—  State  —
From Top-left in clockwise direction: The Gateway of India, The Ajanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and a statue of Lord Ganesha

Location of Maharashtra in India
Map of Maharashtra
Coordinates (Mumbai): 18°58′N 72°49′E / 18.96°N 72.82°E / 18.96; 72.82Coordinates: 18°58′N 72°49′E / 18.96°N 72.82°E / 18.96; 72.82
Country  India
Established 1 May 1960 (Maharashtra Day)
Capital Mumbai
Largest city Mumbai
Districts 35 total
 – Body Government of India, Government of Maharashtra
 – Governor K. Sankaranarayanan
 – Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan (INC)
 – Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar
 – Parliamentary constituency 48
 – High Court Bombay High Court
 – Total 307,713 km2 (118,808.7 sq mi)
Area rank 3rd
Population (2011)[2]
 – Total 112,372,972
 – Rank 2nd
 – Density 365.2/km2 (945.8/sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-MH
HDI increase 0.689 (medium)
HDI rank 12th (2005)
Literacy 82.9% (6th)
Official languages Marathi[3][4]

Maharashtra (Marathi: महाराष्ट्र mahārāṣṭra, pronounced [məharaːʂʈrə] ( listen)) is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India. It is the richest state in India, contributing to 15% of the country's industrial output and 13.2% of its GDP in 2005-06.[5][6][7][8]

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.Nagpur is 2nd capital of state. Marathi is the official language of the state.

Maharashtra is the world's second most populous first-level administrative country sub-division. Were it a nation in its own right, Maharashtra would be the world's tenth most populous country ahead of Mexico, although it is only one sixth of Mexico's territorial area.

In the 17th century, the Marathas rose under the leadership of Chhatrapati Shivaji against the Mughals who were ruling a large part of India. By 1760, Maratha power had reached its zenith with a territory of over 250 million acres (1 million km²) or one-third of the Indian sub-continent. 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. At that time, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was of opinion that linguistic reorganization of states should be done with - "One state - One language" principle and not with "One language - One state" principle. He submitted a memorandum to the reorganization commission stating that, "Single Government can not administer such a huge state as United Maharashtra".[9] The first state reorganization committee created the current Maharashtra state on 1 May 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, under the agreement known as Nagpur Pact, to form the current state.



The etymology of the word "Maharashtra" is uncertain. The various theories include:

  • It derives from the Sanskrit words Maha ("great") and rāṣhṭra ("nation", "dominion")
  • Maha (Sanskrit for "great") + rashtra, derived from the name of a clan known as rashtrika (rāṣṭrika) mentioned in some of Ashoka's inscriptions. Rashtrika alludes to a people of the Deccan who were progenitors of the Marathi-speaking people; that the later "Maharashtri Prakrit" is associated with these people
  • Maha (Sanskrit for "great") + rashtra, derived from ratta, supposedly a corruption of Rashtrakuta (the name of a dynasty that held sway over the Deccan from the 8th to 10th centuries).
  • Maha (Sanskrit for "great") + Rathi or Ratha (charioteer)
  • Mahar (Mahar tribe of this area) + Rashtra ("nation", "dominion")[10]


Pune is located at the confluence of the Mula and Mutha rivers.
The Arabian Sea in Mahad

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.

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 six are located in Maharashtra. A large percentage of Maharashtra's forests and wildlife lie in the Zadipranta (Forest rich region) of far eastern Maharashtra OR eastern Vidarbha.

Lions at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the world's largest national park within city limits.
  • Navegaon National Park, located near Gondia in the eastern region of Vidarbha is home to many species of birds, deer, bears and leopards.
  • Nagzira wildlife sanctuary lies in Tirora Range of Bhandara Forest Division, in Gondia district of Vidarbha region. The sanctuary is enclosed in the arms of the nature and adorned with exquisite landscape. The sanctuary consists of a range of hills with small lakes within its boundary. These lakes not only guarantee a source of water to wildlife throughout the year, but also greatly heighten the beauty of the landscape.
  • Tadoba Andhari Tiger Project, a prominent tiger reserve near Chandrapur in Vidarbha. It is 40 km away from Chandrapur.
  • Pench National Park, in Nagpur district, extends into Madhya Pradesh as well. It has now been upgraded into a Tiger project.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Maldhok Sanctuary, situated in Solapur district. Some of its part is in Ahmednagar district. The sanctuary is for a bird which is sometimes known as The Great Indian Bustard.

Apart from these, Maharashtra has 35 wildlife sanctuaries spread all over the state, listed here.[11] 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.


Year Gross Domestic Product (millions of INR)
1980 INR166,310
1985 INR296,160
1990 INR664,330
1995 INR1,578,180
2000 INR2,386,720
2005 INR3,759,150[12]
A view of Nariman Point, Mumbai, a prime financial district in Maharashtra.

