Maharashtra’s identity has for years been limited to and unanimous with the public perception of Mumbai as the financial capital and the ultimate B-Town. But the state has so much more to offer, including abundant flora and fauna, breathtaking views and UNESCO World Heritage sites. LF’s upcoming show, Mast Maharashtra helps unveil some of Maharashtra’s grandeur by deep diving into its rich culture and glorious history that promises to tell riveting stories that have been never heard before. Here’s a list of 10 things that make Maharashtra truly Mast.
Located at Lonar in Buldhana district of Maharashtra, this eponymous lake was created by a meteorite impact over fifty thousand years ago. With a diameter of 1800 metres, Lonar Lake is Earth’s largest crater and is popular among offbeat travellers, especially bird lovers. The natural site made news in June 2020 when its water turned pink. According to experts, the change in hue occurred due to increased salinity in the water, the presence of algae or a combination of both. Legend has it that the lake was formed when lord Vishnu, a Hindu god, pushed demon Lonasura from heaven to Earth!
Mardani Khel, which literally translates to ‘manly sport,’ is Maharashtra’s contribution the world of martial arts. It is a traditional martial art form that uses weapons such as a patta (sword), vita (corded lance), bhala (javelin) and kathi (bamboo stick). Mardani Khel can be traced back to the seventh century, however, it gained prominence during the 17th century, thanks to the Maratha warriors. This martial art form is indigenous to Kolhapur. The skillful and rare martial arts form was leveraged by freedom fighter against the British in our fight for independence. Today, however, it is practiced mostly as a folk art.
Handlooms and Handicrafts
History comes to life as you walk inside any of the 350 majestic forts in Maharashtra – Murud Janjira, Sindhudurg, Vijaydurg, Shanivarwada, Rajmachi and Suvarnadurg, to name a few. Most of these have been built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his warriors, who excelled in building forts, no matter what the terrain. Today, many of these forts and areas around, that acquaint us with the legacy of the rulers and kingdoms, are trekking hotspots. Of them, 25 have not been included in the Archaeological Survey of India and might be converted into heritage hotels or wedding venues by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
Nagpur - Tiger Capital of India
With six tiger reserves – Tadoba Andhari, Pench, Kanha, Nagzira-Navegaon, Melghat and Bor - near Nagpur, the city is known as the tiger capital of India. Besides tigers, the state is bustling with wildlife and parkland, perfect for exploratory travellers. Malabar giant squirrel, bison, neelgai, sloth bear and sambar are a few of the animals found at these reserves.
A geometric style of tribal art, Warli is an indigenous art form prevalent in Dahanu, Talasari, Jawhar, Palghar, Mokhada, and Vikramgad of Palghar within the state. Originating in the north Sahyadri range of India, this art form relies predominantly on three shapes – circle, triangle and square, representing the sun and moon, a sacred enclosure or a piece of land and mountains and trees respectively. The pictorial paintings narrate everyday stories about the tribe and Maharashtra has given the country notable artistes, such as, Padmashree Jivya Soma Mashe.
Nashik - India’s Napa Valley
With over 50 vineyards in and around the city, Nashik is often touted as the Napa Valley of the country. Take a weekend off and head to the city, it will offer you a holistic experience, one that can let you take a stroll through vineyards, pluck grapes, participate in wine making and tour the distilleries. Some of the popular wineyards in Nashik include Sula, Soma, Vallonne and Chateau d'Ori.
Ajanta, 105 km away from Aurangabad, boasts of 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments. Here, visitors get to witness fresco-style wall paintings that depict past lives and rebirths of Lord Buddha, pictorial tales of Jatakamala and sculptures of Buddhist deities made of rock. Ajanta was accidentally discovered in 1819 by a British officer and designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.
The Valley of Flowers
The real charm of the Kaas Plateau aka Kaas Pathar and Valley of Flowers comes out towards the end of the monsoon season, shares wildlife biologist Anand Pendharkar. The barren plateau is covered in vast expanses of vibrant flower beds. The stunning valley, rich in biodiversity, with over 850 species of flowering plants, is a sought-after UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ground orchids, bright yellow sonki and smithia (Mickey Mouse flower) are a few of the flowering plants commonly seen here. Apart from leisure travellers, Kaas also attracts wildlife enthusiasts, herpetologists, naturalists and ornithologists because it has a range of fauna.
Petroglyphs at Ratnagiri
Discovered in 2018, petroglyphs aka rock carvings discovered in Ratnagiri and Rajapur are believed to be from the prehistoric era. These petroglyphs, that greatly excited archaeologists, feature carvings of animals, birds, human figures and geometric patterns. While the stories they are trying to tell are still a mystery, experts are certain that this rock art was inspired by things people observed around them at that time.
Want to know more about these petroglyphs and other wonders of Maharashtra? Watch out for Mast Maharashtra only on LF! And while you’re at it, here’s a sneak peek:
All images: Shutterstock