The etymology of the word "Maharashtra" is uncertain. The various theories include:
- Maha (Sanskrit for "great") + rashtra, derived from the name of a clan known as rashtrika (rāṣṭrika) mentioned in some of Ashoka's inscriptions. Rashtrika alludes to a people of the Deccan who were progenitors of the Marathi-speaking people; that the later "Maharashtri Prakrit" is associated with these people
- Maha ("great") + rashtra, derived from ratta, supposedly a corruption of Rashtrakuta (the name of a dynasty that held sway over the Deccan from the 8th to 10th centuries).
- Maha ("great") and rāṣhṭra ("nation", "dominion")
- Maha ("great") + Rathi or Ratha (charioteer)
In the early 14th century the Yadava dynasty, which ruled most of present-day Maharashtra, was overthrown by the Delhi Sultanate ruler Ala-ud-din Khalji. Later, Muhammad bin Tughluq conquered parts of the Deccan, and temporarily shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in Maharashtra. After the collapse of the Tughlaqs in 1347, the local Bahmani Sultanate of Gulbarga took over, governing the region for the next 150 years. After the breakup of the Bahamani sultanate, in 1518, Maharashtra split into and was ruled by five Deccan Sultanates: namely Nizamshah of Ahmednagar, Adilshah of Bijapur, Qutubshah of Golkonda, Bidarshah of Bidar and Imadshah of Berar. These kingdoms often fought amongst each other. United, they decisively defeated the Vijayanagara Empire of the south in 1565. Also present area of Mumbai was ruled by Sultanate of Gujarat before capturing by Portugal in 1535 and Faruqi dynasty ruled Khandesh region between 1382 and 1601 before Mughal annexation. Malik Ambar was the regent of the Nizamshahi dynasty of Ahmednagar from 1607 to 1626. During this period he increased the strength and power of Murtaza Nizam Shah and raised a large army. Malik Ambar is said to be the one of proponent of guerilla warfare in the Deccan region. Malik Ambar assisted Shah Jahan wrestle power in Delhi from his stepmother, Nur Jahan, who had ambitions of seating her son-in-law on the throne.
The British governed the region as part of the Bombay Presidency, which spanned an area from Karachi in Pakistan to northern Deccan. A number of the Maratha states persisted as princely states, retaining autonomy in return for acknowledging British suzerainty. The largest princely states in the territory of present-day Maharashtra were Nagpur, Satara and Kolhapur; Satara was annexed to Bombay Presidency in 1848, and Nagpur was annexed in 1853 to become Nagpur Province, later part of the Central Provinces. Berar, which had been part of the Nizam of Hyderabad's kingdom, was occupied by the British in 1853 and annexed to the Central Provinces in 1903. However, a large part of present-day Maharashtra, called Marathwada, remained part of the Nizam's Hyderabad State throughout the British period. The British rule was marked by social reforms and an improvement in infrastructure as well as revolts due to their discriminatory policies. At the beginning of the 20th century, the struggle for independence took shape led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the moderates like Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Pherozeshah Mehta and Dadabhai Naoroji. In 1942, the Quit India Movement was called by Gandhi which was marked by a non-violent civil disobedience movement and strikes in the region. The ultimatum to the British to "Quit India" was given in Mumbai, and culminated in the transfer of power and the independence of India in 1947. BG Kher was the first Chief Minister of the tri-lingual Bombay Presidency.
After India's independence in 1947, the princely states were integrated into the Union of India. In the case of Hyderabad this was done in 1948 using military force, in Operation Polo.
After India's independence, the Deccan States, including Kolhapur were integrated into Bombay State, which was created from the former Bombay Presidency in 1950. In 1956, the States Reorganisation Act reorganized the Indian states along linguistic lines, and Bombay Presidency State was enlarged by the addition of the predominantly Marathi-speaking regions of Marathwada (Aurangabad Division) from erstwhile Hyderabad state and Vidarbha region from the Central Provinces and Berar. Also, southernmost part of Bombay State was ceded to Mysore one. From 1954-1955 the people of Maharashtra strongly protested against the injustice and Samayukta Maharashtra Samiti was formed. Shri S.M. Joshi, Shri S.A. Dange, Shri P.K. Atre and other leaders fought for a separate state of Maharashtra with Mumbai as its capital. On 1 May 1960, following mass protests and sacrifice of 105 human lives the separate Marathi-speaking state was formed by dividing earlier Bombay State into new states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The demand of the local people of merging some of the Marathi speaking areas of Karnataka namely Belgaum, Karwar and Nipani is still pending.
