Maharashtra. A land whose sheer size and diversity will stun you. Enjoy
her mountains that stretch out into the mists as far as the eye can see.
Her innumerous forts that stand proud and strong. Her scores of temples,
sculpted into and out of basalt rock.
Her diverse and colourful cultures, woven into one gigantic quilt. Her
festivals that galvanise the sleepy thousands into fervent motion. And
her miles of silver, white beaches, stretched taut and inviting over the
entire coast. Welcome aboard a travel package that gives you a glimpse
into this vibrant and beautiful land.
History of Maharashtra
The name Maharashtra first appeared in
a 7th century inscription and in a Chinese traveler's account. Its name
may have originated from rathi, which means, "chariot driver".
At that age Maharashtra was full of builders and drivers of chariots who
formed a maharathis, a "fighting force." In 90 A.D. king
Vedishri made Junnar, thirty miles north of Pune, the capital of his
kingdom. In the early fourteenth century the Devgiri Yadavs were
overthrown by the northern Muslim powers. Then on, for the 900 years
ending, no historical information in this region is available. In 1526,
first Mughal king, Babar, established his prominence in Delhi and soon
the Mughal power spread to the southern India. The Mughals were to
dominate India till the early eighteenth century.
Shivaji Bhosle, founder of the Maratha Empire, was born in 1627. He took
the oath to make the land free at the fort Torna at the age of sixteen.
This was the start of his lifelong struggle against Mughals and other
Muslim powers. By 1680, the year of Shivaji's death, nearly whole of the
Deccan belonged to his kingdom. He had developed an efficient
administration and a powerful army. He also encouraged a spirit of
independence among the Marathas that enabled them to withstand for 150
years all attempts to conquer them. Shivaji's achievements amongst
monumental difficulties were really spectacular and that is why he holds
the highest place in Maratha history.
Art & Craft
The growth of crafts in society is a
sign of the cultivation of sensitivity and the stirring and mellowing of
humanism. It stands for man's endeavour to bring grace and elegance into
an otherwise harsh and drab human existence. Actually, man's elevation
from gross animal existence is marked by his yearning for something
beyond the satisfaction of mere needs and creature comforts. It is the
yearning that found natural expression in crafts.
- Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
Crafts do not grow in isolation. They
are basically in the service of the society. Society's culture can be
measured from the arts and crafts it lived with. Arts and crafts find
unhindered patronage and wide appreciation in a society that has been
elevated to great cultural heights. Such society establishes values and
norms that give the guidelines of life to all its members, rich and
poor. Artists and craftsmen in such society exist as an integral part of
it and crave to achieve excellence and reach to perfection in their
From the law-books, the Niti-Shastra,
from the writings of Manu and Kautilya, we learn the responsibility of
the state and the public to protect and patronize the artists and
craftsmen. The system of taxation makes it compulsory for society to
foster and support the artist and craftsmen Matsya Purana mentions
that every home should have a door frame in carved wood as a sign of
welcome to visitors.
This tradition of carved wooden frames
and carved wooden balconies supported by brackets of animals, birds, and
human forms is a part of architectural design of homes, palaces and
temples as well as other community places built all over India.
There are many palaces, temples and
private homes in Maharashtra, in which we see plenty of intricate and
charming woodwork. In places like Pune, Wai, Satara, Nasik Chandwad,
Palshi, Paithan there ar Wadas (havelis) full of excellent wood
carvings. Several temples in Konkan (Sindhudurg), in places like Achre,
Kunkeshwar, Sawantwadi, Aakeri have pillars and projected beams very
intricately carved by the local craftsmen.
Since our contemporary architecture is
totally changed and has no place for any carvings or others crafts, the
craft of wood carving gradually disappeared and with that vanished all
When we probe into the cultural history
of Maharashtra of the last three hundred years, we come across very
interesting accounts of our crafts and craftsmen which have been
meticulously recorded in gazetteers and reports of various collectorates
during the British rule. Our crafts were shown in several exhibitions in
the Western counties and they were highly praised. George C. M. Birdwood
published his book, 'The Arts of India' in 1880, in which he had given
plenty of information about, the then prevailing crafts in Maharashtra.
Several crafts mentioned by him are not being executed today. But some
major which have survived or have been revived and handed down to the
present generation of craftsmen were also going through a difficult
period due to lack of patronage, because under the British rule, the
lifestyle of patrons of arts and crafts was also undergoing a great
George Birdwood had paid high tributes
to the craftsmen of Maharashtra as he had given several examples of
their crafts in great detail. It is very interesting to know that the
Thakurs and Katharies of Matheran Hill were imaginative craftsmen who
could design ornaments. Birdwood records. "Mr. W.G.S.V. Fitz Gerald sent
to the Annual International Exhibition of 1872 a collection of grass
ornaments worn by the wild Thakurs and Katharies of Matheran and the
Western Ghats of Bombay, which had been made by Dr. T. Y. Smith, the
accomplished Superintendent of that hill station, and by the side of
these grass collars, necklaces, bracelets, anklets and girdles, were
exhibited also examples of the gold jewellery of thick gold wire,
twisted into girdles, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and collars worn
all over India and which are fashioned in gold exactly as the Matheran
ornaments are fashioned in grass."
