a state where a millennium of culture weaves a tapestry of myriad charms.
The spiritual solace of centuries. The sylvan serenity of the countryside.
The stillness of a thicket disturbed only by a tiger flashing past, or the
symphony of tradition from its varied population. All abound in a unique
togetherness. In Maharashtra, a state as vivid as vivacious.
Maharashtra is one of the largest states in India, both in terms of
population and area. Its booming capital Mumbai, makes it not only one of
the most important states economically, but also a major gateway for
The first well known rulers of Maharashtra
were the Satavahanas (230 BC to 225 AD), who were the creators of
Maharashtra, and have left a plethora of literary, epigraphic, artistic and
archaeological evidence. The Maharashtrians' love for art and culture is
quite evident in their intense interest in drama. Their approach to music
and dance is rather lusty. Mahasivaratri, Gokulashtami, Holi and Ganesh
Chaturti are the main festivals of this fun loving state.
matter what kind of holiday you are looking for, you will find it here.
Whether it is lazing on the sun - swept sands of the 720 kms coastline, or a
peaceful self-exile in the awe-inspiring mountains, or quiet worship at some
famous shrines, or revelation in cave architecture, art and culture or
challenging treks or abundant wildlife thrills, Maharashtra has it all.
The Chinese pilgrim,
Hiun Tsang, visited Maharashtra during AD 640-641 and was very impressed by
the prosperity of the country, the efficiency of the administration and the
character of the people. He called the land Mo-ho-lo-cha (Moholesh), and was
perhaps the first person to discuss the region and its people.
He says: "The soil is rich and fertile and it is regularly
cultivated and very productive. Men are fond of learning and studying both
heretical and orthodox books. The disposition of the people is honest and
simple; they are tall in stature and of a stern and vindictive character.
To their benefactors, they are grateful; to their enemies, relentless. If
they are insulted, they will risk their lives to avenge themselves. If
they are asked to help one in distress, they will forget themselves in
their haste to render assistance."
The antiquity of this region can be traced to approximately the 3rd
century BC, which is when the Maharastri language, a Prakrit corruption of
Sanskrit from which the term 'Maharashtra' is derived, was then in use.
Marathi, which evolved from Maharastri-Prakrit, has been the lingua franca
of the people of this area from the 10th century onwards.
And, in the course of time, the term 'Maharashtra' was used to describe
a region which consisted of Aparanta, Vidarbha, Mulak, Ashmak and Kuntal.
The tribal communities of Nags, Munds and Bhils inhabited this area, also
known as Dandakaranya, in ancient times.
They were joined by the
Aryas, the Shakas and the Huns, who came from the North, as well as by
foreigners, who arrived by sea. The Dravidians from the South colonised the
land, joining a group which collectively became known as 'Marathas'.
Maharashtra Festivals »
The Elephanta Festival
February Elephanta, a small island near Mumbai, is a favoured destination
for culture lovers. It is the site of the Elephanta Festival, the tranquil
abode of Lord Shiva, just one-and-a-half-hour's journey by motor launch from
Mumbai. Once known as Puri or Gharapuri, the island was the proud capital of
a powerful coastal kingdom. It was named Elephanta by the Portuguese, who
took possession of it several centuries later, and found a monolithic stone
elephant at the place they first landed.
The Elephanta caves are a showcase of legends created around Lord Shiva,
beautifully presented here in all his splendour in the rock cave temples.
Every year, renowned dancers and musicians perform outside the caves,
beneath a star-studded sky, to a select and appreciative audience. Special
launch services and catering arrangements are provided for visitors.
» The Ellora Festival near Aurangabad
There was a time when the Gods grew bored in their celestial abode. They
asked the Lord if they could visit the earth. That evening, He said they
could, but on condition that they returned by dawn. The Gods set up a city
at the place they fancied and, lost in their pleasures, they let time pass
Since they failed to return by dawn, they were turned to stone - in the
magnificent monolith called Ellora, the heavenly abode of the Gods on
earth. MTDC organises the Ellora Festival here in December, inviting in
renowned artistes who display their virtuosity in music and dance.
Surrounded by 1,400-year old caves and rock carvings, artistes perform in
this magnificent ambience to enchant the gods, goddesses and human lovers
of art. The Kailas temple, sculptured out of one huge rock, is one of the
most beautiful backdrops for an event such as this.
» Pune Festival
Lord Ganesh, or Ganpati
as He is popularly called in Maharashtra, is among the most beloved of
Hindu Gods. As Ganesh Chaturthi - his day of birth - approaches every year
in August-September, so does the Pune Festival, a celebration of art and
culture, song and dance, custom and tradition.
Originally conceived as a localised cultural event, the Pune Festival
has, over the years, gained national and international stature and evolved
into one of India's landmark cultural happenings. It is one of the few
festivals that has been consistently and actively promoted abroad by the
government of India, as a major tourist attraction.
Some of the country's internationally renowned artistes have gathered at
Pune, and regarded it as a privilege to be invited to perform at the
festival. While it has provided a unique platform for exponents of
classical music and dance it has, keeping pace with changing times, also
helped to promote modern trends in the performing arts, notably the
dramatic arts and the traditional art of rangoli.
» The Banganga Festival
has it that Lord Ram, on his way to Lanka in search of his wife Sita,
stopped on the hillock of Malabar Hill. His followers were worshippers of
Shiva and they fashioned a shivalinga from sand and called it Walluka
Ishwar - 'walluka' meaning 'sand' and 'Ishwar', 'the God'. Though
surrounded by water, the people could not find fresh water to quench their
thirst or perform daily puja. Seeing this, Ram shot a ban (arrow) into the
ground and the fresh waters of the holy Ganga sprang from that spot.
Centuries later, the Shilahara kings built a large and beautiful tank in
stone, to store the water of the Banganga. Settlers through the ages built
numerous, beautifully sculpted temples to various deities around the tank.
Every year, in January, a cultural extravaganza is organised at
Banganga, where top artistes from around the country perform live
classical music concerts. Cultural enthusiasts attend the festival and
feast the soul as well as the mind as the sun sets.