The Western Ghats better known as Sahyadri, are a hilly range running parallel to the coast, at an average elevation of 1,200 metres (4,000 ft). Kalsubai, a peak in the Sahyadris, near Nashik City is the highest elevated point in Maharashtra. To the west of these hills lie the Konkan coastal plains, 50–80 kilometres in width. To the east of the Ghats lies the flat Deccan Plateau. The Western Ghats form one of the three watersheds of India, from which many South Indian rivers originate, notable among them being Godavari River, and Krishna, which flow eastward into the Bay of Bengal, forming one of the greatest river basins in India.
Several wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and Project Tiger reserves have been created in Maharashtra, with the aim of conserving the rich bio-diversity of the region. As of May 2004, India has 92 national parks, of which six are located in Maharashtra. A large percentage of Maharashtra's forests and wildlife lie in the Zadipranta (Forest rich region) of far eastern Maharashtra OR eastern Vidarbha.
- Navegaon National Park, located near Gonda in the eastern region of Vidarbha is home to birds, deer, bears and leopards.
- Nagzira wildlife sanctuary lies in Tirora Range of Bhandara Forest Division, in Gondia district of Vidarbha region. The sanctuary consists of a range of hills with small lakes within its boundary. These lakes guarantee a source of water to wildlife throughout the year, and heighten the beauty of the landscape.
- Tadoba Andhari Tiger Project, a prominent tiger reserve near Chandrapur in Vidarbha. It is 40 km away from Chandrapur.
- Pench National Park, in Nagpur district, extends into Madhya Pradesh as well. It has now been upgraded into a Tiger project.
- Chandoli National Park, located in Sangli district has a variety of flora and fauna. The Prachitgad Fort and Chandoli dam and scenic water falls can be found around the park.
- Gugamal National Park, also known as Melghat Tiger Reserve is located in Amravati district. It is 80 km away from Amravati.
- Sanjay Gandhi National Park, also known as Borivali National Park is located in Mumbai and is the world's largest national park within city limits.
- Sagareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, a man made wildlife sanctuary situated 30 km from Sangli. Ancient temples of Lord Shiva and Jain Temple of Parshwanath located in Sagareshwar are an attraction.
- Maldhok Sanctuary, situated in Solapur district. Some of its part is in Ahmednagar district. The sanctuary is for the Great Indian Bustard.
Apart from the above, Matheran, a Hill station near Mumbai has been declared an eco-sensitive zone (protected area) by the Government of India.
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Maharashtra's gross state domestic product for 2011 is at $224.12 billion. The state's debt is estimated to be about 209,000 crore (US$39.5 billion), i.e. about 17 percent of GDP.
In 2012 Maharashtra reported a revenue surplus of 152.49 crore (US$28.82 million), with a total revenue of 136,711.70 crore (US$25.84 billion) and a spending of 136,559.21 crore (US$25.81 billion). Maharashtra is the second most urbanised state with urban population of 42% of whole population. The headquarters to the Financial Planning Standards Board India is in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra is India's leading industrial state contributing 15% of national industrial output and over 40% of India's national revenue. 64.14% of the people are employed in agriculture and allied activities. Almost 46% of the GSDP is contributed by industry. Major industries in Maharashtra include chemical and allied products, electrical and non-electrical machinery, textiles, petroleum and allied products. Other important industries include metal products, wine, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, machine tools, steel and iron castings and plastic wares. Food crops include mangoes, grapes, bananas, oranges, wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, and pulses. Cash crops include groundnut, cotton, sugarcane, turmeric, and tobacco. The net irrigated area totals 33,500 square kilometres.
Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India, houses the headquarters of all major banks, financial institutions, insurance companies in India. India's largest stock exchange Bombay Stock Exchange, the oldest in Asia, is also located in the city. After successes in the information technology in the neighboring states, Maharashtra has set up software parks in Pune, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nashik, Now Maharashtra is the second largest exporter of software with annual exports of 18,000 crore (US$3.4 billion) and accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country's software exports, with over 1,200 software units based in the state. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Navi Mumbai is the busiest port in India. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai is the busiest airport in South Asia as per passenger volume.
