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Places to visit in Maharashtra

Caves

The Elephanta Caves

9 nautical miles across the sea from the Gateway of India lay Elephanta, also known as 'Gharapuri'. Visit this green island for the wonders of the 7 th century, the painstakingly hewn rock-cut cave temple, dedicated to Shiva. The Maheshamurti panel in which Shiva is shown as a creator, protector and destroyer, is a sight that should be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime. Regular excursions to Elephanta start every day from the Gateway of India.

Ajanta

Ajanta and Ellora are the pride of Maharashtra. The rock-cut caves of both these sites are world famous and illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. Ajanta dates from 100 B.C. while Ellora is younger by some 600 years. The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms. From Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe-formed rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, `each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms. Al these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Here, for the Buddhist monks, the artisans excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings.

Ellora

The cave temples and monasteries at Ellora, excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment, are 26 km north of Aurangabad. Extending in a linear arrangement, the 34 caves contain Buddhist Chaityas or halls of worship, and Viharas, or monasteries, Hindu and Jai temples.

Pitalkhora

Not as well known as Ajanta yet also interest are the rock-cut caves of Pitalkhora in the Satamala range of the Sahyadri hills. There are thirteen caves, set high up on the hill, overlooking picturesque ravines. Many of the caves contain carvings and paintings that date from the 1st century B.C. to the 5the century A.D. They were discovered after Ajanta and are first mentioned in a publication of 1853 where Caves 3 and 4 are described.

Forts

Devagiri Daulatabad Fort

Devagiri (Daultabad of the later period), 11kms north-west of Aurangabad, is a famous for its formidable hill fort.  The fort is situated on an isolated cone-shaped hill rising abruptly from the plain to the height of about 190 metres.  The fortification constitutes of three concentric lines of defensive walls with large number of bastions.  The noteworthy features of the fort are the moat, the scarp and the sub-terranean passage, all hewn of solid rock.  The upper outlet of the passage was filled with an iron grating, on which a large fire could be used to prevent the progress of the enemy.  The Chand Minar, the Chini Mahal and the Baradari are the important structures within the fort.

Murud-Janjira Fort

Situated on a rock of oval shape near the port town of Murud, 165kms south of Mumbai, Janjira is one of the strongest marine forts of India (the word ‘Janjira’ is a corruption of the Arabic word Jazira for island).  The forts is approached by sailboats from Rajapuri jetty.  The main gate of the fort faces Rajapuri on the shore and can be seen only when one is quite close to it.  It has a small postern gate towards the open sea for escape.  The fort has 19 rounded bastions, still intact. There are many canons of native and European make rusting on the bastions.  Now in ruins, the fort in its heyday had all necessary facilities, e.g., palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, a big fresh water tank, etc.  On the outer wall flanking the main gate, there is a sculpture depicting a tiger-like beast clasping elephants in its claws.  This sculpture, its meaning difficult to interpret, appears on many fort-gates of Maharashtra.

Raigarh Fort

Raigarh was Shivaji’s capital, the hill fort where he was crowned (1674 AD) and where he died (1680 AD).  Strategically situated on an irregular wedge-shaped mass of rock, detached from the main body of Sahyadri Mountains by a deep valley and inaccessible from three sides, Raigarh is 210kms south of Mumbai and 27kms north of Mahad.  The fort’s 5.12sq.kms hill-top plateau has three main points Hirakani in the west, Takamak in the north and Bhavani in the east.  There is only one pathway to Raigarh, probably in keeping with Shiviaji’s strategy “the fort’s approach should be easy for friends and impossible for foes”.  A motorable road leads to Chit Darwaja, about 2kms from Pachad, the village at the base, where lies the Samadhi of Jijabai, Shivaji’s mother.  A long climb from Pachad takes one to the Mahadarwaza, flanked by two massive bastions and a high curtain wall.

Sindhudurg Fort

Sindhudurg fort stands on a rocky island, known as Kurte, barely a km, from the Malavan is 510kms south of Mumbai and 130kms north of Goa.  Sindhudurg was built in 1664-67 AD by shivaji when all his attempts to take the island fort of Janjira proved futile.  The construction was done under the supervision of Hiroji Indulkar, an able architect.  Shivaji had invited 100 Portuguese experts from Goa for the construction of the fort.  It is also recorded that 3000 workers were employed round the clock for three years to build Sindhudurg.  It was the body from the Sack of Surat that went into the building of Sindhudurg.

