of Maharashtra. The Hindi film industry, Bollywood, is based out of the city, and many of the most famous stars in all India call it home.
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower
The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower is one of the best hotels in India and has been host to countless important people, including Presidents of the United States, rock stars such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Prime Ministers of Europe, and many others. It is also remarkable for being an Indian-run hotel, and has long been a sign of the potential of the nation.
Haji Ali Mosque
The Haji Ali Mosque is on an idyllic island just outside of Mumbai and is an extremely scenic and beautiful structure. The mosque is dedicated to Haji Ali, who died en route to Mecca and is said to have floated back to the city. It is a major pilgrimage site in the city and tens of thousands show up on religious days. It also offers one of the best views of the city, with a sweeping sunset every evening that is sure to impress.
Gateway of India
The imposing Gateway of India in South Mumbai was built to commemorate the visit of King George and Queen Mary to Mumbai. More famously, it is where the last British troops marched out of India, and is a landmark of Independent India.
Bombay High Court
Built in 1862, the Bombay High Court has jurisdiction over Maharashtra as well as the former Portuguese enclaves of Aman and Diu, Goa, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. It is an impressive structure built in the British style.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Arguably the best example of British architecture in Inda, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, renamed after the famous Marathi king, occupies a central location in Mumbai. The terminus has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its important history and architectural finesse.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park
On the outskirts of central Mumbai's is the largest park in the world within a city. The park is a massive enclave of rivers, forest, lakes and wildlife and even has lions living within it. It is one of the most visited parks in Asia and is a major tourist attraction in the city.
One of Maharashtra's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Elephanta of Caves of Gharapuri are a breathtaking example of the famous rock-cut temples of the area. The many temples often cut deep into the surrounding rock, with many shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, among others, and the complex is considered one of Shiva's abodes.
Pune is the second most populous city of Maharashtra and the historic capital of the Maratha Empire. It is known today for its progressive government and modern facilities, with a large IT industry emerging in it. Pune has long been regarded as the cultural capital of the Marathi language and is a center of education in the country, with more schools than any other city on earth.
In the center of Pune lies the remnants of the former capital of the Maratha Empire, Shaniwar Wada. Although it was destroyed by a fire in 1828, the fort is a source of civic pride for many Maharashtrians, as the Maratha Empire was the most illustrious Hindu empire in India in generations, led by the charismatic and widely respected Shivaji. The walls of the fort and much of the interior are still intact enough to impress, however, and there are also wide and lovely gardens on the premises.
A beautiful rock-cut temple carved out the very earth, Pataleshwar is in what is now downtown Pune, although it was once far away from the center of the city - a testatment to the rapid growth that has happened in Maharashtra. The temple, built for Lord Shiva, is incomplete, although no ones knows why it was never finished, but even in its unfinished state it is a wonder to behold.
Built during the era of the Maratha king Shivaji, Chaturshringi Temple is set in a beautiful park surrounded by rolling hills and is dedicated to the goddess Chaturshringi. It is a major religious center in Pune and is a also a significant pilgrim attraction.
Osho International Meditation Resort
Located outside Pune is the Osho International Meditation Resort, one of the largest of its kind in the world and a major attraction for hundreds of thousands of people each year. It is renowned for its exquisite gardens and wildlife and is considered an a excellent place to get away, and it is especially popular among Westerners eager to learn more about Indian meditation techniques.
Nagpur is almost 3000 years old and is scattered with remnants of its troubled past. The city is full of relics and is wonderful to walk by foot, as it is rated one of the cleanest and greenest cities in India, and it has a very low crime rate among Indian cities. It is a major religious center as well, with many Buddhists living in the city on account of it being the center of Dalit Buddhism.
Deekshabhoomi is emerging as the center of Buddhism in India and was where Babasaheb Ambedkar, a major human rights activist fighting against the caste system, converted to the faith. Built in the style of an ancient stupia, the place is a major pilgrimage site, especially for the untouchables in India seeking a new way of life.
Built by Aurangzeb and given his name, the city of Aurangabad is at the center of tourist attractions in Maharashtra. It is nearby the cave temples of Ellora and Ajanta, and the city is an attraction itself with its beautiful mosques, massive walls and gates, and delicious cuisine.
