Location : 15°50'39"N 74°30'28"E [Coordinates]
Area : 1346382 hectors
Rainfall : 80 - 100 cm Average
Belgaum is one of the oldest, strong, prominent and well cultured historical place nestling high in the Western Ghats. The old town area with cotton and silk weavers stands gloriously besides the modern, bustling, tree-lined British Cantonment. Step out of the forts and you have a wide choice of temples and churches to visit. Belgaum has an enviable heritage and offers much to be discovered. It lies in the zone of cultural transition between Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa with a known antiquity clearly traceable upto 2nd Century A.D. Due to its proximity with the states of Maharashtra and Goa, Belgaum has acquired the cultural flavour of these states and blended it with the local Kannada culture to create a rich heritage, which is unique in its manifestation. It is also known as Malenadu or Rain Country and the vegetation here is verdant green throughout the year. Well, centuries have passed and today it is an entirely different story. Belgaum has now become one of the important and considered district in the state of Karnataka. Belgaum is now marching with a tag of fast growing, redeveloping district with a population of approximately over 42,07,264. The nearest well-developed cities to Belgaum are Hubli and Dharwad from Karnataka, Panaji from Goa and Kolhapur and Sangli from Maharashtra.
Belgaum city has been the divisional as well as district headquarters since long the city is located at a distance of 502 kms. from Bangalore. The place is almost equidistance from Mumbai and Bangalore. The city is on National Highway No. 4 and directly approachable from Bangalore by Rails it is important station between Bangalore and Miraj. There is also an Airport at Sambra about 12 kms. east of Belgaum.
The name Belgaum is originated from "Velugrama" or "Ikhsugrama". The earliest mention of this is made in the Nesari Plates of 805 AD. The archaeological inscriptions under A Sunder in the Vadgaon - Madhavapura area reveal a properous town of the Satavanhana times. Chalukyas and Rastrakutas administrated the territory. Later on Kadambas of Goa and Rattas ruled Belgaum. It was made the capital city under the Rattas. Afterwards Yadavas of Devagiri and Vijayanagar rulers governed the city.
In 1472 AD Bahamani's conquered Belgaum. The Adilshahis of Bijapur captured it in 1489. Asad khan a noble of Bijapur, who ruled Belgaum from 1511 to 1540. His tomb is in the city area. In about 1550, Sherkhan a Bijapur coommander built the present town Shahapur, originally called shahpet. Shivaji, the Maratha ruler in 1673 invaded Belgaum.
When the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb defeated the kingdom of Bijapur. He transferred Belgaum to the Nawab of Savanur. In 1756, Belgaum was conquered by the Marathas. It was under the Maratha until it was occupied by the British in March-April 1818. The British made it the headquarters of a Sarkar (District) with 15 paraganas (Talukas) in 1838. The British experienced the heat and chill of the 1875 Revolt in Belgaum also. A leaders of the Revolt was sentenced to death at the Military Dairy. He was Nargund Baskar Rao alias Babasaheb. His ' Samadhi' is located at the Military Dairy. Foreigners have left behind their indelible impressions of Belgaum. Ralf Fitch(1583) calls the place " The first town between Bijapur and Goa ". Geographer Ogliby (1680) remarks as one of the four eminent castles in Konkan. Italian traveller (1695) calls it a populous city and a place of much trade with a large market.
Belgaum was one of the five military stations that were established in the Old Bombay Presidency. In 1878, it was made the headquarters of the Southern Division under the Bombay Presidency.
During the national movement Belgaum hosted the 1924 annual Congress section. Presided over by Mahatma Gandhi. It assumes greater importance. It was the one and only congress session held in Karnataka as well as presided by Mahatma Gandhi.
Interesting Monuments and Places :
From the Attraction point of view Belgaum is an attractive destination with proximity to the Picnic spots, the historic attractions such as the Belgaum Fort and the natural beauty of Jamboti Falls & Gokak Falls.
Places in Belgaum City :
Belgaum Fort :
Kamal Basti (Belgaum) :
Kapileshwar Temple :
The temple appears to be the oldest as the 1204 AD Kamal basti inscription makes amention of this and is renovated now. This being a shiva Temple has flat peetha with Shivalinga. The annual jatra is held during Shivaratri . It is called as the South Kashi of India.
