Maharashtra, a state spanning west-central India, is best known for its fast-paced capital, Mumbai (formerly Bombay). This sprawling metropolis is the seat of the Bollywood film industry. It also has sites like the British Raj-era Gateway of India monument and cave temples at Elephanta Island. To the south is the rustic, beach-lined Konkan Coast. In the city of Pune, Aga Khan Palace is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.
The Ajanta Caves are carved cliffside temples dating from the 2nd-century B.C., with vibrant Buddhist murals. Ellora is a sprawling Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-hewn complex, with 34 monasteries and temples. Nearby, ruins of the circa 13th-century Devagiri-Daulatabad Fort stand atop a hill rising from the plains. The eastern region’s Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve shelters Bengal tigers, leopards and rare birds. Hill stations in the Western Ghats range include 800m-high Matheran, an automobile-free resort, and forested Mahabaleshwar, with scenic overlooks.
The local language of Maharashtra is Marathi with the major population speaking this language. Cities like Mumbai and Pune have now adopted the cosmopolitan culture, therefore, other languages like English and Hindi are also spoken here along with Marathi. There are few people who speak Gujarati and Urdu as well.
Maharashtra has a seasonal tropical climate, humid on the coast and semi-arid inland. Mar–May is hot and dry, before the torrential Jun–Oct monsoon rains. Dec–Feb typically has warm days and cool evenings. Peak travel periods include May–Jun and Dec–Jan. Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (Feb) focuses on visual arts, music, dance and literature. Ganesh Chaturthi (Aug/Sep, dates vary), has huge processions in celebration of the Hindu god Ganesh. The Pune Festival (Sep) offers shows with traditional dances.
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