Markers of the movement

Every region in India is part of the freedom struggle narrative. In other words, it has an association with the movement and the spirit it stands for. Likewise, Belagavi was not far behind, it has its own share of anecdotes and people who are still around to talk about the experience, and the places that were at the centre of the movement.

Retaining tradition

It is known that the leaders in Belagavi at that time were influenced by the nationalism of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. After Pune, he chose Belagavi to carry out the large-scale Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in 1906 at the Zenda Chowk (Flag Circle). The celebrations are still carried out here every year. 

The people who were associated with the struggle say that Tilak was welcomed at the railway station in the Zenda Chowk in a grand procession. And it was here in Belagavi that Tilak founded the Home Rule League in 1916.  

The 39th session of the Indian National Congress (INC) was held here in December 1924. The only Congress session presided by Mahatma Gandhi. This session gained immensely under the guidance of the likes of Gangadharrao Deshpande, N S Hardikar and others. Congress Well Park in Belagavi is a tribute to the freedom fighters who attended this conference. According to the records, the total expense for organising the Belagavi session was Rs 2,20,829 of which Rs 4,370 was spent on constructing the well. Although, the well has shrunk it is visited by many.  The park, also called the Veer Soudha, stands amidst houses in Tilakwadi.

The well was renovated and inaugurated in 2002 by then chief minister S M Krishna. There is also the Mahatma Gandhi Library in the premises, along with a Gandhi memorial with a small statue of the leader. The well is surrounded by a landscaped garden with a mural on the wall of the leaders who participated in the Congress session.

The Central Jail in Belagavi, constructed in 1923 on 120 acres of land, though now in news for all the wrong reasons, has been a testimony to many a political imprisonment during the freedom struggle. In 1942, there was an uprising in the jail due to the lack of proper facilities available for the inmates. It was here that Gangadharrao Deshpande and D L Adhyapak revolted against the colonial government for its attitude towards the political prisoners.  

Besides, Belagavi has a fair share of city squares named after the freedom fighters of the country. For instance, the Hutatma Chowk (Martyr’s Square) is a homage to the people who’ve lost their lives in the freedom struggle. It also has the famous Baara Ghadaghadyachi Vihir, the 12-pulley well that was recently restored.  The well is in place from the time of the British and was a site for immersing Ganesha idols.

Other popular places with references to the freedom struggle are Sangolli Rayanna Circle, Channamma Circle, Hemu Kalani Chowk, Bhagat Singh Circle, Tilak Chowk and so on. 

Fuelling ideas

One can never forget the contribution of Krantiveer Sangolli Rayanna, who fought alongside Rani Chennamma against the British. It’s a coincidence that he was born on August 15, 1798 and was hanged by the British on January 26, 1831 in Nandgad near Khanapur. The memorial of Rayanna is good eight feet in height and sees a steady stream of tourists who pay homage to the freedom fighter.

Belagavi was an important region during the freedom struggle. For, Several newspapers were started here, like Tarun Bharat by Baburao Thakur in 1919 who vehemently fought the British, BelgaumSamachar started by Bhikajipant Samant on 4, July 1863 and the Subudhi Prakasha, the first Kannada weekly started in 1849. The Kannada Shala Patrika was started in 1865 while the Karnataka Jnana Manjiri was founded in 1875. The Samyukta Karnataka was started by a bunch of enthusiastic men in 1929 as a weekly from Belagavi. All these publications and more from Belagavi highlighted the freedom struggle, as a result, spreading the fire of patriotism among the people.

Therefore, Belagavi as a region has played a significant role in the freedom struggle. It pays a tribute to the leaders and has many more facets that need to be explored, to enable the youngsters today remember the movement. 

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Markers of the movement

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