The third largest state in India (area-wise), after Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh the land of Maharashtra holds a great physiological, economic and cultural importance for the country.
Covering an area of 307,713 km2, Maharashtra shares its borders with 6 states (Madhya Pradesh to the north, Chhattisgarh to the east, Telangana to the southeast, Karnataka to the south, Goa to the southwest and Gujarat to the northwest). The Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli lies in between the borders of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Landscapes and physiological features in the state vary from the vast shores of the Arabian Sea, to the Sahyadri in the east, and the tableland of the Deccan plateau to the Satpuda ranges in the west.
It is due to such varied relief divisions that the state is home to many wild plant and animal species and popular tribes found in India. Hills, seashore, plateaus and valleys make for natural places of residence for different wildlife and cultures, to which Maharashtra owes its biodiversity. Sharing borders with other major states, the state of Maharashtra also forms the centre-point of some major wildlife corridors of the country. The Royal Bengal Tiger finds its home in some of the most sought-after wildlife reserves located amidst difficult terrains of Maharashtra.
The diverse regions of Marathwada, Vidarbha, Khandesh and Konkan nested in the state of Maharashtra are home to people of different religions and cultures. These regions also have their own cultural identity with different language, folk songs and food.
About 79% of the state’s population is Hindu while Budhhists, Muslims and Christians form the significant minorities. With a long history of Marathi saints of the Varakari movement, such as saint Dnyaneshwar, saint Namdev, saint Tukaram etc, it forms the foundation of the Maharashtrian or Marathi culture. Under the reign of King Shivaji of the 17th Century, the culture of Maharashtra had huge influence over India.
Owing to its rich Hindu heritage, there are many temples in Maharashtra, some even thousands of years old. These temples are fusion of architectural styles and themes from North and South India. The Vitthal Temple at Pandharpur, the Ashtavinayaka temples of Lord Ganesha, the Shiva temple of Bhimashankarare some of the most important Hindu structures in the state.
UNESCO world heritage sites located in Aurangabad and famous tourist attractions. CST, Shaniwar Wada, Bibi ka Maqbara and Agah Khan Palace are some of the major monuments of Historic significance in the state. Hill, land and sea forts are major witnesses of how the Maharashtrian history unfolded. Forts like Shivneri, Raigad, Sinhagad, Pratapgad, etc are found in the coastal regions or the adjoining Sahyadri ranges