Privacy | Disclaimer | Terms | Email

India: State of Maharashtra

Gateway of India

Maharashtra, the land of Marathas

Located in the north center of Penunsular India, Maharashtra is the 2nd populous state in India. The state is surrounded by Arabian sea in the west, Gujarat and Madhya Padesh in the North, Chattisgarh in the east and Goa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the South.

Area 307, 713
Population 112, 372, 972 (2011 census)
Languages Marati, Hindi
Climate Summer - March to May (Max. Temp. 33 Degree Celcius)
Winter - Nov. to March (Min. Temp. 16 Degree Celcius)
Monsoon - June to Aug
Best Time to Visit October - March
Capital City Mumbai
Airports Aurangabad, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune
Major Towns Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Mumbai, Nagpur, Nashik, Pune


Gateway of India, Mumbai

The archaeological findings point the earliest history of Maharashtra to the Palaeolithic man who led a nomadic existence, and subsisted on wild game, fruit and plants. The recorded history of this region can be traced to approximately the 3rd century BC, which is when the Maharastri language, a Prakrit corruption of Sanskrit was in use. Marathi evolved from Maharashtri and became the language of the people of this area from the 10th century onwards. In the course of time, the term 'Maharashtra' was used to describe this region.

The expansion of Mauryan empire southwards led to flourishing trade and the development of Buddhist learning in the region. The construction of its first Buddhist caves, still stand as a symbol of the era. With the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire, Maharashtra came under the rule of the Satavahanas (230BC - 225AD) which was a significant phase in the political, cultural and social history of Maharashtra.The Vakatakas (AD 250 - 525) brought the Vidarbha region under their rule and, during that period, Maharashtra witnessed an overall development in the fields of learning, arts and religion. The best known of the Ajanta caves (caves 16, 17, and 19) belong to the Vakataka period.

Chalukyas, who rose to power in Karnata in the 6th century AD with Vatapi (present Badami) as capital, consolidated their power over Maharastra under Pulikesin II (609-642) and conquered nearly the whole of Deccan. By 753 AD, Dandidurga laid foundation for a new dynasty called Rastrakutas. The Rastrakutas Empire extended from south Gujarat, Malva and Baghalkhand in the north to Tnajore to the south. The famous Kailash cave temple (Ellora) was built under the patronage of the Rashtrakutas. In 973 Tailia II, a descendent from the early Chalukyas, overthrew the dynasty. The Chalukyas continued to rule parts of Maharashtra up to AD 1189, when the Yadavas of Deogiri took over. Buddhism was almost entirely supplanted throughout the entire country by the twelfth century. Ala-ud-din Khalji penetrated the Deccan in AD 1296 and defeated the Yadavas whose supremacy ended in AD 1310. Muhammad Tughluq (1324-1350), followed Ala-ud-din Khalji's example and extended his authority up to Madurai.

The fall of the Tughluqs gave rise to Bahamani dynasty in 1347 that lasted nearly 150 years. In order to preserve political authority, these rulers employed the local people in civil, military and diplomatic services. One of them, Maloji Bhosale, Grandfather of Shivaji, served the Nizam of Ahmednagar as a Sardar. In 1595, Bahadur Nizam II honoured him as 'Raja' for his courage in a battle with Mughals and gave him the estates of Pune and the fort of Chakan, near Pune. This is generally considered as the starting point of the Maratha history.

Trimurti, Elephenta caves, Maharashtra

The rise of the Maratha power played an important role in the second half of the 17th century. In the middle Ages, the Marathas upheld the national cause under the Yadavas of Devagiri. But in the 17th century they were organised into a national state. In 1629, Shivaji's father Shahaji disengaged himself from the service of the Nizamshahi and joined the Adilshahi in Bijapur, which was soon to emerge as the most important power in the region.

Shivaji Bhosale was the hero of the Maratha national movement. He was born in 1627. His mother Jiji Bhai groomed him by infusing high and inspiring ideas of heroism, spirituality and chivalry into Shivaji's mind. In 1646 he captured the fortress of Torna. Since then he raided, sacked acquired and annexed many forts and territories. With cunning planning and shrewdness, he always outwitted his enemies and opponents. By 1673, he had control over most of western Maharashtra and had made 'Raigarh' his capital. In 1674 Shivaji was crowned king at Rajgarh. When he died on 14th April 1680 at the age of 53, nearly whole of the Deccan was under his rule.

Shivaji's son Sambhaji succeeded him who was executed by Mughals in 1689. Rajaram, Sambhaji's younger brother succeeded him and his death in 1700 seemed to end the power of the Marathas. But Tarabai, the elder widow of Rajaram, enthroned her young son Shahu, and stood up against Aurangaseb. The fight against the Mughals ended only with the death of Aurangaseb in 1707. After Aurangaseb, Mughal power declined in India and balance of power shifted in favour of Marathas.

In 1712, when Shahu died, his prime minister or peshwa, Balaji Vishwanath (1712-1721) accented to the throne and established the Peshwa Dynasty. Balaji was succeeded by his son Bajirao (1721-1740). Historians regard Bajirao the founder of Greater Maharashtra, because it was under his reign that Maharashtra became the centre of Indian politics. During Bajirao's reign, Pune became the capital of Maratha and remained capital until 1818. His son Nanasaheb (1740-1761) succeeded him. During the Peshwas, an alliance was formed between the Mughals and the Marathas.

In 1761, Ahmadshah Abdali defeated the Marathas at the third Battle of Panipat, which was a fatal blow to the rising Maratha power from which they never recovered. The Peshwa rule of Maratha continued with mixed tidings until 1804, when the British declared the Deccan a chaotic region and enforced military rule. The role of Peshwa became figurative and in 1819 the British took over Maratha from the Peshwa who fled after losing the war at Kirkee to the British.

In the early 20th century, the whole of India was in revolt against the British under Mahatma Gandhi. India became Independent in 1947 and western Maharashtra and present-day Gujarat were joined as Bombay state. The eastern districts were then part of Hyderabad State, but were later added to Bombay in 1956. The present state was formed in 1960 when the Marathi and Gujarati linguistic areas of former Bombay state were separated. Bombay city became the capital of the new state.