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Maharashtra

Welcome to Maharashtra. A land whose sheer size and diversity will stun you. Enjoy her mountains that stretch out into the mists as far as the eye can see. Her innumerous forts that stand proud and strong. Her scores of temples, sculpted into and out of basalt rock.

Her diverse and colourful cultures, woven into one gigantic quilt. Her festivals that galvanise the sleepy thousands into fervent motion. And her miles of silver, white beaches, stretched taut and inviting over the entire coast. Welcome aboard a travel package that gives you a glimpse into this vibrant and beautiful land.

Places to Visit in Maharashtra

The Ajanta Caves are a series of 29 Buddhist cave temples in Ajanta, India, some of which date from the 2nd century BC. Encompassing both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions, the Ajanta caves preserve some of the best masterpieces of Buddhist art in India. Many visitors explore the Ajanta Caves in conjunction with the nearby Ellora Caves.

The Ajanta Caves were carved in the 2nd century BC out of a horseshoe-shaped cliff along the Waghora River. They were used by Buddhist monks as prayer halls (chaitya grihas) and monasteries (viharas) for about nine centuries, then abruptly abandoned. They fell into oblivion until they were rediscovered in 1819.

What to See

The caves are numbered from east to west, 1 through 29. Today, a terraced path connects the cave, but in ancient times each was independently accessed from the riverfront.

A viewing platform across the river affords an excellent view of the entire Ajanta site. The natural beauty of the area makes it clear why the monks chose the site for their spiritual pursuits.

Preserved inside the caves are many masterpieces of Buddhist art. Some reflect the earlier Theravada tradition of depicting the Buddha only in symbolic form such as a throne or footprints. Others, the Mahayana caves, feature colorful murals and statues depicting the life (and former lives) of the Buddha and various Bodhisattvas. The caves also depict scenes from everyday life and many include inscriptions indicating a prince or noble who gifted the cave to the monks.

Bhimashankar Temple is situated in Maharashtra and claims the distinction of being one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India. Lying at a distance of approximately 128 km from the Pune city, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu Trinity of Gods. Infact, it is believed that it is the place where Lord rested after the Tripurantaka samharam i.e., the annihilation of Rakshas Tripurasurag. Even the Bhima River flowing near the Bhimshankar Jyotirlinga is said to having a story behind its formation.

Enshrined inside the complex of the Bhimashankar Temple is a Shiva Lingam, which is approximately 1.5 feet in length. Apart from the lingam, the temple also enshrines Goddess Kamalaja. The Goddess is worshipped by the devotees, with as much reverence as Lord Shiva. The complete legend associated with the temple goes somewhat like this. It is said that King Kamrupeshwar, the king of Kamrup, was a very ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. One day, a demon appeared in his kingdom and started troubling his subjects.

The demon also tried to kill King Kamrupeshwar with his sword. However, he missed the target and the sword feel on the Shiva Lingam worshipped by the king. As soon as this happened, Lord Shiva appeared at the site and killed the demon. It is believed that after killing the demon, Lord's sweat drops fell to the ground and were transformed into a stream. The stream later got converted into the Bhima River. Being situated close to the river, the temple also came to be known as the Bhimashankar Temple.

Today, this temple is visited by devotees from far and wide. Not only is it a popular pilgrimage for the Shiva devotees, but also one of the most magnificent spots in the whole of Maharashtra. For the adventure enthusiasts, Bhimshankar offers a number of excellent trekking trails. There is also a wildlife sanctuary situated in its vicinity, where you can hope to see a wide variety of birds, animals, flowers, plants, etc. Bird watchers find this place virtually a haven for birds. So, whether you are a devotee or a nature lover or an adventure buff, Bhimashankar is definitely the place for you!

One of the most prized possessions of the country, the Gateway of India is situated on the waterfront in South Mumbai. Anyone coming to Mumbai from this harbor is greeted by the huge monument, which stands as a testimony to the imperial bygone era of the city. As you pass through the gate from the city side, the first scene that looms into view is that of the waterfront of South Mumbai. A popular harbor, it is used by a large number of people for traveling to the other parts of Bombay, especially the Elephanta Island.

