Maharashtra (Marathi: महाराष्ट्र mahārāṣṭra, [məharaːʂʈrə] ) is a state located on the western coast of India. Maharashtra is a part of Western India. It is India's third largest state by area and second largest by population.
Maharashtra is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Gujarat and the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the northwest, Madhya Pradesh to the northeast, Chhattisgarh to the east, Karnataka to the south, Andhra Pradesh to the southeast, and Goa to the southwest. The state covers an area of 307,731 km2 (118,816 sq mi) or 9.84% of the total geographical area of India. Mumbai, the capital city of the state, is India's largest city and the financial capital of the nation. Marathi is the official and most widely spoken language.
In the 17th Century, the Marathas rose under the leadership of Chhatrapati Shivaji against the Mughals who were ruling a large part of India. After the third Anglo-Maratha war, the empire ended and most of Maharashtra became part of Bombay state under a British Raj. After Indian independence, Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti demanded unification of all Marathi speaking regions under one state. The first state reorganization committee created the current Maharashtra state on May 1, 1960 (known as Maharashtra Day). The Marathi-speaking areas of Bombay state, Deccan states and Vidarbha (which was part of Central Provinces and Berar) united to form the current state.
Maharashtra is the richest state in India, contributing to 15% of the country's industrial output and 13.2% of its GDP in year 2005-06
The Nāsik Gazetteer states that in 246 BCE Maharashtra is mentioned as one of the places to which mauryan emperor Asoka sent an embassy, and Mahārashtraka is recorded in a Chālukyan inscription of 580 CE as including three provinces and 99,000 villages. The name Maharashtra also appeared in a 7th century inscription and in the account of a Chinese traveler, Hiuen-Tsang. In 90 A.D. Vedishri, son of the Satavahana king Satakarni, the "Lord of Dakshinapatha, wielder of the unchecked wheel of Sovereignty", made Junnar, thirty miles north of Pune, the capital of his kingdom. In the early fourteenth century the Devgiri Yadavs were overthrown by the northern Muslim powers. Then on, the region was administered by various kingdoms called Deccan Sultanates
Pre Medieval history:
Not much is known about Maharashtra's early history, and its recorded history dates back to the 3rd century B.C.E., with the use of Maharashtri Prakrit, one of the Prakrits derived from Sanskrit. Later] Maharashtra became a part of the Magadha empire, ruled by emperor Ashoka. The port town of Sopara, 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, a local dynasty called Satavahanas came into prominence in Maharashtra between 230 B.C.E. and 225 C.E. The period saw the biggest cultural development of Maharashtra. The Satavahana's official language was Maharashtri, which later developed into Marathi. The great ruler Gautamiputra Satkarni (also known as "Shalivahan") ruled around 78 C.E. He started the Shalivahana era, a new calendar, still used by Maharashtrian populace and as the Indian national calendar. The empire gradually disintegrated in the third century.
During (250 C.E. – 525 C.E.), Vidarbha, the eastern region of Maharashtra, came under the rule of Vakatakas. During this period, development of arts, religion and technology flourished. Later, in 753 C.E., the region was governed by the Rashtrakutas, an empire that spread over most of India. In 973 C.E., the Chalukyas of Badami expelled the Rashtrakutas, then the region came under 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 conquered parts of the Deccan in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Tughlaqs in 1347, the Bahmani Sultanate of Gulbarga took over, governing the region for the next 150 years. After the breakup of the Bahamani sultanate, in 1518, Maharashtra was ruled by the breakaway in to 5 Shah's, namely Nizamshah of Ahmednagar, Adilshah of Bijapur,Qutubshah of Govalkonda, Bidarshah of Bidar and Imadshah of Berar.
Rise of the Marathas:
Chhattrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosale, founder of the Maratha Empire.
By the early seventeenth century, the Maratha Empire began to take root. Shahaji Bhosale, an ambitious local general in the employ of the Mughals and Adil Shah of Bijapur, at various times attempted to establish his independent rule. The attempts succeeded through his son Shivaji Bhosale. Marathas were led by Chhattrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosale, who was crowned king in 1664. Shivaji constantly battled with the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and Adil Shah of Bijapur. By the time of his death in 1680, Shivaji had created a kingdom covering most of Maharashtra and nearly half of India today (except the Aurangabad district which was part of the Nizam's territory) and Gujarat in very small life span.
Shivaji's son and successor Chhatrapatti Sambhaji Bhosale became the ruler of the Maratha kingdom in 1680. He was captured, tortured and brutally put to death by Aurangzeb.