St. Mary's Church :
The church in the camp was built in 1869. Reverend Francis Gell designed the building. This imposing stone church of the Anglicans has fine pillars in the prayer hall and gorgeous stained glasses at its doors and windows. The paintings on the inner walls have pleasant colour combinations and reflect biblical episodes. In front of the West Porch almost at the meeting of the four chief cantonment roads, stands a lofty memorial cross raised in memory of the 64th Regiment coldies who fell in the 1857 Revolt.
Sri Naganuru Math :
The math was setup in 17th century AD The Belgaum math is a branch of it. It is located at Nehru nagar. The Veerasaiva Lingayat Library founded by Sri Siddharam Swamiji has very rare collections of manuscrpts. The Library is indespinsible for Research Scholars in Veerashiva Studies.
KLES Hospital [ now Prabhakar Kore Hospital ]:
Karnataka Lingayat Education Society has setup a full-fledged Hospital. The hospital is a 1000 bedded multi-speciality teaching hospital with high-tech facilities. The hospital also has Mobile ICU. The excellent maternity services with a dedicated Child Development Unit is another feature.
Education Centres : The city has many reputed educational institutions. Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Gogte Insitute of Technology, KLE's College of Engineering and Technology, Raja Lakhamgouda College of Law, Lingaraj College for Arts and Commerce are major centres of Higher Education. Belgaum school for the Blind and KLE's School of Agriculture are very special institutes with a rare noble cause. the city has a large well built stadium.
Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre :
Belgaum also has a number of training centers of the Indian Armed Forces, and an air base of the Indian Air Force. The British ad a sizable Infantry post here, having realized the military importance of its geographical location. Perhaps that is one of the reasons for Belgaum's sobriquet. The Cradle of Infantry. Belgaum houses the Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre(MLIRC). Belgaum also houses the Commando Training Wing which is a part of the Infantry School, MHOW, where the country's valiant infantry commandos are trained in endurance, escape and evasion, guerilla and commando war fare techniques.
Belgaum's Watchtower and sunset point should not be missed if one wants to savor the scenic beauty surrounding this town.
Places within Belgaum District :
Gokak Falls (Gokak) :
Gokak Falls is a waterfall known for its beauty. It is at a distance of 60 Kms from Belgaum and 10kms from Gokak town. Located right on the main road is a celebrated tourist centre in the district. This falls has a height of about 170 feet. The River Ghataprapha after winding a course of a long route takes a leap of 52 meters, over a rocky bed 170 feet down. The falls is famous for its spread and shape. The rugged valley and the picturesque is what inspires poetry. The dull roar of the falls can be heard much before you reach it. "Except in width and colour of the water, the general features of the fall, its height, shape and rapidity above are much like those of Niagara". The falls are horse-shoe shaped at the crest, with a flood breadth of 177 metres. June to September is the best season to visit Gokak as it bees in full bloom. Electricity was generated here for the first time in the Indian History in 1887. This generating station can be reached on the rope way.
Rakaskop (Belgaum) :
16 Kms from Belgaum, literally means a Hamlet of a Rakkasa (Giant), who is stated to have lived on a hillrock near the village. A cavern in laterite on the hillrock resembling a huge seated human figure is shown by the people to remind his past existance. Here is a Dam across the River Markandeya, supplying drinking water to Belgaum.
10 Kms from Saundatti, a low valley situated in between the 2 hills, in an enchanting place is Naviltirtha. Formerly, it was full of Peacocks, frequently flocking round the pond, and thus the place was named Naviltirtha. The Malaprabha Dam near Renukasagar is situated here. It is also a good picnic spot.
Godachinmalki Falls (Gokak) :
Old History about Belgaum :
Photograph of the gateway of the fort of Belgaum, taken by James Burgess around 1874. Belgaum is a large city in northern Karnataka. Inside its fort there are three Jain temples built in a Nagara or northern style of architecture. This view shows the arched entrance gateway.
General view of Belgaum High School building [ Belgaum ]
Photograph of the High School building at Belgaum in Karnataka from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: India Office Series (Volume 46), taken by an unknown photographer in c. 1870. The Imperial Gazetteer of India states, "There are three classes of secondary schools - the vernacular and English middle schools, and the high schools...The English secondary school stage is divided into middle and high school sections, which really form portions of the same course...the English school education should ordinarily be completed by the time the pupil attained the age of sixteen...In English secondary schools the main course has hitherto led up to the matriculation or entrance examination of one or other of the Universities. There are other courses of a more practical character leading up to different examinations...A purely literary education has been more popular among both parents and students, as being in itself more attractive to them and as affording a better opening for remunerative employment. The matriculation has generally been accepted as a qualifying test by Government and private employers as well as by the Universities, and has been regarded as the common goal of the school career."
