Pride of India
A state that redefines india’s Magnificence
Maharashtra – Nation within a Nation is the third largest state in the country, both in terms of population and area. The state capital city of Mumbai, one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the world is also the financial and entertainment capital of the country. Maharashtra is one of the few regions in the world which offers multiple types of destinations for its tourists. It has long coastline of 720 kilometres along the lush green Konkan region. The Western Ghats and the Sahyadri mountain range offer hill stations and water reservoirs with semi-evergreen and deciduous forests. And, the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, with its dense forests, is home to several wild life sanctuaries and nature parks.
The state is also blessed with rich history, tradition and culture, which is evident through its world class ancient forts and monuments, ancient cave temples and pilgrimage centres. The state is the leader in the country with respect to foreign tourist arrivals (20.8%) into India and one of the leading states for domestic tourist visits (7.2%). There have been widespread, interrelated global developments and advancements, which have had a strong bearing on the Tourism sector in India (and in Maharashtra). These include, amongst others:
Increased desire and financial mobility for travel of the middle classes (domestic and international)
Steep-change increase in air access (airlines, airports and route development) in tandem to decreases in the cost of travel
Growth in the quest of travellers for immersive experiences rich in cultural and natural exposure
Path-breaking innovations in the field of Information Technology, including mobile usage, digital content creation and sharing 6 C/Rebecca/2016/Tourism Policy 2016 Final 4.5.2016
More importantly, appreciation of the tourism economy amongst heads of state and policy makers and,
All of these together present a promising possibility of substantially increasing the Tourist attractiveness in the State, both, for International as well as Domestic tourists.
Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has been established under the Companies Act, 1956, (fully owned by Govt. of Maharashtra) for systematic development of tourism on commercial lines, with an authorized share capital of Rs. 25 crore. The paid up share capital of the Corporation as on 31st March 2013 is Rs. 1538.88 lakhs.
MTDC has, since its inception, been involved in the development and maintenance of the various tourist locations of Maharashtra. MTDC owns and maintains resorts at all key tourist centres and having more resorts is on the plan.
Over the years, the tourism industry has witnessed steady growth and has become a crucial cog in the soci oeconomic progress of any country. Today, the sector offers far more diversified services than ever before, and it has become imperative to incorporate th ese services in the mainstream industry. As a consequence, these new and traditional tourism services are closely linked with the development of new destinations. Tourism has become one of the major sectors in international commerce, and represents, at the same time, one of the main income sources for many developing countries. Today, the sector contributes to 9% of the world GDP – through direct, indirect and induced impact and accounts for USD 1.6 trillion of world exports (6% of th e world exports). In addition, the tourism sector has the potential to generate high employment opportunities and at the same time, the spending of both domestic and foreign visitors produces a cascading effect of new money through the economy via the multiplier effect. The multiplier for Travel & Tourism is 3.2 that is for every dollar spent, 3.2 dollars are generated (including indirect and induced impacts). Travel & Tourism is one of the top two job creators with an average of 50 jobs generated per USD 1 million in sales. The beneficial economic impacts can be summarized as below:
Generation of foreign exchange
Creation of new job and employment opportunities
Stimulation of trade, income and entrepreneurship – especially in the service sector and SMEs
Provision of new infrastructure for non-tourism use
Increased regional development – particularly in isolated areas
Greater tax revenues permitting greater government spending – or reduced taxes on other activities
Cascading of new money through a multiplier effect
Thus, keeping the global as well as local developments in perspective, the Government of Maharashtra understands the importance of the Tourism Sector and the opportunity it presents. The state has identified Tourism as a priority sector. Government of Maharashtra proposes to launch the New Maharashtra Tourism Policy which will replace the existing Tourism Policy of Maharashtra released in 2006. This policy will be a part the state’s over arching strategy to attract private sector investments in the tourism Sector. Further, this policy will help the state in creating a pro-growth, pro-environment and pro-jobs ecosystem in the state of Maharashtra.
Highlights of the 2016 Maharashtra Tourism Policy are as follows:
Designate Tourism as a priority sector since it holds the potential to usher in economic development and generate high employment opportunities in Maharashtra – change—the policy will establish.
