Belgaum has played very important role in freedom struggle. In this article I have tried to summarize important people and events associated with the freedom struggle.
“One can only think of Belgaum as a holy place of pilgrimage. Its atmosphere is saturated with the devout love of Sri Gangadharrao Deshpande; it is charged with the spirit of adoration of his assistants, the volunteers, who know the value of discipline and obedience; it is permeated with non-violence, which Gandhiji’s presence is spreading into it in every action that is taken; and, definitely for the purpose of manifesting this non- violence to perfection, the big congregation has gathered here. If a place like this cannot be called a holy land, I would like to know what other name might be given to it.”
–Mahadevbhai Desai, Day to Day with Gandhi
Kittur Rani Chennamma:
First women freedom fighter of India. She was (born October 23, 1778 in Kakati, Kittur, Karnataka, India – died February 21, 1829) the Queen of Kittur, India. She was best known for leading an armed rebellion against the British East India Company in 1824. The resistance ended with her arrest and she became a symbol of the independence movement in India.
Krantiveer Sangolli Rayanna (15 August 1798 – 26 January 1831):
He introduced modern techniques in guerilla warfare. He was a prominent warrior from Karnataka, India. Rayanna was born on 15th Aug 1798. He was the army chief of the Kingdom of Kittur ruled at the time by Rani Chennamma and fought the British East India Company till his death. Interestingly on his birth day (15th August) India got independence and on his death day India became republic (26th January). At the time of being hanged he said “My last wish is to be born again in the country to fight against the British and drive them away from our sacred soil”.
BHAVE Babasaheb Nargundkar(death 1858) – Ruler of Nargund kingdom in Karnataka:
He revolted against the British in 1857 after he was denied adaption of a heir and waged war which he eventully lost. He was hanged in Belgaum in 1858.He was the first person from a royal family hanged at a public place. His death was very tragic. His statue is installed at the center of the Belgaum city.
Shri Gangadharrao Deshpande (Lion of Karnatak- 31st March 1871 to 30th July 1960):
He was styled as Lion of Karnatak. There were only two people in entire India who had similar title; they were Punjab Kesari – Lala Lajpat Ray and Andhra Kesari – T. Prakasam.
Gangadharrao Deshpande was one of the four chief Lieutenants of Lokamanya Tilak.Other three were N.C.Kelkar, Dadasaheb Khaparde, and Mr.Baptista. When Tilak started his home rule league Gangadharrao Deshpande became one of the vice presidents. Tilak nominated Gangadharrao Deshpande to Bombay Assembly  in 1920.
Gangadharrao Deshpande was one of the five main personal disciples of Mahatma Gandhiji. Other four were Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Kakasaheb Kalelkar and Kishorilal Mashruwala.
Gangadharrao Deshpande was the first and foremost from Karnataka to respond to the repeated calls of the Mahatma to suffer and sacrifice for the cause of national freedom.Mahatma Gandhi had called him “the great Gangadharrao”.
He was called as “Khadi Bhageerath of Karnatak” since he started first khadi center at his native place Hudli and it was the first Khadi center in entire South India. He started Kumri Ashram at Hudli and many of eminent freedom fighters like G.Narayan were trained at the Kumri Ashram.
He established daily news papers Dhureena(Kannada), Raashtramat(Marathi- worked as chief editor) and Lokmanya (Marathi). He played an important role in establishing the leading Kannada daily news paper Samyukta Karnataka.
Gangadharrao Deshpande alongwith Govindrao Yalagi started the celebrations of Ganapati Festival and Shivaji Jayanti at Belgaum.
He was the Reception Committee Chairman of the Belgaum Congress Session. The only session ever presided by Mahatma Gandhiji.
He organized 3rd annual conference of Gandhi Seva Sangh at his native village Hudli.About 10,000 delegates from all over India except Jawaharlal Nehru have participated.
He was the Chairman of the Karnataka Khadi and Village Industries Association. He was a trustee of All India Spinners Association headed by Mahatma Gandhi. He was also one of the founder of Gandhi Seva Sangh alongwith top freedom fighters of the country.