Favourable economic policies in the 1970s led to Maharashtra becoming India's leading industrial state in the last quarter of 20th century. Over 41% of the S&P CNX 500 conglomerates have corporate offices in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra's gross state domestic product for 2010 is at $190.310 billion.[13] The state's debt was estimated at 36 per cent of GDP in 2005.[14]

In 2007 Maharashtra reported a revenue surplus of INR810 crore (US$164.27 million).[15] Maharashtra is the second most urbanised state with urban population of 42% of whole population. The headquarters to the Financial Planning Standards Board India is in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra is India's leading industrial state contributing 15% of national industrial output and over 40% of India's national revenue.[16] 64.14% of the people are employed in agriculture and allied activities. Almost 46% of the GSDP is contributed by industry. Major industries in Maharashtra include chemical and allied products, electrical and non-electrical machinery, textiles, petroleum and allied products. Other important industries include metal products, wine, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, machine tools, steel and iron castings and plastic wares. Food crops include mangoes, grapes, bananas, oranges, wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, and pulses. Cash crops include groundnut, cotton, sugarcane, turmeric, and tobacco. The net irrigated area totals 33,500 square kilometres.

Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India, houses the headquarters of all major banks, financial institutions, insurance companies in India. India's largest stock exchange Bombay Stock Exchange, the oldest in Asia, is also located in the city. After successes in the information technology in the neighboring states, Maharashtra has set up software parks in Pune, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nashik, Now Maharashtra is the second largest exporter of software with annual exports of INR18,000 crore (US$3.65 billion) and accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country's software exports, with over 1,200 software units based in the state.[17] Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Navi Mumbai is the busiest port in India. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai is the busiest airport in South Asia as per passenger volume.[18]

The coast of Maharashtra has been a shipbuilding center for many centuries. The expertise and the manpower available in the local area make this business more attractive. This is reflected by the number of companies operating shipyards in the state such as Bharati Shipyard at Ratnagiri and the upcoming Rajapur Shipyards at Rajapur, apart from the state owned Mazagon Dock Limited at Mumbai.

Mumbai is the home for the world's largest film industry- Bollywood, Hindi filmmaking industry. Maharashtra ranks first nationwide in coal-based thermal electricity as well as nuclear electricity generation with national market shares of over 13% and 17% respectively. Maharashtra is also introducing Jatropha cultivation and has started a project for the identification of suitable sites for Jatropha plantations.[19]

Ralegan Siddhi is a village in Ahmednagar District that is considered a model of environmental conservation.[20]

An international cargo hub (Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur, MIHAN) is being developed at Nagpur.[21][22] MIHAN will be used for handling heavy cargo coming from South-East Asia and Middle-East Asia. Project will also include INR10,000 crore (US$2.03 billion) Special Economic Zone (SEZ)[23] for Information Technology (IT) companies. This will be the biggest development project in India so far.[24]

Prominent Indian and foreign automobile makers such as Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Skoda Auto, Fiat and Volkswagen are also either based in or have a manufacturing presence in Maharashtra.

Pune has become major IT hub with presence of almost all IT leaders. Chakan near Pune is Auto hub & Manufacturing industry, new MIDC in district.


Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha election results since 1990

Like all states in India, the nominal head of state is the governor, appointed by the Union Government. The Governor's post is largely ceremonial. The Chief Minister is the head of government and is vested with most of the executive powers. Maharashtra's legislature is bicameral, one of the few states in India to have a bicameral type. The Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) is the lower house consisting of directly elected members. The Chief Minister is chosen by the members of the Vidhan Sabha. The Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council) is the upper house, whose members are indirectly voted through an electoral college. Maharashtra is allocated nineteen seats in the Rajya Sabha and forty-eight in the Lok Sabha, India's national parliament.

The capital city Mumbai is home to the Vidhan Sabha – the state assembly and Mantralaya, the administrative offices of the government. The legislature convenes its budget and monsoon sessions in Mumbai, and the winter session in Nagpur, which was designated as the state's auxiliary capital.

After India's independence, most of Maharashtra's political history was dominated by the Indian National Congress. Maharashtra became a bastion of the Congress party producing stalwarts such as Y.B. Chavan, one of its most prominent Chief Ministers. The party enjoyed near unchallenged dominance of the political landscape until 1995 when the right wing Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured an overwhelming majority in the state to form a coalition. After a split in the Congress party, former chief minister Sharad Pawar formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), but formed a coalition with the Congress to keep out the BJP-SS combine. The 2004 elections saw the NCP gaining the largest number of seats to become the state's largest party, eroding much of the Shiv Sena's base. Under a pre-poll power sharing agreement, the Chief Minister would be from the Congress while the deputy Chief Minister would be from the NCP. Prithviraj Chavan is the current Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar is the Deputy Chief Minister. Now new parties emerging in Maharashtra's politics specially Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)(Marathi: महाराष्ट्र नवनिर्माण सेना) based regional political party operating on the motto of "Sons (of)for the Soil"[25] founded on the March 9, 2006 in Mumbai by Raj Thackeray after he left the Shiv Sena .

The 2009 elections saw the Congress-NCP alliance winning with clean sweep to the BJP-Shivsena alliance.

Revenues of government

This is a chart of trend of own tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) of the Government of Maharashtra assessed by the Finance Commissions from time to time with figures in millions of Indian Rupees (Indian Rupee symbol.svg).[26]

Year Own Tax Revenues
2000 198,821
2005 332,476

This is a chart of trend of own non-tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) of the Government of Maharashtra assessed by the Finance Commissions from time to time with figures in millions of Indian Rupees (Indian Rupee symbol.svg).[26]

Year Own Non-tax Revenues
2000 26,030
2005 30,536


Mumbai is also home to the Bombay High Court which has jurisdiction over the states of Maharashtra, Goa, and the Union Territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, with the benches being at Nagpur and Aurangabad in Maharashtra and Panaji, Goa.

The Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa enrolled approximately 90,000 advocates on its roll (2009 data). The Bar Council is represented by 25 elected members from the above territory; the Advocate General of each state is an ex-officio member of the Council. This Bar Council elects one representative to the Bar Council of India as its member and also elects a chairmirman for the council. The tenure of the entire Council is five years.

Education and social development

School children, Mumbai

Maharashtra has good human resource development infrastructure in terms of educational institutions—301 engineering/diploma colleges, 616 industrial training institutes and more than 24 universities[27] with a turnout of 160,000 technocrats every year.[28]

It is home to institutions like Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) which developed India's supercomputer, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Sardar Patel College of Engineering, Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT), Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), University Department of Chemical Technology, College of Engineering Pune (COEP), Government College of Engineering Aurangabad, Government College of Engineering Karad, Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli (WCES), Shri Guru Gobind Singhji Institute of Engineering and Technology Nanded (SGGSIE&T) and top management institutions.[28] 50,000 youth trained to take up self-employment ventures every year by the Maharashtra Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (MCED), Aurangabad.

A clock tower amid trees and a playground
Rajabai Clock Tower at the University of Mumbai
IIT Bombay Main Building

The literacy rate is well above the national average at 77.27%.[28] University of Mumbai, one of the largest universities in the world in terms of the number of graduates.[29] The Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay),[30] Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI),[31] and University Institute of Chemical Technology (UICT),[32] which are India's premier engineering and technology schools, and SNDT Women's University are the other autonomous universities in Mumbai.[33]

Mumbai is home to Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research (SIMSR) and several other management schools.[34] Government Law College and Sydenham College, respectively the oldest law and commerce colleges in India, are based in Mumbai.[35][36] The Sir J. J. School of Art is Mumbai's oldest art institution.[37] College of Engineering Pune, established in 1854 is the third oldest college in Asia.

Mumbai is home to two prominent research institutions: the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).[38] The BARC operates CIRUS, a 40 MW nuclear research reactor at their facility in Trombay.[39]

The University of Pune, the National Defence Academy, Film and Television Institute of India, National Film Archives, Armed Forces Medical College and National Chemical Laboratory were established in Pune after the independence of India.

ILS Law College, established by the Indian Law Society is one of the top ten law schools in India. Established medical schools such as the Armed Forces Medical College and Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Medical College train students from all over Maharashtra and India and are amongst the top medical colleges in India. Military Nursing College (affiliated to the AFMC) ranks among the top nursing colleges in the world.[40]

University of Nagpur, established in 1923, one of the oldest universities in India, manages more than 24 engineering colleges, 43 science colleges and many colleges in the Arts and Commerce faculties. Nagpur is the home for Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT) (also referred to as NIT, Nagpur, formerly known as Visvesvaraya Regional College of Engineering (VRCE), Nagpur) is one of the first six Regional Engineering Colleges established under the scheme sponsored by Government of India and the Maharashtra State Government and is one of the Institutes of National Importance.

The geographical center of India lies at Nagpur, known as Zero Mile Stone. Nagpur is the headquarter for Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and an important location for the Dalit Buddhist movement. Nagpur is also the home for National Fire Institution, Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti (promotion of and for spreading the national language, Hindi) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC-Western zone).

Maharashtra in total, has 40% India's Internet users and 35% of PC penetration in the country.[17][41]


As per the 2001 census, Maharashtra has a population of 96,752,247 inhabitants making it the second most populous state in India, and the second most populous country subdivision in existence, and third ever after the Russian SFSR of the former Soviet Union. The Marathi-speaking population of Maharashtra numbers 62,481,681 according to the 2001 census. This is a reflection of the cosmopolitan nature of the state. Only eleven countries of the world have a population greater than Maharashtra. Its density is 322.5 inhabitants per square kilometre. Males constitute 50.3 million and females, 46.4 million. Maharashtra's urban population stands at 42.4%. Its sex ratio is 922 females to 1000 males. 77.27% of its population is literate, broken into 86.2% males and 67.5% females. Its growth rate between 1991–2001 was pegged at 22.57%

A Maratha Family from Mumbai, 1880's

Marathi is the official state language. In Mumbai and suburban areas, apart from the native Marathi and English, other languages are also spoken. In the northwest portion of Maharashtra, a dialect Ahirani is spoken by 2.5 million people. In south Konkan, a dialect known as Malvani is spoken by most of the people. In the Desh (inland) region of the Deccan, a dialect called Deshi is spoken[citation needed], while in Vidarbha, a dialect known as Varhadi is spoken by most of the people.

The Economic Survey of Maharashtra 2008-09, which was released on Wednesday, says the percentage of the state’s population that names Marathi as its mother tongue has declined to 68.8% from 76.5% over the past three decades.

