Maharashtra is India's third largest state in terms of area and second largest
in terms of population after Uttar Pradesh. It is bordered by the states of
Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa and the Union territory
of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The Arabian Sea makes up the state's western coast.
Mumbai (Bombay), India's largest city, is the capital of Maharashtra.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Maharashtra was inhabited since the
Palaeolithic era. Not much is known about Maharashtra's early history, and
its recorded history dates back to the 3rd century BC, with the use the Maharastri
language, a Prakrit corruption of Sanskrit. Later, Maharashtra became a part
of the Magadha empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka. The port town
of Sopara, just north of present day Mumbai, was the centre of ancient India's
commerce, with links to Eastern Africa, Mesopotamia, Aden and Cochin. With
the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire, Maharashtra came under the rule of
the Satavahanas between 230 BC and 225 AD.
During the reign of the Vakatakas (250AD – 525AD), Vidarbha, the eastern
region of Maharashtra, come under their rule. During this period, development
of arts, religion and technology flourished. By the 6th century, Maharashtra
came under the reign of the Chalukyas. Later, in 753, the region was governed
by Rashtrakutas, an empire that spread over most of peninsula India. In 973,
the Rashtrakutas were overthrown by the Chalukayas, who ruled parts of Maharashtra
until 1189 when it came under the hands of the Yadavas of Deogiri.
Maharashtra came under Islamic influence for the first time after the Delhi
Sultanate rulers Ala-ud-din Khalji, and later Muhammad bin Tughluq appropriated
parts of the Deccan in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Tughlaqs
in 1347, the Bahmani Sultanate took over, governing the region for the next
150 years. By the 16th century, central Maharashtra was ruled by numerous autonomous
Islamic kingdoms that owed allegiance to the Mughals, while coastal region
was annexed by the Portuguese, in their quest to seize control of the spice
By the early 17th century the Maratha Empire began to take root. The Marathas,
native to western Maharashtra, were led by Shivaji Bhosle, who was crowned
king in 1674. Under Shivaji, the Maratha Empire reached their zenith, encompassing
almost the entire Deccan, central India and extending into parts of modern
day Pakistan. After defeating the Mughals in 1707, the Marathas became the
dominant rulers of India. In 1712, Bajirao I ascended to the Maratha throne,
establishing the Peshwa (Prime Minister) dynasty with Pune as their capital.
After suffering a heavy defeat to the Afghan chieftain Ahmad Shah Abdali, in
the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, the Maratha Confederacy was reduced to
a regional kingdom. With the arrival and subsequent involvement of the British
East India Company in Indian politics, the two were involved in three major
battles, culminating in the annexation of Peshwa ruled territory in Maharashtra
in 1819, which heralded the end of the Maratha empire.
The British governed the region as part of the Bombay Presidency, which spanned
an area from Karachi in Pakistan to most of the northern Deccan. The British
rule was marked by social reforms, an improvement in infrastructure as well
revolts due to their discriminatory policies. At the beginning of the 20th
century, a non-violent struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi began to take shape.
In 1942, the Quit India Movement was called by Gandhi which was marked by a
non-violent civil disobedience movement and strikes. After India's independence
in 1947, independent princely states in central India joined the Indian Union.
In 1956, Bombay state came into existence which merged the princely states
of central India into Bombay Presidency. On 1960-05-01, the state of Maharashtra
came into existence, carved out of the Marathi-speaking territory of Bombay
state. Favourable economic policies in the 1970s led to Maharashtra becoming
India's leading industrial state.
Top Things to See and Do
Amboli Bhandardhara Chikhaldara Hills Jawhar Khandala, Lonavala and Karla Khindsey
Talao Mahabaleshwar Malshej Ghat Matheran
Panchgani Panhala Toranmal
Lonar which can be visited from Aurangabad
Ajanta Ellora Aurangabad Elephanta
Bassein Daulatabad Gavilgad Ghodbunder Murud Janjira Murud - Harnai Panhala
Raigad Sinhagad Vijaydurg Sindhudurg
Dahanu-Bordi Ganapatipule Mandwa and Kihim Marve, Manori and Gorai
Shriwardhan-Harihareshwar Tarkarli Velneshwar Vengurla - Malvan
Shirdi Nasik Pandharpur Nanded Kolhapur
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Edited by: manojs1 on 30.11.2006 navinkurian2002 on 31.07.2005 navinkurian2002 on 20.07.2005 balihomestay on 03.02.2005