Maharashtra is one of the most wonderful states in India. Natural as well as cultural diversities have helped in the development of a unique Marathi culture. Monuments such as Ajanta and Ellora, Gateway of India and Elephanta caves and architectural structureslike Viharas and Chaityas have attracted people from all over to the state. Besides the wonderful monuments, wildlife and cultural aspects such as ifestyle, languages and cuisine make Maharashtra a great travel destination.
Cities of Maharashtra
Mumbai, formerly Bombay, the capital of state of Maharashtra, is the most populous city in India. Along with the neighbouring suburbs of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it forms, at 19 million, the world’s fifth most populous metropolitan area. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. Its port handles a large proportion of her maritime cargo. Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment center of India, accounting for 25 per cent of industrial output, forty per cent of maritime trade, and seventy per cent of capital transactions to India’s economy. . Mumbai’s business opportunities attract migrants from all over India.
Pune is located in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Pune is the 7th largest city in India, it is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra. It is situated at the eastern edge of the Western ghats on the Deccan plateau. Pune is widely considered the cultural capital of Marathi-speaking Maharashtrians. Pune is known as Oxford of India as it has a reputation for its several esteemed colleges and educational institutions. It has a very strong presence in the automobile sector and is on its way to consolidate its position as the ‘Detroit of India’ too. Its cosmopolitan population speaks several other languages like English and Hindi.
Nagpur is the third largest city in the western Indian state of Maharashtra after Mumbai and Pune. Nagpur is one of the major industrial cities of Maharashtra. Nagpur is important geographically as it lies practically at the centre of India with the country’s geographical centre (Zero Mile) being situated here. Nagpur is well-known throughout India as a trade centre for high-quality oranges grown in the surrounding region and hence the city is also known as Santra Nagari. In Nagpur, cool environment of Gavilgad Fort, which is 200-300 years old attracts visitors. Lonar Lake is the third largest natural salt-water lake in the world.
Nashik is in the northwest of Maharashtra, 185 km. This city is known as Grape City. Nashik is located o th ebanks of Godavari river and is important mythologically, historically, socially and culturally. Known for the temples on the banks of the Godavari, it has historically been one of the holy sites of the Hindu religion. It is one of the four cities that hosts the massive Sinhastha Kumbh Mela once every twelve years. Nashik was known as the city of roses (Gulshanabad). Now known as the city of Grapes. Efforts are on the growth of export quality rose farming and wine industries
Solapur is in south eastern Maharashtra, India. Solapur is one of the biggest cities in Maharashtra, situated near the borders with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Gramdiwat of Solapur is Siddharameshwar. Solapur is located on the major road and rail routes between Mumbai and Hyderabad, on banks of river Sina. It is famous as a center of Jains. Siddheshwar Lake, Pandharpur, Mangalwedha, Machnur, Akklakot, Ground Fort, Siddheshwar Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Parasnath Temple, Adinath Temple, Masjids, Churches and Agyari are the attractions of this place.
Kolhapur is situated in the south west corner of Maharashtra, India and on the banks of the river Panchganga. Hills and forts like Panhala fort and Jyotiba temple hill surround the city. The city is also famous for Kolhapuri Chappals. There is national stadium for a form of wrestling known as Khasbag. Rankala Lake, Panhala, Mahalakshmi Temple, Bhavani Mandap, Jyotiba Temple, Town hall Museum, Gaganbawda, Dajipur, Ramling, Bahubali, Radhanagri Dam, Katyayani Mandir, Narsinha Wadi. For entertainment Kolhapur has Keshavrao Bhosale Natyagruha, Shahu Smarak Bhavan. This city has two main industrial areas, Gokulshirgaon and Shiroli.
Sangli is situated in west-central part of India. Sangli District is located in the western part of Maharashtra. It is bounded by Satara and Solapur districts to the north, Bijapur District to the east, Kolhapur and Belgaum districts to the south, and Ratnagiri District to the west. Sangli has total 8 talukas. Sangli, Miraj, Tasgaon, Aatpadi, Kawathemahankal, Vita, Jat, Aashta. The city name Sangli is devised after it’s six lanes (Saha -Gallies). Sangli is the administrative headquarters of Sangli District. Ganpati Temple, Haripur Sangmeshwar Temple, Tasgaon Ganapati Temple, Sagareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, etc. are points of attractions.
Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb named this city as Aurangabad. Before Aurangabad it was called Fatehpur. This city is gateway to the World Heritage Sites of Ajanta and Ellora caves. Aurangabad developed as a modern city, provides all comforts and modern facilities, several luxury budget and star hotels, which caters the tourists of the city. Aurangabad is rich in its culture, heritage, its art and crafts. Whenever we think of Aurangabad, himroo shawls, mashroo and kimkhab weaves click on one’s mind, The silver inlay craft of Bidri ware and the well-known fine paithani silk sarees too are world famous.
Amaravati is situated in the right centre of the northern border of the Maharashtra State. Cotton, jowar and tur (lentil) and oranges are the main productions of this city, lying at the Tapi basin. In this city there are many tourists attractions listed here. To reach Amarawati, Nagpur is the nearest airport (155 km). Nagpur is the terminus of the branch line of Central Railway on Mumbai-Kolkotta main line. It is well connected by road with the important towns and cities within the state and outside the state.
This city has the distinction of being the native place of three Bharat Ratna awardees, namely Maharishi Karve, Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane and Dr.B.R. Ambedkar. Ratnagiri is the district place. Great freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born here. In 1731 Ratnagiri came under the control of Satara kings; in 1818 it was surrendered to the British. A fort was built during the Bijapur dynasty and strengthened in 1670 by the Maratha king Shivaji, which is located on a headland near the harbour. It is one of the ports of the Konkan coast. It has a palace where the last king of Burma, Thibaw, and later Veer Savarkar, were confined.
Pilgrimages of Maharashtra
Maharashtra, renowned as a major centre of Indian Temple architecture, has a wealth of venerable pilgrimage centres. The region soaked in the tales of valour of Marathas, is home to several exquisite temples. Some of the popular temples are Elephanta Cave Temple Kailashnatha Temple, Ajanta Caves Temple, Ellora Caves Temple, Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbadevi Temple, Balaji Temple, Bhimshankar Temple, Grishneshwar Temple, Tryambakeshwar Temple, Mahalakshmi Temple and Bhivani Temple.
Mythologically it is said that Kolhapur was founded by Daitya called Kolhasur (fox demon), who then was troubling people, so Deity Mahalakshmi came to rescue and killed him. The city was named after him, honouring the dying demon’s last wish. Hence the name Kolhapur. It is said that no one counts pillars of the Mahalakshmi temple, anyone who tries, calls himself death. Kolhapur was a princely states of British India, during the British Raj under the Deccan division of the Bombay Presidency, and later the Deccan States Agency. Kolhapur was considered the fourth most important Mahratta principalities.
Bhimashankar is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines. Bhimashankar is a beautiful black rock structure built in the Nagara style of architecturei. Important thing is this temple dates back to the mid 18th century. A small path behind this temple goes to a natural Shivlinga in the riverbed, only visible when the water level is low. Bhimashankar is 128 kms. away from Pune. The route to Bhimashankar is via Manchar. One can go to this place, full of natural beauty and lovely scenery, and be back to Pune in one day. Bhimashankar is a good paradise for nature lovers, trekkers, jungle lovers and bird watchers. It is recommended to visit the place for at least 2/3 days.
Kunakeshwar is a small sea-side pilgrimage centre in Devgad taluka of Sindhudurga district in Maharashtra. It is about 6-7 kms from the taluka headquarter. It is famous not only for its scenic beauty, but also for the ancient temple said to have been built by some unknown sea-farer. The temple is of Shiva or Ishwara. It is facing East and the background of the Arabian Sea increases its serene and solemn atmosphere. The village by the same name is typical Maharashtrian konkani village having coconut and betelnut palms in plenty, and so calm and quiet one.Away from the polluted city air,inhalation of serene and cool air will be a matter of enjoyment.
Jyotiba is a pilgrimage centre 8 kms from Panhala. The hill is named after the deity Jyotiba. Thousands of pilgrims visit this temple every week. The ancient temple is situated on the top of the hill. There are plenty of state transport buses from Kolhapur. A nearby place, Girawali is a peacock bay ! One gets a beautiful view of the farm pond from the top and picturesque journey to this place colors the mind. Refresh yourself in these green valleys !
The Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple is one of the holiest and ancient shrines of India. This temple is the holy abode of one of the 12 jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. The temple is located at a distance of 11km from Daulatabad near Aurangabad in Maharashtra and less than half a kilometre from Ellora. Aurangabad is well connected with all the places in the state as well as country. There is an airport and also a railway station. It has regular bus services connecting it with all major places. Tourists can also take taxis from Auragabad. The Ghrishneshwar temple was constructed by Ahilyabhai Holkar, who also re-constructed the Kasi Viswanatha temple at Banaras and the Vishnu Paada temple at Gaya.
Pandharpur hosts the “Kuladivat” of Maharashtra State- Shree Vitthal and Rukmini. It is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Maharashtra. It is located 65 km west of Solapur, on the banks of the river Bhima, which is also known as Chandrabhaga. Well connected by roads to practically every city in Maharashtra, railway track also exists. Pandharpur falls on Miraj-Kurduwadi-Latur track. From Solapur numerous local level transport buses commute to Pandharpur. This temple, covering a vast area, has a total of six gates. The eastern entrance to this temple is known as the Namdev gate.
Known for the holy temple of Tulja Bhawani (Goddess Durga). It is said that before venturing on a military expedition, King Shivaji always sought her blessings. Legend has it that the Goddess gifted him a sword – the Bhawani Talwar-for success in his expendition. According to the legend prevailing a demon by name Matanga, created havoc upon the devas and the humans who approached Bhrahma for help were advised to request Mother Goddess Shakti, who then took up the form of the destroyer, and powered by the other (Sapta) Maataas Varaahi, Bhrahmi, Vaishnavi, Kaumaari, Indraani and Saambhavi vanquished him to enable to peace .
Nashik is a city in the state of Maharashtra in Western India. It is a city of pilgrimage for many Hindus. The banks or Ghats on the Godavari at Nashik are considered to be sacred. It is believed that all the Sins are washed out by taking Holy dip in the Kundas (Ponds) constructed in the river. Also by performing the last rites, Moksha is attained by the deseased soul. The river in the Ramkunda (Pond) flow from North to South, hence the river becomes Dakshin Wahini i.e. flowing towards South. This gives the Ramkunda a unique place or religious importance. Almost daily 3 to 5 thousand pilgrims come and take Holy dip on the ghats.
Shirdi is on the Ahmednagar-Manmad Highway, 250 km from Mumbai, 205 km from Pune and 75 km from Nashik. You can fly into Nashik and then take a bus, taxi or train to Shirdi. Shirdi is accessible on the Central Railway line; get off at Manmad (65 km from Shirdi) or at Kopergaon (18 km). MTDC runs buses from all major destinations. Shirdi is not only the famous place in Maharashtra but is well known place all over India and pilgrims come to Shirdi to worship the saint Sai Baba. The temple is a huge one and is recently renovated in 1998-99. Shirdi was the abode of the saint Sai Baba, who lived here for 80 years – and died here over eighty years ago. Ladakh,J&K
It is said that Sai Baba himself calls his devotees to Shirdi and that his blessings can heal even the deepest wound. The town is tiny – just 2 square km of main street and a labyrinth of by-lanes – but packs in much passion. Saibaba is believed to have arrived at the village of Shirdi when he was about sixteen years old. He took up residence in a Khandoba temple, where a villager (Mahalsapathi) at worship first called him Sai (“saint”). Bearing an extremely simple and ascetic life, Sai Baba lived in the village as a mendicant monk. His inherent charisma soon began attracting followers. He has been attributed numerous miracles which still live expanding the list of his devotees. Today Saibaba temples are all across India and even beyond. Devotees have established Sai temples in countries like Canada and Cuba.
The Siddhivinayak temple is located in the Prabhadevi area of Mumbai and is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. This 200 year old temple is one of the most popular Ganesha temples in the city. Every Tuesday devotees throng this temple in the firm belief that their wishes will be fulfilled. The temple was recently renovated in 1994, to accommodate the huge crowds that throng the temple everyday and especially during Ganesh Chaturthi festival. There are television sets installed outside for those who do not have time to wait in the long serpentine queues that lead to the temple inside.
Alandi is 20 km from Pune off the Pune-Nasik Road, Popularly known as Devachi Alandi (God’s place). Situated on the banks of river Indrayani, is known for the samadhi of the saint poet Dnyaneshwar, who authored Dnyaneshwari, the Marathi commentary on the Gita. Regular buses from various points in the Pune city. Samadhi temple is worth to see and creates a pleasant atmosphere. This temple was built in 1570. You can also see the famous wall in Alandi on which Dnyaneshwar sat and flew the wall to meet Changdev.
Shri Trimbakeshwar Temple is located in the town of Trimbak at a distance of about 30-km from Nashik in Maharashtra near the mountain named Brahmagiri from which the river Godavari flows. Trimbakeshwar Temple is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva and as the source of the river Godavari. Just as Ganga is known as Bhagirathi and is one of the most important river in North India, in the same way, Godavari is also known as Gautami Ganga and is the most sacred river in South India. The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is that it has three faces embodying Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Rudra (Shiva).
One of the “Ashtavinayak” Shri Ballaleshwar is at Pali in Raigad district. Pali is around 115 kms. from Pune and 38 Kms. from Khopoli. The idol is believed to be “Swayambhu” as was found or not sculpted by human hands. The temple was named after devotee Ballal as Ballaleshwar to whom Ganpati revealed himself at this sacred spot. There are diamonds in the eyes and naval of Shri Ganesh’s idol. The temple is made up of wood. One of the “Ashtavinayak” Shri Siddhi Vinayak is at Siddhatek along the river Bhima in the Ahmednagar district and Karjat tehsil in Maharashtra.
Hill Stations in Maharashtra
Blessed with natural beauty, Maharashtra also shows evidence of a divine hand in its mountains and hills. The Western Ghat range running parallel to its coast from north to south, at an average height of 1,200 metres. With its foothills sometimes approaching the sea-coast and sometimes moving 50 to 60 kms away, Maharashtra Hills seem to be playing the hide and seek game with the beautiful Arabian Sea. Within these mountains, lies the hill stations of Maharashtra.
Amboli is one of the hill resorts in Maharashtra. Situated at an altitude of 690 mtrs, the place offers great respite from drudgery and routine boredom. It is perched on one of the peaks of the Sahyadris in the southern end of Maharashtra state. The place is within 10 kms from Sawantwadi railway station and 64 kms from Belgaum Airport. State transport buses going to Sawantwadi from Belgaum and Kolhapur halt at Amboli. Known for its greenery, the place boasts of serene and clean weather throughout the year. It receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon and so it is an enchating spot for young people.
This is the place where Bheema killed the villainous Keechaka in a bout and threw him into a valley. It came to be known as Keechakadara. Chikhaldara is a corruption. There is lot to enjoy in Chikhaldara. Located at an height of 1117 m. Chikhaldara has an annual rainfall of 155 cms. The temperatures vary from 39Â°C in summer to 5Â°C in winter. It is the only hill resort in the Vidarbha region, It is the only coffee growing area in Maharashtra. It has plenty of wildlife- panthers, sloth bears, sambar, wild boar, even the rare species like wild dogs. Other interesting junkets include Gawilgadh and Narnala fort, the Pandit Nehru Botanical Gardens.
The picturesque beauty of the Dadar Kopra Falls, the captivating Hanuman and Sunset Points are the just some of the many reasons why Jawahar is known as the ‘Mahabaleshwar of Thane District’. Close by is Shirpamal, where Shivaji Maharaj camped on his way to Surat. The temperature in Jawhar stays between 26Â°C to 30Â° C at an altitude of 520 m. Jawhar is famous for the lively Warli paintings. It is one of the few tribal kingdoms in Maharashtra. It’s famous for plentiful of flora and fauna and a wonderful climate. Jai Vilas, the palace of the tribal lords, and the relics of Bhupatgad are worth visiting.
LONAWALA, KHANDALA AND KARLA
Lonawala and Khandala are two delightful little hill stations on the western slopes of the Sahyadris, 5.5 kms. apart, situated between Mumbai and Pune, at an altitude of 620 m. They are quite popular as health resort, there are a number of sanatoria spreading across the hills in the towns. Khandala is smaller and calmer of the two. But, taking a stroll through Lonawala’s market could yield some wonderful surprises. Both towns offer picturesque views of the surrounding hills. In the monsoon, with a myriad waterfalls, it is really worth visiting.
Mahabaleshwar is one of the most popular hill stations in Maharashtra, with abundant of natural beauty. it meanders leisurely for 5 kms. at an altitude of 1372m. It was the summer capital of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency. While away the hours boating at the placid Venna Lake. Explore the walks or the thirty points that offer panoramic views of the valley. Bathe in the clear waters of the numerous waterfalls. Also, one can visit, Pratapgadh Fort, 25 kms away, where Shivaji dramatically beat Afzal Khan. And the elegant nine hole golf course built on the edge of a cliff worth visiting.
Matheran is an undulating hilltop cloaked in shady trees, that sprawls dreamily at an altitude of 810 m. The journey involves an enthralling 2 hrs ascent in a toy train. With monkeys jumping on and off, the valley glides by serenely or a tough 10 km. hike through thick forests. Cliffs of Matheran with steep drops to the plains below offer eye-catching viewing points. These panoramic vistas, by day and night, leave you feeling appalled. The Hart Point offers a view of the glittering lights of Mumbai at night.
Panchgani is named after the five hills around it. At an altitude of 1330 m it is just 40 m below Mahabaleshwar. These 35m lead to a breathtaking 18 km approach, that swoops around bends, offering outstanding views of the River Krishna on one side and the coastal plains on the other. Temperatures vary from 15Â°C in winter to 35Â°C in summer, with an annual rainfall of 215 cm. Panchagani is the perfect residential hill-station, with the Raj marked ineradicably all over it. It can be seen in the architecture of the old British buildings. The Parsi houses and the boarding schools of the area have been around for a century or more.
Caves in Maharashtra
Built artistically several centuries ago, some dating to the 2nd B.C, the Caves of Maharashtra offer an exceptional appeal and aura. Situated amidst the formidable Sahayadri ranges, the caves housed the monks of different religions in olden days. Known for their excellent paintings and sculpture, the Maharashtra Caves will leave you spellbound. While you visit Maharashtra don’t forget to pay a visit to these caves.
Ajanta caves are located at about 107 kms. from the city of Aurangabad. The rock-cut caves of Ajanta nestle in the form of a gigantic horseshoe. For almost 700 years, the caves of Ajanta seem to have been abandoned abruptly. They remained cloaked in obscurity for over a millennium, till John Smith, a British army officer, accidentally stumbled upon them while on a hunting expedition in 1819. The ‘View Point’ from where John Smith first glimpsed the caves, provides a magnificent sight of the U-shaped gorge and its scenic surroundings. A spectacular waterfall cascading down the cliff feeds a natural pool called the Saptakunda.
The cave temples and monasteries at Ellora are excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment. They are 26 kms. north of Aurangabad. They extend in a linear arrangement. The 34 caves contain Buddhist Chaityas, or halls of worship, and Viharas, or monasteries, Hindu and Jian temples. Spanning across 600 years between the 5th and 11th century AD, the earliest excavation here is of the Dhumar Lena. The most magnificent excavation is that of the Kailasa Temple (Cave 16) which is the largest single monolithic structure in the world. Interestingly, Ellora, unlike the site of Ajanta, was never ‘rediscovered’.
Elephanta was formerly known in ancient times as “Gharapuri” or The Place of Caves. The Portuguese named it Elephanta after the great statue of elephant which they found on the seashore. They found monolithic stone elephant at the place where they landed and also named this a ilha do elephanta, island of the elephant. There was a stone horse too, a little further, which has vanished without a trace. There are seven caves of which the Mahesha-Murti Cave is the most important. The main body of the cave, excluding the porticoes on the three open sides and the back aisle, is 27 m square and is supported by rows of six columns.
Aurangabad Caves are artificial caves. They are dug out of the rather soft rock during the 6th and 7th century. These caves are found on two separate locations, called Western Group Caves (caves 1-5) and Eastern Group Caves (caves 6-10). Each group has five caves. The architecture and iconography is influenced by Tantric Hinduism. Cave 4 of the Western Group Caves is the oldest cave. It is a Hinayana. Cave 6 belongs to the Eastern Group Caves, and shows very well preserved sculptures of women, which are notable for their exotic hairstyles and ornamentation. There is also a large Buddha figure and an idol of Ganesh located in this cave
Forts in Maharashtra
Maharashtra, the state with a history dating back to the 3rd century B.C, has witnessed the rule of various dynasties, who built several forts as a part of their defence mechanism. Over the years many forts have diminished or destroyed, but you will still find over 350 forts in Maharashtra. Apart from the massive forts, you can see large number of magnificent monuments in Maharashtra. Popular forts and monuments of Maharashtra are Bassein Fort, Daulatabad Fort, Gavali Fort, Ghobunder Fort, Murud Janjira Fort, Murud Harnai Fort, Panhala Fort, Raigad Fort, Mumbai Fort, Vijaydurg & Sindhudurg Fort, Sinhagad Fort, Gateway of India, Victoria Terminus, Aghakhan Palace, Khuldabad and Flora Fountain
Fort Raigad was the capital of Shivaji’s kingdom, the place where he was crowned and where he died. Raigad also known as Durgadeshwar is the lord of all the 360 odd forts in the state of Maharashtra. Raigad is 3000 feet high above sea level. For its immence beauty, Raigad remains a hiker’s paradice. The formidable Pratapgad fort with its equestrian statue of shivaji is an interesting excursion. You may wonder why is Raigad the king of all forts – but there is a very good reason behind Raigad being crowned as the king of all forts. Towards the South are Vasota, Pratapgad and Makarandgad
‘Rajgad’ – the name describes the place itself, the king of forts. The capital of Marathas for a long long time. As the history goes this fort fort was built by Shivaji by using the wealth that he recoverd from his Torna take over. He spent almost 25/30 yrs here. The place of historical importance, very near from Pune. Rajgad is south-west 40 Kms from Pune. Rajgad is famous for its construction. Fort is of 1350 Mtrs. high, Rajgad is famous for its Padmavati Machi, Sanjivani Machi ,Suvela Machi and ‘Bale killa’ – the pride of Maharashtra. It is almost 500 feet high and really difficult to climb.
Prachandagad, also called Torna Fort, is situated near Pune. The word “Prachanda” means “huge” and “gad” means fort in marathi, which undoubtedly means that this fort is vast and stretches on for many miles. The Torna is located at a very high altitude and it takes an average of three hours to get to the top from the foothills of the Sahyadri mountains on which the fort is situated. Today, Torna is one of the most frequented haunts among explorers of all levels of enthusiasm. It is located just 65 km from Pune. Torna was the first fort conquered by Shivaji Maharaj after he vowed for swaraj at Raireshwar.
Panhala, situated at an altitude of 3100 ft, a small hill station and taluka headquarter is known for its historical importance. Its Geographical situation is typical as, unlike other places in Kolhapur district, the town is situated on Jambha laterite type of stone; naturally the red earth and stone buildings against the background of green hill attract the visitor’s attention. Perhaps, Panhalgad is the only historical place where most of the monuments are in good condition. The places are looked after by the ASI. The nearest railway station is Kolhapur,18 kms. There are regular buses from Kolhapur,as well as private vehicles specially meant for site seeing trips.
Raje Shahaji, Shivaji’s father, kept his family on this fort during Jijabai’s pregnancy. The fort is tough to climb from the hills. The road to this fort has 7 doors. The temple of ‘Devi Shivai’ is very old. After the name of this goddess, Shivaji was named. Kille Shivneri is famous for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s birth. The birth place of Shivaji is auspicious one and easily memorises the period. The palace, water reservoirs and the green surroundings are treat to eyes. The other places to visit on Shivneri fort are ‘Kaman Take’, ‘Kadelot Tok’, ‘Koli Chouthara ‘ and ‘Dongarmatha’ (the top of the fort). One can see various places nearby Shivneri – Khodad, Arvi and Kukadi dam.
Sindhudurga fort is undoubtedly the most formidable of Shivaji’s sea coast constructions. The Sindhudurg fort bears testimony to the Maratha supremacy and power, especially during the reign of Shivaji. Over 4000 mounds of iron were used in the casting and foundation stones were firmly laid down in lead. The construction was started on November 25, 1664. Built over a period of three years, the sea fort is spread over 48 acres with a two-mile long rampart, and walls that are 30 feet high and 12 feet thick. The massive walls were designed to serve as a deterrent to approaching enemies and to the waves and tides of the Arabian Sea. The main entrance is concealed in such a way that no one can pinpoint it from outside.
Vijaydurg Fort, also known as Victory Fort, is one of the many historically important sites in Sindhudurg District. Vijaydurg is in really good condition and gives a good idea of its glory 300 years back. The fort was center of Maratha navy in Peshwa Rule and was considered as a symbol of power of Maratha navy in Portuguese documents. Vijaydurg Fort is surrounded by sea from three sides, was once called as Girye or Gheriya. The fort covers an area of six hectares. There are 27 Buruj (tower) inside the fort of which some have three floors. Kothi Pirachi Sadar, Kitta Sadar, Jails, Jakhinis Canon, huge stones used for construction purpose, and the platform built in the deep sea for guarding are worth visiting.
About 60km northwest of Panhala and 18km south from Kolhapur -Ratnagiri road Vishalgad is situated on a mountain. It is a vast fort as the name suggests and its steep cliffs separate it from adjoining land, making it nearly impeccable to win over. Today, the fort is known to people as a place of Malik Raihan Dargah. This picturesque fort contains the Amriteshwar Temple, Takmak Tok, Sati Vrindavan and the dargah or tomb of Hazrat Malikdhyan Baba, visited by hundreds of devotees. The Bhunda Darwaja or a bare gate seen from the busstop shows wrong way of the entry. Actual entry is separate. Nothing is there except the ruins of old buildings.
DEVGIRI / DAULATABAD
Daulatabad is situated around 13 kms away from Aurangabad. The Daulatabad fort emerges dramatically over 600 ft above the Deccan plain. It is one of the world’s best preserved forts of medieval times and also one of the few impregnable forts in Maharashtra with excellent architecture. The city was named Daulatabad ‘The city of fortune’, by Mohammed bin Tughluq, the sultan of Delhi. The original widespread capital city is now mostly unoccupied and has been reduced to a village. Much of its survival depends on the tourists to the old city and the adjacent fort. The area of the city includes the hill-fortress of Devagiri.
Sinhagad or Sinhgad meaning Lion Fort, is located at a distance of 25 kms from the city of Pune, situated on a hill rising 800 metres above the surrounding countryside. Earlier it was known as Kondhana. One of the most famous battles (Battle of Sinhagad) for Sinhagad was fought to recapture the fort by Tanaji Malusare, a General of Shivaji in March 1670. It was after this battle that the Kondhana fort was renamed to Sinhagad after Tanaji, whose nickname was ‘the lion’ (Sinha). Having spearheaded the attack and fighting valiantly, Tanaji’s life was lost in capturing this important fort.
National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra
Maharashtra, the land rich in natural beauty, is a paradise for nature loving people. Boasting of a varied topography, Maharashtra is home to several wildlife sanctuaries and parks, with a wide variety of vegetation. In these wildlife sanctuaries and parks, you can see domestic as well as rare migratory birds and wild animals like Tiger, Wild Deer, Sambar Crocodile, Bisons, Neelgai etc. Most famous wildlife sanctuaries and parks include the Borivili Wildlife Park, Mahim Nature Park, Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, Melghat Tiger Reserve and Karnala Bird Sanctuary.
BHIMASHANKAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Bhimashankar is situated in the main Sahyadri Range, over 2500 feet above sea level, this region is gazetted as a reserved forest. The area of just 100 sq km, is densely forested with majestic towering trees festooned with numerous old trees, and is richer in fuana as compared to the rest of penensular India. Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary has barking deers, sambars, leopards, wild boars, Hanuman langurs and Rhesus macaques wandering freely amidst the rich variety of flora is a nature lover’s paradise. Perennial creepers – Jyotivanti trees, which glow in the dark during monsoon, add to the charm of the mist laden chilly atmosphere
MAHIM NATURE PARK
Mahim Nature Park is situated near Dharavi which is Asia’s largest slum. Mahim Nature Park comes across as a breath of fresh air. This educational park was the great idea of Shanta Chatterj. Mahim Creek is the place where we find bird and marine life thrives. The park covered an area of 450 acres, main purpose behind this brainchild of Chatterji is to preserve the natural beauty and estuarine ecosystem of the region. The streams of the park allow the bird and marine life to flourish and wide range of life is sheltered due to the saline marsh land shaded by the Mangroves as it holds soil together.
MELGHAT TIGER RESERVE
Melghat means ‘meeting of the ghats’ which is just what the area is, a large tract of unending hills and ravines scarred by jagged cliffs and steep climbs. Melghat area was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1974. Presently, the total area of the Reserve is around 1677 kmÂ². The core area of the Reserve, the Gugarnal National Park with an area of 361.28 kmÂ², and buffer area of the Reserve, the Melghat Tiger Sanctuary with an area of 788.28 kmÂ² (of which 21.39 kmÂ² is non-forest), were together re-notified by the state government in 1994 as Melghat Sanctuary. Two historic forts called Narnala and Gawilgarh guard the main east-west ridge.
BORIVLI NATIONAL PARK
Mumbai is the only metropolis in the world with 104 sq kms of virgin forest within its borders, just waiting to be explored. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park, or as commonly known, the Borivili National Park. A miraculously preserved natural oasis in the heart of an urban sprawl, this park is very much within the city limits, yet far removed from its crowds and clamour. Borivli is one of the few national parks that can be visited all year round. In the hot, dry summer months the jungle is a riot of colour as gulmohor, flame-of-the-forest and the flowering silk cotton enfold the otherwise brown forest in a crimson blush. Borivli in the rains has a charm of its own.
KARNALA NATIONAL PARK
Just a short drive outside Mumbai on the Mumbai-Pune Highway to Goa, is the densely forested Karnala Bird Sanctuary, a pleasant surprise away from Mumbai’s concrete jungle.Between Pen and Panvel lies Karnala bird sanctuary. Karnala is 120 k.m. away from Pune and 13 k.m. away from Panvel. The whole area is lush green and rich with natural habitation of various birds like Red Vented, Bulbul, Horn Bill, Myna, Owl, Robin McPie and many others. Best time to visit for bird watching is from October to April. However if one wants to enjoy the greenery, it has to be during the monsoons. Karnala forest was declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1962.
Nagzira wildlife sanctuary is located in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra. 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. This sanctuary has a number of fish, 34 species of mammals, 166 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles and four species of amphibians. The invertebrate fauna includes, besides a number of insects and ant species.
NAVEGAON NATIONAL PARK
The Navegaon National Park is one of the most popular forest resorts in the Vidarbha region. It is located in the Navegaon area of Maharashtra, at a distance of approximately 150 km from Nagpur city. Navegaon National Park consists of a deer park, an aviary and three beautifully landscaped gardens. Covering an area of 135 square kilometers, Watch Towers are located at suitable points to enable to proper view of wild life. Tigers, panthers, bison, sambar deer, nilgais, chital, wild boars, sloth bears, and wild dogs dominate the park. Jungle safari and boat riding on the lake are the other points of interest.
DAJIPUR BISON SANCTUARY
The Dajipur Bison Sanctuary is situated on the border of Kolhapur and Sindhudurg districts. Surrounded by rugged mountains and dense forests, it is located at a height of 1200 mt. Dajipur is an isolated jungle and is home to many spectacular wild animals and birds. The main attraction here is the Indian bison, locally known as the Gava. Apart from that several species of deer and monkeys, wild boar, smaller mammals, and the occasional bear are seen. The watchtower near the Manora watering hole, gives good sightings of animals. One gets a good view of dense forest and backwaters of Radhanagari dam while in a bus.
TADOBA NATIONAL PARK
Tadoba National Park is the oldest national park of the State of Maharahtra and since 1993, a Project Tiger Reserve. Tadoba-andhari Tiger reserve has an area of 625.40 sq. km. This includes Tadoba National Park, created in 1955 with an area of 116.55 sq. km. and Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary created in 1986 with an area of 508.85 sq. km. Along with around 50 tigers, Tadoba Tiger Reserve is a home for rare Indian wildlife like, Leopards, Sloth Bears, Gaur, Wild Dogs, Hyenas, Civet and Jungle cats, and many species of Indian deer like Sambar, Cheetal, Nilgai, and Barking Deer.
KALSUBAI HARISHCANDRAGAD NATIONAL PARK
The Kalasubai Harishchandragad Wildlife sanctuary spreads from Kalasubai to Harischandragad in Akole Tehsil of Ahmadnagar district. In the ancient times, a lady named “Kalsu” came to nearby Indorey village to work. However, having faced indignation at the hands of her employers, she left the place and eventually died at this spot. Therefore, the name Kalasubai. A small temple is built here, in her memory. The area is part of Sahyadri hill ranges. The Kalsubai sanctuary is challenge to trekkers as it is most rugged, hilly area and difficult to get accessibility. Kalasubai is the highest (1646 m) peak of Western Ghats in Maharashtra
Beaches in Maharashtra
With its 720 km long coastline, extending from Dahanu and Bordi in the north up to the tiny state of Goa, in the south, Maharashtra is home to some of the finest beaches of the country. If you have a penchant for sand, sea and surf, the beaches of Maharashtra provide you plethora of opportunities. Apart for enjoying exciting water sports and sun bathing on golden sands, you can explore the massive forts, temples, churches and remote areas of the state.
In the beginning of the seventeenth century Bassein used to be a place for ship-building. It was here that the Marathas besieged the Portuguese in 1739. Hidden by brushwood and palm groves, the ruins of the Portuguese Fort still stand here. It’s 10 kms. to the north-west lies Nalasopara village, the capital of the Konkan. Nalasopara is believed to have been Gautama Buddha’s birthplace in one of his previous life. Many Buddhist relics were discovered here. To the north of Nalasopara is the the Agar of Bassein. One can visit Vajreshwari temple and Akloli hot springs which are at about an hour by bus from Bassein station.
Dahanu, is a quite seaside town with a virgin, uncluttered beach. It’s situated in Thane district. The Dahanu-Bordi stretch is 17 kms. This once-barren land was developed under Iranians. Dahanu is full of fruit orchards. It isa famous for its chickoos. From Dahanu one can visit Udwada – with a large, beautiful temple of Zoroastrians. It’s a special place of attraction for Zoroastrians. And amazingly, this fire has been kept alive for almost a thousand years.
Ganapatipule has always been one of most famous tourist spots in Maharashtra , especially for those who crave for silversand, gentle breeze and murmuring sea. It’s also famous for the 400 – year old Swayambhu Ganapati. Set along the western coast of maharastra, is a small little village called Ganapatipule. Unlike most beaches, the Ganapatiphule beach is as natural and pristine as ever. Besides the beach Ganapatipule is also an important pilgrimage spot. The temple of the ‘Swayambhu Ganapati’ is known for its unique idol of Lord Ganapati. The temple is 400 years old and is situated at the side of see and at the foot of a hill.
Just Eleven miles north of Alibag and easily accessible from Mumbai, Mandwa is a beautiful, serene beach. One can enjoy a long view extending right up to the Gateway of India. with its beautiful of coconut groves Mandwa village has a charm of its own. One can enjoy wonderful tent holiday, at the nearby Kihim beach. Unspoilt and isolated, this beautiful place has a soothing effect on all city dwellers. For a nature lover Kihim has lot to offer. Woods are full off thousands of rare species of flowers, butterflies and birds. This was one of favorite retreats of Dr. Salim Ali, a renouned birdwatcher. Near from the shore is the Kolaba Fort.
MARVE MANORI GORAI
Away from crowds and pollution of Mumbai, are these three beaches that have become popular tourists spot for Mumbai’s fun lovers. Marve, is the closest and the quietest are a lovely little fishing village.Low hills along the beach offer you spectacular views of sunrise and sunset. Gorai and Manori, a little further away, are more crowded with revelers. They are famous for all night beach parties. A fifteen-minute ferry ride from marve or Borivali takes you to Gorai and Manori.
Further south to Mumbai lies Vengurla well known for its for long stretch of white sands, and hills covered with cashew, coconut, jackfruit and mango groves. The town has two well – known temples : the Shri Devi Sateri temple and the Rameshwar Mandir. Vengurla is historically known as a trade centre. To the west-north-west lie the Vengurla Rocks, also called the Burnt Islands. On what was once an inner island, and is now part of the mainland, lies the old town of Malvan, almost hidden by palms. The rocky terrain of Malvan holds two Ports : the Sindhudurg and Padmagad . Malvan is known for its salt pans. Formerly it was a trading zone.
Visit Sindhudurga, a district having tourism potential. This district is being developed by the govt. of Maharashtra as a tourism district. Sindhudurga district is situated in the southern butt end of Maharashtra. Situated between the Sahyadri mountain ranges on the east and the Arabian sea in the west, this district boasts of its natural beauty. Thi sdistrict is famous for many tourist attractions. One can enjoy the pleasures of hill stations and glories of sea-shore in this district. Vijaydurg and Sindhudurg were naval bases during the rule of Maratha King Shivaji Vijaydurg or Fort Victor was build around the seventeenth century by Shivaji.
Formerly it was the capital town of the Siddis of Janjira. Murud is today popular for its alluring beach, whispering casuarinas, coconut and betel palms, and an ancient fort.On a small hill to the north is the shrine of Lord Dattatraya. The 300-years old fort of Janjira is an architectural marvel. It was considered to be invincible. The palace of the Nawab and the Janjira caves are also a must see. And just a few kilometers away are two pristine beaches : Nandgaon and Kashid. Nandgaon is famous for its Ganapati temple and the annual fair held in honor of this Hindu god every February.
To the North of the Shastri river lies the serene village of Velneshwar. The quiet, coconut beach offers the visitor the perfect place for swimming or just relaxing. There is an old Shiva temple which is often attracts pilgrims. Velneshwar is the focus of attention in March, when the Maha Shivaratri fair is held in honor of the God Shankar or Shiva.
Tender winds, soft sands and inviting waters make Shriwardhan Bay tempting to beach lovers. And if one cares for sea-food, there is no end of mouth-watering delicacies to sample here. And if you like adventurers you can even take a small boat to the north side of the bay and explore a land where the ‘Peshwas’ or the Prime minister of Maratha Kingdom, originally resided. The ‘Peshwa Smarak’ is of interest to most people who visit Shriwardhan. The town of Harihareshwar is known for its serene and charming beach and is also famous for the temple of Harihareshwar