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Explore Maharashtra
Posted on: July 13, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Explore Maharashtra, as its name reflects (Maha+Rashtra means the giant state) is the third largest states of India by area and second most populous state of India. Maharashtra is the land of ancient grandeur caves, pristine hill stations, exotic beaches, majestic forts, and holy shrines. Maharashtra is one of the most sought tourist destinations of India and attracts over 25 millions of tourists every year.

Explore Maharashtra: Uniqueness Lies in Variety

Caves of Maharashtra: Pride of India

The bygone caves of Maharashtra have always been the matter of attraction to the tourists. Lulled in the mighty Sahayadri Mountain Range Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta caves have their own appeal in painting, curvings and celestial presence respectively and thus successfully attract a huge numbers of tourists who visit throughout the year to witness the bygone mute beauties of the caves.

Ajanta Caves: Splendid Artistry of Bygone Time Speaks of Ancient Buddhism

Ajanta, the rock cut cave with its excellence in artistic skill claims the status of an International cave. Ajanta cave a few miles away from the Ajanta Village in Sahayadri hills is a horse shoe formed rock which has 30 caves creating one cell for each cave. Curvings on the wall of Ajanta not only exhibit the artistry of the ancient time but also show the respect and faith to Buddhism. The Viharas and Chaityas of Buddhist Abbots are excavated here. It reveals their life style and the lessons that they have preached earlier. Dainty sculptures along with the splendid wall paintings create a magnum opus. Recognized as a heritage site Ajanta has taken around 600 years to become what it is today. Moreover Ajanta represents mainly the conventional Mahayana Buddhism period along with Buddha's life. Analogous art can be seen in different parts of the world like Bamiyan in Afghanistan and Sigiriya in Sri Lanka as the art of Ajanta is a collection of classical art of India with a typical style.

Attractions of the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra:

  • 26 Caves is popular for the detailed and aesthetic sculpture but unfortunately the paintings are incomplete.
  • The arched chapel window is the best attraction of cave 19.
  • A delicate Chaitya with the epitaph and a towering where Buddha sat are the attractions of cave 16.
  • Caves 1, 2, 16, 17 preserve the vibrant wall paintings of bygone time. Bodhisattva Padmapani is the greatest attraction of cave 1.
  • A flying Apsara with her embroidered turban and exquisite jewels will make the visitors spell bound in cave 17.

Ellora Caves: Shares the Same Status of Ajanta:

Unearthened from an upright face of a hill Ellora, 26 km North of Aurangadbad has 34 caves which consist Chaityas and Viharas of the Buddhist monks as well a Jai and Hindu temples. Interestingly, the magnanimous Kailasha temple (Cave 16), the largest gargantuan structure in the world is one of the most important excavations of Ellora. Earlier known as Verul Ellora has been rediscovered. Ellora is also recognized as World Heritage Site and enchants the visitors down the ages.

Elephanta Caves: An Aesthetic Piece of Art

Known as Gharapuri Elephanta, the green island is located 9 pelagic miles athwart the sea from the Gateway of India. The 7th century Hewn rock cut cave Shiva temple is a wonderful piece of art which took great pain to curve Hewn rock. Awe inspiring Maheshamurti Panel of Shiva in his three forms creator, protector and destroyer needs a special mention.

Note: Caves remain closed on Monday.

Pithalkhora Caves: The Rugged Cave Has its Own Appeal

Situated in the Satamala range of the Sahyatri hills Pithalkhora consist of 13 caves which preserve the sculptures and paintings of 1st century B.C till 5th century AD. Valuable crystals are found in the basement. The caves have been appeared in the time of Hinayana Buddhism. Unfortunately the caves are almost damaged and hardly retain the glory of past art.

Hill Stations of Maharashtra: A Relief from the Hustle of Life

Located at the apex of 2000 metres the hill stations of Maharashtra offers serene beauty of nature far away from the mundane life. The uniqueness of the places lie in the land approaching to the sea. A trip to the hill stations of Maharashtra will definitely rejuvenate the tourists who find peace in the lap of nature.

Mahabaleshwar Hill Station Tour: Mahabaleshwar the most esteemed hill station of Maharashtra presents a wonderful juxtaposition of natural beauty, modernity and old charm. A trip to Mahabaleshwar will take a couple of days to enjoy the entire hill station. Well constructed and well maintained roads of this serene hill station facilitate car driving and even horse riding to journey to the old world where they can observe Mount Malcolm, the earlier residence of Governor Malcolm during British raj. Again Moraji Castle, the shelter of Mahatma Gandhi during 1945 is a must see place. If one has enough time in his hand he can visit Mahabaleshwar Club.

The sight seeing points of Mahabaleshwar provide a perfect view to the gigantic hill range. Dhom Dam point the way from En Route to Babington is a nice place to halt. On the other the Panchganga Mandir of old Mahabaleshwar is also a revered place which contains the geyser of five rivers namely Venna, Koyna, Gayatri, Savitri and Krishna River.

Venna Lake a bit far from the town is a good place to go fishing, boating even pony riding. The tourists can also enjoy the game stalls and mouth watering foods.

The popular tourist spots of Maharashtra are:

  • Mount Malcolm.
  • Holy Cross Church.
  • Mahabaleshwar Club.
  • Pratapgad Fort.

