The state of Maharashtra is one of the largest in India. Most of the state stands on the high Deccan plateau which stretches east some 800 km. from the Western Ghats.
Located in the northern center of peninsular India, Maharashtra is surrounded by the Arabian sea in the west, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh on the north, Madhya Pradesh in the east and Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on the south. Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra, which derives its name from the Goddess Mumba Devi.
Historically this was the main centre for the Maratha Empire, which defied the Mughals for so long , and which, under the fearless rule of Shivaji , carved out a large part of central India as its domain . Maharashtra's many inland and coastal forts are a legacy of Shivaji and, to a lesser extent, the portuguese.
Mughal rulers from Delhi tried their best to keep this region under their control. From the middle of the 17th century, a new group of warrior people came to dominate the scene in Maharashtra and elsewhere in India called Marathas.
The origin of Marathas is still debatable, but what is known is that they stole the limelight from the great Mughals and at one point of time even captured Delhi. It was only after defeating the Marathas that the English could establish their rule in India. Shivaji was the first great ruler of Marathas and it was he who paved the way for future Maratha influence on India.