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Satavahana dynasty (1st century BCE — 2nd century CE), who were the founders of Maharashtra have left a plethora of literary and archaeological evidence. All over Maharashtra are the relics of the glorious history, the great Chatrapati Shivaji bequeathed the Maratha Empire. Maharashtra has most of the country’s rock-cut and cave monuments.
The official language is Marathi although different regions have their own dialects. Marathi version of Devanagari, called Balbodh, is similar to the Hindi Devanagari alphabet. English is applicable in urban areas. Spoken Marathi language varies by district, area or locality in its tone and a few words. Konkani and Gujarati are also spoken in some areas. Other major dialects include Varhadii spoken in the Vidarbha region and Dangii spoken near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border. The sound ‘l’ (as 'l' in 'local') is abundantly used in many verbs and nouns in Marathi. It is replaced by the sound ‘j’ in the Varhadii dialect, which makes it quite distinct. According to the economic survey of Maharashtra (2008–09), the percentage of the state's population that names Marathi as its mother tongue has declined to 68.8% from 76.5% over the past three decades, while there has been a sharp rise in the Hindi-speaking population (11% from 5%) in the same period.
According to the 2011 census, Hinduism was the principal religion in the state at 79.8% of the total population, while Muslims constituted 11.5% of the total population. Buddhism accounted for 5.8% in Maharashtra's total population, with 6,531,200 followers, which is 77.36% of all Buddhists in India. Sikhs, Christians and Jains constituted 0.2%, 1.0%, 1.2% of the population respectively. The state contributed 9.28% to India's population. The sex ratio in Maharashtra was 925 females per 1000 males, which was below the national average of 940. The literacy rate rose to 83.2%.
Maharashtra is the wealthiest state by GDP and also the most industrialized state in India. It is one of the most developed states in India, contributing 25% of the country's industrial output and 23.2% of its GDP (2010–11). As of 2011, the state had a per capita income of ₹1.0035 lakh (US$1,600), more than the national average of ₹0.73 lakh (US$1,100).
Mumbai, the capital of the state is also the commercial capital of India, home to industrial and commercial enterprises. The most cosmopolitan of all Indian cities, it is rich in colonial monuments. The best known are the Gateway of India; Church Gate Station and Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus) of Indian Railway; Victoria and Albert, and Prince of Wales Museums; Elphinstone College, Flora Fountain, the Opera House, Hanging Gardens, mansions of Malabar Hills, its many Churches and Synagogues; temples of Babulnath, Walkeshwar, and Mahalakshmi; and Haji Ali Mosque. Until 1995, Mumbai was called Bombay, and the city still has many names with its use.
The most important of the historical monuments is the triad of Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta. Ajanta, declared a ‘World Heritage' site, is a complex of 30 rock-cut sanctuaries scoped out of a horseshoe shaped fold of the Sahyadris. Ellora’s 34 caves, Elephanta — the depicts of Maheshmurti — a 5 metre three-headed image of Lord Shiva. Other sites are Paithan, capital of the Satavahana Dynasty, Amravathi of free-standing rock complex, fort towns of Nagpur, Chikaldah, Purandhar, Raigadh, Parli, Solapur, Satara, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Chaul, Shivneri, and Kolhapur; palaces and museums of Pune; Aurangabad built by Aurangazeb; Ahmadnagar, capital of the Nizamshahi dynasty; Vasai, the Portuguese Fort; and Wardha and Shegaon of Gandhi’s Ashrams and mughal monuments of Aurangabad.
Among the religious sites are best-known are the Ashta (eight) Vinayak trail of Morgaon, Theur, Madh, Ranjangaon, Ojhar, Pali, Lenyadri, and Siddhatek; five of Hinduism’s 12 jyotirlingas at Bhimashankhar, Aundah, Ghrineshwar, Parli, and Trimbakeshwar; Nashik on the banks of Godavari, one of the four spots where, according to legend, a drop of the nectar of the Gods fell, and ‘Kumbh Mela’ is held every twelfth year. Other sights are Pandharpur’s Krishna Temple, Bhavani of Tuljapur worshipped by Shivaji. Famous temples are at Ambarnath, Ramtek, Mahaismal, Shegaon, Alandi and Panhala. Shirdi, is home to Saint Sai Baba. Nanded, the gurudwara here is dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh.
Hill stations of Matheran (800 meters), Mahabaleshwar (1353 meters), summer capital of the colonial Bombay Presidency, Panchgani (1293 meters), Khandala (550 meters) and Lonavale (624 meters), Bhandardara (740 meters), Kalsubai (the mountain itself height is 1646 meters ), Randha Falls, and Amriteshwar, a 1200 year old temple, and Amboli; beaches of Alibag, Murud and Alandi and hot spas of Akoli (287 meters), Vajreshwari, and Gaurhpuri are the best known tourist spots.
Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are Melghat, Navegaon, Tadoba, Krishnagiri Upavan, Nagzira, Salim Ali, Karnala.