The architecture of the Gateway of India comprises of a huge arch, which is approximately 26 m in height. The entire structure has been made by using yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. It has mainly been constructed as per the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. One can also find the features of the Muslim architectural styles that were very much popular in Gujarat in the 16th century. The top of the monument stands adorned with a central dome, which has a diameter of 15 m.

The construction of the Gateway of India led to the displacement of the harbor and it had to be completely realigned. The monument was constructed in the early 20th century, at the astronomical price of 21 lakh rupees. The major burden of the cost was undertaken by the Government of India. However, even the 21 lakh rupees could not prove sufficient and the idea of constructing an approach road from the monument had to be discarded. The construction work of Gateway of India was undertaken by Gammon India Limited, established by J C Gammon.

The location of the Kanheri caves is so green with wooded hills and valleys, and it is at a distance of only 42 km from Mumbai. The architectures of this cave are regarded to be one of the finest in India. According to historians, these caves scooped out between 200 BC and 600 AD. The whole complex has 109 caves cut manually on the flank of a hill each fitted with a stone plinth that evidently served as a bed.

There is a congregation hall supported by the huge stone pillars that has the Dagoba, a kind of Buddhist shrine. Kanheri is regarded as one of the world's great religious houses. There are a 20 feet colossal Buddha, an 11-headed Bodisattva (Buddhist saint) and a Nagaraja, an ancient pre-Buddhist serpent king who guarded the most famous Buddhist Chaitya hall1 in the caves.

The caves have an elaborate drainage system to channel excess water during the monsoon to the neighbouring Vihar, Tulsi and Powai lakes, which in turn are responsible for much of Bombay's water supply.

Lonavala

Lonavala is such a place where nature is present in all its splendor. Lonavala has become famous because of nature's gift. Lonavala has been blessed with valleys, hills, Milky Waterfalls, Lush Greenery and pleasant cool winds. This region full of natural beauty. Words are not enough to describe the beauty for this place. Lonavala is an epic poem created by God. Beautiful mountain ranges trying to reach the sky are sites that please the human mind and give an experience of heavenly pleasure. The morning sun rising over here appears as if it is sprinkling rose water all over. Chirping birds gently awaken oneself and all of this makes it a really Good Morning. The whole place is covered with a thick blanket of fog early in the morning; this is how the day begins here.

Khandala

Khandala neighbors Lonavala. Although is comparatively small, it is equally blessed with natural beauty and bounty. Deep valley on one side and high hills on the other side divide Khandala and Lonavala. Luckily, modern industrialization has not adversely affected Khandala. Whenever a tourist visits Lonavala he also wishes to visit Khandala. While traveling on Mumbai Bangalore National Highway, one has to cross the arduous Khopoli - Khandala Ghat. This is the famous Borghat. In a short distance of 8 Kms one has to climb a height of 369 meters. This is a difficult Ghat to climb. But once you reach here, you feel that this climb has been worth the trouble. Khandala is One place where you will fall in love at First Site. In fact this is exactly the reason that we feel must have inspired the makers of the movie "GHULAM" to include a song "AATI KYA KHANDALA" in their movie which has created huge waves throughout India. Also, Lonavala and Khandala are full of tourist practically for the whole year. Main reasons for this is the fact that it is very close to Mumbai, so people from Mumbai find it very convenient, other reason is that the passengers traveling to south India or returning from there also pass through, making this place a busy spot. And the natural beauty of Lonavala & Khandala makes one forget the fatigue of the journey. Being at a considerable height from sea level, these two places enjoy a cool climate.

Mahabaleshwar has a few important temples where devotees come to worship and perform daily pujas. Some of the prominent temples here are- Mahabaleshwar Temple- The Mahabaleshwar Temple has lord Shiva as its presiding deity. The temple is encircled with a 5 feet high stone wall. The temple is divided into two - the inner room and the outer room. The inner room is known as the God chamber and the outer is the Central hall.

The important site of prayer is a lingam which is of black stone. The lingam is regarded to be the materialization of the Divine. The temple is the land mark of Mahabaleshwar as it is visited by locals and tourists.

