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Maharashtra-A Vibrant Tourist Destination : Rujuta S. Joshi

Hello all, I am Maharashtra, the third largest state and the second most populous state in our incredible country. You will find my land in the western peninsular region of India, occupying a substantial area of the Deccan plateau, separated from the coasts by the “Ghats”.

Historically, I have been a witness to the days of the Maurya Empire in the 3rd and 4th century BC along with the traces of Gupta Empire,Vakataka, Kadambas, Chalukya Empire, Rashtrakuta Dynasty,Yadavas and the most recent notable rulers ie.Marathas, thus presenting many unique dynastic remains as precious archaeological relics to all travellers visiting my land. The diverse culture entrenched into my essence by various rulers can be testified by the forts, caves and monuments standing today. Forts like Raigad, Pratapgad, and Ahmednagar fort are a symbol of bravery and sacrifice for the motherland by patriotic men, reconstructing the tale of an ingenious leader, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and thus,are prominent in the list of sites worth visiting for tourists. Also, travellers love to head towards Torna, Visapur, Shivneri, Harishchandragad, Vasota forts and Kalsubai peak to enjoy a trek filled with adventure and pristinity alike to explore the hidden gems of my terrain. Also, Ajanta and Ellora caves(UNESCO World heritage sites) located in Aurangabad district, date back to 2nd century BCE and are an excellent specimen of the architectural heritage exhibiting shrines cut out of the rock by hand. The colonial era has also contributed to the architectural might of my landscape, with masterpieces like Gateway of India,Vasai fort, Rajabai Clock Tower and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

My capital city, Mumbai, is my pulse, rightly called the “The city of dreams”. A flamboyant city, which never comes to a standstill, comparable to several top cities in the world is undoubtedly a financial and cultural hub. Brimming with myriad attractions like Mahim Beach, Juhu beach, Hanging Garden, Siddhi Vinayak Mandir, Haji Ali Dargah, and Gateway of India and nexus of the most charming industry ie.Bollywood, Mumbai is a feast for the tourists visiting it.

Not to brag, but I am overwhelmingly beautiful and my natural beauty is simply alluring. The lush canopies in my west, also called as Western Ghats, are a biodiversity hotspot harboring over 5,000 flowering plants, 139 mammals, 508 birds and 179 amphibian species. Many hill stations cradled within my carpeted green mountain walls of the Sahyadri ranges like Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Matheran, Amboli, Lonavala, Khandala and Malshej Ghat are some comforting summer escapes for my people and also a peaceful getaway for city slickers. Each of them,

though somewhat similar in silhouette, present their unique charisma and charm, with some descending into the Arabian Sea and some tinkering around waterfalls and lakes.

I boast of several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, where all of the travellers can possess a chance to spot tigers and many other rare mammals and birds. My wildlife reserves attract an impressive variety of animals like Bisons,Crocodiles, Gawas, Neelgais, and numerous other avian species.Tadoba Andhari national park ,which is the oldest and largest of them all, is teeming with variety of wildlife species like Tigers and Marsh crocodile, a rare reptile and hence, is always buzzing with tourists.

During your visit to my amazing mainland, you should not miss out on visiting my irresistible beaches like Ganpatipule beach, Dahanu-Bordi Beach, Shriwardhan Harihareshwar Beach, Mandwa and Kihim Beach, Madh Island Beach, Marve Manori and Gorai Beach, Tarkarli Beach, Velneshwar Beach, Vengurla Malvan beach etc., offering various opportunities of everything, right from adventurous sea surfing to sand bath to snorkeling to bird-watching to authentic coastal food. The forts built near the beaches make the experience more enthralling.

To be honest, my culture defines me accurately. I embrace all my people, irrespective of their diverse religions,castes,creeds etc. am home to diversity and that is reflected in my cultural heritage. My people do not follow any specific staple diet, it keeps on changing throughout the year according to seasons. However, we are famous for our flavorful spices, lending a taste of our culture to our food. If you visit my land and do not eat Vada Pav,Pav Bhaji,Chaat, Missal, Rassa,fish curries or Selucha chana,then you have lost out on an absolute delight for your tasting senses!

Our traditional dance forms like koli dance,lavani and powada are addictive and are acclaimed folk dances in India, captivating beholders with their simple costumes and graceful performances. Festivals like Gudipadwa,Ganesh chaturthi,Nagpanchami etc. are the best time to visit me, as rich culture, ethnicity and traditions of my land are on display during these celebrations. Language used by my people, ie.Marathi, is sweeter than any elixir in this world.

However, the strongest reason to visit my divine land is to visit the sacrosanct pilgrimage sites present here.I am blessed to be bestowed upon me, the five Jyotirlingas; two Shakti Peethas; Panj Takht; beautiful churches; giant mosques; and a city that plays host to the grand Kumbh Mela Nashik.Also,the Ashtavinayak temples,Shirdi temple etc. enlighten all the devotees visiting them. These pious places surely soothe the senses of all travellers coming to visit me.

Come and visit me, for you will find a relaxing place to unwind, abundant verdant forests and serene rivers, lakes and waterfalls, rolling hills to be mesmerized by the natural beauty, and exceptionally divine shrines embarking you on a peaceful spiritual journey, all in one visit. My land is subtle yet vivacious, adventurous yet serene and

Visit my land, a land diverse, untouched and unsullied!

- Rujuta Joshi


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