From the time of the epic Mahabharatha the region called Vidharba is one
besides Marathwada which comprises Maharashtra today. This region was a
part of the Mauryan empire. After the fall of the Mauryan, Maharashtra
was ruled by diverse dynasties, each adding to the cultural flavour of
the region and each leaving behind its own distinctive marks. The
Satavahanas administrated this area followed by the -Vakatas, the
Rashtrakutas, Kalachuris, Chalukyas and the Yadhavas. In about the 11th
century AD the Delhi Sultanate established their rule. This was
overthrown by the Bahmani dynasty which ruled till the end of the 15the
century. The 17th century heralded the sudden rise in power of the
Maraths-Marathi speaking Hindu warriors of the region. The Marathas
emerged as a strong power under Shivaji who ruled from 1646 to 1680. The
Peshwas who succeeded Shivaji built up a Maratha empire which extended
from Gwalior in the north to Tanjore in the south, till the 18th century
after which the British exercised their influence in this region. From
1818 it became a part of the Bombay Presidency. In the year 1960 Under
the Bombay Re-organization Act, Maharashtra and Gujarat were separated
and Maharashtra attained statehood.
The Early History
Vidarbha, the eastern region of Maharashtra was also conquered by the
Vakatakas (250 AD-525 AD), who were then the rulers of the state. Art
and religion developed and technology flourished, during this period. By
the 6th century, Maharashtra came under the reign of the Chalukyas.
Later, in 753, Rashtrakutas ruled the region. This empire spread over
most of the Indian peninsular. Rashtrakutas were then defeated in 973 by
the Chalukayas, who ruled parts of Maharashtra until 1189, when they
lost to Yadavas of Deogiri.
Poet -Saints :
Maharashtra was one of the main channels that helped the devotional
bhakti school of Hinduism spread from southern to northern India.
Thanks to the work of Saint Dyaneshwar (1271-1296) whose verdict on
Bhagwad Gita, the Dhyanesvari, was significantly written in the
day-to-day spoken language, Marathi, as opposed to classical Sanskrit.
One of the most famous of these contemporary poet-saints was tailor
Namdev (1270-1350), whose passionate devotional hymns caught the popular
The tradition the poet-saints established continued to flourish, even
when forced underground by Islam, reaching its zenith in the simple
faith of the anguished Tukaram (1598-1650), whose wife and son died in a
famine, and Ramdas, the "Servant of Rama" (1608-1681). Ramdas, both
ascetic and political activist, provided the philosophical underpinning
behind the campaigns of Maharashtra's greatest warrior, Shivaji.
The Islamic Influence
When the Muslim emperors entered India, they established their capital
in Delhi. Later, they started to expand towards the south of India. The
first Muslim emperors who invaded Maharashtra and conquered some parts
of the Deccan in the 13th century were Ala-ud-din Khalji and Muhammad
bin Tughluq. When the Tughlaq dynasty fell in 1347, the Bahamani
Sultanate overpowered the region and ruled it for the next 150 years.
By the 16th century, central Maharashtra was ruled by numerous
autonomous Islamic kingdoms that owed commitment to the Mughals.
Meanwhile the coastal region was annexed by the Portuguese, who wanted
to control the rich spice trade of the region.
The Maratha Empire
As the 17th century emerged the Maratha Empire began to take root.
Shivaji Bhonsle led the Marathas, native to western Maharashtra, he was
crowned king in 1674, after a long fought battle with Muslim emperors.
The Maratha Empire saw the peak under Shivaji's reign. He included
almost the entire Deccan, central India and some parts of modern day
Pakistan into Maratha Empire. After defeating the Mughals in 1707, the
Marathas became the dominant rulers of India. Bajirao I, in the year
1712, was crowned the next king. He established the Peshwa (Prime
Minister) dynasty with Pune as their capital. During his reign Maratha
Empire suffered a heavy defeat to the Afghan chieftain Ahmad Shah Abdali,
in the third Battle of Panipat in 1761. The loss was so huge that the
Maratha Confederacy was reduced to a regional kingdom. As the British
East India Company arrived in India and started interfering in the
Indian politics, they faced stiff resistance from the Marathas. These
two powers fought three major battles, which led to the annexation of
Peshwa ruled territory in Maharashtra in 1819. This marked the end of
the Maratha empire.
