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West India

West india locator.png

Western India shown in red
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Area 508, 052 km² 
States and territories Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu
Most populous cities (2008) Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat, Nashik, Nagpur ,Thane & Navi Mumbai
Official languages Marathi, Gujarati, Konkani, English, Hindi [1]

[2]

Population 147,801,774

West India (Western India) or the Western region of India consists of the states of Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra, along with the Union Territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. It is highly industrialized, with a large urban population[1]. Most of Western India was part of the Maratha Empire before colonization by the British. The regions became part of India on independence, and took their current form after the States Reorganization Act of 1956[2]. The states are roughly bounded by the Thar Desert in the northwest, the Vindhya Range in the north and the Arabian Sea in the west. A major portion of Western India shares the Deccan Plateau with South India.

Contents

History

Greatest extent of the Maratha Empire in the 1700s

(For detailed history please read the respective articles of the three western states: Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat)

Parts of Gujarat were the site of Indus Valley Civilization. Sites have been uncovered in Gujarat at Lothal, Surkotada, and around Ghaggar river in Rajasthan. The Western Indian region was ruled by the Maurya Kingdom, Gurjar, Rajputs, Satavahanas, Western Satraps, Indo Greeks etc in the ancients times. During the medieval age, the region came under Persian influence and also under the Mughal rule. Later, the Maratha Empire which arose in western Maharashtra came to dominate a major portion of the Indian sub-continent. However its defeat by the British in the Anglo-Maratha wars left most of India under colonial rule. The region then experienced great upheavals during the struggle for Indian Independence. Gandhi's Dandi March took place in Gujarat. The region became part of independent India in 1947, and the present state boundaries were drawn based on linguistic considerations in 1956[2].

Geography

Konkan in monsoon

The region consists of the predominantly arid to semi-arid region of Saurashtra, Kutch and Cambay in the North. The Western Ghats and Konkan lie along the coast of Maharashtra and Goa. The Deccan plains of the Vidarbha, Marathwada in central and eastern Maharashtra define the rest of the region. The vegetation varies from tropical rainforests along the Konkan coast to thorny bushes and shrubs in northern Gujarat. The major rivers in this region are Narmada, Tapti, Godavari, Zuari, Mandovi, Krishna, Ghaggar, Chambal and many other smaller tributaries of other rivers. The Narmada and Tapti rivers generally form the boundary between Northern and Southern India.

Climate

The climate varies between tropical wet, tropical wet and dry, and semi arid. The coastal regions experience little seasonal variations although the temperatures range between 20°C to 38°C. Mumbai and northern Konkan regions experience cooler winters with minimum temperatures hovering around 12 °C. Interior Maharashtra experiences hot summers with maximum temperatures averaging 40°C and mild winters with minimum temperatures averaging about 10°C. Gujarat also has a warm climate with hot summers and cool winters.

Demographics

A Meghwal woman in the Hodka village, north of Bhuj.
Ileana D'Cruz, a Goan working in the Telugu language film industry.

While Hinduism is practiced by the majority of the population in Gujarat, Maharashtra is religiously diverse. The majority follow Hinduism there is a significant minority who follow Islam and smaller number who follow Buddhism andChristianity. There are also a few indigenous Jews called the Bene Israel who speak Marathi. The Parsees who settled in Gujarat made Mumbai and Surat their home. Significant percentages of Jains and Buddhists can be found too. Christianity is dominant in the state of Goa. Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Navratri, Eid and Christmas are the most important festivals in Western India.

Overall, 83.66 % of the population is Hindu, 10.12 % Muslim, 4 % Buddhist with Christians in Goa and Maharashtra making up the majority of the remainder. Marathi, with about 73 million speakers is the most widely spoken language, followed by Gujarati with about 46 million speakers and Konkani 2.5 million speakers, all of which are Indo-Aryan languages. [3]. As in other parts of India, a high level of multilingualism is seen with English and Hindi being spoken as additional languages in urban areas[4].

The average literacy rate of West India is around 76%, higher than the national average of 70.5%[5]. The population density is around 290 per square km. The average fertility rate is about 2.2, while the average household size is about 4.7[5].

Culture

The states of Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat are varied and distinct. Goa has a Latin aura due to centuries of Portuguese rule. The architecture and cuisine of Goa is a unique blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures. Goa is also well known for its beaches and churches. Maharashtrian culture derives from the ancient Indo-Aryan Vedic culture influenced deeply by the Maratha Empire and British colonial rule. Maharashtrians take great pride in the Maratha Empire, and many places in Maharashtra are named after the founder of the Empire, Shivaji. Marathi literature and cinema are popular in the state as well as across India.

Gujarati culture is a blend of Hindu and Jain traditions. It has also been influenced by the Parsis, who migrated to Gujarat from Iran about a 1000 years ago. Recently events like Rann Utsav, International Kite Festival and Global Garba festivals have been started to showcase it's culture internationally. Mumbai and Goa are renowned for their nightlifes. Bollywood has had a huge impact on the lifestyle and culture of this part of India as Bollywood is situated in Mumbai.

Cuisine

Pav bhaji from Mumbai, Maharashtra
Chaat, which originated in Gujarat is popular all over India

The cuisine of Western India is diverse. Goan cuisine is dominated by the use of cashewnuts, coconuts and seafood. Pork Vindaloo and Xacuti are famous goan curries. Bebinca is a sweet prepared with eggs and coconuts. Maharashtrian cuisine is diverse and ranges from bland to fiery hot. Pohay, Shrikhand, Pav Bhaji, Vada Pav are good examples of Maharashtrian cuisine.

Gujarati cuisine is almost exclusively vegetarian. Gujarat is one of three states in India, with prohibition on alcohol, along with Mizoram and Manipur[6]. In contrast, Maharashtra has some of the best vineyards in India, with Nashik and Sangli districts being the country's biggest grape-producing districts[7 ].

Economy

Mumbai, Maharashtra is the financial capital of the country

Overall, Western India has relatively high standards of living, although the city of Mumbai suffers from extreme overcrowding due to immigration from across the country. The region generates 20.34% of the national GDP of the country, with an annual growth rate of 14.5% as of 2006[8]. The states generate about 23 % of the tax revenues of the country. More than 85% of the households have access to electricity with about 55% owning a television. Agriculture employs most people in the region, while services have largest share in the total GDP.

References

See also

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