State Profile of Maharashtra

By: EconomyWatch   Date: 29 June 2010

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Profiles of Maharashtra
Tourism of Maharashtra

The important tourist centers in the state include Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, Kanheri, and Karla caves; Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Panchgani, Jawhar, Malshejghat, Amboli, Chikaldhara and Panhala hill resorts, and religious places like Pandharpur, Nasik, Shirdi, Nanded, Aundhanagnanth, Trimbakeshwar, Tuljapur, Ganapatipule, Bhimashankar, Harihareshwar and Shegaon - each complete in itself, and yet essential to the fascinating whole, that is Maharashtra.

State Capital

Mumbai

Population (2001)

96,752,247

Area (sq km)

307,690

Females per 1000 males (2001)

922

Literacy rate (2001)

77.27%

Ratio of urban population (2001)

42.40%

Net Domestic Product (Rs. million at current prices in 1992-93)

754,810

Per Capita Income (Rs. at current prices in 1992-93)

10,984

Principal Language

Marathi

 

One of the largest states of India, Maharashtra occupies a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau in the western peninsular part of the subcontinent. Its shape roughly resembles a triangle, with the 725-kilometre western coastline forming the base and the interior narrowing to a blunt apex some 500 miles to the east. It has an area of 307,713 square kilometers. The state is bounded by the Arabian Sea in the west, Gujarat in the northwest, Madhya Pradesh in the north, Andhra Pradesh in the southeast, and Karnataka and Goa in the south.

On the coast the average minimum temperature in January is 16° (61° F), and the average maximum is 32° C (90° F); in June the average minimum temperature is 26° C (79° F), and the average maximum is also 32° C (90° F). Inland the average temperatures range from 14° to 29° C (57° to 84° F) in January and from 25° to 40° C (77° to 104° F) in May. Maharashtra has a monsoon season that accounts for about 80 percent of its annual rainfall.

Its capital, Mumbai is an island city that is billed as the Gateway of India; it is one of the most vibrant commercial and cultural centers of India.

 

History

The name Maharashtra first appeared in a 7th century inscription and in the account of a contemporary Chinese traveler, Hsuan Tsang. According to one view, Maharashtra derives its name from the word "maharathi" (great chariot driver), which refers to a skillful northern fighting force that migrated southward into the area. The group's language, intermingled with the speech of the earlier Naga settlers, became Maharastri, and this by the 8th century developed into Marathi. There was also a continuous influx of people from remote Greece and Central Asia.
Historically, Maharashtra falls into three regions: Western Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada. Among these, Vidarbha has a hoary past and is mentioned many times in the Mahabharata. Maharashtra as a whole became prominent in the history of India from the Mauryan period. After the fall of the Mauryans Maharashtra was ruled by many Hindu kings for nearly a thousand year. The Yadavas who were the last of these dynasties came to the end of its rule in 1294 when the Muslims overwhelmed the state ushering it to a period of successive Muslim rule.

Maharashtra got a new leash of life when the venerable warrior, Shivaji came to the center stage. He brought the Marathas into a unified force to build a powerful Maratha Empire. The Peshawas who followed the Shivaji rule extended the Empire from Gwalior to Tanjore in the South. The Maratha power received a setback at Panipat, in 1761, when the Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Abdali routed the Maratha forces. They recovered only to confront the British power and to be decisively defeated in 1818. After the defeat of 1818 Maharashtra settled down as a part of the Bombay Presidency under the British administration.

After Independence, Bombay continued as one state consisting of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Under the Bombay Re-organization Act, 1960 Maharashtra and Gujarat were formed into separate states on May 1, 1960, Maharashtra retaining the old capital Bombay (now renamed as Mumbai).

 

Society and Culture

Maharashtrians are racially and ethnically heterogeneous. Descendants of a warrior tribe, the people of Maharashtra are very honest, hard working and hospitable. Filled with a zest for living and always on the move, their regard for women is legendary. Maharashtra, predominantly a Hindu society, with Ganesha as the principal deity, is also home to a host of other religious groups, including the enterprising Parsi community. Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati are widely spoken in this state. Other important languages are Telugu, Kannada, Sindhi, Urdu, Bengali, Malayalam, and English. There are also many local languages, such as Konkani on the west coast and Gondi, Varhadi, and Mundari in the eastern and northern forests.