Bib Ka Maqbara
In the heart of Aurangabad is the Bibi ka Maqbara, built for the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It was intended to compete with the Taj Mahal, and has received the rather ignominious epithet "The Poor Man's Taj", and has gotten considerably less tourist attention than its more famous cousin, but the building is a beautiful structure definitely worth a visit.
A World Heritage Site, the Ellora caves are some of the most astounding buildings in India because they are cut entirely from solid rock. The temples had to be planned entirely in advance because no mistakes could be made. The temples took hundreds of years to build and required moving hundreds of thousands of tons of rock, making it not only an architectural feat but a human one as well - the amount of labor put into these temples boggles the mind.
Built in the side of a cliff, the caves of Ajanta were an ancient Buddhist monastery and are home to some of the most exquisite Buddhist religious art in the world as well. The site is remarkable most of all, however, for the sheer architectural feat of making the temples out of solid rock 2,000 years ago, without modern equipment.
Panchakki is an engineering marvel on par with the aqueducts of Rome. Built in 1695, the water mill uses the moving water of an underground spring miles away to turn the mill. The site doubles as the tomb of a Sufi mystic, and pilgrims come here today, as they have for hundreds of years, to grind grain and pay their respects.
Daulatabad is famous for having one of the strongest forts in India, Devagiri. On top of a large hill, the fort is only accessible via an exposed bridge that is only wide enough for two people. Devagiri was a center of the Delhi Sultanate's frequent excursions into the Deccan, and was an administrative center for the the many rulers of the area. It went into decline during the Mughal area, and has been uninhabited ever since Aurangzeb shifted the government to nearby Aurangabad.
The first mention of Maharashtra was by an ambassador of Ashoka, and a distinct identity began to emerge during. The language Marathi, which defines the current boundaries of the state, came to prominence during the Satavahanas dynasty, who were the first to use a direct ancestor of it widely.
During the 13th century, the area was invaded by the Delhi Sultanate and Islam was introduced. This was the beginning of a new era in Maharashtra as well as all India, and a couple centuries later the Mughals moved into the area, led by the vitriolic Aurangzeb.
The Mughals ruled the area for quite some time until a Hindu general of theirs, Shahaji Bhosale, began to splinter away. His son, Chhattrapati Shivaji Bhosale, would go on to found the powerful Maratha Empire. Through many battles with the Mughals, as well as the neighboring Bijapur Sultante, Shivaji had carved a large state out of the Mughals former territories.
The Maratha Empire was the most powerful and successful Hindu empire in generations. The Marathas were patrons of the arts, and lasted for some hundred and fifty years. The empire went into decline after a disastrous defeat at the hand of the Afghans, opening the stage for British conquest of India.
Bombay became the center of British operations in Western India and grew from a small unknown town into one of the largest cities of India after Britain moved into the area in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the whole of Maharashtra was ruled as part of the Bombay Presidency. The area largely benefited from the era, however, a luxury not afforded to many parts of India, and large investments of infrastructure were made as well as many new social reforms.
Bombay Presidency became Bombay State after Independence, and was soon dissolved into the separate states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. It has since become a major center of the Indian economy and national life.
Maharashtra is characterized by a coastal plain in the west flanked by the prominent Western Ghats, and a less populated plateau in the east where spectacular wildlife is to be found. The cities of Mumbai and Pune, in the western part of the state, are far and away the largest cities in the state and are the center of most activity.
Maharashtra is the richest state in India, as Bombay is the center of the financial sector of India as well as the nucleus of the Indian movie scene, Bollywood. It is among the most cosmopolitan states in the union and has large communities of Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians, along with the majority Hindu population.
Most Maharashtrians speak Marathi, but very large minorities speak Hindi and Urdu as well as dozens of tribal languages. English is widely understood as well, a legacy of its history as a center of British colonialism.
The state is a tourist's joy because of it's sophisticated culture, rich past, fabulous food, and eye-catching wildlife. Be it the city streets of fast-paced Bombay or the quiet tides of an isolated beach, Maharashtra has something for everyone.