Introduction to Maharashtra
Maharashtra is one of the most industrialized states of India, it occupies the western and central parts of the country and extends over the Sahyadri mountains; a vast stretch of 720 kilometers of the Arabian sea coast providing it a beautiful backdrop. The present state of Maharashtra was formed on May 1, 1960 on uni-lingual principle by carving it out of the erstwhile Mumbai state, which included the predominantly Marathi-speaking areas as the former princely state of Hyderabad as well as the Central Provinces and Berar.
Geography of Maharashtra
Maharashtra is located in the northern center of peninsular India, surrounded by the Arabian sea in the west, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh on the north, Madhya Pradesh in the east and Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on the south. The state extends between the latitudes 15.6 North and 22.1 North and longitudes 72.6 East and 80.9 East.
As far as the geography of Maharashtra goes, much of the state consists of the high Deccan plateau, which is separated from the straight Konkan coastline by ‘Ghats’. The Ghats are a succession of steep hills, periodically bisected by narrow roads, and which are often crowned by medieval forts. Given their altitude, it is not surprising that the Ghats are home to the state’s hill stations. One of the three major regions of the state is the Sahyadri range with an elevation of 1000 meters.
The unique feature of this region is a series of crowning plateau. Lying between the Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri Range, Konkan is narrow coastal lowland, just 50 km wide and with an elevation below 200 meters. The third important region is the Satpura hills along the northern border, and the Bhamragad-Chiroli-Gaikhuri ranges on the eastern border form physical barriers preventing easy movement. These ranges also serve as natural limits to the state.
Brief History of Maharashtra
Jorwe in the Ahmadnagar district provide many evidences of ancient civilization in Maharashtra. The Chinese traveler Hiun Tsang, who visited this region in 640-641 BC, was quite appreciative of the prosperity of the region in his writings. During third and fourth centuries BC, the region of Konkan remained under the control of the Mauryans, whose policies led to great advancements in the fields of trade and Buddhist learning in the region. After the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire, the Satwahanas (230 BC – AD 225) came to rule this region. Pratishthan or modern Paithan was their capital. This great empire crumbled because of internal feuds in the ranks of vassals. In succession came the great rulers of the Vakataka, Chalukya, and Rashtrakuta empires making Maharashtra a great center of culture and art.
Yadavas were the last of these kingdoms that lost their power in the early 12th century and a long period of Muslim rule started in Maharashtra. Allauddin Khilji was the first ruler to understand the value of the Deccan as the key to extending influence over south India and consecutive rulers from Delhi till the 17th century tried their best to keep this region under their control. From the middle of the 17th century, a new group of warrior people came to dominate the scene in Maharashtra and elsewhere in India called Marathas.
The origin of Marathas is still debatable, but what is known is that they stole the limelight from the great Mughals. It was only after defeating the Marathas that the English could establish their hegemony on India. Shivaji was the first great ruler of Marathas and it was he who paved the way for future Maratha influence on India. The heroism and greatness of Shivaji is still remembered by the people of this country and his stories are now part of the great Indian folklores.
Districts of Maharashtra
Maharashtra state is made up of 35 districts, which are grouped into six divisions. Amravati Division: Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Washim and Yavatmal
Aurangabad Division (Marathwada): Aurangabad, Beed, Hingoli, Jalna, Latur, Nanded, Osmanabad and Parbhani,
Konkan Division: Mumbai City, Mumbai Suburban, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Thane
Nashik Division: Ahmednagar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nandurbar and Nashik
Nagpur Division: Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Gondiya, Nagpur and Wardha,
Pune Division: Kolhapur, Pune, Sangli, Satara and SolapurEconomy in Maharashtra
The industrial powerhouse of India, Maharashtra occupies a prominent place in the country’s economy. Mumbai, the commercial capital of the country, has the presence of all the leading industrial / corporate houses of the country. The state is the major producer of oilseeds, groundnut, sunflower, soyabean etc. The state also produces cash crops like cotton, sugarcane, turmeric and vegetables. The state also has a vast area under horticulture cultivation.
Maharashtra Travel Information
Opening some of the most enduring chapters of Indian civilization, Maharashtra offers a wide range of tourist attractions to choose from. Starting from Mumbai, the largest metropolis in India and also its financial capital to Ajanta and Ellora to Mahabaleshwar to Pune to Aurangabad to Lonavala, the state of Maharashtra makes its impression on the mind and soul of the visitors strongly. Other destinations are Aurangabad, Khandala, Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Mumbai, Nasik, Pune, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Shirdi, Ganapatipule, Karla Caves etc.
Rivers of Maharashtra
The Western Ghats form the source of several major rivers of Maharashtra, notable among them being Godavari and the Krishna. The rivers, along with their tributaries, flow eastwards into the Bay of Bengal, irrigating most of central and eastern Maharashtra. The Ghats are also the source of numerous small rivers, which flow westwards emptying into the Arabian Sea. To the north of the state, the rivers Tapi and Narmada flow westwards into the Arabian Sea, irrigating most of northern Maharashtra. To the east are major rivers like Vainganga that flow to the south and eventually to Bay of Bengal.
