The world’s largest monolithic rock temple at Ellora and the timeless frescoes at the Ajanta along with the equally stunning caves at the Elephanta Island all which preside in this majestic state of Maharashtra have been listed by the UNESCO as World Heritage sites.
The state is packed with many temples and pilgrimage centers as well. You can genuflect before the Ganpati shrines (Ashta Vinayak) near Pune, prayer at the seven shrines of Lord Shiva (Jyotirlingas) or worship at pilgrim spots like Pandhurpur and Shirdi. You could even stalk tigers in the dense teak forests of Melghat or trek in the depths of the Sahyadris and admire the royal palaces of Kolhapur.
The Deccan Odyssey, the five star hotel on tracks is in par with the best trains in the world. Since its inauguration in the early 2004 it is considered to be as exotic as the places it visits. Starting from Mumbai its seven day trip includes the two pristine beaches of Tarkali and Ganpatipule which is located on the Konkan coast. From here it moves to Pune and then to Aurangabad from where one can visit the cave temples of Ellora and a short hop will take you to the ancient art galleries in the Ajanta caves. Before swinging back to Mumbai it also covers the pilgrim town of Nashik.
The fact that Maharashtra has some of the finest beaches in India is probably one of the state’s best kept secret. A few of these at Alibaug and Murud-Janjira have sea forts, but the grandest of these seaforts is undoubtedly the Sindhudurg fort off the coast of Tarkali in the Southern part of the state.
Additionally Maharashtra also has a number of mountaintop forts situated on strategic points around the state. A few like the one at Panhala near Kolhapur have been converted into hill resort while many others are used by trekkers.
Matheran, a hill station which is easily accessible from Mumbai is the only hill-station in India and Asia where motorized vehicles are not allowed. Further south, between Mumbai and Pune are the twin hill-stations of Lonavala and Khandala. However, the other twin hill stations – Mahableshwar and Panchgani to the south of Pune are probably the most popular in the state.
The lesser known but equally charming is the fortress town of Panhala near Kolhapur and Amboli near the Goa border.
The irresistible wildlife reserves of Melghat and Tadoba National Park are as abundant as it is diverse. These natural reserves are believed to have the highest density of tigers in India and the world. The other wildlife reserves are the Chikaldhara Sanctuary, the Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, the Navegoan Forest Reserve, the Dajipur Bison Sanctuary and the Karnala Bird Sanctuary.
Yes Maharashtra is studded with amazing gems that thoroughly need to be discovered. It is a state with unlimited attractions and endless possibilities.
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