The coast of Maharashtra has been a shipbuilding center for many centuries. Companies operating shipyards in the state include Bharati Shipyard at Ratnagiri and the Rajapur Shipyards at Rajapur, apart from the state owned Mazagon Dock Limited at Mumbai.
Mumbai is home for the world's largest film industry- Bollywood, Hindi filmmaking industry. Maharashtra ranks first nationwide in coal-based thermal electricity as well as nuclear electricity generation with national market shares of over 13% and 17% respectively. Maharashtra is also introducing Jatropha cultivation and has started a project for the identification of suitable sites for Jatropha plantations.
Ralegan Siddhi is a village in Ahmednagar District that is considered a model of environmental conservation.
An international cargo hub (Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur, MIHAN) is being developed at Nagpur. MIHAN will be used for handling heavy cargo coming from South-East Asia and Middle-East Asia. Project will also include 10,000 crore (US$1.89 billion) Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for Information Technology (IT) companies. This will be the biggest development project in India so far.
Indian and foreign automobile makers in the area include Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Skoda Auto, Fiat and Volkswagen, General Motors India, J.C.Bamford.
Pune has become an IT hub with the presence of almost all IT leaders.
The capital city Mumbai is home to the Vidhan Sabha – the state assembly and Mantralaya, the administrative offices of the government. The legislature convenes its budget and monsoon sessions in Mumbai, and the winter session in Nagpur, which was designated as the state's auxiliary capital.
After India's independence, most of Maharashtra's political history was dominated by the Indian National Congress. Maharashtra became a bastion of the Congress party producing stalwarts such as Y.B. Chavan, one of its most prominent Chief Ministers. The party enjoyed near unchallenged dominance of the political landscape until 1995 when the right wing Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured an overwhelming majority in the state to form a coalition. After a split in the Congress party, former chief minister Sharad Pawar formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), but formed a coalition with the Congress to keep out the BJP-SS combine. The 2004 elections saw the NCP gaining the largest number of seats to become the state's largest party, eroding much of the Shiv Sena's base. Now new parties emerging in Maharashtra's politics specially Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)(Marathi: महाराष्ट्र नवनिर्माण सेना) based regional political party operating on the motto of "Sons (of)for the Soil" founded on the March 9, 2006 in Mumbai by Raj Thackeray after he left the Shiv Sena .
The 2009 elections saw the Congress-NCP alliance winning with clean sweep to the BJP-Shivsena alliance.
 Revenues of governmentThis is a chart of trend of own tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) of the Government of Maharashtra assessed by the Finance Commissions from time to time with figures in millions of Indian Rupees ().
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The Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa enrolled approximately 90,000 advocates on its roll (2009 data). The Bar Council is represented by 25 elected members from the above territory; the Advocate General of each state is an ex-officio member of the Council. This Bar Council elects one representative to the Bar Council of India as its member and also elects a chairman for the council. The tenure of the entire Council is five years.
- Harish Salve has served as the Solicitor General of India.
- Ravindra M. Kadam was the Advocate General of Maharashtra till recently.
- Darius J. Khambatta is the Additional Solicitor General, (Mumbai)
Maharashtra has good human resource development infrastructure in terms of educational institutions—301 engineering/diploma colleges, 616 industrial training institutes and more than 24 universities with a turnout of 160,000 technocrats every year.
It is home to institutions like Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) which developed India's supercomputer, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT), Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Sardar Patel College of Engineering, University Department of Chemical Technology, College of Engineering Pune (COEP), Vishwakarma Institute of Technology ( VIT, Pune ), Fergusson College, Pune, Government College of Engineering Aurangabad, Government College of Engineering Amravati, Government College of Engineering Karad, Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli (WCES), Shri Guru Gobind Singhji Institute of Engineering and Technology Nanded (SGGSIE&T), Laxminarayan Institute of Technology (LIT), Topiwala National Medical College & BYL Nair Charitable Hospital and top management institutions. 50,000 youth trained to take up self-employment ventures every year by the Maharashtra Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (MCED), Aurangabad.
Mumbai is home to Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research (SIMSR) and several other management schools. Government Law College and Sydenham College, respectively the oldest law and commerce colleges in India, are based in Mumbai. The Sir J. J. School of Art is Mumbai's oldest art institution. College of Engineering Pune, established in 1854 is the third oldest college in Asia.
Mumbai is home to two prominent research institutions: the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). The BARC operates CIRUS, a 40 MW nuclear research reactor at their facility in Trombay.
