On the momentous occasion of Maharashtra Day, Maharashtra Tourism recounts and commemorates the historical significance of the Day.
The name ‘Maharashtra’ is believed to be originated from Rathi, which means chariot driver. The first reference of the name Maharashtra comes in the Buddhist text “Mahavansh” (महावंश) of the 5th C.E.
May 1 marks the day when the State was formed after the enactment of the Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960.Soon after India became independent in 1947, there were demands from across the country to rearrange the states along linguistic lines. There was a strong demand for the formation of Maharashtra State based on Marathi language and inclusion of Mumbai, Goa, Belgaum, Karwar, Parbhani, Nipani and Varhad In 1955, the States Reorganisation Commission, set up by the Centralgovernment to look into the redrawing of administrative regions, decided against the linguistic division of states. The denial of this demand gave rise to the movement known as the Samyukta Maharashtra Andolan. Led by the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti, which included the Communist Party, Praja Samajwadi Party, Peasants & Workers Party and Republican Party, it was marked by massive protests and demonstrations in Bombay. It was led by Keshavrao Jedhe, and Acharya Atre, Prabodhankar Thackeray, Senapati Bapat, S.A. Dange, Annabhau Sathe, Gopalrao Khedkar, and ShahirAmar Shaikh were the prominent activists in the campaign. The protests came to an end in 1960 with the Bombay Reorganization Act. The Act passed by India’s Parliament led to the official division of the multilingual State of Bombay into modern-day States of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The State since its inception has seen huge growth in many areas including infrastructure, education, industries, among others. Some of the notable and important facts of the State that are rarely seen in other States and many people are not aware of, are:
• The first railway between Mumbai and Thane was built on 16 April 1853. It was the first railway in Asia.
• The first passenger train in India was run from BoriBundar in Bombay to Thane on 16th April, 1853. It covered the distance of 34 K.M. in its first ride.
• Maharashtra has around 63 public and privately funded universities today. The University of Mumbai is the largest in the world in terms of the number of graduates. The first 2 colleges in India, Wilson College and Elphinstone College are located in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
• There are 350 forts in Maharashtra and most of these forts were built or re-built by Chhatrapati ShivajiMaharaj or his successors, the Peshwas.
• There are many ancient cave temples and monasteries in Maharashtra including Ajanta, Ellora, Kanheri, Elephanta, Karla, Bhaja, and many more.
• Kirloskarwadi in Sangli district and Walchandnagarin Pune district, Maharashtra are two of the three oldest industrial townships in India.
• Maharashtra is home to 5 out of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making it the State with the highest number of UNESCO recognised sites in India.These are Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, ChhratrapatiShivaji Maharaj Terminus, Elephanta Caves and Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai. Western Ghats is also an UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site due to which the Kaasplateau, the Koyna wildlife sanctuary, the ChandoliNational park and the Radhanagari Wildlife sanctuary in the Sahyadri range in Maharashtra arealso the World Heritage Sites.
• 5 out of 12 famous Jyotirling of Lord Shiva- Bhimashankar, Trimbakeshwar, Grishneshwar, Aundha Nagnath and Vaijanath are in Maharashtra.
• There are four annual pilgrimages to Pandharpurwhich occur during the month of Ashadh (July to August), Shravan (August to September), Kartik(November to December), and Magh (February to March).
• The State is endowed with rich biodiversity and has 49 Wildlife sanctuaries and 6 National Parks. Mumbai is the only city in India to have a National Park within the city limits.
• India’s first gold refinery is located in Shirpur, Maharashtra.
• Mumbai’s natural gas and mineral oil production meet 30% of India’s oil demand.
• Nagpur is considered to be the Tiger capital of India and the Tiger gateway to India.
It would be incomplete to commemorate this day without acknowledging the State’s heroes and achievers, the ones who make the State proud. Some get the spotlight while some stay in the dark but contribute just as much as the others. Their only mission is to achieve their goal and make their State and country proud with their work. On this occasion, Maharashtra Tourism would like to laud and thank a few unsung heroes we probably haven’t heard of:
1. Prathamesh Hirve– a 25-year-old engineer from Mumbai, coming from a slum in Filterpada, Powai, became the first ISRO engineer from Mumbai.
2. Pranjal Patil– the first visually challenged woman IAS officer in the country. Despite being visually impaired, she never gave up on her dreams and battled against all odds in her life to become an IAS officer.
3. Alfiya Pathan– Nagpur’s teenage boxer, who won the first gold medal for India at the 30th Adriatic Pearl Tournament in Budva, Montenegro.
4. Priyanka Mohite– Originally from Satara in western Maharashtra, Priyanka has scaled Mt Annapurna, the 10th highest mountain peak in the world, becoming the first Indian woman climber to achieve the feat.
5. Manasi Devdhar 20-year-old who aspires to learn every technique behind the camera to design and decorate her dream of filmmaking. Residing in Akeri village in Konkan, Maharashtra, Manasi’swell acclaimed short film Chafa was selected for the most prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France.
6. Kavita Raut– a long-distance runner from Nashik, Maharashtra who holds a national record for 10 km road running with a timing of 34:32. She is the first Indian Woman to win a track medal at the Commonwealth Games.
7. Sachin Teke– an IT engineer, who developed the most used M-indicator app which gives accurate information about public transport in the city to the commuters and it is used by millions.
8. Ranjitsinh Disale– Teacher from Paritewadi village in Maharashtra’s Solapur district, who won the annual Global Teacher Prize 2020 for promoting Girls’ education.
9. Suman Dhamane– 70-year-old YouTuber from Ahmednagar. This Grandmother is famous for her traditional recipes and has more than 6 Lakh subscribers for her channel.
10. Shashikant Dhotre– Originally from Solapur, Maharashtra, he is known for his artworks withcolour pencils and dry pastels.
11. Dr Rajendra Bharud – A doctor-turned-bureaucrat and the collector of Nandurbar has managed to keep the district running with an adequate supply of medical oxygen, hospital beds, isolation wards for Covid-19 patients and a well-planned vaccination drive.
Talking about her journey and her views on Maharashtra Day, Manasi Devdhar said, “From Tukoba to Shiva Shaurya, the legacy of biographies is the essence of Maharashtra, from the vast sea to the Sahyadri ranges is the essence of Maharashtra. Keeping in mind the glorious history, in order to preserve this heritage, we have to stand firm as a Maharashtrian. The State is filled with folk art, literary tradition, culture, customs, fairs, various forms of nature and are so expansive that it will take a lifetime to present these things in pictorial language and that is where I have just started.”
Shashikant Dhotre echoes similar views. He said, “I feel proud to have born in Maharashtra. My paintings and the characters are rooted in Maharashtra’s culture. I live in a small beautiful village called Shirapur which is located in a small town in Solapur. Like many small villages in Europe which have promoted their serenity to attract tourists, we too can do the same. Our beauty, our serenity, our natural and cultural heritage should be treated as our assets.”
Maharashtra is endowed with great economic enterprises, cultural and traditional richness and diversity. Industry, manufacture, agriculture and goods and services are some of the key elements that make Maharashtra one of the richest states in the country.