The state of Maharashtra is located on the west coast of India and reaches deep into the centre of peninsular India. Maharashtra shares it is borders with Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Goa. The coastal strip along the Arabian Sea, flanked by the hills called Western Ghats on the east is a culturally distinct region called Konkan. Commercially, Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur are the best-developed cities.
Mumbai, or Bombay, is the capital of Maharashtra, the biggest metropolis and the financial capital of India, with the country's biggest stock exchange. The coastal city occupies land reclaimed from what used to be seven separate islands. Cosmopolitan Mumbai is home to all: from fishmongers to the country's topmost industrialists; from colonial buildings like the Gateway of India or Victoria Terminus to vibrant pubs and night-life; from dwindling ethnic communities like Parsis to the ever-growing Hindi film industry popularly called Bollywood.
Maharashtra is known for its caves, some of which date back to 200 BC. The Buddhist paintings in the rock-cut Ajanta and Ellora caves (Aurangabad district) are World Heritage sites. Closer to Mumbai in the Sahyadri hills are the hill stations of Matheran, Lonvala and Panchgani cool places to retreat to when the plains and coast of Maharashtra become hot and humid. Maharashtra also has its important religious places: the town Pandharpur is the shrine of Vithoba, Maharashtra's most popular saint; Shirdi Sai Baba temple in Aurangabad is the seat of India's most famous 20th-century holy figure; the city of Nashik is one of the four places in India where the great Kumbh Mela is held.
The Konkan Coast offers some of the more unspoilt beaches in the country and huge sea-forts made by Marathas in the 18th centruy: Kolaba Fort at Alibaug Beach, Murud-Janjira Fort at Murud Beach, Sindhudurg Fort at Tarkarli Beach. These coastal sites are conveniently connected by the Konkan Railway.
Ganesh Chaturthi, in the month of August, the day when the Elephant-headed Lord Ganesha was born, is the most celebrated festival in Maharashtra.