Panhala Fort

Panhala or Panhalgarh, about 19kms north-west of Kolhapur, is possibly the largest and most important fort of the Deccan.  Roughly triangular in shape, the hill fort stands at a height of about 850 metres and has a circumference of approximately 7.25kms.  Half of its length is protected by a natural scarp reinforced by a parapet wall and the remaining half is surrounded by a strong stone wall strengthened with bastions.  The fort had three magnificent double walled gates, out of which two have survived.  The Teen Darwaza  to the west is an imposing and powerful structure.  There are a number of ruined monuments in the fort.  The most impressive among them are the three huge granaries.  The largest among them, the Ganga Kothi, cover nearly 950 sq m space and 10.7 metres high.  In the north-east corner there is a double story building, called Sajja Kothi, where Shivaji had imprisoned his errant son, Sambhaji.

Vijayadurg Fort

Vijaydurg, situated 48kms south of Ratnagiri, is one of the strongest marine forts on the west coast of India.  It is also an excellent harbour.  Built on a hill on the mouth of Vaghotan River, the fort was protected on three sides by the sea and on the east side by ditch, now filled up.  After crossing the front gate on the east, the path, skirting round the massive middle wall, enters the hidden inner gateway.  The strong triple line of fortifications had 27 bastions, some of them two-storeyed. Within the citadel there were many buildings and storehouses, now all in ruins except a structure called Rest House.  For the supply of water there were several wells and large tanks.

Beaches

Dahanu Bordi

Dahanu, a quiet seaside town with a sprawling, uncluttered beach, is situated in Thane District. The Dahanu-Bordi stretch is 17 kms. This once-barren land thrived under Irani settlers, an earthy people. Dahanu is lined with fruit orchards and is famous for its chickoo fruit. Accessible from Dahanu is Udwada- an important place of worship for the Zoroastrians with a large, beautiful temple that houses their sacred fire. An amazing fact but true, this fire has been kept alive for almost a thousand years.

Ganapatipule

Ganapatipule is one of the most spectacular beaches along the Konkan Coast - an idyllic getaway that attracts peace-seekers, beach lovers, and pilgrims alike.

The temple of Swayambhu (self-originated) Ganesh is much frequented by thousands every year.  The God is considered to be the Paschim Dwardevta (Western Sentinel God of India), and those who visit Ganapatipule, make it a point to pay their respects to this great deity.

Aside from its clean beach and clear waters, Ganapatipule is rich in flora, including mangroves and coconut palms.  Here, you can leave the hectic world behind as you laze around on golden sands or explore the many trails that lead from the beach.

Mandwa and Kihim

You will find these two beach fronts 12 miles north of Alibag on the north coast and easily accessible from Mumbai. Mandwa is a beautiful, untrodden beach. On a clear day one can enjoy a long, breathtaking view across the bay, up to the Gateway of India. Mandwa village too, has a charm of its own -with its beautiful groves of coconut palms.

You can plan an unusual tent holiday nearby at Kihim. Unspoilt and isolated, this beautiful place has a soothing effect on all city dwellers. For the nature lover, Kihim has a lot to offer: woods brimming with wild flowers and rare butterflies and birds.

Marve Manori and Gorai

North of Mumbai and away from its bustling crowds and pollution, are these 3 gems that have become popular havens for Mumbai's beleaguered fun lovers. Marve, the closest and the quietest is a lovely little fishing village. There are some beautiful bungalows and up-scale homes belonging to the city's wealthy used mainly as weekend getaways. Low hills along the beach offer you extraordinary views of sunrise and sunset. Gorai and Manori, a little further away, are more crowded with revellers and are famous for all night beach parties.

Shriwardhan Harihareshwar

Gentle winds, soft sands and inviting waters make Shriwardhan Bay irresistible to beach lovers. And if one relishes sea-food, there is no dearth of delicacies to sample here. Adventurers can even take a small boat to the north side of the bay and explore a land where the Peshwas or prime ministers of the Maratha kingdom, originally resided. The Peshwa Smarak is of interest to most people who visit Shriwardhan.The town of Harihareshwar is known for its tranquil and picturesque beach and is also famous for the temple of Harihareshwar.

