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(məhä`rəshtrə), state (2001 provisional pop. 96,752,247), 118,530 sq mi (306,993 sq km), W India, on the Arabian Sea. The city of MumbaiMumbai
, formerly Bombay
, city (1991 pop. 3,175,000), capital of Maharashtra state, W central India, occupying c.25 sq mi (65 sq km) on Mumbai (Bombay) and Salsette islands on the Arabian Sea coast. Mumbai Island was created in the 19th cent.
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 (formerly Bombay) is the capital. The state was formed in 1960, when the old state of Bombay was split along linguistic lines into two new states, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Marathi is the official language of the state, the second most populous in India, and Hinduism is the predominant religion.

The mountains of the Western Ghats run parallel to the coast of the state, leaving a narrow strip known as the Konkan between the Arabian Sea and the interior plateau. There is a series of small ports along the coast in addition to Mumbai. Beyond the Western Ghats is a vast plateau drained by the Tapi, Godavari, Bhima, Krishna, Wardha, and Vainganga rivers. The great Tapi trough, a fertile belt where cotton is cultivated, is there. The heaviest rainfall is along the coastal area, where it averages 80 to 120 in. (203–305 cm) a year. The climate in general is tropical. In the plateau areas, only 25 to 80 in. (64–203 cm) of rain fall annually, creating a semiarid climatic zone. Rice, grown in the coastal area, is the primary food crop, but it is supplemented by the production of grain sorghum and small millet. The state is rich in minerals; manganese, iron ore, bauxite, coal, and salt are mined. Industry, including the manufacture of textiles, electrical products, and chemicals, is mainly concentrated in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, and Nagpur.

The Muslim rulers of India controlled the area of Maharashtra from the early 14th cent. to the mid-17th cent., when the great Maratha leader ŚivajiŚivaji
or Shivaji
, 1627–80, Indian ruler, leader of the Marathas. The son of a Maratha chieftain, he was imbued from early childhood with hatred of the Mughal empire, which controlled most of India.
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 formed a Maharashtran confederacy. In the 16th cent., Portugal was the leading foreign power in the region, but Great Britain gradually gained influence and by the early 19th cent. had incorporated the Maharashtran area into the Bombay presidency, which later became a province of British India. Maharashtra is governed by a chief minister and cabinet responsible to a bicameral legislature with one elected house and by a governor appointed by the president of India.



a state in India, in the northwestern part of the Hindustan Peninsula. Area, 308,000 sq km. Population, 50.3 million (1971); for the most part Marathas. The city of Bombay is the administrative center.

The territory of Maharashtra includes the northwestern part of the Deccan Plateau, a belt of the Western Ghats, and a narrow lowland along the Arabian Sea (Konkan coast). The climate is monsoonal, hot, and damp on the coasts and more arid in inner regions. Fertile black soils (regurs) are widely found on the traps of the Deccan Plateau.

Maharashtra is India’s most industrially developed state (along with West Bengal). It accounts for almost one-fourth of the net output of India’s manufacturing industry and approximately one-fifth of those employed in this sector. More than 60 percent of the population is employed in agriculture. Maharashtra holds first place in the country in cotton yield (one-fifth of the national crop), which is generally of the short-staple variety and is grown in the inner regions of the Deccan Plateau; it also holds first place in peanut production. Other oil-bearing plants are raised, and sugarcane plantings are being expanded. The main part of the sowing area is under grain crops, including durra (one-third of the national yield), wheat, and rice. Dry-valley farming predominates, with only 6 percent of crop lands being irrigated.

Cotton is the most important branch of industry, with 25 percent of the country’s yarn and 33 percent of its fabrics being produced in Maharashtra. Bombay is the chief center of this traditional branch. Other branches of textile production such as silk (including the manufacture of artificial silk in which the state holds first place in the country) and wool are well developed, as is food industry (sugar, butter, flour). The importance of machine building (machine tools, electrical machinery, automotive vehicles) and the chemical (dyes, artificial fiber, drugs) and petrochemical industries has increased during the years of independence.

New factories and plants are concentrated mainly in the Bombay-Thana-Poona industrial belt, which accounts for more than 85 percent of the net value of output of the state’s manufacturing industry. Nearly half of India’s imports pass through the port of Bombay. The country’s first atomic reactor has been built in the vicinity of Greater Bombay, in Trombay.

The urban agglomeration of Greater Bombay is second in India after the Calcutta agglomeration. Nagpur and Sholapur are other centers of the state’s manufacturing industry.

Mining is well-developed in the eastern section of the state (in the vicinity of Vidarbha); manganese ore (about one-fifth of the national output) and coal are mined. Maharashtra has energy shortages. India’s first atomic power plant, built jointly by Maharashtra and Gujarat, operates in Tarapur. Maharashtra is distinguished by sharp regional disproportions in levels of economic development.


Historical survey. First mention of Maharashtra as a territory settled by the Marathas dates to the beginning of the common era. It was first described by Hsiian-tsang (seventh century). The territory of Maharashtra served as a basis or important part of many powerful states, including that of the Satavahanas, Vakatakas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Yadavas, Bahmani, and Ahmadnagar. A Maratha state headed by Sivaji emerged here in the 1660’s and 1670’s. In the 18th century it broke up into the Maratha principalities (Maratha confederacy). In the early 19th century Maharashtra fell under the control of the English colonialists. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the region of Maharashtra was one of the centers of the national liberation movement and of peasant revolts. Most of its territory was part of the province of Bombay until 1950, and later of Bombay State. In 1960 the separate state of Maharashtra was established.


Reisner, I. M. Narodnye dvizheniia v Indii v XVII-XVIII vv. Moscow, 1961.
Sardesai, G. S. New History of the Marathas, vols. 1-3. Bombay, 1946-48.


a state of W central India, formed in 1960 from the Marathi-speaking S and E parts of former Bombay state: lies mainly on the Deccan plateau; mainly agricultural. Capital: Bombay. Pop.: 96 752 247 (2001). Area: 307 690 sq. km (118 800 sq. miles)
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