Maharashtra On a BudgetAs the third largest state in India geographically, Maharashtra has its fair share of temples, ruins, landmarks , historic sites, natural scenery, and lookout points, amongst much more - all rich with the culture and heritage of India.
SightsThe Ajanta & Ellora caves, located in the city of Aurangabad, are especially popular world heritage sites. With a history that dates back to the 2nd century BCE, Ajanta is a site where monasteries (or viharas) were carved out of caves. This complex, with stunning cave paintings, represents some of the best of early Buddhist art. Additionally, the carvings in the Ellora caves track the changing fortunes of three major religions Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism between the 5th and the 10th centuries CE.
Another significant sight is Ashtavinayak - a collection of eight temples, mostly located in western Maharashtra. The city of Pune is a great home base for visiting the temples, as it is located at the approximate center, though it is also possible to travel to these pilgrimage temples from Mumbai, Nasik, and other cities in Maharashtra.
Other attractions include the Gateway of India monument in Mumbai, the meteor crater of Lonar, the Talasari heritage village, some national parks, beach resorts, a number of museums, and hill stations (or lookout points) which include Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Chikhaldara, Bhandardara, Amboli, and Raigad.
RegionsThe state of Maharashtra stretches from India's west coast to its interior, with an industrialized region just as thriving as its agricultural parts. Mumbai is the capital of the state, as well as the commercial capital of India. Formerly called Bombay, Mumbai is best known as 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 in addition to attractions like colonial buildings, museums, beaches, parks, gardens, zoos, and bustling markets. Pune is Maharashtra's second largest city and cultural capital. One of the most visited sites here is Aga Khan Palace, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Pune is also home to a number of museums, temples, beaches, and scenic overlooks. Other major cities include the more than 500-year-old Ahmednagar, the educational hub of Amravati, Aurangabad - the city of 52 doors known for its Mughal monuments, Kolhapur - home of Goddess Ambabai, the holy Sikh city of Nanded, Nagpur at India's geographic center, the pilgrimage city of Nashik, and the textile capital Ichalkaranji.
ActivitiesIn addition to visiting the sights all mentioned above, amongst many other hidden gems, some other activities in the state of Maharashtra include things like shopping amidst bustling markets, sampling local flavors, and indulging in the rich culture, music, and art of India.
Outdoor activities like river rafting, mountain biking, and kayaking are also available near the village of Kolad. Located about 117 kilometers from Mumbai (along National Highway no 17), Kolad sits on the banks of the River Kundalika.
Trekking is also common in the Sahyadri range of mountains, located in the western parts of Maharashtra, running North to South.
Food and DiningMaharashtrian cuisine largely consists of staples which include wheat, rice, jowar, bajri, vegetables, lentils, and fruit. Jowar and bajri are both grass species cultivated for their grain. Chicken and goat are the most popular meats for non-vegetarian dishes in Maharashtra. Meals are prepared in a variety of ways from curry sauces based in coconut milk to red gravies or white gravies, all usually served with rice. On the coast of the state, seafood is also common with dishes consisting of prawn, crab, bombay duck, pomfret, bangda and surmai (kingfish). Seafood is often served in curries, pan-fried dishes, and pilaf. Pickles and condiments often accompany main dishes. Chutneys, for example, are especially popular with preserves which include raw mango chutney, mint, tamarind chutney, cilantro, panchamrit, and mirachicha thecha, as well as dry varieties based on oil seeds such as flax seed, peanut, sesame, coconut, and karale. Herbs and spices used in much of the cooking include items like garlic, onion, coriander leaves, ginger, curry leaves, green chilli pepper, turmeric, mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, dried bay leaves, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, cardamon, and nutmeg. Local fare can be found throughout the state with great options for sampling in the major cities, like Mumbai and Pune. Street food and fast food snacks are especially popular here.
TransportationEach major city in Maharastra is well-connected by rail, air and road.
By plane, there are five airports. These include Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, and Aurangabad - among which Mumbai is the busiest airport in India.
By train, India Railways connects much of Maharastra with other parts of India. Mumbai is the headquarters of the Central and Western railways, while Nagpur (which is close to the geographical center of India) has rail connections with all of the metro cities of India.