Maharashtra is a picturesque state in Western India, with a 720 km coastline and dominates the heart of the Peninsula. The Western Ghats run parallel to the coast and have some scenic and inviting hill stations. The rest of the State stands on the high Deccan plateau, historically the main centre of the Maratha empire, which successfully defied the might of the Mughals under the fearless rule of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
The State is dotted by rugged forts that stand as mute witnesses down the ages to the march of warrior kings, foreign trading vessels and invaders from across the seas. The dry western margins of the plateau have sites from the earliest prehistoric settlements and Paleolithic remains in India. The first well known rulers of Maharashtra were the Satavahanas (230 BC to 225 AD), who were the creators of Maharashtra, and have left a plethora of literary, epigraphic, artistic and archaeological evidence. Thereafter there were a number of Hindu kingdoms, followed by the first Muslim Dynasty in 1307. Mughal power dominated much of the area in the 16th century until the Deccan became the epicenter of the Maratha Empire in the 17th century. Controlled by the Peshwas, the Marathas retained power until they upset the British in 1817. After Independence, western Maharashtra and Gujarat were joined to form Bombay State. The present state was formed in 1960 when the Marathi and Gujarati speaking areas were again separated.
Maharashtra today is a large and populous state, but has a marvelous diversity. Because of its geographical location, its tradition of trade and commerce and the tolerant attitude of its inhabitants, people of many different faiths have settled here. These communities have worshipped and lived in complete freedom and almost every religion of the world is represented in this State. Its booming capital Mumbai, makes it not only one of the most important states economically, but also a major gateway for overseas visitors.