Maharashtra is one of India’s most populous states, with its capital of Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, being the well-known home of Bollywood and the Marathi film and television industry. The state is also distinctly recognised for its biodiversity in bird species, which are indigenous and exclusive to Maharashtra.
The state of Maharashtra is steeped with rich history, including historical landmarks that illustrate much of India’s long history. UNESCO World Heritage Site caves such as the Elephanta, Ellora and Ajanta Caves are evidence to ancient Hindu, Jain and Buddhist times. Powerful empires of ancient and medieval India ruled Maharashtra throughout the centuries, from the Satavahana Dynasty, to the Mughals, to the Marathas.Today, the cities of Pune and Satara are prominent for their remnants of the Maratha Empire.
Not only do historical landmarks captivate on the streets of Maharashtra, but so does the local fashion. Sarees produced in Maharashtra are held in high esteem. Maharashtrian sarees are hand woven from luxurious silk and embellished with opulent copper and gold zari work, and can take up to six months to complete. The city of Solapur is a prominent location for the production of these grand sarees.
Almost every Indian state has its own form of embroidery that is internationally recognised as being intricately designed and produced, and Maharashtra’s Banjara embroidery is no exception. Artisans of this exquisite craft are the nomadic Banjara community, locally known as Lamani and whose indigenous origins can be traced to Rajasthan. Banjara embroidery makes use of vivid decorative coins, tassels, dyed cottons and cowry shells to beautifully adorn garments and bags, alongside other textile crafts, such as mirror and bead work. Master artisans continue to Banjara embroider traditional skirts and have introduced the embroidery technique into contemporary products, such as jackets, belts and home décor.