Education in Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state, which is known for its higher educational institutions. Mumbai is the best place to have a better education in any field. Apart from Mumbai the state has a number of famous institutes in other places like Thane, Nasik, Pune, Ahmednagar, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Sangli, Osmanabad, Vasai, Jalgaon, Dombivli, Kolhapur and Karad districts.
Schools in Maharashtra are either run by the municipal corporation or privately by trusts and individuals. Private schools are preferred by those living in the cities, because of better facilities and the use of English language as the medium of instruction. All private schools are affiliated either with the Maharashtra state SSC board or the all-India Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and CBSE boards.
The state is equally good for the fields like engineering, medical, management and other professional course. There are large numbers of institutes for the above fields. The State of Maharashtra has 39 Universities spread across 31 districts. These universities are either central, state or deemed universities.Food of Maharashtra
The culture of Maharashtra, which reveals itself in many ways, is also reflected in its local cuisine. Though most people are not very familiar with Maharashtrian cuisine and it has yet to find its way into five-star kitchens, there does exist a large and interesting culinary repertoire. Maharashtrian cuisine is divided into two, Konkani, and Varadi.
Though quite different, both use a lot of seafood and coconut. Grated coconuts spice many kinds of dishes, but coconut oil is not very widely used as a cooking medium. Peanuts and cashewnuts are widely used in vegetables and peanut oil is the main cooking medium.
Another feature is the use of kokum, a deep purple berry that has a pleasing sweet and sour taste. Kokum, most commonly used in an appetizer-digestive called the sol kadhi, is served chilled. Among seafood, the most popular fish is bombil or the Bombay duck, which is normally served batter fried and crisp.
All non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes are eaten with boiled rice or with bhakris, which are soft rotis made of rice flour. Special rice puris called vada and amboli, which is a pancake made of fermented rice, urad dal, and semolina, are also eaten as a part of the main meal. In the vegetarian fare, the most popular vegetables are brinjals. A popular style of cooking brinjals is bharlivangi or baby brinjals stuffed with coconut. Maharashtrian fare is incomplete without papads, which are eaten roasted or fried. The most popular desserts of Maharashtra are the puran poli, which is roti stuffed with a sweet mixture of jaggery and gram flour, and shreekhand, which is sweetened curd flavored with cardamom and saffron.
Arts & Culture of Maharashtra
Varied customs and traditions co-exist peacefully in Maharashtra. There are the Parsis who have made Maharashtra their home, there are the Christians and Anglo-Indians who swear by Maharashtra, there is the folk population of lohars (blacksmiths), the dhangars (shepherds) and of course the fishermen and women called the Kolis. In addition, two major influences operate simultaneously in Maharashtra to mould their thinking and therefore customs. One is a strong Brahmanical influence; Pune has been and still is, to a certain extent, the center of Sanskrit learning. The second is the influence of BR Ambedkar, who introduced neo-Buddhist thoughts in the minds of the people.
Two of the most well known handicrafts of Maharashtra are Kolhapuri chappals and the Paithani saris. Maharashtra is well known throughout the country for its rich music and dances. Lavnis, Bharuds, Povadas, and Gondals are the major forms of folk music in the state and represent the best that the Maharashtrian society has contributed in the field of music. Sharang Dev, from the state, was the writer of one of the greatest treatise on Indian music in the medieval times, Sangit Ratnakara. Most famous of the Indian musicians like Lata Mangeshkar, Pandit Jasraj, Bhimsen Joshi, Kishori Amonkar belong to Maharashtra. Maharashtra also has a very good theatre tradition.
Festivals of Maharashtra
Besides all main festivals of India Held, Maharashtra celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi and Gudi Padva. Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day event akin to Durga Puja in Bengal, and is celebrated with as much zeal. Gudi Padva is significant as it marks the beginning of the Maharashtrian New Year. It is dedicated to Sahaliwan, the son of a humble potter who overthrew the reigning Guptas of Malwa to become an important monarch guiding the fortunes of a new dynasty. This day marks the beginning of the Hindu solar year.
Costumes of Maharashtra
The women of Maharashtra wear a nine-yard saree called Navarre, which is quite different from the saree worn in north India. The saree is accompanied with jewelry like earrings, heavy necklaces, and a lot of bangles. For a distinctive Maharashtrian look, a nose-ring made of pearls and rubies are perfect. Small girls wear parker-polka. A parker is skirt-like long garment and a polka is a typical blouse made of traditional Maharashtrian fabric, which is mostly bottle green, red or blue. Dhoti with Kurta is the most common men’s wear. Until recently, men wore a traditional shirt called samara. They also wear a cloth turban on their heads. Pudgy is a turban worn on special occasions while for everyday wear a mundasa is used. However, most men in the urban centers have adopted modern garments like pants and shirts, though these are still not so common among the women, especially married women.