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Belgaum officially known as Belgavi is a city located in the northern part along the Western Ghat of Karnataka. It is one of the oldest towns in the state with the rich heritage and diversity of many states. The people of the city are very kind, they warmly welcome different mankind, food habits, and culture. Belgaum is the biggest district of Karnataka with an area of 31,415 km2. It is called by various names like Marathi people call it Belgaon, Kannada people call Belgavi, South Karnataka people call it as Belagam. The climate is pleasant all around the year. It’s a very flattering place to visit. So here is all the information you should know before visiting Belgaum: Cradle of the Western Ghats.
- Belgaum was established by the Ratta dynasty in the late 12th century. Its original name was Venugrama, derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “village of bamboo”. It can also be referred to as Venupura in early Indian texts, meaning “city of bamboo”.
- In the early 13th century, Belgaum became a part of the Yadava dynasty kingdom and in the 14th century, it was invaded by the Khalji dynasty of Delhi Sultanate.
- Belgaum became part of the Bijapur Sultanate in 1518. In 1686, Aurangzeb overthrew the Bijapur sultanate and Belgaum passed nominally to the Mughals. Then it was named “Azamnagar”.
- When Aurangzeb died in 1707, the Maratha league took control of the area.
- In 1818, the British took control of Belgaum and then in December 1924 under the presidency of Mahatma Gandhiji, Belgaum was chosen as the venue of the 39th session of the Indian National Congress.
- In 1956, the Indian states were reorganised along linguistic lines and Belgaum was transferred to Karnataka.
Belgaum is the administrative headquarters of the eponymous Belgaum division and Belgaum district. It was announced as the second capital of Karnataka by the Government of Karnataka in 2006. Under PM Narendra Modi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission, it was selected in the first phase out of 20 cities, as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city.
How to reach Belgaum?
- Belgaum Airport is the nearest and oldest airport at a distance of 10km from the city.
- Other nearest airport to reach Belgaum are- Hubli airport at a distance of 84.12 km, Dabolim airport at a distance of 89.69 km and Kolhapur airport at a distance of 91.54 km.
- From the airport, you can access the local transport to reach the city.
- Belgaum Railway station is well connected to various major destinations like such as Pune/Delhi (via Miraj), Bangalore (via Hubli), Mumbai, and Goa.
- Other nearby railway stations are Desur at a distance of12.8 km, Hubli Junction at a distance of 142 km, and Sambre at a distance of 11.75km.
- Belgaum has a well-developed roadway connecting it to several national highways of Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
- Belgaum Bus stand is the closest bus stand and all the bus services are easily available.
- Other important bus operators are Pai Travels, VRL (Vijayanand Road Lines), Barde Travels, and KSRTC
When to visit Belgaum?
Belgaum is known for its pleasant climate throughout the year. In the summertime, the temperature may go up to 40oC. Therefore you should avoid visiting in the summers. Also, it receives almost continuous monsoon rains from June through September and winters are the coldest. Hence from March to starting of June is the best time to visit Belgaum.
Official language of Belgaum is Kannada. The local languages spoken here are Kannada and Marathi language. Also, Urdu, Konkani speakers are in minority. Hindi and English are commonly spoken language by the people of the city.
- Summer Season: March to June
- Average Temperature: 10.0oC – 40.0oC
- Monsoon Season: July to September
- Average Temperature: 13.1oC – 34.3o C
- Winter Season: December to February
- Average Temperature: 6.7oC – 38.4oC
Fairs and Festivals in belgaum
Hampi festival is celebrated for 3 days in the month of January. It’s celebrated the same way as traditionally. During the first and second days, musicals and dance performances are done. On the last day puppet shows, firework display, and elephants march are enjoyed. Hampi Festival is very cheerful. The three-day-long festival is a pack of events, culture and excitement. Major highlights are Kannadigas dance, puppet shows, spectacular parades, drama, fireworks, and musical instruments such as drums and pipes.
The word “Ugadi” is derived from two Sanskrit words- Uga (age) and adi (beginning), meaning “the beginning of a new age.” They celebrate it as the New Year of Karnataka. It’s somewhat similar to Diwali where people wear new clothes, decorate houses, worship, and dance to the rhythm of folk music. The festival celebration depends upon the position of the moon and is of one day. Major highlights of the festival are a Poetic recitation competition, listening to future predictions, chanting mantras in the temple, and a classical music concert.