Panchaganga Temple-

The Panchaganga temple is another important pilgrimage site where five rivers Krishna, Venna, Savitri, Koyna, and Gayatri meet. Hence the name Panchaganga is significant. The temple was built by Raja Singhandeo and Shivaji had played a role in renovating and improving the temple.

Krishnabai Temple-

This is an old temple that houses the idol of goddess Krishnabai. The carving on the stones of the columns & the ceiling is attractive. You can also see the grand view of Krishna valley from the temple.

If you're feeling energetic, a stroll down Marine Drive is possibly the best way to discover Mumbai. This is a windswept promenade, flanked by the sea and a row of art deco buildings. Looped between the concrete jungle of Nariman Point, Mumbai's Manhattan, and the leafy green slopes of Malabar hill, Marine Drive was once called the queen's Necklace, strung with glittering street lights like an enormous strand of imperious jewels. It is also one of Mumbai's busiest roads, an important artery for the heavy suburban traffic heading downtown. Cars whiz continually past the two mile stretch, past huddled lovers, children and babies in perambulators. Like other seafronts, this is where most of south Mumbai comes to breathe in some fresh air.Marine Drive is a 3 km long avenue in South Mumbai, shaped like an inverted 'C'. A natural bay on Arabian Sea, it has six lanes and run along the coast.

Marine Drive has recently come to be known as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road with Nariman Point on one end to Babulnath and Malabar Hill, while at the foot of Walkeshwar on the other. The curve of the road resembles a radiant pearl string. Chowpatty Beach at the northern end of Marine Drive is famous for its snacks and fast food.Besides, statues of Lokmanya Tilak and Vallabhai Patel can also be seen at Marine Drive. A plethora of stalls adorn the beach, selling Bhelpuri, Kulfi and Paan. There are also shooting galleries, snake charmers, monkey trainers, balloon-sellers and even masseurs.The official name of Marine Drive is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road which is rarely used.

With varied types of antique items and art works there are about 36 Museums in Maharashtra. All these Museums of Maharashtra are unique in their own way. Maharashtra has the rare privilege of celebrating the centenary of two Museums. The most famous Museums of Maharashtra are Bombay Natural History Society, Bharata Itihasa Samshodhak Mandal, Heras Institute of Indian History & Culture, Jehangir Nicholson Museum of Modern Art, Nehru Science Center, Prince of Wales Museum, Raja Dinker Kelkar Museum.

The dome shaped Prince of Wales Museum is named after Prince George who visited India in 1905 and laid the foundation stone of the building. The 19th century Pahari School of Painting, Mughal paintings, Nepalese & Tibetan Art, Deccan School of Paintings are worthy of praise. But the unique collection of this Museum is the illustrated palm leaf manuscripts of the 11th / 12th centuries.

Located at Kala Ghoda, the Jehangir Nicholson Museum of Modern Art has been constructed in 1952. The Art Gallery has four halls for exhibition of Arts and is managed by Bombay Art Society.

Heras Institute of Indian History & Culture is named after Fr. Henry Heras. It has valuable and magnificent pieces of art from India and West Asia. There are statues and images of various religious groups.

Shirdi, mostly known for the great saint Shirdi Sai Baba, is situated in the Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra. Shirdi, also known as the Land of Sai, is a popular destination of pilgrims throughout the year. The earlier history of Shirdi is not known but Shirdi shot to fame during the earlier 20th Century.

The name ‘Shirdi’ is interconnected with the life of Shirdi Sai Baba. Shirdi Sai Baba visited Shirdi when he was sixteen years old and stayed there until his death in 1918. Through Shirdi Sai Baba, Shirdi has earned a significant place among the pilgrimage destinations of India.

Shirdi is a small town in Maharashtra that comprises an area of about 3 sq. km. Shirdi is located at a distance of about 297 km from Mumbai, 82 km from Ahmednagar and 80 km from the religious city of Nasik and 16 km from Kopargaon.