The British Raj(1818-1947) :
Bajirao was very disloyal to the British, and in November of 1817, he
declared war against them. This battle was fought at Kirkee, that is the
Cantonment area, in the east of Pune. The Peshwa fled and the power of
the country passed from the Peshwas to the British by 1819.
The rest of the nineteenth century witnessed a few minor uprisings in
and around Pune, but the British established their supremacy. As the
Maratha's were the key power in India at this time, their fall clearly
marked the begining of British Rule in India. The first step towards
establishing a municipal government in the city of Pune, was taken in
1856, when the Pune Municipality came into existence under the Act of
Post Independence (1947)
Many independent princely states in central India joined the Indian
Union, after India's independence in 1947. Bombay state was established
in the year 1956, which merged the princely states of central India into
Bombay Presidency. The state of Maharashtra was established on 1st May
1960, this state included the Marathi-speaking territory of Bombay
state. Maharashtra became India's leading state after the favorable
economic policies in the 1970s.
Geography of Maharashtra
Maharashtra encompasses an area of 308,000 km² (119,000 mi²), the
third largest in India after Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Maharashtra 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
Maharashtra, a state in west central India with a western coastline
stretching 330 miles (530 Km) along the Arabian Sea from the former
Portugese territories of Goa on the south to Daman on the north (both
now districts of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman, and Diu).
Maharashtra is also bounded by the states of Gujarat on the northwest,
Madhya Pradesh on the north and east, Andhra Pradesh on the southeast,
and Karnataka on the southwest.
The third-largest state of India, both in area and population.
Located in the north centre of Peninsular India, with a command of the
Arabian Sea through its port of Mumbai, Maharashtra has a remarkable
physical homogeneity, enforced by its underlying geology. The Sahyadri
Range is the physical backbone of Maharashtra. Rising on an average to
an elevation of 1000m. it falls in steep cliffs, to the Konkan on the
west. Eastwards, the hill country falls in steps through a transitional
area known as Mawal to the plateau level. The Konkan, lying between the
Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri Range is narrow coastal lowland, barely 50
km. wide. Though mostly below 200 m., it is far from being a plain
country. Highly dissected and broken, the Konkan alternates between
narrow, steep-sided valleys and low laterite plateaux. The Satpudas,
hills along the northern border, and the Bhamragad-Chiroli-Gaikhuri
Ranges on the eastern border form physical barriers preventing easy
movement, but also serve as natural limits to the state.
Summer: The hottest months are March, April and May. During this season,
especially in April and May thunderstorms are a common feature all over
Rainy The first week of June marks the onset of the southwest
monsoon. Rains spread out from the southwestern and western sides all
over Maharashtra. July is the wettest month and August is substantially
rainy, by September the southwest monsoonal current weakens.
Winter October marks the transition from the rainy season to
winter. The general drying up of the land and greater sunshine,
accompanied by high humidity, produce familiar phenomenon of October
heat. From November to February there is a cool dry spell, with clear
skies gentle breezes and pleasant weather, though the eastern margins of
Maharashtra receive some rainfall.
Temperature variations in Maharashtra are not of that consequence as
those in rainfall. Tropical conditions are common all over and even the
hill stations are not that cold. But lower winter temperature on the
plateau does help the growth of some important crops like wheat, gram,
linseed and grapes. High summer temperatures induce local
thundershowers. Dew, frost, hail and other local weather phenomena are
not absent from the climate.