Maharashtra's religious diversity reflects that of India as a whole. Hindus predominate, followed by Muslims and Buddhists. There are many Christians in the metropolitan cities. Parsis (a religious minority adhering to Zoroastrianism) live mainly in Bombay and its environs; a few are found in other cities. Other religious minorities include Jains and Sikhs, whose small communities are widespread.

Maharashtra is a distinct cultural region. Its artistic and cultural heritage are best manifested in the numerous ancient cave paintings ancient cave paintings found at Ajanta and Ellora, in a number of medieval architectural masterpieces, in its classical and devotional music, and in its theatre. Pune, its cultural capital is lively with cultural activities and organizations. Festivals abound in this state of jolly people. Some important are:

Kala Ghoda festival in Jan; Elephanta Music and Dance Festival in Feb ; Gudhi Paadva and Ram Navami in March ; Akshayya Truteeya , Maharashtra Day, Mahavir Jayanti , Buddha Jayanti in April-May; Wat Pournima in May-June ; Gokhulashtami in July/Aug ; Navroz or Parsi New Year in July/Aug ; Ganesh Chathurthi in Aug/Sept ; Nariel Purnima in Sept ; Ramadan (varies according to the Muslim calendar); Dussehra in Oct; Savitri Vrata in Jeshta.

 

Economy and Infrastructure

Maharashtra is richly endowed within various minerals of industrials importance like manganese, coal, iron ore, limestone, copper, bauxite, silica sand, and common salt. These minerals are found in substantial quantities in in the eastern districts with some deposits in the west. Bituminous coal are found in the in the districts of Bhandra, Nagpur and Chandrapur. Undersea oil deposits were discovered in and near Mumbai in the 1970s. The mountainous region of the state is a virtual repository of rich timber reserves.

Sorghum, millet, and pulses dominate the cropped area. Rice grows where rainfall exceeds 40 inches, and wheat is a winter crop in fields that retain moisture. Cotton, tobacco, and peanuts are major crops in areas having 24-39 inches of rainfall. Irrigation dams in rain-shadow areas have resulted in a rich sugarcane yield. Mangoes, cashew nuts, bananas, and oranges are popular orchard crops.

Maharashtra is one of the most industrialized states in the country. Cotton textile industry is the largest and the oldest industry in the state. Important centers of this industry are located at Bombay, Nagpur, Sholapur, Akola, and Amravati; handloomed goods are produced especially in and around Nagpur and Sholapur. Traditional and agro industries also make significant presence in Jalgaon and Dhule (edible oils processing) and Kolhapur, Ahmadnagar, Sangli, and Miraj (sugar refining). Fruit canning and preservation are important in Nagpur, Bhusawal, Ratnagiri, and Bombay. Timber, bamboo, sandalwood, and tendu leaves (for cheap cigarettes) are the important forests produce. Small-scale agro-processing, consisting of conversion of food grains, oilseeds, and other crops into items of daily consumption, is virtually ubiquitous in the state.

Maharashtra utilizes both hydroelectricity and thermal electricity. The producing plants of the former are in western areas of the state while that of the latter form of power are in the eastern region. Maharashtra is the home of India's first nuclear plant (located at Tarapur, 70 miles north of Mumbai).

The state's greatest concentration of heavy industry and high technology is in the Mumbai-Pune zone. The petrochemical industry has witnessed a massive growth in the state after the installation of India's off shore oil wells near Mumbai in 1976. Oil refining and the manufacture of such items as agricultural implements, transport equipment, rubber products, electric and oil pumps, lathes, compressors, sugar-mill machinery, typewriters, refrigerators, electronic equipment, and television and radio sets are assuming increasing importance. Automobile industry is in its infancy but holds high promises. Mumbai is the capital of Indian film industry and is popularly known as Bollywood. Aurangabad and Thane are also important industrial hubs.

Maharashtra is well connected by roads, air and railways. Five national highways connect the state with Delhi, Calcutta, Allahabad, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. State and private transport operators serve all routes. Inland water transport plays a limited role in Maharashtra, and other than Bombay there are only minor ports on the western coast.

 

Hotels of Maharashtra

The State has hotels of star and non-star category catering to the needs of the tourists visiting Maharashtra. Besides it has resorts, restaurants and cafés, which cater to the needs of all segments of travelers.

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