Gangadharrao Deshpande was First President of KPCC (1920). Also he was KPCC President twice.
He was a General Secretary of the Congress alongwith Jawaharlal Nehru and Saifuddin Kitchlew during 1923.
He was the President of AICC(5th dictator) during 1931-32.
He was a member of Congress Working Committee for Several years.
He fought for India’s Independence for 60 years (1887 to 1947). When India got freedom he worked for unification of Karnataka. After 1947 he lived hermit like life and engaged himself in spiritual pursuits under the guidance of Gurudev Ranade. Karnataka Government has sanctioned Rs. 1 Crore 60 Lacs to build his monument at Hudli village.
Picture: Karnatak Simha Gangadharrao Deshpande alongwith his disciples Ramchandra Wadavi and Pundalikji Katagade
please click here to read short biography written on
Bombay State Political Conference (1916):
Bombay State Political Conference was held in 1916 at Belgaum. Tilak launched his Home Rule League in Belgaum. Tilak announced “ Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it” at this conference. Tilak met Mahatma Gandhi for the first time at this conference. Gangadharrao Deshpande was the Secretary of the Reception Committee. Some people wrote a letter to Gandhi and requested him not to attend the conference. But Gandhi wrote a letter in reply and told “Nothing but death can prevent me from going to Belgaum and attending the Conference”.
39th Congress Session (1924):
39th Congress Session was held in 1924 at Belgaum under the presidentship of Mahatma Gandhi. It was only session presided by Mahatma Gandhi. It was the only congress session held in Karnatak before independence. Gangadharrao Deshpande was the Chairman of Reception Committee. It was in this session the service of volunteers of Seva Dal founded by Dr. N.S. Hardikar were utilized for the first time. This conference played very important role in freedom movement as it helped different factions of Congress come together. The venue was named “Vijay Nagar” and depicted the history of Vijay nagar empire and Karnatak.
3rd Annual Conference of Gandhi Seva Sangh (1937):
3rd Annual Conference of Gandhi Seva Sangh was held in Hudli Village, Kundarnaadu, Karnatak. Mahatma Gandhi Stayed in Hudli Village for one week. About 10,000 delegates participated in the conference.Inte-caste marriage “Rashtriya Vivah” was organised at Hudli. Wedding ceremonies of Mahatma Gandhi’s grand-daughter Manu Gandhi and Mahadev Bhai Desai’s(Gandhiji’s Secretary) sister and thread ceremony of Mahadev Bhai’s son were organized at the Hudli Village, Belgaum District. You can visit Hudli village which is very famous for production of Khadi. There is good collection of old photographs at “Gandhi Ghar”. This was the last visit of Mahatma Ganghi to Belgaum(6) and Karnatak(8).
Quit India Movement (1942):
Belgaum played a very important role in quit india movement. More than 5000 people imprisoned at Belgaum. British government had announced Rs.5000/- on 5 freedom fighters in entire Karnatak. All five freedom fighters belong to Belgaum District. The Quit India movement was organized very effectively in Belgaum and surrounding districts because which “Karnatak Pattern” became popular in entire country.
Freedom fighters who played an Important role in Freedom movement
Picture: Shri B.Y.Deshpande. (Annu Guruji)
Picture: Shri Vamanrao Bidari
Picture: Shri Gajanan Yalagi. Yalagi family played a very important role in freedom movement. Almost 17 people went to jail in various movements of freedom struggle.
Picture: Hanumantrao Deshpande, Revolutionary from Belgaum, He was a member of Mazini Club, a revolutionary organization at Belgaum
Picture: Hanumantrao Naik
Picture: Shri Jayadevrao Kulkarni, Brain behind freedom movement in Belgaum.
Picture: Shri Shrirang Kamat
Picture: Pundalikji Katagade, disciple of Gangadharrao Deshpande
Picture: Baburao Thakur
Picture: Shri Ramchandra Wadavi, disciple of Gangadharrao Deshpande, He was trained at Sabarmati Ashram.