The rainfall in the state varies in different places. These regional
differences in the total annual rainfall help in distinguishing three
zones of Maharashtra; the wet, the intermediate and semiarid zones. The
major portions of the area of the state that lie in the rain shadow of
Sahyadris receive an average rainfall of about 60 to 75 centimeters
annually. But the areas in the districts of Nasik (also spelt as Nashik),
Pune , Ahmednagar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and parts of
Kolhapur get rainfall less than 50 centimeters. Areas in the districts
of Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, however get heavy rains of
an average of 200 centimeters annually.
The dominant natural factor that affects basically the life and economy
of the people is the rainfall in its regime amount and variability. In
regime quite major part of the rain is received during the four months
from June to September. This concentration is particular to the Konkan
and Sahyadrian Maharashtra. In central Maharashtra, though the total
precipitation is much lower, there is a wider spread over the months of
June to October with a noticeable maximum in September. From Maharashtra,
the total rainfall steadily increases towards the east under the
influence of the Bay of Bengal monsoon and hence eastern Vidarbha
receives its major rains in the month of July, August and September.
The rainfall in Maharashtra is not fully utilised. A major portion goes
waste to the sea in torrents during rainy season. While in the summer
months many of these areas suffer acute shortage even of drinking water.
Clothing: Lightweight cottons and linens in summer, warmer clothes in
winter and on cooler evenings and waterproof clothing during monsoons.
Languages spoken in Maharashtra :
Marathi, Hindi, Gujurati,
The Origin of Marathi Language
Marathi can be traced back far beyond the 10th century. It descends from
Sanskrit through Pali, Maharashtri and Maharashtra - Apabhramsa. A
gradual process of change and modification in the spoken language has
led to the rise of the present Marathi.
The origin and growth of Marathi literature is indebted to two important
The first was the rise of the Jadhava dynasty whose capital was Devgiri.
The Jadhava’s adopted Marathi as the court language and patronized
Marathi learned men.
The second event was the coming of two religious sects known as
Mahanubhav Panth and Warkari Panth which adopted Marathi as the medium
for preaching their doctrines of devotion.
Writers of the Mahanubhav sect contributed to Marathi prose while the
saint-poets of Warkari sect composed Marathi poetry. However, the latter
group is regarded as the pioneers and founders of Marathi literature.
Marathi literature first made its appearance in the 10th century AD and
can be grouped into two ages: Ancient or Old Marathi literature
(1000-1800) and Modern Marathi Literature (1800 onwards). The former
consisted mainly of poetry composed in metres and restricted to the
poet’s choice of words and rhythms. It was particularly devotional,
narrative and pessimistic for old Marathi poets hadn’t been able to
develop satire, parody, irony and humor into their poetry.
Marathi script consists of 16 vowels and 36 consonents making a total of
The vowels are grouped in two groups. The first group consists of 12
vowels as follows:
a aa(A) i ii(I) u uu(U) e ai o au aM aH
The first 10 vowels are very widely used. The last two are less commonly
The second group consists of the 4 vowels : R^i R^I L^i L^I of which the
vowels R^I and L^I are entirely extinct today. The vowel L^i is found
only in the word 'kL^iptee'(meaning a clever idea) which is also a
tongue-twister and can explain the near extinction of these vowels. The
vowel R^i still finds use in words like R^ishI (sage), R^itU (season)
etc. But in Marathi, it is pronounced more like 'ru'(r is a
consonent)which differs significantly from its original Sanskrit
How to Reach Maharashtra
Maharashtra, a state where a millennium of culture weaves a tapestry of
myriad charms. The spiritual solace of centuries. The sylvan serenity of
By Air: There is an extensive network of flights from Mumbai's Sahar
(international) and Santa Cruz (domestic) airports. There are domestic
flights to all the major cities of the country.
By Rail: Mumbai has trains connecting it to all important cities in
India. intra city trains in Mumbai are very good, and are the cheapest
and fastest way to move around in Mumbai.
By Road: Mumbai is well connected to all the cities in Maharashtra by
bus. intra city bus services are also very good.