Pongal is celebrated in the month of January and is also called ‘Sankranti’. It’s of one day in which people decorate their cattle with colourful costume and paint their horns. A special dish made of rice named “Pongal” is prepared to feed them. Also, a sweet dish called Ellu with ingredients sesame seeds, coconut, and sugar is made and the people exchange it with their friends, relatives, and neighbours. The ambience of the festival is amazing from morning to night.
Sri Vithappa Fair
The fair is held between September-October, on the 14th or 15th day of the month Aswija. In the festival portrayal of the deity decorated with cloth, flowers, and banana leaves is carried through the streets of the village. The festival is a major attraction for a large number of devotees and has been conducted for the last 200 years. A group of 60 drummers accompany this procession. Animal Sacrifices are offered by the devotees to gratify the deity of Vithappa. Some devotees offer milk with the belief that it might turn into curd once the offering is made.
Godachi Fair is a prominient festival held in the Godachi village of Ramdurg Taluk. It organised in the first month of Kartik between November or December. The fair is celebrated in honour of Shri Veerabhadra, one of the prominent spirit of Lord Shiva. It is organised by the government of Karnataka and is enjoyed by all. Major highlights of the fair are traditional celebrations, food stalls, rides, games, etc.
Transportation/Stay to prefer
Belgaum has good accommodation facilities for the tourists. You can find a wide variety of accommodation from resorts to homestays. All are available at affordable costs according to your preferences and taste.
Resorts are the luxurious stay to prefer. Some might get expensive but the facilities provided are up to the mark. The top resorts that you can refer are Rengeta Resort and Pai Resorts.
Hotels are available from moderate to high cost. The rooms are spacious and clean with the best surrounding. It’s a foremost accommodation that you can prefer.
Homestays are very pocket-friendly accommodation to prefer. You can get a nice local life experience while staying in them. The top homestays that you can prefer are Delux Homestay, Kallina Mane and Madhuban Homestay.
Belgaum has an excellent local transportation. Variety of choices are available for you such as –
Belgaum has well developed bus stations. Connecting it from rural to major cities. Charges are very nominal for travel. Private bus services are also available with good spacious buses and facilities inside it.
Taxi or Car
You can book a car from a taxi aggregator or Ola. They are best suited when you are with family, friends and relatives. Taxies are usually preferred by the people when you have to go out or enjoy the areas outside Belgaum.
Autorickshaw are the cheapest mode of transport available. It’s best for short distances around Belgaum.
Places to visit in Belgaum
It is located in Yellur at a distance of 22km from Belgaum and is also called Yellur Fort. It was constructed by the rulers of the Ratta Dynasty and is a major source of tourist attraction. Situated on the hills it offers a picturesque view. The scenic beauty around the fort is amazing. Also, you can visit the Shiva temple inside the fort. It is opened all day. Local transport is not available to reach here, so it’s best if you hire or visit in your own vehicle.
The fort is in the foothills of the Sahyadri mountain range. It was built by a Ratta officer named Bichiraja. It is one of the oldest in the state of Karnataka. The fort has 2 Hindu, 2 Jain and 2 Muslim architectural influence with temples and mosques inside it, depicting cultural syncretism. The architectural styles of the mosques are of the Deccan type, and Indo-Saracenic. The fort has been built with stones and mud. The fort is opened from 08:00 am to 06:30 pm all day. There is no entry ticket. A wide moat runs around the fort. It,s a great place of heritage to visit.
St. Mary’s Church
The church is located in the Hirekodi area of Belgaum. It is one of the oldest churches of Belgaum. The church architecture is of the British time. It took 5 years to build this church. It is one of the famous churches and is well maintained. Its beautifully carved arches, gabled canopy roof, elaborate pillars make it alluring from inside and outside both. The Church has an elegant, classic yet dominating presence in Belgaum. It’s a great holy place to visit.
Military Mahadev Temple
Military Mahadev Temple was built on January 18, 1954. The temple is owned and managed by the Indian Military. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is greatly visited by locals and tourists. It is considered as the cleanest Hindu Temples of Karnataka. Maha Shivaratri will be the best time to visit. You can easily use the local transport for visiting here. The temple is a very peaceful place to spend your time on. You can visit the temple in between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The temple is surrounded by lush green garden and a mini zoo is nearby the temple that is worth visting.
Central Methodist Church
The church is in Sadashiv Nagar of Belgaum built around 150 years ago. The church has British architecture. It’s one of the prominent church of Belgaum. The surroundings are very clean and green. The Sunday mass is in Kannada and English. The environment is really peaceful and the church is worth a visit.
