Must see attractions in Maharashtra

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ellora

    Kailasa Temple

    One of India’s greatest monuments, this astonishing temple, carved from solid rock, was built by King Krishna I in AD 760 to represent Mt Kailasa (Kailash), Shiva’s Himalayan abode. To say that the assignment was daring would be an understatement. Three huge trenches were bored into the sheer cliff face, a process that entailed removing 200,000 tonnes of rock by hammer and chisel, before the temple could begin to take shape and its remarkable sculptural decoration could be added.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ajanta

    Ajanta Caves

    Ajanta’s caves line a steep face of a horseshoe-shaped gorge bordering the Waghore River. Five of the caves are chaityas (assembly or prayer halls) while others are viharas (monasteries with attached residential cells). Caves 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and part of 15 are early Buddhist caves, while the others date from around the 5th century AD (Mahayana period). In the austere early Buddhist school, the Buddha was never represented directly but always alluded to by a symbol such as the footprint or wheel of law.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

    Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

    One of the best places to see tigers in India, the seldom-visited Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, 150km south of Nagpur, is now much more accessible thanks to the upgrading of state highways. Despite not drawing the crowds of many other bigger name forest reserves in India, it is one of the best spots to get up close and personal with tigers and other wildlife.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ellora

    Ellora Cave Temples

    The saga of the hammer and chisel comes full circle at the Unesco World Heritage-listed Ellora cave temples, located 30km from Aurangabad. The pinnacle of ancient Indian rock-cut architecture, these caves were chipped out laboriously over five centuries by generations of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks.

  • Sights in Ajanta

    Cave 1

    Cave 1, a Mahayana vihara, was one of the last to be excavated and is the most beautifully decorated. This is where you’ll find a rendition of the Bodhisattva Padmapani, the most famous and iconic of the Ajanta artworks. A verandah in front leads to a large congregation hall housing sculptures and narrative murals known for their splendid perspective and elaborate detailing of dress, daily life and facial expressions.

  • Sights in Ajanta

    Cave 16

    Cave 16, a vihara, contains some of Ajanta’s finest paintings and is thought to have been the original entrance to the entire complex. The best known of these paintings is of the ‘dying princess’, Sundari, wife of the Buddha’s half-brother Nanda, who is said to have fainted at the news her husband was renouncing the material life (and her) in order to become a monk.

  • Sights in Ajanta

    Cave 19

    Cave 19, a magnificent chaitya, has a remarkably detailed facade; its dominant feature is an impressive horseshoe-shaped window. Two fine, standing Buddha figures flank the entrance. Inside is a three-tiered dagoba with a figure of the Buddha on the front. Outside the cave, to the west, sits a striking image of the Naga king with seven cobra hoods around his head. His wife, hooded by a single cobra, sits by his side.

  • Sights in Ellora

    Cave 10

    Cave 10 is the only chaitya in the Buddhist group and one of the finest in India. Its ceiling features ribs carved into the stonework; the grooves were once fitted with wooden panels. The balcony and upper gallery offer a closer view of the ceiling and a frieze depicting amorous couples. A decorative window gently illuminates an enormous figure of the teaching Buddha.

  • Sights in Ajanta

    Cave 2

    Cave 2 is a late Mahayana vihara with deliriously ornamented columns and capitals and some fine paintings. The ceiling is decorated with geometric and floral patterns. The murals depict scenes from the Jataka tales, including Buddha’s mother’s dream of a six-tusked elephant, which heralded his conception.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Aurangabad

    Bibi-qa-Maqbara

    Built by Aurangzeb’s son Azam Khan in 1679 as a mausoleum for his mother Rabia-ud-Daurani, Bibi-qa-Maqbara is widely known as the poor man’s Taj. With its four minarets flanking a central onion-domed mausoleum, the white structure certainly does bear a striking resemblance to Agra’s Taj Mahal.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Murud-Janjira

    Janjira Fort

    The commanding, brooding fortress of Janjira, built on an island 500m offshore, is the most magnificent of the string of forts that line the Konkan coastline. This citadel was completed in 1571 by the Siddis, descendants of slaves from the Horn of Africa, and was the capital of a princely state.

  • Sights in Pune

    Aga Khan Palace

    The grand Aga Khan Palace is set in a peaceful wooded 6.5-hectare plot northeast of the centre. Built in 1892 by Sultan Aga Khan III, this graceful building was where Mahatma Gandhi and other prominent nationalist leaders were interned by the British following Gandhi’s Quit India campaign in 1942.

  • Sights in Ellora

    Hindu Caves

    Drama and excitement characterise the Hindu group (Caves 13 to 29). In terms of scale, creative vision and skill of execution, these caves are in a league of their own. All these temples were cut from the top down, so it was never necessary to use scaffolding – the builders began with the roof and moved down to the floor. Highlights include caves 14, 15, 16, 21 and 29.

  • Sights in Ellora

    Jain Caves

    The five Jain caves, the last created at Ellora, may lack the ambitious size of the best Hindu temples, but they are exceptionally detailed, with some remarkable paintings and carvings. The caves are 1km north of the last Hindu temple (Cave 29) at the end of the bitumen road; an MSRTC bus departs from in front of Kailasa Temple and runs back and forth (₹20 return; 9.15am to 6pm).

  • Sights in Maharashtra

    Trimbakeshwar Temple

    The moody Trimbakeshwar Temple stands in the centre of Trimbak, 33km west of Nashik. It’s one of India’s most sacred temples, containing a highly venerated jyoti linga, one of the 12 most important shrines to Shiva. Although the sign says only Hindus are allowed in, it's outdated and non-Hindus are welcome to enter (expect mere seconds in the inner sanctum as security corrals the crowd through). Photos are prohibited.

  • Sights in Karla & Bhaja Caves

    Karla Caves

    Karla Cave, the largest early chaitya (Buddhist temple) in India, is reached by a 20-minute climb from a mini bazaar at the base of a hill. Completed in 80 BC, the chaitya is around 40m long and 15m high and sports a vaulted interior and intricately executed sculptures of Buddha, human and animal figures.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kolhapur

    Shree Chhatrapati Shahu Museum

    ‘Bizarre’ takes on a whole new meaning at this ‘new’ palace, an Indo-Saracenic behemoth designed by British architect ‘Mad’ Charles Mant for the Kolhapur kings in 1884. The madcap museum is a maze of countless trophies from the kings’ trigger-happy jungle safaris, including walking sticks made from leopard vertebrae and ashtrays fashioned out of tiger skulls and rhino feet.

  • Sights in Sevagram

    Sevagram Ashram

    Sevagram (Village of Service) was chosen by Mahatma Gandhi as his base during the Indian Independence Movement. Throughout the freedom struggle, the village played host to several nationalist leaders, who would regularly come to visit the Mahatma at his Sevagram Ashram. Today, the overseers of this peaceful ashram, which is built on 40 hectares of farmland, have carefully restored the original huts where Gandhi lived and worked, which now house some of his personal effects.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Pune

    Joshi's Museum of Miniature Railway

    Inside the small Soudamini Instruments factory in eastern Pune is what is claimed to be India's only miniature city, the lifelong obsession of model train enthusiast Bhau Joshi. In short, it's one of the world's great model train layouts, a detailed, fully functional and passionate display of mechanical and engineering wow.

  • Sights in Ajanta

    Cave 17

    With carved dwarfs supporting the pillars, cave 17 has Ajanta’s best-preserved and most varied paintings. Famous images include a princess applying make-up, a seductive prince using the old trick of plying his lover with wine, and the Buddha returning home from his enlightenment to beg from his wife and astonished son.