The University of Pune, the National Defence Academy, Film and Television Institute of India, National Film Archives, Armed Forces Medical College and National Chemical Laboratory were established in Pune after the independence of India.
ILS Law College, established by the Indian Law Society is one of the top ten law schools in India. Established medical schools such as the Armed Forces Medical College and Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Medical College train students from all over Maharashtra and India and are amongst the top medical colleges in India. Military Nursing College (affiliated to the AFMC) ranks among the top nursing colleges in the world.
The University of Nagpur, established in 1923, one of the oldest universities in India, manages more than 24 engineering colleges, 43 science colleges and many colleges in the Arts and Commerce faculties. Nagpur is the home for Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT) (also referred to as NIT, Nagpur, formerly known as Visvesvaraya Regional College of Engineering (VRCE), Nagpur) is one of the first six Regional Engineering Colleges established under the scheme sponsored by Government of India and the Maharashtra State Government and is one of the Institutes of National Importance.
The geographical center of India lies at Nagpur, known as Zero Mile Stone. Nagpur is the headquarter for Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and an important location for the Dalit Buddhist movement. Nagpur is also the home for National Fire Institution, Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti (promotion of and for spreading the national language, Hindi) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC-Western zone).
Maharashtra in total, has 50% India's Internet users and 45% of PC penetration in the country.
|Source:Census of India|
Marathi is the official state language. In Mumbai and suburban areas, apart from the native Marathi and English, Gujarati is also spoken. In the northwest portion of Maharashtra, a dialect Ahirani is spoken by 2.5 million people. In south Konkan, a dialect known as Malvani is spoken by most of the people. In the Desh (inland) region of the Deccan, a dialect called Deshi is spoken, while in Vidarbha, a dialect known as Varhadi is spoken by most of the people.
The Economic Survey of Maharashtra 2008-09 says the percentage of the state’s population that names Marathi as its mother tongue has declined to 68.8% from 76.5% over the past three decades.
Outlining migratory trends in the state, the survey highlights the sharp rise in the Hindi-speaking population in the same period. The number of people citing Hindi as their mother tongue rose to 11% from 5% in the same period
The total fertility rate in 2001 was 2.23. Hindus - 2.09, Muslims - 4.09, Christians - 1.41, Jains - 1.41, Sikh - 1.57, Buddhist - 2.24, others -2.25, Tribals - 3.14.
HinduismHindus form 83.2% of total population and Hinduism plays an important role in Maharashtrian people in their day-to-day life. Ganesh is the most popular deity amongst Marathi Hindus, followed by Krishna in the form of Vithal. They also worship the Shiva Family deities such as Shankar and Parvati. The Warkari tradition holds strong grip on local Hindus of Maharastra. The public Ganesh festival started by Lokmanya Tilak in the late 19th century is very popular. Marathi Hindus also revere Bhakti saints of all castes, such as Dnyaneshwar (Deshastha Brahmin), Savata Mali (Mali), Tukaram (Moray Maratahi-Kunbi), Namdev (Shimpi-Artsian,Vaishya) and Chokhamela (Mahar) and Banjara (Laman,Gormati).
IslamIslam is the second largest religion in the state, with more than 11 million adherents comprising over 11% of the population. Eid-ul-Fitr (Ramzan Eid) and Eid-ul-Azha (Bakra Eid) are the most important Muslim festivals in the state. Within Muslims, Sunnis represent an overwhlelming majority. The muslim population is highly urbanised and is spread across different regions of Maharashtra with significant population being found Marathwada, North Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Mumbai-Thane belt. Western Maharashtra and Konkan region also has pockets with muslim population.
 JainsJainists are a major group in Maharashtra. Jain community census for 2001 in Maharashtra area was 1,301,843. Cultural roots on Maharashtra for Jainism explain this numbers, as this more than 2,500 year old religion has some ancient temples in Maharashtra.
 ChristiansChristians account for 1,058,313 of Maharashtra's population. Most of the Christians are Catholics, some Protestants. There are also Goan, Mangalorean, Keralite and Tamilian Christians in the urban pockets of Mumbai and Pune. There are two ethnic Christian communities in Maharashtra:
- East Indians - Majority Catholics, concentrated in Mumbai and in the neighbouring districts of Thane and Raigad. St Bartholomew preached to the natives of this region in the 1st century AD.
