Belgaum is a city and a municipal corporation in Belgaum district in the state of Karnataka, India. It is the fourth largest city in the state of Karnataka, after Bengaluru, Hubli-Dharwad, and Mysore.
The city is situated nearly 2,500 ft (762 m) above sea level and is the headquarters of Belgaum district, which borders the states of Maharashtra and Goa. Belgaum is also the headquarters for the Belgaum division. The division comprises the districts of Bagalkot, Belgaum, Bijapur, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, and Uttara Kannada. The Government of Karnataka has proposed making Belgaum the second capital of the State of Karnataka; a second state administrative building Suvarna Vidhana Soudha was inaugurated on 11 October 2012.
Belagavi was known in the ancient times as ‘Venugrama’ which means ‘Bamboo Village’. The district headquarters whose name represents the entire district is situated on the Bengalooru – Pune Road about 502 km from the former. Belagavi occupies an area of 13,415 sq km and the population according to 2001 census is 35,84,000. This historic city is noted as the capital of the Rattas during the 12th and the 13th century. The Rattas were the chieftains of Saundatti which is a popular pilgrim destination marked by sylvan region. This place Saundatti is one in which age old contentions and traditions are still much in vogue. In Belagavi there is a 16th century mosque known as the Saba Mosque and two Jain shrines.
The Vadgoan and Madhavpur suburbs of Belgaum were important urban centres between 400 BC and 300 AD. The present city was built in the 12th century AD by the Ratta dynasty, who were based at nearby Saundatti. The fort of Belgaum was built in 1204 by a Ratta officer named Bichiraja. Belgaum served as the capital of that dynasty between 1210 and 1250, before the Rattas were defeated by the Yadava Dynasty of Devagiri. Belgaum then briefly came under the sway of the Yadavas of Devagiri. The Khiljis of Delhi invaded the region at the turn of the 14th century and succeeded in ruining both indigenous powers of the region, the Yadava and the Hoysalas, without providing a viable administration. This lacuna was supplied by the Vijayanagara Empire, which had become the established power of the area by 1336. A century later, the town had become a bustling trading hub for diamonds and wood, owing to its favourable geographic location in the kingdom.
In 1474, the Bahmani Sultanate, then ruling from Bidar, captured the fort of Belgaum. Shortly afterward, in 1518, the Bahamani sultanate splintered into five small states and Belgaum became part of the Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur. The Adilshahis reinforced the fort of Belgaum; much of the existing structure dates from 1519. In 1686, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb overthrew the Bijapur sultanate and Belgaum passed nominally to the Mughals. However, the Mughal empire went into decline after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, and his principal detractors, the Maratha confederacy, took control of the area during the rule of the Peshwas ("prime ministers"). In 1776, the country was overrun by Hyder Ali of Mysore, but was retaken by the Peshwa with British assistance. In 1818, the British deposed the last Peshwa and annexed his kingdom, which included Belgaum. Kitturu Chennamma (1778–1829) was the queen of the princely state of Kittur in Karnataka. In 1824, 33 years before the 1857 War of Independence in Murree, she led an armed rebellion against the British in response to the Doctrine of lapse. The resistance ended in her martyrdom and she is remembered today as one of the earliest Indian rulers to have fought for independence.
Belgaum was chosen as the venue of the 39th session of the Indian National Congress in December 1924 under the presidency of Mahatma Gandhiji. The city served as a major military installation for the British Raj, primarily due to its proximity to Goa, which was then a Portuguese territory. Once the British left India, the Indian government continued and still continues to have armed forces installations in Belgaum. In 1961, the Indian government, under Prime Minister Nehru, used forces from Belgaum to end Portuguese rule of Goa.
When India became independent in 1947, Belgaum and its district became part of Bombay State. In 1956, the Indian states were reorganised along linguistic lines by the States Reorganisation Act and Belgaum District was transferred to Mysore State, which was renamed Karnataka in 1972.
In 2006, the Government of Karnataka announced that Belgaum would be made the state's second capital and that the city would be a permanent venue for the annual 15-day session of the state legislature.
Belgaum is the anglicized form of venugram, from the Sanskrit Velugrama, for Venugrama, i.e., "Bamboo village" and belgav.
Of late, the city has carved itself a new name as "Kunda nagari" because of its famous sweet dish, Kunda, made with milk, sugar and spices. The city is also known as the "Sugar Bowl of Karnataka", and the district as the "Sugar District" because of the enormous scope of its sugarcane cultivation and production facilities.
The name Belgaum had been proposed to be changed to Belagaavi by the Karnataka government. However, the central government has not agreed to rename the city, as Belgaum is caught between Karnataka and Maharashtra in a border dispute. One of the centre's guidelines for renaming places is that the names should not hurt people's sentiments, not have political overtones and not already be in use in any other state.
