Pune, the second largest city in Maharashtra, is the state's cultural capital, with a population of 2.5 million people. About 170-km from Mumbai by road, Pune was the bastion of the Maratha empire. Under the reign of the Peshwas - key ministers in the Maratha Empire - Pune blossomed into a centre of art and learning. Several far-reaching revenue and judicial reforms were also initiated in the city.
The British developed Pune as a military town when they captured it in 1818. Educational institutes there include the College of Military Engineering and the University of Pune, which offers a diverse choice of engineering, agriculture and technical courses.
A number of industries were located in Pune after Independence, as the city had well-connected road and rail links and a pool of technical and professional personnel.
Bajaj Auto, the world’s largest manufacturer of scooters and three wheelers, TELCO (Tata Electric and Locomotive Company), the manufacturer of India’s primary commercial vehicles and trucks, and the luxury car-maker, Mercedes Benz are located here. Software companies are the newest entrants into Pune's vibrant atmosphere. With the setting up of these new industries, there has been a corresponding increase in both the population and standards of lifestyle; today Pune is rapidly maturing into a prime industrial town, while retaining all its old charm, a unique blend of British and Maratha influences.
One of the holy cities of the Hindu tradition, Nashik lies on the banks of the sacred river Godavari and has a population of about 0.725 million people. It is believed that Lord Rama, hero of the great Indian epic, the Ramayana, spent a major part of his exile here. Nashik is also a temple town, with over 200 temples.
Nashik is located at a distance of 195 km from Mumbai by road on the Bombay-Agra highway. It is also a major pilgrimage centre. The greatest event in Nashik is the sacred Kumbha Mela, held to commemorate a mythological story. The mela (a religious carnival) occurs every 12 years (equal to one day for the gods) and attracts millions of people from India and abroad. This event is held alternately at Nashik, Hardwar, Ujjain and Allahabad, which are among the major pilgrimage centres in the country.
The nerve centre of Vidarbha (eastern Maharashtra), Nagpur - the 'orange city' as it is known - is located in the heart of India, with a population of about 1.7 million people. It is dotted with many picturesque sites, including the civil lines and well-laid-out gardens. Nagpur has much to offer by way of relaxation. It was the old capital of the Bhonsale rulers, the former Central Provinces and Berar. The city is noted for its antiquity and is about 868 km from Mumbai by road.
Nagpur is a growing industrial centre and the home of several industries, ranging from food products and chemicals to electrical and transports equipment.
Malik Ambar, the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam Shah II, and the then ruler of the Deccan (central parts of Southern India), founded Aurangabad in 1610. The city has a population of about 0.593 million people.
Aurangabad derives its name from Prince Aurangzeb (who later became a Mughal emperor), who made it his regional capital when he was Viceroy of Deccan. His legacy is reflected in the architecture of the city. Even today, Aurangabad is a hub of culture and history in the Marathwada region. The Bibi-ka-Maqbara is the only example of Mughal architecture in the Deccan plateau; it was built in 1679 as a tribute to Aurangzeb’s wife, Begum Rabia Durani, by his son.
Close to the city of Aurangabad are the famous Ajanta and Ellora caves, an architectural marvel. Through the caves, visitors can trace the evolution of three great world religions - Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
Aurangabad is famous for Paithani saris, himroo shawls and bidri work (zinc with silver embedding).
In southern Maharashtra, on the banks of the river Panchganga, Kolhapur is an ancient town known for its exquisite palaces and forts. In 1945, archaeological excavations close to a hill near Kolhapur revealed the existence of an ancient town dating back to the times of the Roman empire. Today, Kolhapur is a modern city with a population of about 0.419 million people and a thriving industrial infrastructure