Rajaram's nephew & Sambhaji's son, Shahu Bhosale declared himself to be the legitimate heir to the Bhosale throne. In 1714, Shahu's Peshwa (chief minister) Balaji Vishwanath, helped him seize the Maratha throne in 1708, with some acrimony from Rajaram's widow, Tara Bai.
The Peshwas (prime ministers) played an important role in expanding the Maratha Empire in Northern and Central India. They were also decisive in many battles, like Moropant Pingale in 1670’s Dindori battle against the Mughals, Ramchandra Amatya in 1690’s Satara Battle against the Mughals and, the Pant Pratinidhi Peshwa. By 1760, the Maratha Empire spread across parts of Punjab (in today's Pakistan), Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Karnataka.
Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath, of the Bhat family, and his son, Baji Rao I, bureaucratised the Maratha state. They systematised the practice of tribute gathering from Mughal territories, under the heads of sardesmukhi and chauth (the two terms corresponding to the proportion of revenue collected). They also consolidated Mughal-derived methods of assessment and collection of land revenue and other taxes. Much of the revenue terminology used in Peshwa documents derives from Persian, suggesting a far greater continuity between Mughal and Maratha revenue practice than may be politically palatable in the present day.
At the same time,the maritime Angre clan controlled a fleet of vessels based in Kolaba and other centres of the west coast. These ships posed a threat not only to the new English settlement of Mumbai, but to the Portuguese at Goa, Bassein, and Daman.
On the other hand, there emerged a far larger domain of activity away from the original heartland of the Marathas, which was given over to subordinate chiefs as fiefs. Gwalior was given to Scindia/Shinde, Indore to Holkar, Baroda to Gaekwad and Dhar to Pawar. Bhonsles remained in power in Nagpur under Peshwas.
After suffering a stinging defeat at the hands of Afghan chieftain Ahmad Shah Abdali, in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, the Maratha Confederacy broke into regional kingdoms.
Post-Panipat, the Peshwa's ex-generals looked after the regional kingdoms they had earned and carved out for themselves in the service of Peshwas covering north-central and Deccan regions of India. Pune continued to be ruled by what was left of the Peshwa family.
British Rule and Post-Independence:
With the arrival and subsequent involvement of the British East India Company in Indian politics, the Marathas and the British fought the three Anglo-Maratha wars between 1777 and 1818, 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. A number of the Maratha states persisted as princely states, retaining local autonomy in return for acknowledging British sovereignty. The largest princely states in the territory of present-day Maharashtra were Nagpur, Satara and Kolhapur; Satara was annexed to Bombay Presidency in 1848, and Nagpur was annexed in 1853 to become Nagpur Province, later part of the Central Provinces. Berar, which had been part of the Nizam of Hyderabad's kingdom, was occupied by the British in 1853 and annexed to the Central Provinces in 1903. A large part of present day Maharashtra called Marathwada remained part of the Nizam's Hyderabad state during British rule. The British rule was marked by social reforms and an improvement in infrastructure as well as revolts due to their discriminatory policies. At the beginning of the 20th century, the struggle for independence took shape led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the moderates like Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Pherozeshah Mehta and Dadabhai Naoroji. In 1942, the Quit India Movement was called by Mahatma Gandhi which was marked by a non-violent civil disobedience movement and strikes.
After India's independence in 1947, the princely states were integrated into the Indian Union, and the Deccan States including Kolhapur were integrated into Bombay State, which was created from the former Bombay Presidency in 1950. In 1956, the States Reorganisation Act reorganized the Indian states along linguistic lines, and Bombay Presidency State was enlarged by the addition of the predominantly Marathi-speaking regions of Marathwada (Aurangabad Division) from erstwhile Hyderabad state and Vidarbha region (Amravati and Nagpur divisions) from Madhya Pradesh (formerly the Central Provinces and Berar). On May 1, 1960, Maharashtra came into existence when Bombay Presidency State was split into the new linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Yashwantrao Chavan became the first Chief Minister of Maharastra.
Maharashtra encompasses an area of 308,000 km² (119,000 mi²), and is the third largest state in India. It is bordered by the states of Madhya Pradesh to the north, Chhattisgarh to the east, Andhra Pradesh to the southeast, Karnataka to the south, and Goa to the southwest. The state of Gujarat lies to the northwest, with the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli sandwiched in between. The Arabian Sea makes up Maharashtra's west coast.
