Maharashtra Tourism
Maharashtra is one of the largest state in India both in terms of population and areas. Its booming capital, Bombay, makes it not only one of the most important states economically but also a major arrival points for overseas visitors. From bombay you can head off into India in number of directions but most travellers will either be heading south through Pune, with its famous ashram, to Goa or North-East to the amazing cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora. Most of the state stands on the high Deccan pleateau and histrocially this was the main centre for the Maratha empire which defied the Moghuls for so long and under the fearless rule of Shivaji carved out a large part of central India as their own domain.

BOMBAY - Political capital of Maharashtra, and commercial capital of India, Bombay is many cities in one. As the world's largest textiles market, a major industrial centre and the country busiest port handling over 40 percent of India maritime trade. Bombay has no recorded ancient past. From time to time there were only scatter settlements on the island till the Portuguese presented Bombay to the British as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, bride of Charles II, in 1661. Over the next 150 years, the seven original islands were gradually joined together. The city received a tremendous impetus with the commissioning of India's first railway in 1854.

BOMBAY's colonial legacy is the Gateway of India built to commemorate the royal visit of George V and Queen Mary in 1911. The Taj Mahal Hotel opposite the Gateway was built in 1903 by Jamshed ji N. Tata, founder of a prestigious industrial house, to counter a ban on Indian entering the then famous Watson's hostelry. The Prince of Wales Museum, Flora Fountain, St. Thomas Cathedral Crawford Market, Chor Bazaar ( thieves market) and famous Marine Drive, Malabar Hill, Hanging Gardens and Kamla Nehru Park are the other places of interest.

The rock-cut Hindu temples at Elephanta, an island 6 miles across the harbour provide an exciting glimpses of Indian sculpture daring from 600 AD. Huge panels depict episodes relating to Lord Shiva, the central one being the most imposing one - a five meter bust of the god, represents his three aspects as creator, preserver and destroyer. Motor-launch takes about an hour to reach the island where the caves are situated.

AURANGABAD - Named for the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb, it was once a major centre of power. Famous for Bibi ka Maqbara, tomb of the empress, a replica of the Taj; Panchakki - where an old mill and the tomb of an important Sufi saint are set. Daulatabad Fort just outside the city, built by Muhammad bin Tuglaq trying for an unsuccessful attempt to find alternative capital to Delhi.

Ajanta Caves were discovered in 1819 by a British hunting party. Their isolation had contributed to the fine state of preservation in which some of the paintings over 2000 years old remain to this day. Aurangabad is known more for the caves excavated and painted by Buddhist monks between 200 BC and AD 600. The 30 caves at Ajanta are the superb example of Indian's finest artistic treasures. They depict scenes from the life of the Buddha and Buddhist fables with skill and devotion. The best known caves(1,12,16,17, 19) contain magnificent depictions of the bodhisattvas, Avlokitesvara and Padmapani.

Caves 1, 4, 17, 19 and 26 also contain excellent sculptures. The superb statue of the Buddha and of a naga (snake) and the reclining Buddha are remarkable works of art. At Ellora, 34 cave temples were carved out of the hillside with hand tools. Only 12 of these 34 caves are Buddhist . The 17 Hindu caves in the centre are the mosts impressive. The massive Kailash Temple(cave 16)is nearly one a half times taller than the Parthenon and occupies almost twice its area. It is believed that it was constructed by excavating approx., 200,000 tones of rock and is possibly the world's largest monolithic structure. Representing Shiva's Himalayan home, the temple is exquisitely sculpted with scenes from Hindu mythklogy, each pulsing with drama, energy and passion. The depiction of the demon Ravana shaking Mount Kailash is a masterpiece.