Maharashtra spreads from the West Coast across peninsular India, taking in the culturally distinct Konkan Coast strip; the Western Ghats, here called The Sahyadri; and stretches of cotton and sugarcane- growing land. The coast’s unspoilt beaches and Maratha forts are a picturesque combination. The World Heritage frescoes in rock-cut Ajanta and Ellora caves speak to us across centuries. The hill stations Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Khandala, Matheran... are cool, green retreats and offer great trekking. They are easily accessed from Mumbai, the financial, film and fun capital, which goes into a frenzy during the year's biggest festival, Ganesh Chaturthi.