Maharashtra, a state in west central India with a western coastline stretching 330 miles (530 Km) along the Arabian Sea from the former Portugese territories of Goa on the south to Daman on the north (both now districts of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman, and Diu). Maharashtra is also bounded by the states of Gujarat on the northwest, Madhya Pradesh on the north and east, Andhra Pradesh on the southeast, and Karnataka on the southwest. The third-largest state of India, both in area and population, Maharashtra was formed in 1960 when the Marathi and Gujarati linguistic areas of the former Bombay state were separated. Bombay (Mumbai) city became the capital of the new state.
While Maharashtra as a cultural region is easily distinguished from the other regions of India on such bases as language, literature and historical traditions, diet and dress, the state itself comprises five subregions with distinctive physiographic, historical, economic, and cultural characteristics.
Konkan The coastal area between the crest of the Western Ghats
hill system and the Arabian Sea has high annual rainfall (75-100 inches),
which permits rice to be the dominant crop. Cashews, mangoes, and vegetables
are also important. The Konkan is dominated by Bombay, though land communications
between the city and the southern districts is difficult because of rugged
terrain. A string of small ports provides fair-weather contact by coastal
Desh (Deccan) Maharashtra's central and most representative subregion, the Desh, comprises seven districts on the Deccan plateau. The principal rivers are the Godavari, Bhima, and Krishna, which rise in the Western Ghats and flow southwestward to the Bay of Bengal. The Godavari Valley is the historic cradle of Marathi culture. Here the modern Marathi language emerged, the Marathi "poet-saints" lived and taught, and the all Maharshtra cult of Vithoba developed. The modern focus of political and cultural life has shifted westward to Pune, Maharashtra's second-largest city.
Khandesh The subregion comprises the two districts of the Tapti (Tapi) River valley where alluvial bottomlands produce cotton, oilseeds, and tobacco. The area has been the object of rivalry as a frequently contested transitional zone between norhtern and southern India.
Marathwada This name is given to the five Marathi-speaking districts that were part of the former princely state of Hyderabad. Dependence on agriculture as source of livelihood is greater in this subregion than in any other. The most interesting features of Marathwada are architectures-notably, the rock-cut temples of Ajanta and Ellora.
Vidarbha These eight eastermost districts that constitute Vidarbha focus on Nagpur, the third-largest city in Maharashtra. The basaltic Deccan lavas reach their eastern limit in the vicinity of Nagpur, so that Vidarbha has the cotton, oilseeds, and millets of the black-soil valleys in its western sector and rice and tropical forests of the higher-rainfall eastern section.
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