Generate fresh investments in the tourism sector to the tune of INR 30,000 crore by 2025
Create 1 million additional jobs in the tourism sector by 2025
Key strategic interventions are identified and special incentives for respective intervention have been laid out.
Strengthening of tourism infrastructure especially in the form of PPP model, special tourism infrastructure Tourism Infrastructure development fund, CSR, etc. are defined in this policy.
The state has several tourist destinations including the popular Hindu places of pilgrimage, Pandharpur, Dehu and Alandi. Other places that attract pilgrims from other parts of India and beyond include Hazur Sahib Gurudwara at Nanded, and Sai Baba shrine at Shirdi. Maharashtra is the second most urbanised state in India, after Tamil Nadu, with large cities besides the capital Mumbai such as Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and Aurangabad.
Maharashtra is one of the wealthiest and the most developed states in India, contributing 25% of the country’s industrial output and 23.2% of its GDP (2010–11).
Let us explore the various places and attractions of Maharashtra at length.
On land and ocean, the strength of stone stands mighty over years. The Maratha heartland is fortified by over 350 forts – the largest number in any state in India. Here, the crimson-edged sword of the Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s gleams with the pride of a victorious warrior.
The once-proud bastions of army, today stand silent and dignified. Battered by the weather gods, often plundered, walls crumbling in sections and roofs blown away, yet the forts of Maharashtra exude power and inspire awe.
The Ajinkyatra Fort, Satara, stands tall at 3,300 feet, offering visitors a sprawling view of the city. The Daulatabad fort around Aurangabad dates backs to the 12th century hilltop fortress era. In the Harishchandragad fort famed for its height, remnants of Mesolithic man have been discovered. While the Lohagad and Visapur forts, are trekkers’ delights.
Mahabaleshwar offers views of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s famous . Shivneri the birth place of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s is sacred for his followers and one of the best maintained forts in Maharashtra today. While Raigad, the capital of the Marathas, has an enchantingly quaint but technically sound ropeway to pull you up to its taunt peak.
Fortresses of the seas
The Arnala islands around Vasai are sheltered by the Jaldurgs, as the sea forts are fondly referred to. Janjira the invincible fort near Murud sits majestic lashed by the churning ocean on all sides. Take a little boat and make a trip like the locals: bags full of fish, chickens in cane baskets and even motorcycles consider the ferry a daily ride home.
Maharashtra’s coastal splendor is magnified by Sindhudurg, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s ocean fort on a rocky island makes a lovely picnic spot as you imagine horses and armies marching forward. Built in the 12th century Vijaydurg fort was named Gibralter of the East by the British for its sheer invincibility.
Forts that built cities
Whether it’s the 500-year-old Ahmadnagar Fort or the Portuguese Bassein that had a European city within it, forts have built localities. And an old British fort, lent Mumbai’s fort district its name. Kandhar in Nanded District was the seat of power of the Rashtrakuta dynasty in the 9th century CE. Maharashtra’s many forts speak of supremacy, command and muscle combined with intellect. Visits that remind you of the legacy you have been passed on to use and preserve for future generations.
Deep, dark and mysterious — there is a secretive lure to ancient caves that eludes the brightness of sunbeams and radiates ancient history. Maharashtra, home to the largest number of caves in India, snuggles within its awe-inspiring Sahyadri Range caves of all sizes, shapes and hues. From ancient rock-cut ones to ones with intricate sculptures that have housed reigning deities since time immemorial, these caves are fascinating archeological legacies.
Walk into the aura of times forgotten, eras lost in the passage of rites of yore. Testimony to the fact that the land has always been benevolent to a variety of different religions, whose monks made these caves their homes and shrines.
The Elephanta caves, on an island 11 km from Mumbai, are proud to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site as also those of Ajanta and Ellora near Aurangabad which boast of the glorious architectural experiments for Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks and devotees. The creation of the World Heritage Monuments at Ajanta, started in 2nd century BCE and was completed only in the 5th – 6th century CE, tracing the entire journey of the evolution of Buddhist architecture.
The Bhaja and Karla caves date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE too. Just like the Pandavleni caves near Shahada which were created for the Jaina monks and devotees. Today, the Maharashtra state government is in a continual process of preservation of these historic deep, dark rock –cut caves.