The State Government of Maharashtra along with the Shirdi municipal council & Shri Sai Baba Sansthan are planning for infrastructure development in Shirdi, keeping in mind the 100th anniversary of Shri Sai Baba Punyatithi on the day of Dusshera in 2018. Another project for the integrated development of Shirdi and its surrounding villages has given boost to the thriving hospitality industry in the area.

The Shirdi temple complex which is the main attraction of Shirdi covers an area of about 200 sq. m. The temple complex includes Khandoba, Gurusthan, Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai, Chavadi and Lendi Baug. Maruti Temple and Shani Temple, constructed under the supervision of Shirdi Sai Baba, are the other places of attraction in Shirdi.

Sinhagad, one of the prominent forts of Maharashtra is approximately 32 to 35 kilometers from Pune in the southwest. The fort has been one of the most fascinating tourist places of Pune since a long time. People from all over Maharashtra and India are seen on the fort on vacations. The fort can be visited at any time of the year. However, if you visit this place in monsoon, it would really be a heavenly experience for you all. Traveling through fog and running clouds in monsoon along with the zigzag road cannot be depicted in words.

Historical Background:

We all know that the fort has witnessed so many important battles in the time of Shivaji. It witnessed most important battle on February 4, 1670 that is known as the battle of Sinhgad. Moreover, this is the battle which gave a name to the fort. Previously, the fort was known as Kondhana, but later Shivaji Maharaj, the great Maratha king, named it as Sinhgadin the memory of Tanaji Malusare. He was a renowned warrior and leader in the army of Shivaji Raje. In addition, he was also the hero of that battle whom Shivaji lost on that day. This battle was fought between TanajiMalusare, a commander of Maratha army and UdaybhanRathod, a fort keeper. On that day, he with his army fought with comparatively big army of Udaybhan and won the battle to take this fort away from Udaybhan. Tanaji lost his life, but his brother Suryaji took over and gained Kondhana back.

The Daulatabad fort is a rare kind of construction, a combination of 3 fortifications and 2 moats. The imposing fort was built on a huge isolated pyramid-shaped natural hill. Access to the hill top was again disrupted by slicing down the periphery rock till the ground level leaving a steep edge around the hill.

The dark Enclosure at the entrance of the hill and a deep broad moat around the fort makes it almost impossible for the enemies to capture the fort. It is said that, the moat was home to several large crocodiles which were feed up with captured enemy men.

Fortifications

The fort area is surrounded by three concentric walls or fortifications. The outer one called Amberkot covers a diameter of about 1.5 Kilometers and it includes the half kilometer long Daulatabad town. The National Highway NH 211, connecting Aurangabad to Ellora (Ellora Caves) passes inside Amberkot.

The second fortification is Mahakot which enclosure the Chand Minar and the foot of the hill. Mahakot has eight gates around it and is surrounded by a deep gully which is dry right now.

The Ellora Caves are an impressive complex of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples built between the 6th and 10th centuries AD near the ancient Indian village of Ellora. The caves have a slightly less dramatic setting than those at Ajanta, but more exquisite sculptures. Ellora is a World Heritage Site and the most visited ancient monument in Maharashtra State.

History

The caves at Ellora were carved out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 10th centuries. The carving work began around 550 AD, about the same time the Ajanta Caves (100km northeast) were abandoned. The Ellora Caves were built at time when Buddhism was declining in India and Hinduism was beginning to reassert itself. The Brahmanical movement was especially powerful under the patronage of the Chalukya and Rashtrakuta kings, who oversaw most of the work at Ellora - including the magnificent Kailasa Temple built in the 700s.

The last period of building activity took place in the 10th century, when the local rulers switched allegiance from Shaivism (Hinduism devoted to Shiva) to the Digambara sect of Jainism.

The Buddhist Caves

The Buddhist caves (also called Vishvakarma caves) are the earliest of the Ellora Caves, dating from 500 to 750 AD. All except Cave 10 are viharas (monasteries), which were used for study, meditation, communal rituals, eating and sleeping.

The caves become steadily larger and more elaborately decorated as they progress to the north, which scholars have explained by the growing need to compete with Hinduism for patronage. The earliest Hindu caves at Ellora date from 600 AD, right in the middle of the Buddhist period.

 

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