Her diverse and colorful cultures, woven into one gigantic quilt. Her festivals that galvanize the sleepy thousands into fervent motion. And her miles of silver, white beaches, stretched taut and inviting over the entire coast. Welcome aboard a travel package that gives you a glimpse into this vibrant and beautiful land.
Welcome to Maharashtra. A land untouched, unsullied, unlimited.
In ancient times, the region to the north of Narmada river was called UttaraPath or Aryavarta and the region to the south of Narmada was called DakshinaPath. The Artha Shastra written by Arya Chanakya alias Kautilya during the regime of Chandragupta Maurya refers to Ashmak or Aparanta regions. Ashmak is the region surrounding today’s Ajanta. A rock edict from the fourth century has been found in village Eran in Madhya Pradesh near district Sagar. In this rock edict, General Satyanag refers to himself as Maharashtra. In the next century, Swami Chakradhar, founder of the Mahanubhav sect, prompts his followers to call oneself as Maharashtri.
Carbon-14 dating of the objects found at the excavation sites near Nashik, Jorve, Nevasa, Chandoli, Sonegaon, Inamgaon, Dayamabad, Nandur, Madhyameshwar fixes the time of proto historic settlements in Maharashtra between 5 lakh to 30 lakh BC. From these and excavations near riverbeds, historians have concluded that stone-age man lived in Maharashtra nearly a hundred thousand years ago. Slowly, these settlements grew. Outsiders, especially from the north came to Maharashtra as generals, king’s ambassadors and soldiers. After initial conflict, the locals and the outsiders settled in peaceful coexistence.
In the historical period the following were the major powers in Maharashtra:
- Shree Satkarni and Gautam’s son Satkarni from the Satvahan dynasty,
- Vindhyashakti and Pravarsen II of Wakataka dynasty,
- Satyashree Pulakeshi and Vikramaditya of Chalukya dynasty,
- Mananka, Dantidurga, Pratham Krishna, Dhruvaraj of Rashtrakut dynasty,
- Anantadev and Aparaditya of Kadamba dynasty of Gomantak,
- Dhrudhavrat, Bhillam and RamdevaRaya of Yadava dynasty.
- These kings contributed greatly to the history of Maharashtra. This, in brief, is the ancient history of Maharashtra.
The medieval history of Maharashtra begins with King RamdevRaya Yadava of the Yadava dynasty. Allauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, had heard about the immense wealth of the Yadava. With the aim of capturing this wealth and extending his empire to the south Khilji attacked Devgiri (today’s Daulatabad), the Yadava centre of power. The king Ramachandra Yadava did not offer stiff resistance. Later, the resistance offered by the Yadava was quickly broken by Malik Kafur, Allauddin’s general. After RamadevRaya alias Raja Ramachandra, his son Shankardev and son-in-law Harpaldev Yadava came to power. But neither could overthrow the foreign rule in Maharashtra. The name of Allauddin went down in history as the first Sultan to conquer the south. This occurred in 1318, nearly six hundred and ninety years ago. With History writing not having matured enough to record the voice of people, the reaction of the common people in Maharashtra to this change in rule has been lost forever.
After Khilji the Tughlaq dynasty came to power in Delhi. Their attitude towards Maharashtra was similar to that of Khilji. Muhammad Tughlaq of Tughlaq dynasty is famed throughout the history of Maharashtra because he shifted the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in order to have better control on the southern region and also to escape the constant threat of foreign invasions of Delhi. Several people died in the journey from Delhi to Daulatabad. Tughlaq also realized the difficulty of simultaneously controlling Delhi and Daulatabad due to lack of speedy communication. There were rebellions in Delhi. The capital was shifted back to Delhi. Even as Tughlaq was on the move back to Delhi, there was a revolt in Daulatabad. He sent some of his knights to crush the revolt but they failed to curb it. The rebels captured Nijamuddin, the representative of Delhi. The leader of rebels, Ismail Makh, called himself Nasiruddin Shah and established a separate State in Daulatabad. Any possibility of revival of local powers in Maharashtra were squashed. Upon hearing the news of this revolt, Tughlaq himself started towards Daulatabad with a huge army. Nasiruddin ran away upon hearing the news. But on the way to Daulatabad, Tughlaq had to divert his route and go to Gujarat to curb the rebellion. He passed on the campaign to his underling. But the rebels under Nasiruddin Shah’s leadership defeated Tughlaq’s army. Thus, Nasiruddin Shah came to power in Maharashtra.