Group of pupils of the Belgaum Girls' School, with master and assistants.
Photograph of the Girls' School at Belgaum in Karnataka from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: India Office Series (Volume 46), taken by an unknown photographer in c. 1870. Female education in India grew dramatically in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Imperial Gazetteer of India states regarding female education, "The Government did not take up the subject until 1849, when Lord Dalhousie informed the Bengal Council of Education that henceforth its functions were to embrace female education, and the first girls' school recognized by Government was founded shortly afterwards by a committee of native gentlemen. The despatch of of 1854 directed that female education should receive the frank and cordial support of Government...The Education Commission of 1882 advised that female education should receive special encouragement and special liberality...The adoption of this attitude has resulted in a considerable development of the public instruction of girls, although it still lags far behind that of their brothers. In 1871 there were 134 secondary and 1,760 primary girls' schools; in 1901-2 the numbers were 461 and 5,628 respectively."
Group portrait of pupils of Belgaum High School, gathered in front of the school buildings
Photograph of pupils in front of the High School building at Belgaum in Karnataka from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: India Office Series (Volume 46), taken by an unknown photographer in c. 1870. The Imperial Gazetteer of India states, "There are three classes of secondary schools - the vernacular and English middle schools, and the high schools...The English secondary school stage is divided into middle and high school sections, which really form portions of the same course...the English school education should ordinarily be completed by the time the pupil attained the age of sixteen...In English secondary schools the main course has hitherto led up to the matriculation or entrance examination of one or other of the Universities. There are other courses of a more practical character leading up to different examinations...A purely literary education has been more popular among both parents and students, as being in itself more attractive to them and as affording a better opening for remunerative employment. The matriculation has generally been accepted as a qualifying test by Government and private employers as well as by the Universities, and has been regarded as the common goal of the school career."
The city has a multinational Jindal Aluminum Factory. The factory has recently been taken over by the Aditya Birla Group of Industries. Gogte Textile is another major Industry. Few minor industries like knitting, forging are functioning.
Local System of Governance :
The city has been administered by an elected corporation. Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, Congress, Janata Dal, B.J.P. and Shivsena are the major political parties. The election for the corporation is held after every five years.
Famous research scholar Dr. Shamba Joshi was from Belgaum district. His works Karnataka Veera Shatrij Karnataka Nudiya Halter. Won him Kendra Sahitya Academy Award. Dr. Bitagiri Krishna Sharma, Dr. Basvaraj Katimani, Dr.D.S. Karke, Dr. S.D. Inchal, Dr. A.N.Upadhya, Dr. C. Nadimatt, Dr. Mirgi Annary where few among the very famous laureates.
The District Headquarters, Belgaum is picture of contrasts. One side is the old town area where the cotton and silk weavers still create magic with their fingers. And on the other - the modern, bustling, tree-lined Cantonment built by the British.
Near the 16th century Jamia Masjid is a dargah of Khanjar wali. Step out of the Fort and you have a wide choice of temples and churches to visit. The Kapileshwar Temple - said to be the oldest, the Anathashayana Temple, the Maruti Temple and the temples of Shiva, Vithoba, Dyamavva aand Military Mahadeva. Belgaum also has some very impressive churches. St. Mary's Church, St. Xavier's Church (the oldest), St. Anthony's Church, the Cathedral of Our lady and the Methodist church.
No story of Belgaum is complete without a mention of Kittur Rani Chennamma. One of India's first freedom fighters, the queen's heroic resistance is still commemorated locally in song and story. Her statue stands sentinel over Belgaum at prominent square. Another historical site is the Pampa Sarovara. Built specially for the 1924 All India Congres Session which was presided by Mahatma Gandhi.
Belgaum also has some well laid-out parks. The Sambhaji Udyan, The Nath Pai Park and The Shivaji Udyan. Perfect places to relax. Put your feet up. And let your imagination soar free.
Languages Spoken : Kannada, Hindi, English, Marathi.
Local Food Speciality : "Kunda" a delicious sweet.
When To go there : Belgaum enjoys a pleasant and agreeable climate almost all through the year. If you're visiting Belgaum between November and February, carry some light woolens.
How to go there :
By Air : Belgaum has an airport at Sambra.
By Rail : Belgaum is connected by rail to Bangalore (via Londa), Bombay (via Miraj), Vasco da Gama.
By Road : Belgaum is connected by road to most places in south and west.