The moated fort at Belagavi arouses the painful memories of the travails of the fight for freedom as the Father of the Nation was gaoled here. However, the structure has attractive features. The Gokak falls is a frequent haunt of picnic markers from far and near. At the place called Halari there are architectural temples and Jain Bastis built by the Kadamba rulers.
Belgaum is located at 15.87°N 74.5°E. It has an average elevation of 751 metres (2463 feet). The city is situated in the northwestern parts of Karnataka and lies at the border of two states, Maharashtra and Goa on the western ghats (50 km from the Goa state border). It is one of the oldest towns in the state, lying at a distance of 502 km from Bangalore, 515 km from Hyderabad and 500 km from Mumbai. The district comprises 1278 villages with an area of 13,415 km² and a population of around 4.8 million according to the census of 2011. Belgaum district is presently the biggest district of Karnataka. Situated near the foothills of the Sahyadri mountain range (Western Ghats) at an altitude of about 779 m, 100 km from the Arabian Sea with the Markandeya river flowing nearby, Belgaum exhibits swift and kaleidoscopic changes in topography, vegetation and climate.
Belgaum is the commercial hub and divisional headquarters of north Karnataka, ranking second to Bangalore in the state in terms of overall exports (mainly related to the automotive industry). Known as the "Bread Basket / Rice Bowl" of north Karnataka, it is an important source of vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, fish, mining production, and wood (due to heavy rainfall, rivers and the abundance of water). Trading in north Karnataka is mainly with Goa, along with major cities like Pune and Bangalore. Rich deposits of bauxite are found in Belgaum district and have led to the creation of the Indian aluminium-producing company Hindalco Industries of the Aditya Birla Group. Additionally, uranium deposits have recently been found at Deshnur, a small village near Bailhongal town. Belgaum is a major producer of milk in the state, almost 1/3 or 30% of state's production, and has the highest number of sugar factories; Belgaum, home to Ugar Sugar Works in Ugar, Renuka Sugars, and other large scale sugar factories, is also known as the Sugar Bowl of Karnataka.
From the early 1970s, Belgaum began developing into an important centre for the manufacture of heavy machine tools, including the manufacture of high pressure oil hydraulics systems.
Belgaum is also a foundry hub of Karnataka state, with about 200 foundries producing more than 70,000 tons of automotive and industrial castings of ferrous base and supporting ancillaries like CNC and conventional machine shops which finish the castings that are produced in Belgaum.
Belgaum is one of the major textile centres in the state with over 50,000 power looms (including unregistered units). Almost all of some areas in old Belgaum at Vadagaon, Khasbagh and Shahpur are engaged in business with power looms. Belgaum is known for Belgaum saris, which are sold under different brand names. Over 30,000 people are directly dependent on the power looms. There are also ready-made garment units, some of them export oriented, besides those manufacturing Khadi cotton products.
Trade flourishes in Belgaum, and many areas of the city are dedicated to particular kinds of trade. For example, almost all automobile-related trade and manufacture happens in the Fort Road area of the city and Udyambag. The Raviwarpeth area is known as the wholesale market, which sells commodities such as grains and tea.
Belgaum also is a strong industrial hub for machine shops catering to automotive manufacturing, especially crankshaft machining and castings. The geographical location of the city is an advantage, since it is situated between Bangalore and Mumbai–Pune, which supports the major automotive and aerospace companies along with other nearby industrial hubs such as Ichalkaranji and Hubli.
A 300-acre (1.2 km2) Special Economic Zone is being set up along the Pune-Bangalore highway to cater to the precision engineering requirements of the global aerospace, automotive and industrial verticals.
Situated near the bus terminus at Belagavi is this massive fort which shoots the limelight of the freedom struggle as Mahatma Gandhi was once locked up here by the British. The famous ‘Kamalabasti’ inside the fort was built by Birchiraja, a Ratta officer, in 1204. As the name implies there is an attractive lotus carving jutting from the roof. Typical of the ancient forts, there is a moat running around this one as well.
An off-shoot of the road from Belagavi to Miraj, known as the Gokak road, which is 53km from Belagavi, leads through its 8 km long stretch to the Ghataprabha station where the rail tourists alight to visit the vivacious waterfalls.
The glorious river Ghataprabha makes this gorgeos ghat section a pleasant picnic spot with its splendid waters making a marvellous dive of 52m and thereby creating this smashing waterfall.
About 14km from Khanapur Railway Station this historic plae Halasi amidst the vendant sylvan region of the western ghats hosts the Jain Basti built by the early Kadamba rulers who were devout patrons of Jainism.
The ancient temple known as the Bhuvaraha Narasimha Temple built by the Goa Kadambas in the 12th century is also situated here. The temple structure replete with exquisite carvings gets us an awesome glimpse of the richness of the 12th century Kadamba architecture. The sculptural excellence is evident from the huge images of Lord Varaha, Lord Narasimha, Lord Narayana, Lord Surya and so on. The other important monuments here are the ancient temples dedicated to Lord Gokarneswara, Lord Kapileswara, Lord Swarneswara and Lord Hatekeswara.