On 3rd August 1347 Nasiruddin Shah passed on the mantle to Allauddin Hasan or Allauddin Hasan Gangu Bahamani. He, and later his son, started calling themselves Bahaman Shah and inscribed the title on the coins issued by them. Thus the dynasty came to be called as Bahamani. It ruled for 190 years, from 1347 to 1538. There were 18 kings who ruled under this dynasty. Of these eighteen, eight were capable, three were murdered, two blinded, one died at a young age while four were just titular heads. In the first two decades of sixteenth century the Bahamani rule broke into five centres of powers: Baridshahi of Beedar, Nijamshahi of Ahmednagar, Adilshahi of Bijapur, Imadshahi of Elichpur in Varhad and Kutubshahi of Gowalkonda. Raja Alikhan Farruki, a contemporary of Allauddin Hasan, established a kingdom of Farrukis in Dhamner in Khandesh while Rathod established a kingdom in Baglan. Maharashtra got divided into these centres of power. Within twenty years the Mughal emperor Akbar demolished Imadshahi and also liquidated Farruki kingdom. Baridshahi came to an end little later. Nijamshahi, Adilshahi and Kutubshahi were destroyed by the Mughal. None of these kingdoms lasted more than two hundred years. In order to consolidate and establish their power these powers used the masses in Maharashtra. People from various castes progressed and established themselves. The Sultans had no option but to have them in their bureaucratic and military structure. This laid the foundation of Swarajya. During this period all the areas of social life were influenced by the religion and culture of the ruling class. The saint poets of Maharashtra played an important role in awakening people and creating awareness about Maharashtra Dharma (the ethos, culture, and religion of Maharashtra).
Justice M.G. Ranade in his book The Rise of Maratha Power comments on the role played by the saints thus: The saints reduced the inequality amongst various castes. By creating an atmosphere of equality in Maharashtra they prepared the ground, in which Shivaji Maharaj could sow the seed of freedom later. The creation of regional identity of Maharashtra and creation of literature in the regional languages were two major contributions of the Bhakti (devotion) cult propagated by the saints. The saints thus help shape the Maharashtrian culture. They propagated Vedic ideals in the local languages.
The Bhakti cult originated in the thirteenth century. It gave prime importance to Bhakti or devotion and considered it the only tool of attainment of God. The Bhagawat Dharma (religion) did not discriminate people on the basis of gender, caste, social or financial position. These ideas were propagated by Nath Panth, Mahanubhav and Warkari sects. Saint poets like Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Tukaram, Eknath, Narahari Sonar, Gora Kumbhar, Rohidasand Kanakdas, Kanhopatra, Janabai and Chokhamela enlightened Maharashtra.
The Bhosale Family
After the disintegration of Bahamani kingdom, the five powers of Deccan ruled, relying heavily upon the local chieftains. Major amongst these were the Jadhav and Bhosale. The history of the Bhosale family since Maloji Raje is well documented. MalojiRaje was one of the Chief Mansubdars of Nijamshah. He had two sons, Shahaji and Sharifji. Shahaji’s wife was Jijabai who was the daughter of another prominent chieftain, Lakhuji Jadhavrao. ShahajiRaje and Jijabai had two sons: SambhajiRaje and ShivajiRaje. ShahajiRaje shot to fame after the battle of Bhatavdi.
SambhajiRaje was killed in battle. After working with the Nijamshah, Adilshah, and the Mughals, ShahajiRaje came to realize the importance of an independent State. Though he could not establish it himself, his dream was realized by his son Shivaji Raje.
Era of the Peshwa
Balaji Vishwanath convinced Kanhoji Angre ,the Chief of Maratha Navy, to join hands with Shahu. On 16th November 1713 Shahu appointed Balaji Vishwanath his Peshwa. Maharani Tarabai established her power in Kolhapur. The Maratha power was divided. In 1719 Balaji Vishwanath went to Delhi and released Maharani Yesubai. He also procured rights to self-administration and revenue collection in six Moghul provinces. Shahu’s childhood was spent in Moghul captivity. Also the fact that the Moghuls kept him alive and released him affected him a great deal. So he advised the Peshwa to expand the boundaries of Maratha powers but to protect the Moghul throne.