Outlining migratory trends in the state, the survey highlights the sharp rise in the Hindi-speaking population in the same period. The number of people citing Hindi as their mother tongue rose to 11% from 5% in the same period[43]

The Total Fertility Rate in 2001 was 2.23. Hindus - 2.09, Muslims - 2.49, Christians - 1.41, Jains - 1.41, Sikh - 1.57, Buddhist - 2.24, Others -2.25, Tribals - 3.14.[44]


Pundalik's temple at Pandharpur

The majority of Marathi people are Hindus form 83.2% of total population and Hinduism plays important role in Maharashtrian people in there day-to-day life. Ganesh is the most popular deity amongst Marathi Hindus, followed by Krishna in the form of Vithal. They also worship the Shiva Family deities such as Shankar & Parvati under various names . The Warkari tradition holds strong grip on local Hindus of Maharastra. The public Ganesh festival started by Lokmanya Tilak in the late 19th century is very popular. Marathi Hindus also revere Bhakti saints of all castes, such as Dnyaneshwar (Deshastha Brahmin), Savata Mali (Mali), Tukaram (Moray Maratahi-Kunbi), Namdev (Shimpi-Artsian,Vaishya) and Chokhamela (Mahar). Islam is the second biggest religion in the state with more than 9 million adherents comprising over 10% of the population. Eid-ul-Fitr (Ramzan Eid) and Eid-ul-Azha (Bakra Eid) are the most important festivals of muslims in the state. Within muslims, Sunnis represent an overwhlelming majority with an estimated 99% muslims adhering to the Sunni branch of Islam. There are not many Shia muslims in Maharashtra besides small pockets that exist in Mumbai and parts of Thane. Jainists are a major group in Maharashtra. Jain community census for 2001 in Maharashtra area was 1,301,843. Cultural roots on Maharashtra for Jainism explain this numbers, as this more than 2,500 year old religion has some ancient temples in Maharashtra. Christians account for 31,049 of Maharashtra's population. Most of the Christians are Catholics whilst some adhere to Protestantism. There are also significant number of Goan, Mangalorean, Malayalam and Tamil Christians in the urban pockets of Mumbai and Pune. There are Two ethnic Christian Community in Maharashtra one is East Indians & concentrated in and around Mumbai, for example in Konkan districts of Thane and Raigad. Portuguese missionaries brought Catholicism to this area during 13th century. Second is Marathi Christians who are Protestants and found some Parts of Maharashtra, especially in Ahmednagar & Solapur. Protestantism was brought to these areas by American and Anglican Missionaries during 18th century. Marathi Christian have largely retained their pre-Christian practices.

Most Marathi Buddhists are followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Buddhism accounts nearly 6% in Maharastra's total population.

Muslims belong mostly to the Sufi tradition. Visiting the tombs of Sufi saints is very important to this community. Hindus also visit these tombs in great numbers, especially during the annual Urs.

A Parsi Wedding, 1905

Zoroastrians also called Parsi, are mainly found in Mumbai. According to tradition, the present-day Parsis descend from a group of Iranian Zoroastrians who immigrated to Western India during 10th century AD, due to persecution by Muslims in Iran. The long presence in the region distinguishes the Parsis from the Iranis, who are more recent arrivals, and who represent the smaller of the two Indian-Zoroastrian communities.

There is also a 3,000 strong community of Marathi Jews, popularly known as Bene Israel Most of them have migrated to Israel. Before the migration this community numbered at least 90,000.


Ganesha during Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, a popular festival in the state.

Aashadi Ekadashi is one of most important festivals celebrated across Maharashtra. It is also referred to as "WARI" and people from all over Maharashtra, Karnataka and other parts of India walk to Pandharpur from there respective villages.

Lord Ganesha's devotion is celebrated by Ganesh Chaturthi (Ganesh's birthday) in August–September of every year.[45] Town of Pen in Raigad district is famous for Ganesh Idols. Lalbaugcha Raja, Shri Siddhivinayak Temple, Shri Ashtavinayaka's are the major holy places for Maharashtrians.

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 devotions are celebrated in the state-wide Gokul Ashtami (or Krishna Janmashtami, Krishna's birthday) whereby many devotees fast on the entire day until midnight. The Dahi-Handi (Matki-fod) is also observed on this day at many places.[46] Lord Krishna's devotion are also celebrated at Kaartik Aamawasya (or Diwali) and at Narak Chaturdashi as returning of Lord Shri Rama.

The other festivals celebrated on the large scale are Vijayadashami or Dasara (Marathi: दसरा), Navaratri, Holi, Diwali, Eid (Ramzan Eid). Simollanghan is a ritual performed on Dasara or Viajaya Dashami day in Maharashtra. Simollanghan is crossing the border or frontier of a village or a place. In ancient times, kings used to cross the frontier of their kingdom to fight against their rivals or neighbor kingdoms. They used to perform Ayudha Puja on Dasara and begin the war season. On Dasara, people cross the borders of their places (Seemollanghan) and collect the leaves of Apta tree (आपट्याची पाने) and exchange among their friends and relatives as gold (सोने म्हणून आपट्याची पाने देतात).[47] People worship Shami tree and its leaves (शमीची पाने) on this day. On Vijayadashami or Dasara 14 October 1956 Dr. B. R. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism along with his 2-3 lakh followers at Nagpur. And since then Buddhist people observe it as a 'Dhammachakra Pravartan Day' (Marathi: [धम्मचक्र प्रवर्तन दिन).Buddha purnima(vaishakh purnima i.e. fullmoon of may month) and bhim jayanti(14 April) are festivals which is celebrated by Buddhists people of Maharashtra with joy.

Saints (Sant)

Image of a gopuram of a Pandharpur temple near Vithoba's central temple. The leftmost panel depicts Tukaram, the central panel depicts Vithoba (standing dark figure, left) waiting on the brick as Pundalik (centre) serves his parents, the right panel depicts Dnyaneshwar.

