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State of India - Maharashtra
QUICK FACTS Climate (Degree C.): Summer - Max: 39, Min: 22, Winter - Max: 34, Min: 12 | Best Season: September - February | Languages Spoken: Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi and English | Capital: Mumbai

Maharashtra, one of the largest as well as one of the most popular tourism states of India with its lush green locales, picturesque hill stations, exotic beaches and rich wildlife, is surely a nature lover's paradise. Add to this, the numerous historical monuments, rock cut caves and religious shrines Maharashtra offers and you have a variety of reasons to plan a holiday trip to the magnificent land. Take a glimpse into this vibrant and beautiful land called Maharashtra.

Geography of Maharashtra:
Maharashtra is a state on the western coastline of India. The most important feature of geography of Maharashtra is the Western Ghats which run parallel to the Konkan coast. To the east of the Western Ghats lies the Deccan Plateau. Western Ghats are also called the Sahyadri Range. Godavari and Krishna are the two major rivers which originate from the Western Ghats. It is surrounded by the Arabian Sea in west, Goa and Karnataka states in south, Andhra Pradesh in southeast, Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Madhya Pradesh in north and Chhattisgarh in east.

History of Maharashtra:
Nearly 350 forts stand as a testimony of the rich and varied history of Maharashtra. No wonder forts are considered as the glory of Maharashtra. Although Maharashtra has witnessed different dynasties like Magadha, Chalukyas, Tughlaqs, Mughals, however the most prominent influence was of Shivaji Bhonsale the founder of the Maratha Empire. Shivaji had led a life long struggle against Mughals and by 1680, the year of Shivaji's death, nearly whole of the Deccan belonged to his kingdom. Shivaji's achievements and his encouragement for independence among the Marathas, makes him the greatest ruler in the Maratha history.

Tourist Places of Maharashtra:
The state has been gifted with a number of hill stations like Lonavala, Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Bhandardara, Sawantwadi, Malshej Ghat etc. Maharashtra is virtually a delight for those who love to visit wildlife sanctuaries and national parks like Melghat Tiger Reserve, Navegaon Forest Resort, Tadoba National Park, Sanjay Gandhi National Park etc. With a plethora of beaches like Ganapatipule Beach, Madh Island Beach, Vijaydurg-Sindhudurg Beach, Tarkarli Beach, Murud Janjira Beach etc it provides a coastline for exciting water sports, sun bathing on golden sands. The amazing Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Elephanta Caves, Karkla Caves, Bhaja Caves boasts of stunning rock cut architecture and beautiful paintings and showcase the age - old culture and rich legacy of the state. Lastly, visit to Maharashtra is incomplete without halting at the pulsating and the capital city of Mumbai.

Fairs and Festivals of Maharashtra:
Maharashtra celebrates all the main festivals of India like Diwali, Id, Holi etc. Ganesh Chaturthi is no doubt the most popular festival of Maharashtra, celebrated in the month of August - September. Nag Panchami is celebrated in the honour of the Snake God, Shesha Nag. People worship snakes by offering milk and Puja to Lord Shiva. Gudhi Padava is another important festival which marks the beginning of a New Year in Maharashtra. Kojagiri Poornima or Ashwin Poornima, Ganga Dashahara, Elephant Festival, Banganga Festival, Nag Panchami, Wat Pournima, Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti and Palkhi Festival are some of the other prominent festivals celebrated in the state.

Cuisine in Maharashtra:
The cuisine of Maharashtra has its own distinctive style and taste. As per its geography, it can be divided as Konkani cuisine and Varadi cuisine. The Konkani cuisine is a combination of Malvani, Gaud Saraswat Brahmin, and Goan cuisines, all originating from the coastal belt of the state. On he other hand the Varadi cuisine is found in the Vidarbha region, which lies in the interior part of Maharashtra. Some of the best dishes of Maharashtra are Puranpoli, Ukadiche Modak, Gulpoli, Laddoos, Basundi, Chakali, Zunaka bhakari, Shrikhanda, Bartiwangi, Dalimbi Usal. As you delve deep into the delicacies of Maharashtra, you get to taste the Chaat, Pani Puri that are the traditional snacks of the state. Then, there is the quintessential vada-pav and potato pohe made from rice flakes, onions and spices.

Shopping in Maharashtra:
With the fashion capital of Mumbai located in the state of Maharashtra there is little chance that you will leave empty handed from your Maharashtra Tour. From crazy and over crowded markets selling unique and varied items at rock bottom prices to high end designer showrooms, you have it all in Mumbai. The popular streets for shopping in Mumbai include the Colaba Market, Zaveri Bazaar, Bandra Linking Road, Chor Bazaar, Bhuleshwar, Crawford Market etc. In Nashik, you will find a wide variety of brass statues, beaded necklaces and excellent jewellery. Kolhapur is the most famous for its Kolhapuri Chappals (leather slippers), Kolhapuri sarees and the typical Kolhapuri jewelry. Moving towards Aurangabad the himroo shawls, mashroo and kimkhab weaves are must buys. The fine paithani silk sarees and the silver inlay craft of Bidri ware are quite famous.