Another important achievement of Balaji Vishwanath was the creation of Maratha Mandal or the confederation of Maratha generals. Under this scheme the Maratha generals they were given a limited sovereignty in the region of their influence and were encouraged to expand their regional borders in all directions. Balaji Vishwanath died on 2nd April 1720 in Saswad.
His eldest son Bajirao succeeded him. He was trained well by his father. Bajirao never lost a single battle. He was invincible in this sense. He expanded the boundaries of Maratha power. Bajirao defeated the Nizam, curbed the rebellion of some of the Maratha generals like Dabhade, helped king Chhatrasal, defeated the Siddis and the Portuguese. He led the Maratha armies into territories of Malwa, Gujrat, Bundelkhand and Delhi. A stagnated society generates infighting. Bajirao provided new avenues to the brave Maratha chieftains; they started looking towards north. Shaniwarwada, the seat of Peshwa power faces north. Marathas filled the power vacuum created by Aurangazeb’s death. Bajirao died in 1740.
His eldest son Balaji Bajirao alias Nanasaheb, as an heir, became the new Peshwa. This Peshwa unnecessarily sowed the seeds of dissent among Maratha generals. With the help of the British, he completely demolished the kingdom painstakingly built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj . He created feelings of animosity in the Hindu rulers of Rajputana and Malwa, fought with the Bhonsale’s of Nagpur. Instead of leading the armies to Panipat himself, he sent Vishwasrao and Sadashivrao, thus courting defeat. But it also must be noted that the Marathas were the only power that offered resistance to Ahmedshah Abdali when he attacked Delhi. They fought on behalf of entire India. Nanasaheb could not face the defeat in Panipat and died in shock.
His second son Madhavrao came to power. He had a very short tenure between 1761 to 1772, but he rehabilitated the Maratha power broken by Panipat. He encouraged the able generals Shinde and Holkar, curbed the ambitions of his uncle Raghunathrao, Janoji Bhonsale of Nagpur, Haider and Nizam. He died in 1772 without leaving an heir.
Narayanrao, the younger brother of Madhavrao ascended the throne. With him the power struggle became bloody and parricidal. Narayanrao’s uncle Raghunathrao had him killed through a conspiracy and tried to become a Peshwa himself. The court did not accept Raghunathrao as a Peshwa, so the generals crowned Narayanrao’s new born son, Sawai Madhavrao as a Peshwa at the tender age of forty days! A council of ministers Barbhai consisting of Nana Phadnis, Haripant Phadake, Sakharambapu Bokil, Tryambakrao Pethe, Moroba Phadnis, Bapuji Naik, Maloji Ghorpade, Bhavanrao Pratinidhi, Raste, Patwardhan, Mahadaji Shinde and Tukoji Holkar together ran the government. Nana Phadnis looked after the matters in the south while Mahadaji Shinde was to look after the matters in the north. But Shinde died in 1793. In 1795, Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao committed suicide in Shaniwarwada.
Raghunathrao’s son Bajirao II became the Peshwa in 1796. His rule continued till 1818. Before him none of the Peshwas’ rule had lasted twenty two years. Nana Phadnis died in 1800 and with him even the wisdom of Maratha power came to an end. A struggle for supremacy between Shinde and Holkar began. In 1802 Peshwa Bajirao II signed an agreement with the British for contractual forces. The Marathas and British fought three wars. The Maratha power was defeated by the British. Marathas lost because they were fighting with the representatives of a rapidly developing materialist society with the arms and mindset of a medieval culture. The Marathas forgot the adage 'The culture that has better arms is greater'. The British benefited because of the industrial revolution. Some of the causes of the Maratha defeat were the absence of nationalist sentiment, lack of complete control either over the north or the south, absence of fast and effective means of communication, lack of discipline, inability and unwillingness to occupy the Delhi throne, absence of intelligence gathering agencies and debts. The Marathas forgot that the loots can bail you out of an economic crisis temporarily but the need to find a permanent solution remains.