- Marathi Christians - Majority Protestants found specially in Ahmednagar and Solapur. Protestantism was brought to these areas by American and Anglican missionaries during the 18th century. Marathi Christians have largely retained their pre-Christian practices.
 SikhismSikhism is India's fourth-largest religion and has existed for over 500 years, beginning with the birth of its founder Guru Nanak Dev ji. The Sikhs are predominantly located in Punjab, however the sikh community has a sizeable presence in Maharashtra. Sikh community census for 2001 in Maharashtra was 215,337.
Nanded, the second largest city in the Marathwada region (after Aurangabad) of Maharashtra, is an important holy place for the Sikh faith and is famous for the Hazur Sahib Gurudwara. Hazūr Sāhib ("presence of the master"), also spelled Hazoor Sahib, is one of the five takhts (seats of temporal authority) in Sikhism. Located on the banks of the River Godavari, it is where the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji left human flesh. The Gurudwara within the complex is known Sach-Khand, "Realm of Truth". At a stone-throw distance from the Hazoor Sahib Gurudwara, there lies the Langar Sahib Gurudwara which is very famous for its grand Langar. In all teh city boasts of 13 major Gurudwaras with historic significance.
BuddhismMost Marathi Buddhists are followers of the Dalit Buddhist movement, a 19th and 20th-century Buddhist revival movement in India that received its most substantial impetus from B. R. Ambedkar who called for the conversion of Dalits to Buddhism to escape a caste-based society that considered them to be the lowest in the hierarchy. Buddhism accounts for nearly 6% in Maharastra's total population.
ZoroastriansThere are two Zoroastrian communities in Maharahtra.
- Parsis, mainly found in Mumbai, have descended from a group of Iranian Zoroastrians who immigrated to Western India during 10th century AD, due to persecution by Muslims in Iran.
- Iranis, are comparatively recent arrivals, and represent the smaller of the two Indian-Zoroastrian communities.
JudaismThe Bene Israel ("Sons of Israel") are a 6,000 strong community of Marathi Jews originally from villages in the Konkan region who migrated in the late 17th century to the nearby cities, primarily Mumbai, but also to Pune, and Ahmedabad. Prior to these waves of emigrations and to this day, the Bene Israel formed the largest sector of the subcontinent's Jewish population. The native language of the Bene Israel is Marathi and Hebrew. Most Bene Israel have now emigrated to Israel. Before the migration this community numbered at least 30,000.
Lord Ganesha's devotion is celebrated by Ganesh Chaturthi in August–September of every year. Town of Pen in Raigad district is famous for Ganesh Idols made of special Shadu Clay. Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati, Lalbaugcha Raja, Shri Siddhivinayak Temple, Shri Ashtavinayaka's are the major holy places for Maharashtrians.
Popular forms of God are Shiva, Krishna and Ganesha. Lord Shiva's devotion is celebrated by taking part in Maha Shivaratri (Great Night of Shiva) festival. In modern times, the Elephanta island in Mumbai, Lord's Shiva island in local mythology, originated the Elephant Festival.
Lord Krishna's devotions are celebrated in the state-wide Gokul Ashtami (or Krishna Janmashtami, Krishna's birthday) whereby many devotees fast on the entire day until midnight. The Dahi-Handi (Matki-fod) is also observed on this day at many places. Lord Krishna's devotion are also celebrated at Kaartik Aamawasya (or Diwali) and at Narak Chaturdashi as the killing of the demon Narakasura.
The other festivals celebrated on a large scale are Vijayadashami or Dasara (Marathi: दसरा), Navaratri, Holi, Diwali, Eid (Ramzan Eid). Simollanghan is a ritual performed on Dasara or Viajaya Dashami day in Maharashtra. Simollanghan is crossing the border or frontier of a village or a place. In ancient times, kings used to cross the frontier of their kingdom to fight against their rivals or neighbor kingdoms. They used to perform Ayudha Puja on Dasara and begin the war season. On Dasara, people cross the borders of their places (Seemollanghan) and collect the leaves of Apta tree (आपट्याची पाने) and exchange among their friends and relatives as gold (सोने म्हणून आपट्याची पाने देतात). People worship Shami tree and its leaves (शमीची पाने) on this day.
 Saints (Sant)
official language of Maharashtra. According to the 2001 census, it is the native language of 68.89% of the population. Other languages that are the native language of more than one percent of the population are:
Percentage in state