Maharashtra is blessed with rolling Western Ghats, Arabian Sea, Godavari and Krishna rivers and heritage sites of Ajanta & Ellora caves. They say if you wish to live a dream-fulfilled life then Mumbai should be your Karma bhoomi! It’s in this lofty megapolis of Maharashtra that people come to realize their visions of success and wealth.
Mumbai – the commercial capital of our country and the capital of Maharashtra, is the most happening city, the most democratic and multicultural with immense diversity of languages, races and religion. It showcases everything from heritage, history, business, politics, showbiz, diverse cuisine to education and sports. One can find hordes of fans outside the bungalows of Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, all waiting for a darshan of their idol.
Major places of interest for tourists in Mumbai would be Filmcity, colonial architecture in South Mumbai (Rajabai Tower, High Court, the Municipal office building, and erstwhile Victoria Terminus which is now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) shopping arcades, beaches, Gateway of India, temples of Siddhi Vinayak, Mahalakshmi, Babulnath, Titwala and the Haji Ali mosque. While Khotachiwadi and Mhaterpakadi represent the old villages of south Mumbai, Tamilian pockets of Matunga and Chembur dominate the central areas and the Christian villages of old Bandra still exist in the northern suburbs. Despite umpteen flyovers, metro and mono rails changing the map of the city, old Mumbai lingers to breathe under the crust of the new metropolis.
In the eddy of shimmering lights and wanton lanes of the wound-up metropolis, quiet weekends for the common man usually condense into strolls on cobbled Gateway of India, Nariman Point or Marine Drive walkways, the sands of Chowpatty or the suburban Juhu beach. Here you can see urchins make a living by selling balloons, handmade pinwheels, candy or vendors putting forth salt and lime smeared corn on the cob. At the farthest North end in Borivali is Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) – a sanctuary in the midst of torpid concrete and swarming crowds. Ajanta & Ellora caves are a major tourist attraction while history lovers get to witness Forts from Shivaji Maharaj’s era – Rajmachi, Harishchandragad, Visapur, Lohagad and more.
Where else can you ask your beau, “Aati kya Khandala? but in Maharashtra. Lonavala and Khandala are the twin hill stations, besides of course the major ones of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. These are ideal weekend getaways where you can be one with nature – lush greenery, brimming lakes, overflowing dams, cascading waterfalls and mossy cliffs. Quite a few ashrams, spas and adventure zones (Della Adventure in Lonavala and Novotel Imagica in Khopoli) have sprung up in and around Mumbai-Pune.
A place is known by its food and Mumbai is renowned for street food with Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, Usal/Misal Pav and a variety of chaats dominating every street corner to hi-end eateries. For that traditional touch, Malvani cuisine of Maharashtra has generous use of fresh or dry coconut that is grated or either used as coconut paste or milk. The pink colored sol kadhi is a drink made from kokum fruit and coconut milk while kombdi vade also known as Murgh Malvani is the famous Malvani chicken curry. Mutton curry and Ghavan that resembles a netted dosa is served with chutney. Tandalchi bhakri and Bombil fry are widely eaten here. Offered throughout Konkan are Fish thalis that consist of fish curry, rice, veg, roti and sol kadhi. Apart from its more than 40 varieties of fish recipes, Konkan is also known for its world-famous Ratnagiri/Devgarh Alphonso mangoes.
Varadhi cuisine influences the interiors of Maharashtra and food at Le Meridien Nagpur’s restaurant. Latest Recipe can be a sensory overboard, especially the dishes presented by talented Chef Vinod Dhawale in his delicious Saoji Thaat, full of Varadhi delicacies like Mirchi ka Thecha, jhunka, kadaknath (black fowl found only in Nagpur) , patodi cha rassa, gode bhaat, koshimbir and more.
Maharashtra has also expanded to a satellite city called Navi Mumbai in the Konkan division. It has its own temples, parks, hills, seashore, waterfalls and more. It is near Mumbai that you can observe an array of nature’s sights like the dark, volcanic rocks on top of Buddhist caves of Kanheri, the captivating Jambulmal summit, the serene Powai Lake, the vivid stretch around Vihar Lake, the inclines of the Pongam Valley and the jumble of Karvi growth!
The glitz, glam, the contrast of ever-widening gap evident in shanties jostling with skyscrapers may astound yet the undying and resilient spirit of the ubiquitous Mumbaikar create a magnetic appeal, which BECKONS you to plunge headlong into the social fabric of Maharashtra!