Maharashtra is a state in Western India. The region is situated along the Arabian Sea cost. The coastline extends for about 530 km (330 mi). The region encompasses hilly range of Western Ghats, running parallel to the coast, and the Deccan Paleau. The state’s capital is Mumbai which is also the financial capital of India and the headquarters of all major banks and financial institutions. The biggest cities in the state are Pune (the cultural capital and educational center of India), Nagpur, Nashik and Aurangabad (known for being in close proximities to Ajanta and Ellora Caves).
The region is known worldwide for its film industry Bollywood, cut rock caves of Ajanta and Ellora, forts (Daulatabad Fort, Janjira Island Fortress, Raigad and Shivneri Forts), pilgrimage tourism (Shirdi), Yoga and meditation centers (Pune, Lonavla, Nagpur), hill stations (Matheran, Mahabaleshwar), colonial British architecture (Mumbai), etc.
There are five UNESCO World Heritage sites in the state: Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Elephanta Caves (Mumbai), Western Ghats and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) (Mumbai).
The Konkan coast, extending from Mumbai to Goa, offers some spectacular views and is home to some beautiful beaches that are still not too overcrowded by tourists.
The state has several National parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries including Tadoba National Park and Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary. The animals found include tiger, leopard, sloth bear, Indian bison, Indian mouse deer, sambar, flying squirrel, etc.
The state is also renowned for the meteorite crater at Lonar. The craters age is about 570,000 years. It formatted a 1.2 km (3,900 ft) diameter lake with about 170 m (558 ft) depth. The crater is situated about 187 km (116 mi) from Aurangabad and Nanded.
Maharashtra state is known for it’s contribution to Indian classical and folk music. Among the popular dance forms is the fisherman dance called Koli performed by both men and women. Bollywood has a strong influence on the urban culture. Songs from Hindi and Marathi films are among the most popular ones.
The traditional handicrafts of the region include Chappals (leather sandals), Himroo shawls, sheets and saris made from a blend of cotton, silk and silver thread.
Maharastrian cuisine is divided in to Konkani and Varadi using lots of seafood, kokum (type of berry), coconut and peanut oil for cooking. The dishes range from mild to very spicy. Rice, wheat, vegetables, lentils are staple food. The specialties of the region include Chivda (spiced flattened rice), Pav Bhaji (mashed steamed mixed vegetables served with a fried bun and onions), Pohay (a snack made from flattened rice), Thalipeeth (a type of spicy pancake eaten with curd), Puran Poli (sweetmeat made from jaggery, yellow gram, cardamom and ghee), Modak (steamed sweet), etc.
The state celebrates many varied festivals. Among the popular ones are Naag Panchami - a traditional snake-worshipping festival (August); Ganesh Chaturthi – religious festival celebrated with great zeal (September); Ellora Ajanta Aurangabad Festival - cultural festival promoting local arts and traditions (November); Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav – music festival (December); Mumbai Festival – cultural festival promoting Mumbai music, dance and culture (January); Elephanta Festival - classical music and dance festival (February); Kala Ghoda Festival - two weeks of art performances and exhibitions (February); Dussehra – one of the major Hindu festivals (September/October), etc.
The official language of the state is Marathi, Hindi is widely spoken in urban areas. Hinduism and Islam are dominant religions.
Maharashtra climate varies accordingly with its geography. Summers (March through May) are hot with average temperature between 22°C (71.6° F) and 39°C (102.2 °F) and winters are warm and dry with temperature between 12°C (53.6° F) and 34°C (93.2° F). Monsoon rains are experienced from June to September.
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