Trace Our Historical Roots
A nation is known by its history. To that extent, Maharashtra has some of the most well-preserved ancient heritage sites which continue to provide a link to the past. The caves at Ajanta and Ellora near Aurangabad, for example, are a striking reminder of an age of Buddhism at its peak. There are about 800 caves spread across various districts but of these the 32 caves at Ajanta stand out distinctively because of their architectural splendour, legacy, and artistic masterpieces. The caves include paintings and sculptures representative of Buddhist religious art with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales.
So is the case with the caves of Ellora which date back to the Rashtrakuta dynasty, about 1,500 years ago. The 34 caves are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the hills of Charanandri and you will find here evidence of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain ‘viharas’ and ‘mathas’ that tell the story of how social and economic order was often represented through religion. Elsewhere, there are as important heritage sites, including the huge crater at Lonar which is ranked among the world’s five largest craters and the third-largest salt water lake in the world.
But if it is a profusion of colour and natural beauty that you wish to see, head to the Kaas Plateau, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nestled in the Sahyadri range of mountains, this unique ecosystem bursts into a landscape of flowers during the monsoon season. And if its peace you seek, there can be nothing better than a visit to the Global Vipassana Pagoda near Gorai in Mumbai, which also has Asia’s tallest stone structure rising majestically against a background of the shimmering waters of the Arabian Sea.
And just off the city of Mumbai is the Elephanta Island, which is not only an island playing host to a bounty of nature in the form of lush plantations of palm, mango and tamarind trees but is also home to ancient cave temples carved out of rock. In fact, the heritage sites of Maharashtra will leave you spellbound and have you turning the pages of history tomes to know more.