The Western Ghats better known as Sahyadri, are a hilly range running parallel to the coast, at an average elevation of 1,200 metres (4,000 ft). Kalsubai, a peak in the Sahyadris,near Nashik City is the highest elevated point in Maharashtra. To the west of these hills lie the Konkan coastal plains, 50–80 kilometres in width. To the east of the Ghats lies the flat Deccan Plateau. The Western Ghats form one of the three watersheds of India, from which many South Indian rivers originate, notable among them being Godavari River, and Krishna, which flow eastward into the Bay of Bengal, forming one of the greatest river basins in India.
The Ghats are also the source of numerous small rivers which flow westwards, emptying into the Arabian Sea. To the east are major rivers like Vainganga, which flow to the south and eventually into the Bay of Bengal.
There are many multi-state irrigation projects in development, including Godavari River Basin Irrigation Projects. The plateau is composed of black basalt soil, rich in humus. This soil is well suited for cultivating cotton, and hence is often called black cotton soil.
Western Maharashtra, which includes the districts of Nashik, Ahmadnagar, Pune, Satara, Solapur, Sangli and Kolhapur, is a prosperous belt famous for its sugar factories. Farmers in the region are economically well off due to fertile land and good irrigation.
Protected areas of Maharashtra
Several wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and Project Tiger reserves have been created in Maharashtra, with the aim of conserving the rich bio-diversity of the region. As of May 2004, India has 92 national parks, of which 5 are located in Maharashtra. A large percentage of Maharashtra's forests and wildlife lie in the Vidarbha region.
- Chandoli National Park, located in Sangli district has a vast variety of flora and fauna. The famous Prachitgad Fort and Chandoli dam and scenic water falls can be found around Chandoli National Park.
- Gugamal National Park, also known as Melghat Tiger Reserve is located in Amravati district. It is 80 km away from Amravati.
- Navegaon National Park, located near Gondia in the eastern region of Vidarbha is home to many species of birds, deer, bears and leopards.
- Pench National Park, in Nagpur district, extends into Madhya Pradesh as well. It has now been upgraded into a Tiger project.
- Sanjay Gandhi National Park, also known as Borivali National Park is located in Mumbai and is the world's largest national park within city limits.
- Sagareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, a man made wildlife sanctuary situated 30 km from Sangli. Ancient temples of Lord Shiva and Jain Temple of Parshwanath located in Sagareshwar are a major attraction.
- Tadoba Andhari Tiger Project, a prominent tiger reserve near Chandrapur in Vidarbha. It is 40 km away from Chandrapur.
Apart from these, Maharashtra has 35 wildlife sanctuaries spread all over the state, listed here.The Nagzira (Bhandara district), Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary are the important ones.
Apart from the above, Matheran, a Hill station near Mumbai has been declared an eco-sensitive zone (Protected area) by the Government of India.
Marathi Hindus revere Bhakti saints of all castes, such as Dnyaneshwar(Brahmin-kulkarni's) Tukaram (Moray Maratha-Kunbi), Namdev (Shimpi), and ChokhamelaMahar), and Savata Mali (Mali).
There were several other Harijan saints of Maharastra. They are Sant Banka Mahar, Sant Bhagu, Sant Damaji panth, Sant Kanhopatra, Sant Karmamelam, Sant Nirmala, Sant Sadna, Sant Sakhubai, Sant Satyakam Jabali, Sant Soyarabai. Other important devotees are Namdev Mahar, devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba, lived in Kharagpur and Bhagubai, the wife of Namdev Mahar, devotee of Sai.
In modern times Nisargadatta Maharaj, a Shudra and bidi-seller, became a Hindu saint of major influence in India.
Popular forms of God are Shiva, Krishna and Ganesha.
Lord Shiva's devotion is celebrated by taking part in Maha Shivaratri (Night of Shiva) festival. In modern times, the Elephanta island in Mumbai, Lord's Shiva island in local mythology, originated the Elephant Festival. Lord Krishna's devotion are celebrated in the state-wide Gokul Ashtami (or Krishna Janmashtami, Krishna's birthday) whereby many devotees fast on the entire day until midnight. Lord Krishna's devotion are also celebrated at Kaartik Aamawasya (or Diwali as Narak Chaturdashi and returning of Shri Rama )Lord Ganesh's devotion is celebrated by Ganesh Chaturthi (Ganesh's birthday) in Augus
The Marathi people are the majority throughout most of the state.
Marathi is the official state language.
As per 2001 census Marathi is spoken by 68.89 % of people. Other languages which are spoken by more than one percent of the people are as follows
|Language||Percentage in state|
|Kannada / Tulu||2.38|
|Non- Scheduled Languages||4.60|