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Maharashtra is India's third largest state in terms of area and second largest in terms of population after Uttar Pradesh. It is bordered by the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa and the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The Arabian Sea makes up the state's western coast. Mumbai, India's largest city, is the capital of Maharashtra where as Nagpur serves as the second capital or winter capital of the state.

Maharashtra was known as Rashtra in the Rig Veda, Rashtrik in Ashoka's inscriptions, and Maha rashtra afterwards, as attested by Huein-Tsang and other travellers. The name appears to have been derived from Maharashtri, in an old form of Prakrit, an ancient Indian language.

However, there are other theories put forward by different schools of thought. One possible derivation is believed to be the corruption of the term Maha Kantara, which means "Great Forest". Both these theories did not carry much weight, as can be seen from the name of Maharashtra.