Tarkarli

Situated 6 kms south of Malvan and 546 kms away from Mumbai on the coast of Maharashtra is Tarkarli. The mojar attraction here is the long and narrow stretch of beach, with its pristine water. On a clear day, you can see the sea bed through a depth of 20 ft.

Then, of course there are the forts, Singhudurg, one of Maharashtra's more popular and importance sea forts, built in the 17 th century and the famous Padmagarh fort.

While in Tarkarli, make sure to visit the restaurant for the delectable cuisine and experience something unusual-staying in MTDC's inviting Konkani Huts.

Velneshwar

North of the Shastri River lies the idyllic village of Velneshwar. The quiet, coconut-fringed beach offers the visitor the ideal opportunity for swimming or just relaxing . There is an old Shiva temple in the environs which is often frequented by pilgrims. Velneshwar is the focus of attention once a year in March, when the Maha Shivratri Fair is held in honour of the god Shankar or Shiva.

Vengurla Malvan

With its long stretch of white sands, and hills covered with cashew, coconut, jackfruit and mango groves lies the pristine and beautiful town of Vengurla. It has two well-known temples: the Shri Devi Sateri temple and the Rameshwar Mandir.

Vengurla is often mentioned in history books as a trade settlement. Twice burned to the ground, it was the target of repetitive attacks and plunders between 1664 and 1812. To the west-north-west lie the Vengurla Rocks, also called Burnt Islands.

On what was once an inner island, and is now part of the mainland, lies the old town of Malvan, almost hidden by palms. The rocky terrain of Malvan holds 2 forts: Sindhudurg and Padmagad. It is said that there was an underground route joining them. Formerly a trading zone, Malvan is toady known for its salt pans, Chinese clay pottery and the special Malvani cuisine which is quite distinct from Konkan food.

Hill Stations

Mahabaleshwar

Soaring peaks, breathtaking valleys.  Lush flora.  Cool, crisp mountain air.  This is Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra’s most popular hill station, and once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj. A tour of Mahabaleshwar town and the surrounding countryside would take at least a couple of days as there is much to see and experience.

Mahabaleshwar has proper, motorable roads to every point worth visiting.Mahabaleshwar is known for its numerous sightseeing points, each providing a unique perspective of the majestic hill range. En route to Babington Point is Dhom dam, which is a good place

Matheran Hill Station

Sprawling languidly at an altitude of 800 metres is Matheran - an undulating hilltop cloaked in green.

The cliffs of Matheran with incredibly steep drops to the plains below offer stunning viewing points. These panoramic vistas, by day and night, leave you feeling light headed. Standing at Hart Point in pitch darkness you get a breathtaking glimpse of the lights of busy Bombay. Matheran abounds in such quixotically named points. popular sites for picnics and fireside revelry.

The old world charm of the British and Parsi home capitavtes you all the way up to the Charlotte Lake. On each trip through the main bazaar you purchase some of its attractions - care and leather articles, hats, chappals and the irresistible chikki loved by young and old alike.

Temperatures vary from 16° C in winter to 32° C in summer with an annual rainfall of 524 cms.

Bhandardara Hill Station

Nestled among the Sahyadri Hills, Bhandardara has all the makings of a beautiful holiday resort.  Sky-high mountains, roaring waterfalls and lush greenery throughout the year, attract tourists from all over.

To reach Bhandardara, detrain at Igatpuri.  If you are traveling by road from Mumbai, you need to turn right just a few kilometers after Igatpuri and enter Ghoti.  This small town leads to a long narrow road, which cuts across the lofty mountains and ascends to the marvelous retreat.  Although it is just about an hour’s journey, the sights are spectacular.  Fluorescent green paddy fields contrast with bright blue skies above and the murky brown streams that crisscross the whole land.  When it rains, and clouds descend from the sky to blanket the earth, the sight is truly breathtaking!