Maharashtra has produced or been closely associated with many saints throughout its history. These have risen from all across the several castes. Some of the very revered examples of Bhakti saints are Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram, Namdev, sant Gora Kumbhar, Samarth Ramdas, Chokhamela, and Savta Mali. There have also been several other Harijan saints such as Sant Banka Mahar, Sant Bhagu, Sant Damaji panth, Sant Kanhopatra, Sant Karmamelam, Sant Nirmala, Sant Sadna, Sant Sakhubai, Sant Satyakam Jabali, Sant Soyarabai, and Sant Eknath. It has also been the birthplace and home of world-reputed saints like Sai Baba of Shirdi, Gajanan Maharaj, Swami Shukadas Maharaj, Swami Samarth Maharaj, and Meher Baba, whose tomb-shrine in Meherabad has become a place of world pilgrimage. Maharashtra is also equally famous for ardent devotees (or Bhaktas). For example, Namdev Mahar and his wife Bhagubai from Kharagpur[48] are both devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba. The Sai Baba template in Shirdi is the second richest one in the country,[49][50] a close second after the Lord Tirupati temples at Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh.


Marathi is the Official language of Maharashtra. According to 2001 census, it is Mother tongue of 68.89 % of the population. Other languages which are Mother tongue by more than one percent of the people are as follows[51]

Language Percentage in state
Marathi 68.89
Hindi 11.04
Urdu 8.81
Telugu 1.31
Kannada 1.50
Gujarati 2.39
Tamil 1.04
Malayalam 0.30

Divisions and regions

Divisions of Maharashtra

Maharashtra is divided into six revenue divisions, which are further divided into thirty-five districts.[52] These thirty-five districts are further divided into 109 sub-divisions of the districts and 357 Talukas in Maharashtra.[53]


The six administrative divisions in Maharashtra state are Amravati Division, Aurangabad Division, Konkan Division, Nagpur Division, Nashik Division, Pune Division.

Division Districts
Mumbai (Konkan) Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban (Mumbai Upanagar), Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg
Pune Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur
Nashik Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Nandurbar
Aurangabad Aurangabad, Jalna, Latur/Lattalur, Nanded, Osmanabad, Parbhani, Hingoli and Beed
Amravati Amravati, Akola, Washim, Buldhana and Yavatmal
Nagpur Nagpur, Chandrapur, Wardha, Bhandara, Gondia and Gadchiroli


Geographically, historically and according to political sentiments, Maharashtra has five main regions:

The state capital Mumbai City and Mumbai Suburban Area are the parts of the Konkan Division

Border dispute

Maharashtra has a border dispute with neighbouring state of Karnataka over the district of Belgaum. Belgaum was incorporated into the newly formed Mysore state (now Karnataka) with the passage of the States Reorganisation Act (1956), which reorganised India's states along linguistic lines despite having about three-fourths of the total population.[54] speaking Marathi. Since then, Maharashtra has continued to claim the district. The case is currently awaiting a verdict in Supreme Court of India.

Principal urban agglomerations

Maharashtra has one of the highest level of urbanization of all Indian states.[55] The mountainous topography and soil are not as suitable for intensive agriculture as the plains of North India; therefore, the proportion of the urban population (42.4 per cent) contrasts starkly with the national averageveloping metro and many large towns.[56] Mumbai is the state capital with a population of approximately 15.2 million people. The other large cities are Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Amravati, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Sangli and Solapur.