Struggle for Independence
The East India Company
The East India Company, which came into being on 31st December 1600, progressed gradually from scales to sword and from sword to power. The Portuguese in India limited themselves to Goa, while the East India Company set up its shop in the Moghul territories. Charles II , the king of England married Catherine de Braganza of Portugal who brought the port of Mumbai into the coffers of the British with her as dowry. This whole thing was illegal, since the territory did not belong to the Portuguese technically. Taking advantage of the location of port Mumbai the British rapidly spread their power in Maharashtra from 1818 to 1857. The East India Company took over the lands belonging to Pratapsinh Maharaja of Satara by deceit. The Governor General Lord Dalhousie refused to recognize adoptions and brought the kingdoms with adoptive heirs under the British control. Elphinstone cleverly brought the Mumbai region under control. Elphinstone created the bureaucratic apparatus ‘Clerk to Collector’ which stands even today.
In 1850 municipal corporations were created so as to facilitate people’s participation in the administration. Since 1861 separate police official was appointed for each district to facilitate themselves and maintain peace and organization in Mumbai. In 1894 the prison codes came into being. The British deemed all Indians equal before the Law. In 1833 the Law Commission was established and in 1837 the penal code was implemented. This gave rise to a hierarchical and expensive judicial system. The Bombay High Court was established on 14th August 1862. By banning the owning of arms by Indians, the swords of Marathas were left to rot. The Post and Telegraph began before 1857. Compilation of Gazetteers began in 1865 while the first census was carried out in 1871.
New systems of revenue collection like the Ryotwari , Kayamdhara and others were introduced in Maharashtra. The Inam commission was appointed to look into the feudal rights and land donations. Thirty two thousand estates came under enquiry, twenty one thousand estates were confiscated due to lack of proper documentation while documents regarding several estates were burnt and destroyed. This gave rise to general dissent among the populace.
In 1818 the Bhils of Khandesh revolted against the British power under the leadership of Godaji Dengle and Mahipa Dengale. There were several revolts in Maharashtra, noted amongst them were revolt of Dharmaji Prataprao in Beed (1818), Hansaji Naik Hatkar’s revolt in Nanded (1819-20) , the armed rebellion of Chirsingh, Sattu Naik, Umaji Naik (1826-31) , the rebellion of Savantwadi (1828-38), the Gadkari revolt in Kolhapur (1844). These revolts were crushed by the British. But people from Kolhapur, Satara, Mumbai, Khandesh, Nasik, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Jamakhindi, Nargund, Solapur and Mudhol participated voluntarily and actively in the War of Independence of 1857. The leaders of the 1857, Peshwa Nanasaheb alias Dhondopant, Queen of Zhansi, Tatya Tope etc. were defeated.
Between 1874-78 people revolted against oppressive regimes of local moneylenders in many places in Maharashtra. Collectively these revolts are known as Deccan revolts. Vasudev Balawant Phadake (1845-1883) who wanted to overthrow the British regime by armed revolt , was imprisoned and served sentence in prison in Eden till his death. From all these rebellions, it dawned on the people of Maharashtra that they would not be able to sustain an armed rebellion against the British for an extended period of time. This gave rise to political institutions. The Bombay Association, that laid the foundations of Indian politics came into existence on 26th August 1852. Jagannath Shankarshet, Dadabhai Nowrojee were among its founders. The main aim of the Association was to take the concerns of the Indian people to the British rulers and address issues and tackle problems.
