History & Ancient Architechtures of Belgaum
Belgaum, ancient 'Venugrama' ('Bamboo village') is a district and divisional headquarters. The Vadgoan and Madhavpur suburbs of Belgaum were important urban centers 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. Within the walls of the Belgaum fort are the late Chalukya style buildings, of which the Kamala Basti with Neminatha idol in black stone should not be missed. The masterpiece here is the " Mukhamantapa" with a well executed lotus on its ceiling.
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 1300s and succeeded in ruining both the 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. They built the Safa Mosque which has three entrances with floral and calligraphic designs. The Persian Inscription here states that the mosque was built by Asad Khan, Bijapur Commander. The Jamia Masjid in the fort was built by Sher Khan in 1585-86. There is a dargah of Khanjar Wali near it.
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. 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.
Its salubrious climate, proximity to the coast and strategic position near Portuguese Goa commended it to the British as a suitable location for an army training center and cantonment, which it continues to be today for the Indian Armed Forces, along with an air force station of the Indian Air Force. Perhaps that is one of the reasons for Belgaum's sobriquet The Cradle of Infantry. Development of a Rail Network for movement of resources and later troops was one of the means employed by both the East India Company and the British to exert control over India.
No story of Belgaum is complete without the 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 a prominent square. She along with Sangolli Rayanna and Babasaheb was amongst the first to start this movement.
Belgaum was a major centre of the freedom movement. Several notable events have taken place here during the era of freedom struggle, notable among them are the launch of Home Rule League in 1916 by Tilak, hosting of an all India Congress Session in 1924, the only session which was presided over by Mahatma Gandhi and the only session held in Karnataka.
Demographics & Infrastructure
Belgaum district is located in the Northwest region of Karnataka State. The ancient name of the Belgaum was Venugrama (in Sanskrit) meaning village of Bamboos. Till 1961, Belgaum was a part of the Bombay state. With creation of states based on the languages, Belgaum was brought under Karnataka State. As of 2001 India census, Belgaum had a population of 629,600. Belgaum has an average literacy rate of 78%, higher than the national average of 65%. The lingua franca of the region is mostly Marathi and even the Kannada spoken here is laced with a generous dose of Marathi. It is one of the oldest towns in the state, lying at a distance of 502 km from Bangalore & 500 km from Mumbai. The district comprises 1278 villages with an area of 13,415 sq.km.
The Belgaum district is bounded on the west and north by Maharashtra state, on the east by Bagalkot district, on the northeast by Bijapur district, on the southeast by Gadag district, on the south by Dharawad district and Uttara Kannada district, and on the southwest by the state of Goa. Belgaum district consists of ten taluks namely Athani, Bailhongal, Belgaum, Chikkodi, Gokak, Hukkeri, Khanapur, Raibag, Ramdurg and Saundatti.
Belgaum City (13 degrees 32'N & 42'E) is a crossroad of cultures due to its peculiar geographical location. Nestling in the foothills of the enchanting Sahyadris (Western Ghats), at an altitude of about 779m, 100km from the Arabian Sea with River Markandeya flowing nearby Belgaum is unique. Its natural beauty & environment are a world of contrast & harmonies with swift & kaleidoscopic change in topography, vegetation & climate (50" rainfall). Its hinterland offers a rich resource mix attracting people as tourists, settlers, job-seekers & entrepreneurs, making it a veritable paradise or a “poor man’s Switzerland”.
Visweswaraya Technological University (VTU), one of the biggest Technological Universities in India is headquartered in Belgaum. VTU has 158 colleges affiliated to it with Under Graduate course in 27 disciplines and Post Graduate Programmes in 67 disciplines. The intake of UG level is about 45000 students and about 7500 at the PG level.
Belgaum houses the Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre (MLIRC). It also houses the Commando Training Wing which is a part of the Infantry School, ‘Military Headquarters Of Western India’, where the country's infantry commandos are trained in endurance, escape and evasion, guerrilla and commando warfare techniques and to live off the land. The Commando course at Belgaum is mandatory for all infantry officers. Officers of other arms and services and even some foreign officers undergo the course.
Belgaum has always been at the forefront of industrial growth in India. With its inherent capabilities coupled with its enterprising citizens, Belgaum provides the ideal choice for investment opportunities. Belgaum is one of the fastest growing cities with a very good Industrial Scenario in the northwestern part of Karnataka. Belgaum has several large industries, important among them are the INDAL Aluminium Factory and the Polyhydron Pvt. Ltd. Belgaum acts as a trade centre for food grains, sugarcane, cotton, tobacco, oilseed, and milk products. Industries include leather, clay, pottery, soap, cotton, and precious metals. It is very famous for its Powerloom Industries which provide employment for many weavers. The Hydraulic Industry started here was first of its kind in Belgaum District. Besides, Belgaum also provides excellent opportunities for businessmen in almost all sections of the Society and thus is said to be an important Industrial and Business Centre.
Belgaum is the commercial hub of north Karnataka. Belgaum is an important location for vegetable trading, fish, wood & mining resource trading in north Karnataka. Rich deposits of bauxite are found in Belgaum district, and have led to the creation of the (HINDALCO) Indian Aluminium Company for production of aluminum. Additionally, uranium deposits have recently been found in Deshnur, a small village near Belgaum. From the early 1970s, Belgaum began developing as an important centre for the manufacture of heavy machine tools, including the manufacture of high pressure oil hydraulics.
Belgaum also is a strong industrial hub for Machine Shops catering to Automotive Manufacturing, Specially in Crank-shaft machining. The geographical location of the city is an advantage since it is situated right in between Bangalore and Mumbai/Pune to support the major automotive and aerospace companies.
A 300 acre SEZ is being setup along the Pune-Bangalore highway to cater to precision engineering requirements of the global aerospace, automotive and industrial verticals.