Maharashtra is the third largest state of India, and it is spread across an area of 3, 08,000 sq km. The Konkan coastal plains, the Western Ghats and the Deccan Plateau are the three most dominating features of the geography of Maharashtra. Maharashtra is a mineral-rich state and Chandrapur, Nagpur, Bhandara and Gadchirali constitute the major mineral belt of the state. The state has a tropical monsoon climate. The recorded history of Maharashtra dates back to the third century BC, and over the millennia, it has witnessed the rise and fall of various dynasties, which in turn have contributed to its cultural diversity.
Maharashtra is the leading industrial state of India, and its capital Mumbai also happens to be the commercial capital of India. It also leads the nation in the generation of coal-based thermal electricity and nuclear electricity, accounting for 13 percent and 17 percent share of the national share respectively. The city of Mumbai has the head office of RBI, and also houses the National Stock Exchange; the highly flexible barometer of India's burgeoning economy. However, there is more to Maharashtra than industry, energy and finance, which though giving an impetus to the vibrant climate of business and economy of Maharashtra, cannot present a holistic picture of this state of enchanting diversities.
Mumbai also serves as the focal point of the Indian film industry, which is popularly known as Bollywood. Mumbai's film industry has the credit of producing the largest number of films in a year. Though a large majority its productions are escapist fares and are of little aesthetic merit, but they serve as the major entertainment route for the masses of India, and can sometimes be defined as yardsticks for contemporary popular culture of India.
However, the authentic culture of Maharashtra is very rich, complex, nuanced and varied, and cannot be confined within the simplistic ambit of the largely popular and moronic Bollywood fares. The cultural tapestry of Maharashtra is not only reflected in its collage of festivities and folk dances, but also through its rich literature and classical musical legacy. The costumes of Maharashtra are colourful and vibrant. Despite the rapid invasion of modern western wear, the traditional Marathi saree and dhoti still hold their sway, and whispers the triumph of elegant style over day-to-day fashions; which quickly become passé in this age of rapidly changing trends.
The cuisines of Maharashtra present an array of delectable fare for the connoisseur and the tourists to this exciting state. Even after you leave Maharashtra, the taste of its shrikhand, puran poli and delectable fish curries will linger in your mouth…and may induce you to explore the adventure of Maharashtra again. The folk dances of Maharashtra are also a unique cultural expression of this state. Without watching the animated presentations of Lavni or Tamasha, your Maharashtra sojourn would remain incomplete.
The handicrafts of Maharashtra also carry a rich tradition, which is highlighted by the exquisite Paithani sarees, Kolhapuri chappals and Bidri works. These creations have a timeless appeal about them, which transcends generations with ease. Language is another chief instrument of cultural expression, and Maharashtra's composite culture is reflected in its linguistic diversity. Though Marathi is the official language of Maharashtra, the state does speak in various languages. Konkani, Hindi and English are also spoken across Maharashtra.
The state has a thriving sports culture, and though cricket is a passion among many Maharashtrians, other sports too find their proper space and place. Besides cricket, the favourite sports of Maharashtra include hockey, chess, badminton and table tennis. The state has produced many eminent sportspersons among which Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar are international celebrities.
However, despite having a rich, pluralistic cultural tradition, the politics of Maharashtra is plagued by the currents of rabid fundamentalism, which is threatening the cosmopolitan character of our country. Presently a NCP-led government is heading the state, which has a power sharing arrangement with the Indian National Congress. Vilasrao Deshmukh from the INC is the current Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/15