The next milestone was the establishment of Sarvajanik Sabha (social council). The Sabha, founded by Ganesh Vasudev Joshi (known as Sarvajanik Kaka, Kaka=uncle), started an agitation against the salt tax. It helped the Indians in Mauritius, helped pass a law in favour of the peasants in the south, contributed greatly in areas like establishing famine relief committee, freedom of press, Swadeshi, translation of famine code. This laid the foundation for the Indian National Congress party. The meaning of Congress is coming together! The first meeting of the Indian National Congress took place on 28th December, 1885 in the Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit School. Of the seventy two representatives, thirty eight representatives came from the Bombay region. Amongst those from Maharashtra the following were present: Dadabhai Nowrojee, Justice M.G. Ranade, Firozeshah Metha, Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
Era of Tilak
Later Lokamanya Tilak became truly an Indian National leader because of the sacrifices he made, the imprisonments that he underwent and his efforts towards independence and social development. Tilak promoted Swarajya , Swadeshi , Nationalist education and boycott. His articles in the Kesari, public celebration of ShivJayanti and Ganesh festivals, his work during the famine, writings on GeetaRahasya (the truth behind the Geeta, a holy book of the Hindus), and his incarceration in Dongri-Mandale gave him public acceptance (Lokmanya) and the status of a national leader. He also supported the Irish Home Rule movement. During Tilak’s times Chaphekar brothers from Pune assassinated the ‘Plague Commissioner’ Rand. Swatantrya Veer Savarkar founded a revolutionary organization named Abhinav Bharat in 1904 towards independence of India through forceful means. Inspired by Savarkar, Madanlal Dhingra shot Curzon Wyllie in England. Jackson, the collector of Nasik was shot by Anant Kanhere. Senapati Pandurang Mahadev Bapat went abroad to learn how to make bombs. Savarkar was tried and sent on exile to the Andaman Islands. Vishnu Ganesh Pingale, Shivram Hari Rajguru, Babu Genu, Shirish Kumar and others laid down their lives for sake of freeing the country. The death of Lokmanya Tilak in 1920 brought about the end of his era.
United Maharashtra came into being on 1st May 1960. The State of Maharashtra was created under the framework of reconstruction of States on linguistic criteria. But one hundred and six people had to lay down their lives before it could come into being. Before the creation of Unified Maharashtra, a bilingual State came into being. The Maharashtrians continuously opposed the then Congress government on this issue and a separate State of Maharashtra with Mumbai as its capital but without the territory of Karwar and Belgaum, came into being.
Yashwantrao Chavan became the first Chief Minister of Maharashtra. His tenure lasted from 1st May 1960 to 19th November 1962. He had participated in the freedom struggle. Free education, establishment of Universities for higher education, preparatory school for the defense forces, development of Adivasis, development of cooperative movement, establishing of eighteen sugar factories in cooperative sector, transfer of land holdings to the tiller, irrigation and industry, hydro electric power project at Koyna, establishment of village level governance, establishment of a council for the development of Marathi Literature and Culture, council for creation of Marathi encyclopaedia etc. are some of the special features of his tenure. In 1962 after the Chinese aggression, he was incorporated into the central cabinet as the Defence Minister.
Marotrao Kannamwar became the chief minister of Maharashtra for the period 10th November 1962 to 24th November 1963. He started the National Defence Fund and the Kapus Ekadhikar Yojana, an umbrella scheme for cotton. He died while in office so the charge was taken over by P. K. Sawant as a caretaker Chief Minister for the period 25th November 1963 to 4th November 1963.
Vasantrao Naik followed him as a Chief Minister of Maharashtra and occupied the post from 5th December 1963 to 20th February 1975. Some of the important features of his tenure were: purchase of crops like cotton, jowar, rice etc. by the government, sanctioning loans to farmers to buy cattle, rural employment guarantee scheme, poverty eradication scheme, founding of agricultural universities, establishment of open prisons, government lottery and making Marathi the official State language.
Shankarrao Chavan became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for the period of 21st February 1975 to 16th April 1977. Outstanding features of his tenure were: Jayakwadi project, irrigation canals, zero based budget, family planning and family welfare, formulation of guidelines for various committees, establishing Marathwada Rural Bank, laying of broad gauge railways, training of the members of legislative assembly, implementation of Jawahar Employment Scheme. Shankarrao Chavan became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra once again in 1986 for two years.
Vasantdada Patil who followed Chavan as a Chief Minister of Maharashtra , became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for four times. He was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra in the years 1977 – 78 and 1983-85. He made an important contribution to the development of the cooperative movement, sugar factories and establishment of non - aided educational institutes.