Writing about the gold jewellery,
Birdwood has mentioned that, "the repousse gold jewellery of
Sawantwadi in mythological design is the best in Western India." He
has also stated that "the hemispherical golden ornament worn by women,
both at Bombay and Cairo, on top of their heads, of which ones sees in
collection such fine specimens from Sawantwadi and Vizianagram". No
goldsmiths in Sawantwadi make such ornaments today.
Some reference about wood carving in
Maharashtra has already been made. From the documentation of Birdwood we
come to know that the craftsmen from Sindhudurg (Ratnagiri) were experts
in designing and executing carved articles for various purposes. They
used Sinsapa (Shisam) or Bombay black wood and teak for various carving
purposes. According to Birdwood, "teak for the beams and pillars,
brackets, and door-posts and doors of native houses is carved in
Rajapur and Deogarh talukas of the
A good deal of inlay work was being
conducted in Bombay in the latter part of the 19th Century. This inlay
was made up of tin wire, sandal-wood, ebony, sappan (Brazil) wood,
ivory, white, and stained green, and stag horn. "Bombay inlaid work" was
familiar for ornamental furniture such as book-stands, work-boxes,
blotting- cases, ubiquitous glove, boxes and card cases, which go by the
name of "Bombay boxes".
Languages: Marathi , Famous
for: Film Industry and Tourism
Places of Interest in Maharashtra:
- Ajanta/Ellora- Frescoes and
Sculpture in Buddhist caves. Zenith of Indian art.
- Aurangabad-Historical city full of
Mughal monuments, Buddhist Cave Temples.
- Panhala-Temples, Shrines, Fort,
- Shirdi-Mosque, Pilgrim Centre,
Shrines, associated with Shree Saibaba
- Mahableshwar-Hill resort, Temples,
Picnic spot. Lake, Boating, fishing, Waterfalls..
- Major towns: Mumbai, Pune,
Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik, Kolhapur.
Cuisine of Maharashtra
It is well known that Maharashtrians
consider their food as 'Anna he poornabrahma' meaning they consider 'anna',
or food, equal to 'Brahma', or the creator of the universe. Food is God,
to be worshipped. Apart from this, the people of this state also believe
in offering their food first to the lord as a thanksgiving for all that
He has given. Especially, on festive occasions, some specific
mithais (sweets) are offered such as Ukadiche Modak (Ganesh
Chaturthi) and Satyanarayan Puja Sheera.
Even inside the state itself, one can
find distinguishing flavours and food styles that make eating an
interesting activity altogether. Maharashtrian cuisine is divided into
two, Konkani, and Varadi. Though quite different, both use a lot of
seafood and coconut.
Grated coconuts spice many kinds of
dishes, but coconut oil is not very widely used as a cooking medium.
cashew nuts are widely used in vegetables and peanut oil is
the main cooking medium. Another feature is the use of kokum, a deep
purple berry that has a pleasing sweet and sour taste. Kokum, most
commonly used in an appetizer-digestive called the sol kadhi, is served
Among seafood, the most popular fish is
bombil or the Bombay duck, which is normally served batter fried and
crisp. All non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes are eaten with boiled
rice or with bhakris, which are soft rotis made of rice flour. Special
rice puris called vada and amboli, which is a pancake made of fermented
rice, urad dal, and semolina, are also eaten as a part of the main meal.
In the vegetarian fare, the most
popular vegetables are brinjals. A popular style of cooking brinjals is
bharlivangi or baby brinjals stuffed with coconut. Maharashtrian fare is
incomplete without papads, which are eaten roasted or fried. The most
popular desserts of Maharashtra are the puran poli, which is roti
stuffed with a sweet mixture of jaggery and gram flour, and shreekhand,
which is sweetened curd flavored with cardamom and saffron.
Gudi Padwa, Holi, Haritalika, Ganesh
Chaturthi, Diwali, Makara Sankranti are some of the festivals native to
the state of Maharashtra. And some special foods during these festival
times are as follows:
Gudi Padwa: Soonth Panak,
Sprouted Chana Usal
Haritalika: Coconut Potal
Chaturthi: Karanji, Chakli
Shankarpali, Badam Halwa, Chakli, Karanji.
Sakranti: Shengdana Chikki
Food in Weeding
After the marriage ceremony is done
with, guests sit down to a traditional meal served on a banana leaf. The
meal is entirely vegetarian in nature and is created without any onion
or garlic. It consists of a selection of vegetables in coconut gravy,
green mango chutney, cucumber and peanut salad, rice, puris, golden dal
called `varan' and a sweet dish like jalebi, creamy basundi or
saffron-scented shrikhand. `Mattha' or coriander-flavoured, salted
buttermilk complements the meal which ends with a sweet `paan' called `vida'.
Festival of Maharashtra
Maharashtra is the canter of many
religious and cultural traditions. In Maharashtrian villages, life
revolves around fairs and festivals.
Each festival comes with its own colors
and Cuisine. People do up their houses and surroundings and there is an
air of celebration. The festival time is surely a must visit time in
While the most hugely visible festival maybe the Ganesh Chaturthi,
due to the large processions and the colourful images of Lord Ganesha,
there are many festivals celebrated with as much enthusiasm and spirit.
Each festival signals the passing of
old and beginning of new, and this in most cases is signifies by the
victory of good over evil. Each festival has a significance and its mark
is always felt in the daily lives of the people in India, specially in