Maharashtra (, abbr. MH) is a state in the western peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. It is the second-most populous state and third-largest state by area in India. Spread over 307713 km2, it is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, the Indian states of Karnataka and Goa to the south, Telangana to the southeast and Chhattisgarh to the east, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh to the north, and the Indian union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the north west. It is also the world's second-most populous subnational entity.
Maharashtra was formed by merging the western and south-western parts of the Bombay State, Berar and Vidarbha, and the north-western parts of the Hyderabad State and splitting Saurashtra (in present-day Gujarat) by the States Reorganisation Act. It has over 112 million inhabitants and its capital, Mumbai, has a population around 18 million making it the most populous urban area in India. Nagpur hosts the winter session of the state legislature. Pune is known as the 'Oxford of the East' due to the presence of several well-known educational institutions. Nashik is known as the 'Wine Capital of India' as it has the largest number of wineries and vineyards in the country.
The Godavari and the Krishna are the two major rivers in the state. The Narmada and Tapi Rivers flow near the border between Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Maharashtra is the third-most urbanised state of India. Prior to Indian independence, Maharashtra was chronologically ruled by the Satavahana dynasty, Rashtrakuta dynasty, Western Chalukyas, Deccan sultanates, Mughals and Marathas, and the British. Ruins, monuments, tombs, forts, and places of worship left by these rulers are dotted around the state. They include the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Ajanta and Ellora caves. The numerous forts are associated with the life of Shivaji.
Maharashtra is the wealthiest state by all major economic parameters and also the most industrialized state in India. The state continues to be the single largest contributor to the national economy with a share of 15% in the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The economy of Maharashtra is the largest state economy in India with in GDP and a per capita GDP of. Maharashtra has the ninth highest ranking among Indian states in human development index.
The modern Marathi language developed from the Maharashtri Prakrit, and the word Marhatta (later used for the Marathas) is found in the Jain Maharashtri literature. The terms Maharashtra, Maharashtri, Marathi, and Maratha may have derived from the same root. However, their exact etymology is uncertain.
The most widely accepted theory among the linguistic scholars is that the words Maratha and Maharashtra ultimately derived from a combination of Maha (महा) and rashtrika (राष्ट्रिका), the name of a tribe or dynasty of petty chiefs ruling in the Deccan region. Another theory is that the term is derived from Maha ("great") and ratha / rathi (chariot / charioteer), which refers to a skilful northern fighting force that migrated southward into the area.
An alternative theory states that the term derives from the word Maha ("great") and Rashtra ("nation/dominion"). However, this theory is somewhat controversial among modern scholars who believe it to be the Sanskritised interpretation of later writers.