Mumbai, the Administrative Capital of Maharashtra, is also the largest city in India.
  • Mumbai: Mumbai (including Thane and Navi Mumbai in its metropolitan area) is the financial and commercial capital of India and is the Administrative Capital of Maharashtra. It has the largest proportion of taxpayers in India and its share markets transact almost 70 per cent of the country’s stocks. It offers a lifestyle that is rich, cosmopolitan and diverse, with a variety of food, entertainment and nightlife. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai is the biggest and the second busiest airport in India. The new airport, Navi Mumbai International Airport coming up at Panvel, Navi Mumbai will be the all modern and state of art facility airport in India. The city is India's link to the world of telecommunications and the Internet. VSNL (Now Tata Communications Limited) is the terminal point in India for all telephone and internet traffic. Mumbai is India's flagship port destination. It is also home to the Indian Navy's Western Command (INS).
Pune is the second largest city in the state.
  • Pune: Pune, the second largest city in Maharashtra and the seventh largest in India, is the state's cultural and heritage capital with a population of 4.5 million people. About 170 km from Mumbai by road, Pune was the bastion of the Maratha empire. Under the reign of the Peshwas, Pune blossomed into a centre of art and learning. Several far reaching revenue and judicial reforms were also initiated in the city. Shaniwarwada, Saras baug, Aga Khan Palace, Parvati Temple, Khadakwasla Dam, Sinhgad are the most visited places by tourists in Pune. 'Ganeshotsav', a festival of Lord Ganesh is celebrated in Pune with lot of enthusiasm and worship. Pune is connected to Mumbai by the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Pune also has very important military cantonments as well as the HQ of the Southern Command, the National Defence Academy, the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, CME, and the Indian Air Force base at Lohegaon too. Pune is a major Information Technology hub of India as well as a foremost destination for Automobile manufacturing and component industry City.
Nashik is known for its pleasant climate co-existing with fast development.
  • Nashik: It is fourth largest and third most industrialized cities in the Maharashtra. One of the holy cities of the Hindu tradition, Nashik lies on the banks of the sacred river Godavari and has a population of about 1.8 million people. It is believed that Lord Rama, hero of the great Indian epic, the Ramayana, spent a major part of his exile here. Nashik hosts the Kumbhmela once every twelve years. Nashik is the Wine Capital of India which has many vineyards thriving owing to the climate extremely favorable for grapes. Nashik is even dubbed as the Napa Valley of India. Nashik has a rapid pace of development as is one of the fastest growing cities in India. Nashik boasts a huge number of automobile and pharmaceutical industries. Nashik is also an educational hub and Educational and Cultural capital of North Maharashtra. Maharashtra's health sciences university, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) is based in Nashik. It is also home to Yashvantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University. In agriculture, apart from grapes, Nashik is Asia's leading market for Onions and Tomatoes.[57]
"Zero Mile Stone" located at Nagpur.
  • Nagpur: It is the third largest city in Maharashtra and 13th largest in India[citation needed]. The erstwhile capital of the Nagpur Province since 1853 in British India, was in 1861 made the capital of Central Province, in 1903 was made capital of CP & Berar, in 1935 was made capital of a provincial assembly with same name Central Provinces and Berar providing for an election by, Government of India Act, passed by British Parliament. After Independence of India, the “CP & Berar” was kept a separate entity with Nagpur as capital. In 1950 Nagpur became the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Nagpur was recommended capital of Vidarbha state by Hon. Fazal Ali commission for reorganisation of states. Nagpur was described by the first Prime Minister of India Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, as "Heart of India"[citation needed]. Nagpur is the nerve centre of Vidarbha (eastern Maharashtra), Nagpur - the Orange City as it is known - is located in the centre of the country and is also a geographical center of India, with a population of about 2.4 million people (2.1 Million as per census 2001). It is also Second Administrative Capital of Maharashtra. Nagpur is a growing industrial centre and the home of several industries, ranging from food products and chemicals to electrical and transports equipment. Service and software industry is rapidly increasing in Nagpur. An international cargo airport, MIHAN is coming up in the outskirts of the Nagpur city which will house number of service industries in its SEZ. The Maintenance Command of Indian Air Force is located in Nagpur. The "Zero Mile Stone" or the geographical center of India is located in Nagpur. Deekshabhoomi, Sitabardi Fort, Ambazari Lake, Seminary Hills, Ramtek Temple, Khindsi Lake, Pench National Park are some of the tourist attractions in and around Nagpur.
Aurangabad is a popular tourist destination.
  • Aurangabad: The city means "built by the throne", once capital of India, named after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, is a city in Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, India.It is fourth most industrialized city in Maharashtra. The city is a tourist hub, surrounded with many historical monuments, including the Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as Bibi Ka Maqbara. The administrative headquarters of the Aurangabad Division or Marathwada region, Aurangabad is said to be a 'City of Gates', as one can not miss the strong presence of these as one drives through the city. Aurangabad is also one of the fastest growing cities in the world.[58]
  • Sangli: The ‘Turmeric city of India’ is the largest trade centre for turmeric in the country. Situated on the banks of river Krishna, Sangli-Miraj twin cities form the largest urban agglomeration in South Maharashtra. Sangli is famous for its grapes and Wine industry. Miraj is known for Indian classical musical instruments exported all over the world. Ganapati Temple of Sangli and its Ganesh Festival attract tourists from all over India. Sangli houses some renowned engineering and medical institutions. Density of hospitals in Sangli-Miraj twin cities is the highest in India. Sangli is now coming up as a major wind power generation hub. Sangli is well known for its sugar factories and dairy farms. Recently, large textile units are coming up around Sangli which is also witnessing developments in IT/ITES sector.
  • Kolhapur: It is a princely state. One of the main cities during the Shivaji rule. Even today the royal Chatraptti family resides here, at the New Palace. Famous attractions are the Mahalaxmi temple, Rankala lake, Shalini Palace, New Palace and the nearby Panhala fort.Jaggery and Kolhapuri Chappals(sandals) of kolhapur have gained fame all over India and also overseas. Kolhapur is also famous for its cuisines, mainly the non-veg variety. Tamda-pandhara raasa and mutton are one of the iconic dishes of Kolhapur, alongside Misal and Vada pav.


The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, is a key railway station and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Maharashtra has the largest road network in India at 267,452[59] kilometers. The length of National Highways in Maharashtra is 3688 kilometers[60] The Indian Railways covers most of the Maharashtra and is the preferred mode of transport over long distances. Almost the entire state comes under the Central Railways branch which is headquartered in Mumbai. Most of the coast south of Mumbai comes under the Konkan Railway. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) runs buses, popularly called ST for State Transport, linking most of the towns and villages in and around the state with a large network of operation. These buses, run by the state government are the preferred mode of transport for much of the populace. In addition to the government run buses, private run luxury buses are also a popular mode of transport between major towns.

Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the busiest airport in India as per passengers handled with another coming up at Navi Mumbai for a whopping INR9,000 crore (US$1.83 billion). Pune has a civilian enclave international. airport with flights to Dubai, Frankfurt and Singapore, with plans on for a brand new greenfield International Airport. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur is another important international airport. Other large cities such as Nasik, Aurangabad, Nanded, Latur, Kolhapur and Solapur are served by domestic airlines. Nashik has many flights To Mumbai and Soon Other Metros will be added after the construction of a new Airport at Nashik. Ferry services also operate near Mumbai, linking the city to neighbouring coastal towns. Other modes of public transport, such as a seven-seater tempo have gained popularity in semi-urban areas. Maharashtra has a large highway network. The Yeshwantrao Chavan Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the first access controlled tolled road project in India also exists within the state. Maharashtra has three major ports at Mumbai (operated by the Mumbai Port Trust), the JNPT lying across the Mumbai harbour in Navi Mumbai, and in Ratnagiri, which handles the export of ores mined in the Maharastra hinterland.


Maharashtra is the leading state with maximum number of air ports in India.

International Airports
Domestic Airports
Upcoming International Airports
Upcoming Domestic Airports
  • Amravati Airport
  • Jalgaon Airport
  • Shirdi Airport
  • Gadchiroli Airpot[61]
Other Airports


Upcoming Expressway Extension Projects
Upcoming 6 lane and 4 lane Expressway projects


Terminus Stations
Major Railway Lines
Upcoming Rail Routes
  • Pune - Mumbai - Ahmadabad High-Speed Passenger Corridor


Waterways are being used at the western coast of Maharashtra.


Kailash Temple in Ellora Caves.

Marathi is the official language of Maharashtra. Maharashtrians take great pride in their language and history, particularly the Maratha Empire, its founder Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is considered a folk hero across India. About 60% of Maharashtrians are Hindu, and there are significant Muslim, Christian and Buddhist minorities. There are many temples in Maharashtra some of them being hundreds of years old. These temples are constructed in a fusion of architectural styles borrowed from North and South India. The temples also blend themes from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cultures. A National Geographic[62] edition reads, "The flow between faiths was such that for hundreds of years, almost all Buddhist temples, including the ones at Ajanta, were built under the rule and patronage of Hindu kings." The temple of Vitthal at Pandharpur is the most important temple for the Varkari sect. Other important religious places are the Ashtavinayaka temples of Lord Ganesha, Bhimashankar which is one of the Jyotirling (12 important Shiva temples). Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad as well as Elephanta Caves near Mumbai are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and famous tourist attractions. Mughal architecture can be seen is the tomb of the wife of Aurangzeb called Bibi Ka Maqbara located at Aurangabad.

In 1708, the year following the death of Aurangzeb, Guru Gobind Singh the tenth spiritual leader of the Sikhs came over to Nanded, his permanent abode. He proclaimed himself the last living Guru and established the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru of the Sikhs. This elevates the reverence of Granth to that of a living Guru. A monument has been constructed at place where he breathed his last. Maharaja Ranjit Singh's endowment saw the construction of a beautiful Gurudwara at Nanded around 1835 AD. The Gurudwara features an imposing golden dome with intricate carvings and a breathtakingly beautiful artwork. It is known as Shri Huzur Abchalnagar Sachkhand Gurudwara.

Maharashtra has a large number of hill, land and sea forts. Forts have played an important role in the history of Maharashtra since the time of the Peshwas. Some of the important forts in Maharashtra are Raigad, Vijaydurg, Pratapgad, Sinhagad. Majority of the forts in Maharashtra are found along the coastal region of Konkan.

Bollywood is based in Mumbai

Maharashtra, like other states of India, has its own folk music. The folk music viz. Gondhal Lavani, Bharud and Powada are popular especially in rural areas, while the common forms of music from the Hindi and Marathi film industry are favoured in urban areas.

The earliest instances of Marathi literature is by Sant Jnyaneshwar with his Bhawarthadeepika (popularly known as Jnyaneshwari). The compositions written during this period are spiritually inclined. The other compositions are by Sant Tukaram, Sant Namdev, and Sant Gora Kumbhar. The compositions are mostly in poetic form, which are called bhajans. These bhajans by saints are popular and part of day to day life. The modern Marathi literature has been enriched by famous poets and authors like P. L. Deshpande, Kusumagraj, Prahlad Keshav Atre and Vyankatesh Madgulkar. This literature has been passed on to the next generations through the medium of large numbers of books that are published every year in Marathi.

The world famous film industry Bollywood is in Maharashtra, located in the economic capital of India, Mumbai. The Marathi film industry was once placed in Kolhapur but now is spread out through Mumbai too. The pioneer of Indian movie industry, Bharat Ratna Shri Dadasaheb Phalke, producer & director V. Shantaram, B.R. Chopra, Shakti Samanta, Raj Kapoor, form a few names of the Hindi film fraternity, while writer, director, and actor P. L. Deshpande, actor Ashok Saraf, actor Laxmikant Berde, actor & producer, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Mahesh Kothare belong to the Marathi film industry. Dada Kondke was the most popular name in Marathi film industry.The early period of Marathi theatre was dominated by playwrights like Kolhatkar, Khadilkar, Deval, Gadkari and Kirloskar who enriched the Marathi theatre for about half a century with excellent musical plays known as Sangeet Naatak. The genre of music used in such plays is known as Natyasangeet. It is during this era of the Marathi theatre that great singer-actors like Bal Gandharva, Keshavrao Bhosle, Bhaurao Kolhatkar and Deenanath Mangeshkar thrived.