Gotak falls is at a distance of 60 km from Belgaum. The fall derived its name from the Goki trees found in abundance in these areas. It is 170 feet in height and is famous for its spread and shape. You can access the local transport for reaching here. The fall has a Hanging Bridge built across it which is 200 meters long. From the bridge, you can view the falls and the surrounding which is very amazing to experience. The best time to visit is June to September. There is also a popular trekking destination near 3 km from the falls which you can go for.
Navilutirtha is at a distance of 80km from Belgaum. It’s a low valley situated in between the 2 hills in Navilutirtha. It is a famous picnic spot and was once filled with peacock, mobbing around the pond. The Malaprabha Dam near Renukasagar is witnessed here. The dam is the major drinkinh water supplier to the people of Belgaum. The dam is beautiful and you should visit his place while being in Belgaum.
Cuisines to taste in Belgaum
Karadant is a traditional sweet of Karnataka. It’s very nutritious and boosts your energy. The sweet has a balanced texture and is not too sugary. It covers a lot of jaggeries, dry fruits, and dry dates powder which makes it chewy in taste. The sweet is small square-shaped. The major ingredients of the sweet are jaggery, Daria dal, net meg powder, grated dry coconut, cashew powder, black current, dry date powder, and a wide variety of dry fruits. It is a very authentic local sweet loved by many tourists.
Biryani word is derived from the Persian word Birinj meaning rice and birian, meaning ‘fried before cooking.’ Biryani is an evergreen dish that gets adjusted according to every state style. Similarly, the mutton biryani has a local variation of Belgaum in it. It’s one of the best seller dishes of Belgaum and can be easily found in restaurants and hotels present here. You will find a unique flavour in biryani at almost any place you eat in Belgaum. No two places will give you a similar taste of biryani in Belgaum because of the difference in the level of preparation i.e. from marinating it to the final step. Also, margination is the most important part which gives a distinct taste to the biryani. Major ingredients involved in it are mutton, rice, vegetables, and spices. You can also order homemade biryani while staying there. Every Belagavi house has its own traditional recipes. The main quality of biryani is that its aroma is very appetizing.
Alipak is the favourite snack of the people of Belgaum. People usually like it with sugarcane juice. It is made of groundnuts, grated coconut, puffed rice, and a spice called ‘Pade Lavan’. Alipak is a non-oily spicy snack, can be made instantly. It has two forms first is a parched rice base with grated coconut and the second is a Groundnut base. The process of making and ingredients are just the same, only parched rice is replaced with groundnuts to make the other form, and then it tastes different. Alipak is a portion of flavorful street food to taste here.
Seafood thali is the best for trying a variety of dishes. It proves to be a delectable and satisfactory meal of different flavours and texture. The thali consists of a diverse variety of seafood. Some of them are Kadai Fish, Lobster Balchao, Shrimp Palak, Prawns Curry, Seafood Masala, Shrimp curry, Rawa King Fish Fry, Seafood Vindaloo, Shrimp Jalfrezi and much more. If you are fond of Seafood then you will gonna definitely love this. Also, locals and tourists enjoy the Seafood thali too. It’s a complete pack meal. All the ingredients used are flavorful and the dishes just taste perfect. You can elaborate and customize the dishes in your thali as per your preference.
Tatte Idli is a Karnataka traditional dish. The shape of this idli is slightly bigger and flatter than the normal idlis. They are cooked on a flat plate. The idli batter is generally of rice, urad dal, poha, or sabudana. This is the best lunchtime dish. Tatte idli is generally served with sambhar and coconut chutney but tomato chutney, onion chutney, or coconut sambhar are also a great combination for it. The chutneys are lick-worthy and mildly spicy, perfectly complimenting the soft idlis. It is a must-try cuisine while travelling in Belgaum. It’s a great value for money dish.
Things to do in Belgaum
- Enjoy magnificent sunset near Argan Lake
- You can go trekking around Jamboti, Godchinamalaki, Dudhsagar, Bhatwara, and Amboli ghats.
- Visit temples, churches and mosques.
- You can try water sports and adventurous activities like camping, rafting, rock climbing, Nature trails, paragliding, Mountain biking and bird watching etc.
- Enjoying the various waterfalls and witnessing the natural beauty around them.
- Taste different cuisines and can do photography too.
Souvenirs to buy in Belgaum
- Stone Artefacts, fibre crafts and art-related stuff are beautiful here.
- Women bags, Jewelleries, footwear and other accessories are good options to buy.
- Inexpensive clothes.