Have you seen this Belagavi?

If you have seen Bal Shivaji in Azad cinema, and know that Radio was once a movie-theatre, you’re probably of the generation that has seen Belagavi in the prime of its old-world charm, just on the cusp of the building-boom. As you pass through many of its streets and roads and wonder where the old landmarks have gone, there’s another generation who will gawk at the thought that there was a city, as charming as Malgudi , right here. Take a test and see if you have seen the Belagavi that once was loved by all.

Swaroop Plaza was earlier Azad Cinema on Shukurwar peth
Swaroop Plaza was earlier Azad Cinema on Shukurwar peth
Bella Vista Belagavi

Have you walked across Nartaki, all the way behind through the mushy fields and seen the train shunting on that massive shunting circle, traipsing along to see the engine turn its direction?

The Nartaki Theater then
The Nartaki Theater then

Have you been to Mitra Samaj and smirked at the old décor while waiting for the sumptuous dishes? Where is it now? Well, tucked in one corner of College road. Sigh!

Have you ducked down to enter that hole-in-the- wall Chaya Café on Khade Bazar? Well, the staff gladly perched me on the table as I polished off their chutneys more than anything else.

Have you held golden yellow brass pitchers in hand and waited for the bulls to finish their rounds as their owner crushed sugarcane opposite Shivaji Garden and besides Prakash theatre? Mosquitoes notwithstanding, my mom allowed me to wash down more than one pitcher that came for Rs. 5. 

Representative image of the Tonga
Representative image of the Tonga

Do you remember the Horse Tonga our city had? Or that three wheeler curious pod-car taxi at the Railway station? Perhaps it was the Bajaj Tempo Hanseat!

Have you bought a ticket to the circus at the station circle ground? What, ground? Yes, it was, once upon a time. We even heard the lions roar late at night, as far as Shahapur. The first trucks offloading the fence and the tent on the ground brought shrieks of joy from the kids.

The Present Shivteerth besides Military Mahadev was a big Ground
The Present Shivteerth besides Military Mahadev was a big Ground

Have you learnt to ride the cycle on the Military Mahadev Ground? And fallen to pebbles below? What, ground? Yes dearies. It was too, once upon a time.

Have you crossed the Shastri Nagar nala on that rickety wooden-plank bridge? And felt your heart in your mouth with the gushing waters below in the monsoon? Well, more, perhaps, for the bridge had some planks missing most of the time 😀

Have you been terrified of the rain water gushing across the railway bridge opposite Mangal metal works? Dreaded as it sounds, it rang bells of impending holidays due to heavy rains.

Do you know what an antenna booster is? Houses that sported an antenna almost always had a booster to strengthen signals.

Femila Ice Cream Photo Santosh Purohit
Femila Ice Cream Photo Santosh Purohit

Have you bent to watch the inside compartments of the Femila/Femina/Perina ice cream carts that came on the streets? I was always curious to know how the ice cream is stored inside.

Have you strained your necks in neighbors’ houses to watch Ramayan or the last overs of a cricket match? Sundays would see silent roads in the evenings when the movie would be screened on Doordarshan.

Have you walked up to the first railway gate simply to devour spicy Balu’s Pav bhaji sitting on the steps of the shut shops of the vegetable market? It was here that the real fast food culture began in the city.

If you have ticked most of the boxes above, I know you have seen the real Belagavi before it became just-another-city.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. One thing that I really miss is the Sunday Evening movies. Dr.Rajkumar & Narasimha Raju combination movies were my favourites. ! And just before the climax used to be a 15 min break for News. !

  2. The alipak at the ground next to military mahadev the evening walk to the railway station just to watch the engine most important of all holding my grandfather’s finger are still fresh before my sight

  3. Yes, Those days are golden days.Your article took me to my childhood days, I am missing my Belgavi my parents and my family members.Want to relive those days I am nostalgic.Proud to be belgaviyav…

  4. How can we forget the long kulfi ice cream sticks for 10 paisa and Spl. Kulfi (with fried ground nut) for 12 paisa.

  5. aaah!! the old charm called Belgaum. I can surely tick all of the above and many more of such ones as a person having lived through the 70s up-to the beginning of this millennium in this most wonderful town of all the places. No place like Belgaum. Old jungle saying ‘you can take a boy out of Belgaum but not Belgaum out of a boy!’ holds true in my case 🙂

  6. Ya those where the days, Mitra Samaj for its famous Misal, Chayya cafe for its Toast Chutni
    Station Ground for Circus & on off Seasons we used to play Cricket. Femina Ice Cream was very Famous those days.

    Really Miss Belgaum

  7. Balu’s vada pav was initially at footpath stall opposite Hanuman Hotel, near Ramdev! It was shifted when the shops there were demolished to build a footpath that no one uses….

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