Maharashtra is truly splendid state. This lively state has it all - enormous metropolises and countless waterfalls in mountains, urban decay and architectural splendour, remnants of millenia old Harappan towns and modern, very expensive architecture. Here are found several world class landmarks.
Highlights of Maharashtra are:
- Rock-cut temples. Maharashtra is the proud owner of some of the highest achievements of mankind - the rock-cut Ellora Caves and Ajanta Caves. Wealth of rock-cut architecture here is incredible and not all cave temples have been found yet.
- Forts. Warfare between ancient and medieval Indian states and talent of military engineers has led to construction of hundreds of forts. Here are found some of most impressive fortifications in the world, including the amazing island fortresses (e.g. Sidhudurg) and fortifications in the flat-topped mountain peaks (e.g. Raigad Fort, Lohagad Fort). Ancient forts are surrounded by legends and mysteries.
- Colonial architecture in Mumbai. In this giant metropolis are found several truly amazing examples of the late 19th - early 20th century architecture, uniting European and local trends - such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation building and many other buildings.
True number of waterfalls in the state is not known - thousands of streams wall from the tall cliffs in the rainy period while in dry period most waterfalls are dry. Some falls are very high - in excess of 500 m.
- Kune Falls - Pune district. 200 m tall waterfall with 3 drops. Tallest drop is some 100 m tall.
- Marleshwar Falls (Dhareshwar Falls) - Ratnagiri district. Great waterfall in deep gorge, in rainy periods in the gorge form numerous other falls.
- Pandavgad Falls (Pandavkada Falls) - Thane district. Beautiful, free falling waterfall, 107 m tall. Smaller fall - Nangrya - is located next to the main fall.
- Thoseghar Falls - Satara district. Group of beautiful waterfalls up to 500 m tall, in fantastic natural setting.
- Vajrai Falls - Satara district. Waterfall with three steps, total height - 560 m.
Other natural landmarks
- Kaas plateau - Satara district. This plateau has an area of 1,000 ha area and is covered with millions of wild flowers in August - September. More than 850 species of plants grow here, some are endemic - met only here.
- Konkan Kada - more than 900 m tall cliff. Beloved place for hiking as were can be observed vertical movements of clouds and other phenomena.
- Lonar crater - impact crater with 1.8 km diameter, up to 150 m deep, created approximately 570,000 years ago. Partly filled with saline - alcalic lake - Lonar Lake. In the lake live rare and unusual microorganisms.
- Ratangad Nedhe - cliff - peak at the summit, with a "needle hole" - natural hole through it. Very old fortress is built here - with the oldest structures up to 2,000 years old.
Man made landmarks
- Junapani and Mahurjhari stone circles - Nagpur district. Group of some 300 megalithic stone circles. Burials in the circles are rich with iron items and sherds of ornamented pottery.
- Khapa stone circles and Gangapur stone circles - Nagpur district. Group of Iron Age stone circles. Takalghat mound nearby is the possible settlement site. In total here are 26 stone circles. Largest has a diameter of 50 m, smallest - 12 m. In the circles in the 6th - 7th century BC have been buried people with their horses.
- Ankai-Tankai hill forts - Nasik district. Impressive medieval hill forts on the plateaus of two table-top mountains. Remnants of fortifications, palace, temples, water tanks.
- Devagiri Fort - Aurangabad district. One of the best fortified forts - conical, 200 m tall hill. Lower slopes of the hill have been cut away, leaving 50 m tall, nearly vertical walls around the whole hill. Contains rock - cut Buddhist cave temples.
- Lohagad Fort - amazing hill fortress, with a part of it built on narrow cliff summit. The impressive access to the fortress is called Vinchukata. Developed since the Middle Ages.
- Mangi-Tungi - Nasik district. Very impressive cliffs with two peaks, with numerous historical and art values. Contain forts and numerous Jain temples.
- Murud-Janjira - Raigad district. Very impressive marine fort in an island with 19 intact bastions. originally built in the 15th century, fortified afterwards.
- Raigad Fort - Raigad district. Impressive hill fortress with 1,737 steps leading up towards it. Constructed in 1030, later extended with magnificent structures.
- Sindhudurg - Sindhudurg district. Amazing fortress which is built along a complex perimeter of an island in Arabian Sea. Fort is built in the 17th century, with 42 bastions. Interesting Neolithic petroglyphs.
- Suvarnadurg - fortress along the coast of an island in Arabian Sea. There is another fortress in the coast and both ports in the past were united with submarine tunnel, approximately 600 m long. Constructed in the 15th - 17th century AD.
Rock-cut temples and cave temples
- Ajanta Caves - exceptional monument of archaeology and art - group of caves hewn in rock, for most part in the 2nd century BC. Caves contain elaborate carvings and frescoes, often are reinforced by massive stone columns left from original rock.
- Bahrot Caves - the only Zoroastrian cave temple in India, established in 1351 AD, when Parsi were hiding here from Muslim invasion. Holy fire still is burning here.
- Bedse Caves - Pune district. Two legendary Buddhist rock-cut cave temples. One cave is chaitya - prayer hall, another - vihara - monastery, created sometimes around 60 BC.
- Elephanta Caves - located on island in Mumbai Harbour. Group of five Hindu and two Buddhist rock cut caves. Caves have been made mainly in the 5th - 8th centuries AD. Caves contain ornate sculptural groups.
- Ellora Caves - one of the most impressive rock-cut architectural monuments in the world, built between 550 - 1000 AD. 34 caves contain Buddhist, Hindu and Jain sanctuaries. Includes Kailasanatha (Kailash Temple) - possibly the most splendid rock-cut cave in world.