Sharad Pawar, who followed Patil as a Chief Minister also became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra four times. (in the years 78-80, 88-90, 90-91, 93-95). Sharad Pawar made effective changes in the Kapus Ekadhikar Yojana, encouraged orchard plantations, encouraged use of new agricultural techniques, agricultural exports, industrial development, provided reservation to women in elections, carried out excellent rehabilitation work after the earth quake.
There was a president’s rule in Maharashtra from 17th February 1980 to 8th June 1980.
Barrister A.R. Antule became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on 9th June 1980. He was a Chief Minister of Maharashtra till 20th January1982. He is famous for the fast track decisions he took, waiving the loans to the farmers, increasing the pension scale, creating new districts and carrying out public construction works.
From 21st January 1982 to 1st February 1983 Babasaheb Bhosale was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He carried out several welfare schemes for poor families, gave insurance coverage to the fishermen, reduced the salaries of the ministers, increased the pension to the freedom fighters, started the Amaravati University, helped the Marathi film industry, and started the Aurangabad bench of High Court.
After him Vasantdada Patil became the Chief Minister and then Shivajirao Nilangekar became the Chief Minister for the period 3rd June 1985 to 13th March 1986. Important features of Nilangekar’s tenure include development packages for Marathwada, Vidharbha and Konkan, insurance scheme for crops, electrification, taking the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation to the taluka level, distribution of free television sets, people’s courts, rewards to inter caste marriages, free education up to twelfth standard to the girls and establishment of separate environment protection cell.
Shankarrao Chavan then became the Chief Minister, followed by Sharad Pawar and then Sudhakarrao Naik (from 25th June 1991 to 5th March 1993) Sudhakarrao Naik brought about the division of the political party Shivsena and brought Chhagan Bhujbal into the Congress party. He also helped spread awareness about water conservation, established separate cell for women and children. During his tenure the biography of Mahatma Gandhi was published and marketed by the government.
Manohar Joshi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shivsena combine became the Chief Minister from 14th March 1995 to 31st March 1999. For the first time, a non-Congress government came to power in Maharashtra. The chief architects of this combine were Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray and Pramod Mahajan of BJP. Notable achievements of this government were: construction of flyovers in Mumbai, the Mumbai-Pune expressway, Commission for development of Krishna Valley, free housing schemes for the urban poor, Zunka-Bhakar (staple food of the poor) for one Rupee, ridding Maharashtra of water tankers (by establishing water distribution system), establishing sports academy, waiving travel fees for senior citizens, Matoshree old age homes.
Narayan Rane became the Chief Minister after Manohar Joshi (1st February 1999 to 17th October 1999) The government carried out the following schemes under Narayan Rane: Establishment of retirement age, Jeejamata insurance scheme for women, Baliraja insurance cover to farmers, establishing of residential schools for sugarcane farm labourers, cancelling of octroi and connecting all the districts through internet.
The Congress and Rashtravadi Congress united front came to power and Vilasrao Deshmukh became the Chief Minister for the period 18th October 1999 to 17th January 2003. The important steps taken by this government include curtailing unnecessary new recruitments, a help package of one thousand crores for the farmers, controlling expenses, RashtraSant Tukadoji Maharaj and Saint Gadagebaba Cleanliness Drive, introduction of English from first standard, appointment of Shikshan Sevak (temporary teachers), designing new course in Information Technology, establishing Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Minority Development Corporation, improving social distribution system and establishment of residential schools.
Sushil Kumar Shinde became the Chief Minister for the period starting from 18th January 2003 to 31st October 2004. Some important decisions of this government include relief from water tanker supply, free supply of text books, provision of electric power, appointment of scheduled caste and scheduled tribes commission, reorganization of backward class commission, filling the backlog in appointment of reserved category candidates, appointment of Child Rights Cell.
Vilasrao Deshmukh was re-elected as a Chief Minister of Maharashtra on1st November 2004.
Around this time a new party, the Maharashtra NavaNirman Sena, was formed by youth leader Raj Thackeray to consolidate the position of Marathi speakers in Maharashtra. Agitations for wide spread use of Marathi language, jobs to local people, use of Marathi on hoardings, stopping influx of outsiders (especially from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh), agitation about employment in the Central Railways, these are some of the issues taken up by Maharashtra NavaNirman Sena of Raj Thackeray. Some of these issues are now being discussed at the national level.