Business in 1800s in Belgaum

First published on August 2009
Weekly Saturday market was in existence before 1880- Still this Weekly market is on

Bella Vista Belagavi

Wholesale grain merchants were in Raviwar Peth and even today the same story

Woolen- silk materials sold in Khade Bazar road then – Still the same continues

Belgaum had about 250 traders chiefly Brahmans, Lingayats, Narvekars, Marathas, Gujaratis and Marwar Vanis, Parsis, and Musalmans with capitals varying from £500 to £20,000 (Rs. 5000 to Rs. 2,00,000).  Some have capital of their own and others trade on borrowed funds. Almost all are independent traders. The chief imports are timber, ironware, glass and other European articles, metal vessels, salt, and coconuts. Timber is bought at the Government stores in Kanara and sold at Belgaum to private persons and Ironware, glassware, and other European articles are brought from Bombay by Vengurla in the fair season and by Poona during the rains ; they are sold to petty dealers and to Brass and copper vessels are brought from Poona and consumers local use ; salt and coconuts are brought from Goa and Vengurla both for local use and to be sent inland.bgm-1800

The chief exports were of grain, rice & wheat, gram, millet, and pulses, and of cloth waistcloths and womens robes.

Grain is bought by grain by merchants at Belgaum from petty corn dealers and growers and sent to Goa and Vengurla. The waistcloths (Dhotis) and robes (Sarees) are brought by cloth merchants from local weavers.

The chief industry was cotton weaving with a yearly turnover valued at about £11,500 (Rs. 1,15,000). The making of -carpets and copper vessels and spinning and dyeing raw silk are the only other industries. Oil-pressing was a very thriving industry in Belgaum and several of the well-off Telis let bullock carriages called dhamnis or Sarvats on hire. Belgaum had seven tanneries to the south of the cantonment near the distillery ; six dyers in indigo, and twenty-two in safflower or kusumba. There were two lime kilns and two small tile kilns to the south of the town.

The municipal vegetable market in the heart of the town was built by the municipality in 1866 at a cost of about £760 (Rs. 7600). The market had fifty-two stalls which yield a yearly rent- of about £120 (Rs. 1200). The stalls were arranged in the form of a square enclosing an open space which is occupied by cloth merchants on the Saturday weekly market. All round on the outside of the market was an open space which was occupied by squatters who come daily with vegetables and on Saturday by people from the neighboring villages who come with small quantities of grain. Beyond it was a further open space where cart men are allowed to stand with their grain and wood carts.

At the Saturday weekly market all kinds of grain, country cloth, groceries, firewood, grass, earthen vessels, and vegetables are brought from the villages within a radius of twenty miles from Belgaum and exposed for sale. Cattle and timber market is also held on Saturday in an empty plot of ground to the east of the town and fort where milch buffaloes and cows, he- buffaloes and bullocks, ponies, timber, rafters, and bamboos are sold.

The other municipal markets were the mutton market and slaughter house built in 1872 at a cost of £41 6 (Rs. 4160) and yielding a yearly income of £70 (Rs. 700) ; a fish market built in 1872 at a cost of £102 10s. (Rs. 1025) and yielding a yearly revenue of £4 (Rs.40) a beef market built in 1873 at a cost of £124 14s. (Rs. 1247) and yielding £15 (Rs. 150) a second slaughter-house yielding £18 (Rs. 180); and a cart stand built in 1875 at a cost of £347 (Rs. 3470) and yielding £40 (Rs. 400).

Besides the special market room provided by the municipality, both sides of the Khade Bazar road were occupied by shops of Narvekars, Bohoras, and Marwaris where groceries, woolen and silk cloths, English piece-goods, and oilman’s stores are sold.

The Bhendi Bazar had a few cloth merchants’ shops where hand loom waist-cloths, turbans, and women’s robes were sold. In the same street ready-made native clothing iron and brassware and confectionery are sold at a few shops. All the wholesale grain and salt merchants live and have their shops in the Aditvar (Raviwar) Peth.

Source: Bombay Presidency Gazette

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Very Very Interesting information. I have lived in Belgavi( Old Belgaum) with my parents and siblings mostly in the Military residential areas (Camp) Between 1942 to 1957. May Belgavi City Prosper!!!!!! Jan Shaikh.

  2. Hi Uday, Thanks for information, nice to know the facts, but I have some observation on calculations. for example it mentioned that turnover is 11500 pounds and equivalent Rs is 115,000, it should be more than that. it will be ~24 Cr in today value. Here is how I got the numbers

    $1 = £0.2057 in 1880

    Or £11500 = $57,031

    Once Ounce of Gold in 1880 is $ 21 (One Ounce = 28 grams)

    Total Ounce of Gold can be brought at that time is 2715 ounce

    Total Gold in Grams = 2715.26X28= 76,020

    The Value of 76,020 gram today

    =76020*3100=Rs 235,663,526

  3. My family has lived in this market area that is Ravivar peth from 1940 to 2004.My brothers and sisters were born and and brought up here

  4. Great info there Uday. NIce to know the details. But I have a question, the turnover figures that you have posted in Pounds "£" must be the figures in 1800. Hence their value will be far greater today. What I mean to say is £40 in 1800 will not be equal to Rs 400 today. The value will be greater than Rs400.

    • Aadil, £1 in 1866 is worth £68.00 today if you are comparng buying power (i.e how much was £1 salary in 1866 able to buy good worth today) but if comparing earning ( i.e share of GDP, i.e there may be very few people with £1 around) then £1=£696.00.
      Similarly ( no data before 1900). Rs 1 in 1900 was worth Rs 354 in todays money.
      Also for comparison Rs1000 in 1900 was worth Rs 3.5 lacs in todays money .
      Hope this helps
      PB

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