Maharashtra Online


Maharashtra Online

Maharashtra (Marathi: महाराष्ट्र mahārāṣṭra, IPA  [məharaːʂʈrə] (help·info)) is a state located on the western coast of India. It is India's third largest state by area and second largest by population.

Maharashtra is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Gujarat and the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the northwest, Madhya Pradesh to the northeast, Chhattisgarh to the east, Karnataka to the south, Andhra Pradesh to the southeast, and Goa to the southwest. The state covers an area of 307,731 km2 (118,816 sq mi) or 9.84% of the total geographical area of India. Mumbai, the capital city of the state, is India's largest city and the financial capital of the nation. Marathi is the official and most widely spoken language.

In the 17th Century, the Marathas rose under the leadership of Chhatrapati Shivaji against the Mughals who were ruling a large part of India. After the third Anglo-Maratha war, the empire ended and most of Maharashtra became part of Bombay state under a British Raj. After Indian independence, Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti demanded unification of all Marathi speaking regions under one state. The first state reorganization committee created the current Maharashtra state on May 1, 1960 (known as Maharashtra Day). The Marathi-speaking areas of Bombay state, Deccan states and Vidarbha (which was part of Central Provinces and Berar) united to form the current state.

Maharashtra is the richest state in India, contributing to 15% of the country's industrial output and 13.2% of its GDP in year 2005-06.

Maharashtra came under Islamic influence for the first time after the Delhi Sultanate rulers Ala-ud-din Khalji, and later Muhammad bin Tughluq conquered parts of the Deccan in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Tughlaqs in 1347, the 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 Shahdoms: namely Nizamshah of Ahmednagar, Adilshah of Bijapur,Qutubshah of Govalkonda, Bidarshah of Bidar and Imadshah of Berar.

The Peshwas (prime ministers) played an important role in expanding the Maratha Empire in Northern and Central India. They were also decisive in many battles, like Moropant Pingale in 1670’s Dindori battle against the Mughals, Ramchandra Amatya in 1690’s Satara Battle against the Mughals and, the Pant Pratinidhi Peshwa. By 1760, the Maratha Empire spread across parts of Punjab (in today's Pakistan), Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Karnataka.

Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath, of the Bhat family, and his son, Baji Rao I, bureaucratised the Maratha state. They systematised the practice of tribute gathering from Mughal territories, under the heads of sardesmukhi and chauth (the two terms corresponding to the proportion of revenue collected). They also consolidated Mughal-derived methods of assessment and collection of land revenue and other taxes. Much of the revenue terminology used in Peshwa documents derives from Persian, suggesting a far greater continuity between Mughal and Maratha revenue practice than may be politically palatable in the present day.

At the same time,the maritime Angre clan controlled a fleet of vessels based in Kolaba and other centres of the west coast. These ships posed a threat not only to the new English settlement of Mumbai, but to the Portuguese at Goa, Bassein, and Daman.

On the other hand, there emerged a far larger domain of activity away from the original heartland of the Marathas, which was given over to subordinate chiefs as fiefs. Gwalior was given to Scindia/Shinde, Indore to Holkar, Baroda to Gaekwad and Dhar to Pawar. Bhonsles remained in power in Nagpur even after loss of Marathas at Panipat in 1818, till 1853. Nagpur Kingdom was the last of the Kingdoms or Princely States in entire India to be annexed to British India in 1853.

After suffering a stinging defeat at the hands of Afghan chieftain Ahmad Shah Abdali, in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, the Maratha Confederacy broke into regional kingdoms.

Post-Panipat, the Peshwa's ex-generals looked after the regional kingdoms they had earned and carved out for themselves in the service of Peshwas covering north-central and Deccan regions of India. Pune continued to be ruled by what was left of the Peshwa family.

After India's independence in 1947, the princely states were integrated into the Indian Union, and 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 (Amravati and Nagpur divisions) from Madhya Pradesh (formerly the Central Provinces and Berar). On May 1, 1960, Maharashtra came into existence when Bombay Presidency State was split into the new linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Yashwantrao Chavan became the first Chief Minister of Maharashtra.