Some of the popular Marathi television news channels are IBN Lokmat, Star Majha, Zee Talkies, Zee Chovis Taas and entertainment channels areMi Marathi, DD Sahyadri, Zee Marathi, Zee Talkies, ETV Marathi, Star pravah and Saam Marathi which host shows ranging from soap operas, cooking and travel to political satire and game shows.

The cuisine of Maharashtra varies according to the region of Maharashtra. The people of the Konkan region have a chiefly rice based diet with fish being a major component, due the close proximity to the sea. In eastern Maharashtra, the diet is based more on wheat, jowar and bajra. Puran Poli, Bakarwadi, plain simple Varan Bhat (a dish cooked with plain rice and curry),Modak and chivada are a few dishes to name. Chicken and mutton are also widely used for a variety of cuisines. Kolhapuri Mutton is a dish famous for its peculiar spicy nature.

Women traditionally wear a nine yard or five yard sari and men a dhoti or pajama with a shirt. This, however, is changing with women in urban Maharashtra wearing Punjabi dresses, consisting of a Salwar and a Kurta while men wear trousers and a shirt.

The cricket craze can be seen throughout Maharashtra, as it is the most widely followed and played sport. Kabaddi and hockey are also played with fervor. Children’s games include Viti-Dandu (Gilli-danda in Hindi) and Pakada-pakadi (tag).

Hindus in Maharashtra follow the Shalivahana Saka era calendar. Gudi Padwa, Diwali, Rangapanchami, Gokulashtami and Ganeshotsav are some of the festivals that are celebrated in Maharashtra. Ganeshotsav is one of the biggest festival of Maharashtra which is celebrated with much reverence and festivity throughout the state and has since some time become popular all over the country. The festival which continues over ten days is in honour of Ganesha, the deva (like guardian angel ) of learning and knowledge under the one supreme lord . A large number of people walk hundreds of kilometers to Pandharpur for the annual pilgrimage in the month of Ashadh.

Dances of Maharashtra

Lavani performance by Smt. Surekha Punekar

Maharshtra, is a land of culture and traditions, where religious festivals are great occasions of social entertainment. Various folk dances are performed during festive or special occasions, representing rich its cultural heritage.


Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particularly performed to the enchanting beats of 'Dholak', a drum like instrument. This dance is performed by attractive women wearing nine-yard saris. The women gyrate on the pulsating beats of traditional music.

The word Lavani originates from "Lavanya", meaning beauty. Earlier, this art form dealt with different and varied subject matters such as society, religion, politics, romance, etc. Lavani was used as a form of entertainment and morale booster to the tired soldiers during the 18th and 19th century Maratha battle. Many famous Marathi poets like Honaji Bala, Ramjoshi, Prabhakar, etc. contributed to the popularity of Lavani.

''Dhangari Gaja

This particular dance form is performed by Dhangars or shepherds of Sholapur district of Maharashtra. The Dhangars earn their living by rearing sheep and goats. Their poetry is mainly inspired by the evergreen trees all around. The poetry is in a form called 'Ovi' which is made up of couplets. These poems also contain tales of the birth of their God "Biruba", in simple and basic lines.

The Dhangari Gaja Dance is performed to please their God for his blessings. The traditional Marathi dresses that Dhangar dancers wear are, Dhoti, Angarakha, Pheta and a colorful handkerchiefs. The group of dancers surround the drum players and move at the rhythm.


Povadas are Marathi ballads, describing the events in the life of the great Maharashtrian leader, Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He holds a highly respected position in the hearts the people of Maharashtra. Through these ballads they remember Shivaji, a great hero of his time.


Koli is one of the most popular dance form of Maharashtra that derives its name from the fisher folk of Maharashtra - Kolis. These fishermen are famous for their distinct identity and lively dances. Their dances consists elements from their occupation that is fishing.

This dance form is performed by both men and women, who are divided in groups of two. These fishermen portray the movement of the rowing of a boat in this dance form. The dancers also portray the movements of waves and the casting of nets to catch the fish.


Tamasha is one of the most important form of folk theater of Maharashtra. The word Tamasha is Persian and means fun or entertainment. This form is a blend of several different influences. Some scholars believe that this form of theater has been inspired by two forms of Sanskrit drama - the "Prahsana" and the "Bhana". This dance form developed in 16th century. The love songs ('Lavanis') are the heart of Tamasha and are very popular. Instruments used are the Dholki drum, 'Tuntuni' (a single string instrument), 'Manjeera' cymbals, 'Daf' (a tambourine-like instrument with a single leather surface), 'Halgi' (smaller Daf), the metal triangle called 'Kade', the 'Lejim' (an instrument with a jangling sound), the Harmonium and 'Ghunghroos' (ankle bells). Tamasha is associated with two of the communities of Maharashtra, they are Kolhati and Mahar.

Religious & Festive Folk Dance Folk dances generally evolve from the rural areas. In Maharashtra different folk dances are performed during festive occasions that represent their culture and merry-making.


Dindi is a folk dance of Maharashtra that is usually performed during Ekadashi day in the month of Kartik. This religious devotional dance describes the playful attitude of Lord Krishna. Dindi is a small drum, like a 'Tamate'. The dancers dance to the rhythm by surrounding the musicians, providing the essential musical background. Kala

Kala is another folk dance form that describes the playful attitude of Lord Krishna. This dance form features a pot symbolizing fertility. The main attraction of this dance is the beat and the rhythm.

See also


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