- Karla Caves and Bhaja Caves - roup of impressive, ornate rock-hewn caves, built in the 2nd century BC - 3rd century AD.
- Kanheri Caves - group of 109 Buddhist rock cut cave temples in the outskirts of Mumbai, developed in the 1st century BC - 9th century AD.
- Kedareshwar Cave - large cave with Hindu temple in it. In flooded hall from the water rises Shivlinga, which once was surrounded by four pillars. Now only one remains and, according to legends, when the fourth will break, world will come to an end.
- Marleshwar Cave Shiva Temple (Trambakeshwar) - Ratnagiri district. Cave temple with unusual tradition - devotees handle venomous snakes here. Earlier here were numerous snakes, now due to flow of tourists snakes are shy. According to local stories, snakes are friendly and no one has suffered.
- Panhale Kaji (Panhale Kazi) - Ratnagiri district. 28 - 29 Buddhist and Hindu rock-cut cave temples, created in the 3rd - 14th century AD, exquisite art values.
- Pateshwar cave temples - Satara district. Around Pateshwar are located at least 8 ancient cave temples and numerous stone carvings, including more than 1000 Shivalings.
Other temples and shrines
- Haji Ali Dargah - Mumbai. Legendary Islamic mosque and tomb (dargah). This intricate, gorgeous structure was built in 1431. Located on small island.
- Global Vipassana Pagoda - Mumbai. 96.12 m tall pagoda with the largest stone dome in the world. Internal diameter of the dome is 85.15 m and has seats for 8,000 people. Constructed in 2008.
- Jejuri Khandoba temple - Jejuri, Pune district. Beautiful Hindu temple.
- Aga Khan Palace - Pune. Enormous, ornate palace, built in 1892. Now this is public building, mainly devoted to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi.
- Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation building - Mumbai. Enormous, very ornate administrative building, constructed in the late 19th century in Indo-Saracenic style. Houses BMC - organization responsible about the civic infrastructure in Mumbai.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus) - Mumbai. One of most iconic railway terminal buildings in Asia, built in 1897.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum) - Mumbai. Main museum in this part of India with very rich collections telling about the history and nature of India. Located in gorgeous Indo-Saracenic building, constructed in 1915.
- Gateway of India - Mumbai. Monument - arch, built in 1911 - 1924. Ark is located in the landing place of Mumbai and was used to commemorate the arrival of high guests. Structure unites the architecture of Roman triumphal arches and traditional architecture of Gujarat.
- Rajabai clock tower - Mumbai. Ornate, 85 m tall clock tower in Neo-Gothic style, built in 1878. Beautiful stained glass.
- Taj Mahal Hotel - Mumbai. Enormous building of historic prestigious hotel, built in 1903.
Other monuments of architecture
- Antilia - Mumbai. World tallest and most expensive personal house, 27 floors high skyscraper with unusual architecture, built in 2010.
- Bandra - Worli Sea Link - Mumbai. Large cable-stayed bridge across a bay of Arabian Sea, part of the ambitious Western Freeway system. 5.6 km long, with 128 m tall pylons.
- Bibi Ka Maqbara - Aurangabad. Gorgeous burial monument, constructed in the late 17th century as a tribute to Rabia Durrani, wife of Mughal Emperor. Intended as a rival to Taj Mahal, but built on a smaller scale.
List of described attractions
|Ajanta Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
|Ankai-Tankai Caves||Jain shrines, Hindu shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Ankai-Tankai hill forts||Fortifications, Ancient castles and palaces, Rock-cut architecture|
|Aurangabad Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Bedse Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Bhaja Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Elephanta Caves||Hindu shrines, Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Ellora Caves, Kailasanatha Temple||Buddhist shrines, Hindu shrines, Jain shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Gorakhgad Caves||Hindu shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Gorakhgad hill fort||Fortifications|
|Irshalgad "needle hole"||Natural arches|
|Kanheri Caves||Buddhist shrines, Churches, Rock-cut architecture|
|Karla Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Karsamble Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
|Kuda Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
|Lenyadri Caves, Junnar||Buddhist shrines, Hindu shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
|Lonad Caves||Buddhist shrines, Hindu shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Lonar crater||Impact craters, Ecosystems|
|Mahakali or Kondivita Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Manmod Caves, Junnar||Buddhist shrines, Jain shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
|Pandav Leni Caves||Jain shrines, Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Panhale Kaji||Buddhist shrines, Hindu shrines, Rock-cut architecture|
|Pitalkhora Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
|Shivneri Caves, Junnar||Buddhist shrines, Hindu shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
|Thanale Caves||Buddhist shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
|Tulja Lena, Junnar||Buddhist shrines, Hindu shrines, Rock-cut architecture, Petroglyphs and rock art|
Map of Maharashtra
Featured: Elephanta Caves
The centre of one of the largest cities in the world – Mumbai – is just 10 kilometres away from the small, forested Elephanta Island. But forests and cliffs of Elephanta Island hide magnificent secrets – Elephanta Caves, giant chambers hewn in solid cliff and adorned with some of the most magnificent stone carvings known to be made by ancient man.
Discerning on-site guide to the sights and monuments of Mumbai and its state, with additional information on Indian religions, history and culture. This is a chapter from Blue Guide India: the best guide for the independent traveller to India's art, architecture and heritage. Superb maps, detailed practical information. Written by the BBC's Sam Miller.
If you are fortunate enough to be travelling in India, and specially in the regions that he has already covered, then look no further. This is the one book you really need.