Chikhaldara Hill Station

The sole hill resort in the Vidarbha region, it is situated at an altitude of 1118 m and has the added dimension of being the only coffee-growing area in Maharashtra. It abounds in wildlife -- panthers, sloth bears, sambar, wild boar, and even the rarely seen wild dogs. Close by is the famous Melghat Tiger Project which has 82 tigers. The scenic beauty of Chikhaldara can be enjoyed from Hurricane Point, Prospect Point, and Devi Point. Other interesting excursions include Gavilgad and Narnala Fort, the Pandit Nehru Botanical Gardens, the Tribal Museum and the Semadoh Lake.

Malshej Ghat Hill Station

Malshej Ghat holds special value for hikers, trekkers and adventure lovers. The nature here is at its best. No wonder then that the most exotic migratory flamingoes choose it as their monsoon abode. Close at hand is Shivneri Fort (approx 40 kms.)., birthplace of the legendary Shivaji. The unusual hill has Buddhist Caves dating to the 3 rd century and is surmounted by an important historic fort.

Panchgani Hill Station

Panchgani derives its names from the five or 'panch' hills around it. At an altitude of 1334 m it is just 38 m below Mahabaleshwar. These 38 m translate themselves into a breathtaking 18 km approach offering heart-stopping views of the Krishna River on the one side and the coastal plains on the other. Panchagni is the quintessential residential hill station with an old world charm. This can be seen in the architecture of the British buildings, the Parsi houses and the boarding houses that have been around for a century or more. For glimpses of a vanished era, a special visit can be arranged to some of the old British and Parsi homes.

Jawhar Hill Station

Not for nothing is it named the 'Mahabaleshwar of Thane district,. In beauty and climate it is no less. And there's so much to see the majestic Dadara Kopra Falls, Jai Vilas, the palace of the tribal kings, the Hanuman and Sunset Points and the enthralling Shirpamal, where Shivaji chose to camp on way to Surat.

Jawahar also offers you the unique opportunity to expose and enlighten yourself with the tribal way of life especially with the Warli paintings.

Amboli Hill Stations

Snuggling coyly, in the southern ranges of the Sahyadri hills, Amboli at an altitude of 690 m is the last mountain resort before the coastal highlands settle, with a sigh, to form flat beaches. Visit numerous view points for a pleasant view of the lush hills and fertile plain. Seaview Point offers a rare view of the land all the way to the golden Konkan coast. You can spend hours angling for a fish at Hiranya Keshi or picnic at Nagatta Falls, Mahadev Gad and Narayan Gad.

Panhala Hill Stations

The history of Panhala is also the history of Marathas. There are innumerable places of interest , each with its share of haunting anecdotes. Sajja Kothi, where Sambhaji was imprisoned. Ambabai Temple, where Shivaji used to seek blessings before venturing on expeditions. Pavankhind, where Baji Prabhu laid down his life to cover Shivaji's escape. In addition to history, Panhala at an altitude of 977 m offers some inspiring scenery and a soothing climate.

Khandala Lonavala Karla Hill Station

The twin hill resorts of Khandala and Lonavala have a special attraction for the Mumbai crowd seeking a convenient weekend holiday in the hills.

A mere 3 hours by road from Mumbai, beautifully landscaped Lonavala and Khandala are famous for their seemingly innumerable varieties of chikki.  But they also offer many sites worth visiting.  Trekking is a good way to get around, but having a vehicle (even a bicycle) is still better, as some points of interest are quite some distance from the main towns.

Toranamal Hill Station

Tucked away in the Satpuda Mountains at an altitude of 1461 m., Toranmal is one of the most peaceful places on earth. And when you are tired of plain lazing, you could visit the beautiful Yashwant Lake, Seetha khali or any of the charming temples of olden days.

Vajrai Waterfall

Bhambavli Vajrai Waterfall is the tallest waterfall of India. The height of this waterfall is 1840 feet and it falls from a straight cliff. The water for waterfall comes from the river Urmodi. It is origin of river Urmodi.

The waterfall is situated in district of Satara in western Maharashtra. It is about 5 km away from Kas Flower Valley. The lush green mountains and the flowers in nearby flower valley please your senses. The pleasant weather actually relaxes you like anything. But the star attraction of this place is tranquility. The place is simply deserted and there are no hawkers, unwanted guides and cameramen to disturb you. The waterfall is perennial in nature and hence you will hardly find any day when it's gone dry (flows 12 months in a year).

Source: Portal Content team



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