Except rainy season (late June till September) Mahabaleshwar can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Visit to Matheran Hill Station of Maharashtra: Straddled at an apex of 800 metres Matheran an oscillating green hilltop widens the unending vistas of nature. During the night one can see the busy and bright Mumbai from Hart Point. Picnic spots are also in plenty. The way up to the Charlotte Lake will provide a charming view to the old Parsi and British residences. Tourists can enjoy the Mother Nature as well as the old world grace althrough the year.

Panchgani Hill Station of Maharashtra: Panchgani is another enchanting hill station of Maharashtra which is surrounded by the five hills. The extravagant trees and vegetation will definitely tempt the visitors to take a walk in order to feel the beauty of nature in tranquility. The beauty of coastal land can be observed from this Table Land (flat mountain summit). Located at a height of 1334 metres Panchgani in one hand is rich in natural beauty and on the other like Mahabaleshwar it retains the bygone charm of British and Parsi homes. Panchgani provides a breath taking view of Krishna River on one side and the coastal plains on the other. September till May is the most favorable time visit Panchgani.

Khandala – Lonavala and Karla Hill Stations of Maharashtra: Khandala and Lonavala which takes only 3 hours to reach from Mumbai by road is majorly popular among the Mumbai crowd who prefer to enjoy their weekend a bit far from the hustle of daily life. It is favourite place for the weekend trekkers. Duke's Nose is a popular viewpoint which resembles the nose of the duke of Wellington. Karla and Bhaja caves of Lonavala are the finest illustrations of ancient Buddhist temples of India. The other popular sites are -Valvan Dam, Bhushi Dam, Duke's Nose, Tiger's Leap, Ryewood Park and Kaivalyadhama Yoga Hospital. October till May is the best time to visit Khandala Lonavala.

The other beautiful hill stations of Maharashtra are – Bhandardara Hill Station, Jawhar Hill Station, Amroli Hill Stations, Panhala Hill Stations and Chikhaldar Hill Stations.

Famous Beaches of Maharashtra:

Maharashtra is located beside a part of Arabian Sea which is extended from Dahanu and Bordi in North upto Goa in Southwards. Thus Maharashtra is abounding in splendid beaches where the visitors can enjoy the whole day. The sea side mouth watering chats of Maharashtra need special mention.The popular beaches are:

  • Dahanu Beaches.
  • Mandya and Kihim.
  • Ganpatipule.
  • Tarkarli.
  • Marve Manori and Gorai.
  • Shrivardhan Harihareshwar.
  • Velneshwar.
  • Venguria Marvan.

Holy Shrines of Maharashtra: Encourage Religious Tourism in Maharashtra

Shirdi Temple in Maharashtra: Located 122 km away from Nasik Shirdi is the home of the most admired saint Sai Baba of Shirdi. Sai Baba who is often regarded as the Child of the God has preached the lesson of tolerance to all the religions and also stressed on Universal brotherhood. Interestingly, the pujas and all the activities in the Shirdi complex are devoted to Sai Baba.  Thursday is the important day to the devotees as the special Puja and Darshan of the Sai Baba statue happens on that day. Apart from Shirdi the admirers can also visit Dwarkamani Mosque. The other popular places are the Kandoba Temple, Gurusthan, Narsimha Mandir, Shani Mandir, Shakori Ashram, and Changdev Maharaj Samadhi.

Ashta Vinayak Temple in Maharashtra: Eight normally formed curved stone statues of Vinayaka or Ganesha have been stored in the ancient places where these have been found earlier. These temples are situated within the range of 20 km to 110 km of each other.

Mahalaxmi Temple of Maharashtra: The beautifully sculped temple of Mahalaxmi of Kolhapur attracts thousands of devotees throughout the year. Architectural beauty of the temple needs a special mention. The temple also houses the deities like Kashi, Vishseshwar, Mahasaraswati, Kartikaswami, Mahakali, Sri Ram, Sri Dutta and Siddhivinayaka. The idol of the goddess is preserved in its primitive natural form - an ancient commemorate of uncut diamonds and precious stones. Palkhi is performed in every Friday and the other festivals like Chaitra Purnima and Nabaratri are celebrated here with great enthusiasm.

The other popular holy shrines of Maharashtra are: Nasik, Ghrishneshwar and Nanded.

Heritage Forts of Maharashtra:

Surprisingly Maharashtra is the home of 350 odd forts which are almost rugged by the waves, scorching heat and rain by the time. These ancient isolated forts once have been the busy places to the kings and now these forts silently bear with it the past story of glory and valour. The prime forts of Maharasthra are:

  • Devgiri Daulatabad Forts of Maharashtra.
  • Murud Janjira Forts of Maharashtra
  • Raigarh Forts of Maharashtra.
  • Panhola Forts of Maharashtra.
  • Vijayadurg Forts of Maharashtra.
  • Sindhudurg Forts of Maharashtra.

Maharashtra also has the large scope for adventure tourism. Different under water activities like snorkeling and scuba diving are encouraged with the different packages.

The wildlife of Maharashtra has its own appeal to the nature lover. This state houses tiger, bison, crocodile, sambars, wild deer, neelgai and rare species of migratory birds. The prime Wildlife National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries of Maharashtra are: