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Location of Maharashtra
Capital Mumbai
18.96° N 72.82° E
Largest city Mumbai
Abbreviation IN-MH
Official languages Marathi
 • Strength
 • Governor
 • Chief Minister
289 + 78
SM Krishna (list)
Vilasrao Deshmukh (list)
Formation 1960-05-01
Area 307,713 km² (3rd)
Population (2001) 96,752,247 (2nd)
Density 314.42/km²
Districts 35
Time zone IST (UTC +5:30)

Seal of Maharashtra

Maharashtra (महाराष्ट्र) is India's third largest state in terms of area and second largest in terms of population after Uttar Pradesh. It is bordered by the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa and the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The Arabian Sea makes up the state's western coast. Mumbai (Bombay), India's largest city, is the capital of Maharashtra.


Origin of the name

Maharashtra was known as "Rashtra" in the Rig Veda, "Rashtrik" in Ashoka's inscriptions, and "Maha rashtra" afterwards, as attested by Huein-Tsang and other travellers. The name appears to be derived from "Maharashtri" in an old form of Prakrit, an ancient Indian language.

However, there are other theories put forward by different schools of thought: one version suggests the derivation of the name from "land of the Mahars and the Rattas". Another possible derivation is believed to be the corruption of the term "Maha Kantara", which means "Great Forest"[1]. Both these theories did not carry much weight, as can be seen from the name of Maharashtra.


Archaeological evidence indicates that Maharashtra was inhabited since the Palaeolithic era. Not much is known about Maharashtra's early history, and its recorded history dates back to the 3rd century BC, with the use the Maharastri language, a Prakrit corruption of Sanskrit. Later, Maharashtra became a part of the Magadha empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka. The port town of Sopara, just north of present day Mumbai, was the centre of ancient India's commerce, with links to Eastern Africa, Mesopotamia, Aden and Cochin. With the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire, Maharashtra came under the rule of the Satavahanas between 230 BC and 225 AD.

During the reign of the Vakatakas (250 AD–525 AD), Vidarbha, the eastern region of Maharashtra, come under their rule. During this period, development of arts, religion and technology flourished. By the 6th century, Maharashtra came under the reign of the Chalukyas. Later, in 753, the region was governed by Rashtrakutas, an empire that spread over most of peninsula India. In 973, the Rashtrakutas were overthrown by the Chalukayas, who ruled parts of Maharashtra until 1189 when it came under the hands of the Yadavas of Deogiri.

Maharashtra came under Islamic influence for the first time after the Delhi Sultanate rulers Ala-ud-din Khalji, and later Muhammad bin Tughluq appropriated parts of the Deccan in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Tughlaqs in 1347, the Bahmani Sultanate took over, governing the region for the next 150 years. By the 16th century, central Maharashtra was ruled by numerous autonomous Islamic kingdoms that owed allegiance to the Mughals, while coastal region was annexed by the Portuguese, in their quest to seize control of the spice trade.

By the early 17th century the Maratha Empire began to take root. The Marathas, native to western Maharashtra, were led by Shivaji Bhosle, who was crowned king in 1674. Under his successors, the Maratha Empire reached their zenith, encompassing almost the entire Deccan, central India and extending into parts of modern day Pakistan and Bangladesh . After defeating the Mughals in 1707, the Marathas became the dominant rulers of India. With death of Shahu in 1749, Peshwa became head of Maratha empire. After suffering a heavy defeat to the Afghan chieftain Ahmad Shah Abdali, in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, the Maratha Confederacy broke into regional kingdoms like Gwalior, Poona, Indore etc. With the arrival and subsequent involvement of the British East India Company in Indian politics, the two were involved in three major battles, culminating in the annexation of Peshwa ruled territory in Maharashtra in 1819, which heralded the end of the Maratha empire.

The British governed the region as part of the Bombay Presidency, which spanned an area from Karachi in Pakistan to most of the northern Deccan. The British rule was marked by social reforms, an improvement in infrastructure as well revolts due to their discriminatory policies. At the beginning of the 20th century, a non-violent struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi began to take shape. In 1942, the Quit India Movement was called by Gandhi which was marked by a non-violent civil disobedience movement and strikes. After India's independence in 1947, independent princely states in central India joined the Indian Union. In 1956, Bombay state came into existence which merged the princely states of central India into Bombay Presidency. On 1960-05-01, the state of Maharashtra came into existence, carved out of the Marathi-speaking territory of Bombay state. Favourable economic policies in the 1970s led to Maharashtra becoming India's leading industrial state.

See also:


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. The state of Gujarat lies to the northwest, with the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli sandwiched between the borders. The Arabian Sea makes up Maharashtra's west coast.

The Western Ghats are a hilly range which runs parallel to the coast at an average elevation of 1,200 metres (4,000 feet)). To the west of these hills lie the Konkan coastal plains which are 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 of which many South Indian rivers originate from. To the north of the state, near the Madhya Pradesh border, lies the Satpura Range.

The Western Ghats form the source major rivers of South India, notable the Godavari and the Krishna, two major rivers of Deccan India. The rivers, along with their tributaries flow eastwards, irrigating most of central and eastern Maharashtra emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The Ghats are also the source of numerous small rivers which flow westwards emptying into the Arabian Sea. To the north of the state, the rivers Tapi and Narmada flow westwards, irrigating most of northern Maharashtra.

The plateau is composed of black basalt soil, rich in humus.


Maharashtra's is India's leading industrial state contributing 23% of India's industrial output. 64.14% of the people are employed in agriculture and allied activities. 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 houses the headquarters of almost all major banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and mutual funds. Within Mumbai is located Bollywood, it is the epicentre of India's Hindi film and television industry. The Bombay Stock Exchange, India's oldest and largest stock exchange is located in the city. After successes in the information technology in the neighbouring states, Maharashtra has set up software parks in Pune, Mumbai, and Nashik.


Like all states in India, the head of state is the governor, appointed by the Central government. His or her post is largely ceremonial. The Chief Minister is the head of government and is vested with most of the executive powers. Maharashtra's capital is Mumbai, home to the Vidhan Sabha – the state assembly and Mantralaya, the administrative offices of the government. It is also home to the Bombay High Court which has jurisdiction over Maharashtra, Goa, and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu. 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.

Maharashtra's legislature is bicameral, one of the few states in India to have a bicameral type. The Legislative Assembly – the Vidhan Sabha is the lower house consisting of directly elected members. 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.

After India's independence, most of Maharashtra's political history was dominated by the Congress party. 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 BJP secured an overwhelming majority in the state to form a coalition. The Shiv Sena with its pro-Marathi stance renamed Bombay to Mumbai and also many other colonial institutions after historic local appellations. 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.


A person native to the state is called a Maharashtrian. 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 subnational entity in existence. 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%.

Marathi is the official state language. Marathi is spoken by a vast majority of its populace. In Mumbai however, due to its cosmopolitan nature, Marathi is not as widely spoken as Hindi and English. Marathi, English and sometimes Hindi are used for official purposes. In the northwest portion of Maharashtra, Gujarati is spoken by a minority.

The state has a Hindu majority of 80.2% with minorities of Muslims 10.6%, Buddhists 6%, and Christians 1%.


Main article: Districts of Maharashtra

Maharashtra is divided into thirty-five districts, which are grouped into six divisions: Aurangabad, Amravati, Konkan, Nagpur, Nashik, and Pune. These are official revenue divisions of government of Maharashtra.

Geographically, historically and according to political sentiments Maharashtra has five main regions Vidarbha( Nagpur and ( Amravati divisions), division), Marathwada ( Aurangabad division), north maharashtra( Nashik division), Western maharashtra ( Pune division), and Konkan ( Konkan division).

Maharashtra has a long standing dispute with Karnataka on the sovereignty of the Belgaum district in northwest Karnataka. When India's states were drawn on linguistic grounds, Belgaum was merged into Karnataka despite having a large Marathi-speaking population. Recently, the Maharashtra government took the matter to the Supreme Court, but lost the case. Nonetheless, Maharashtra considers Belgaum to be a part of the state and recognises its residents as its own.


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. ST buses link most of the towns and villages and have a large network of operation. These buses, run by the state government are the preferred mode of transport for much of its populace. In addition to the government run buses, private run luxury buses are also a popular mode of transport between major towns.

Mumbai has Maharashtra's only international airport and large towns such as Aurangabad, Pune, Nagpur, Ratnagiri, Kolhapur and Solapur have domestic airports. Ferry services also operate near the capital, 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 and recently built the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the first fully concretised highway in India. Maharashtra has three ports, the largest being the state capital, Mumbai which handles half of India's passenger traffic. JNPT lying opposite Mumbai is another port run by the Central government. In the southern part of the state, Ratnagiri handles the export of ores mined in the Maharastra hinterland.

External links


  1. ^  Geographic Profile — Govt of Maharashtra
  2. ^  Maharashtra tourism — Govt of Maharashtra (tourism)
  3. History of Maharashtra
  4. Mumbainet
  5. History

Indian states and territories Flag of India
Andhra Pradesh | Arunachal Pradesh | Assam | Bihar | Chhattisgarh | Goa | Gujarat | Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu and Kashmir | Jharkhand | Karnataka | Kerala | Madhya Pradesh | Maharashtra | Manipur | Meghalaya | Mizoram | Nagaland | Orissa | Punjab | Rajasthan | Sikkim | Tamil Nadu | Tripura | Uttaranchal | Uttar Pradesh | West Bengal
Union territories: Andaman and Nicobar Islands | Chandigarh | Dadra and Nagar Haveli | Daman and Diu | Lakshadweep | Pondicherry
National Capital Territory: Delhi
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