Have you seen this Belagavi?


love dale 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

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
belagavi

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.

Trinity Belagavi
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Swatee Jog teaches at Bharatesh Global Business School Belagavi, and her articles have been published in Mint, HT, Deccan Herald, Tarun Bharat and DNA and she has also authored two books, one on management and one science book for kids.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Charming as Malgudi is right. The words from the song ‘What wonderful world’ comes to my mind

    I see trees of green, red roses too
    I see them bloom for me and you
    And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

    Femila Ice cream always a treat. Thanks for the article

  2. Eating Balu’s delicious ‘Pav Bhaji’, sitting on the steps of closed ration shop in the tilakwadi market area(1983-84). The quantity would be so much that I could only have half. Yumm those Pav’s dipped in the bhaji.

    Alipak from Sheetal Rasavanti Gruha, that ‘Usacha Ras’ Big Glass is unmatched anywhere in the world.
    During my recent visit to Sheetal on congress road and during interaction came to know that they have opened one in Pune, pune guys do visit.

    The ‘Javari Gajar’ and fresh vegetables you get here is very special and I have not had it anywhere else like this. I thank those farmers from mandoli/ hangirge, who gave us those good quality vegetables at a good price.

    Till today as the train enters near Udyambag, I can smell Belgaum’s fresh air, some magic is in the air. I bow down in gratitude to this Golden city, those were the best days of my life… (1978 to 2000 in BGM)
    I pray GOD to give me more opportunities to visit Belgaum often.

  3. Good Old School Days really its a Nostalgia now. But a Feeling that all the above I have experienced right from Azad theatre, Bicycle through the shunting line to Nartaki Theatre/Shastri Nagar, Tonga Ride from Railway Station to our house in Tilakwadi & Yes the Femila during Summer season at Lele Ground a Wonderful yet joyous moment during Summer Vacation. I am happy & thankful to Uday & your team for bringing back these Memories alive again in our minds 🙂 🙂

  4. Nice article.but you have forgotten to mention the most delicious famous sweet of Belgaum the Kunda.Kunda made by Gajanan Mithaiwala now then was famous as Jakkya cha Kunda from vithaldev Galli Shahapur.Paranjape’s halwa at nargundkar Bhave chowk was also famous in those days.

  5. फेमिला आइस्क्रीम आमचे आवडते होते.शेतवाडीतील उसाच्या रसाचे धाणे,(आजच्या शिवाजी उद्यानाच्या समोर: जिथे आज शेतवाडी बेपत्ता आहे.), पांडूचे अलिपाक- चुरमुरे खूप खूप आठवणी आहेत.
    आज बेळगााव सोडून ४५ वर्षे झाली तरी सर्व आठवणी ताज्या आहेत.आता सर्व काही बदलले आहे. खूप प्रगती झाली आहे. Nostalgic !

  6. Went back memory lane and childhood memories..The bungalow area holding the British houses..The army parade and march in the morning..Seeing them, all you want to be when you become big is a soldier..The carts selling English tamarind, tamarind and a lot of other things… Remember the camlin colouring competition in Queens park..The memories are endless and refreshing always..10kms and you are out of the city..

  7. There is always more than one perspective on topics and issues, which the author has wonderfully scripted. Good one indeed.

  8. Some shops used to have these small surprise paper coupons which were sold for like a rupee or so .
    If your coupon names a prize (usually represented by number) you won that gift else you win nothing.
    And those crazy 7 Up & dinosaur stickers , they were all over. Man gr8 days.

  9. I remember Himalaya Ice Factory which sold ice cream on the streets of camp. 1 old paisa for an ice cream which was basically frozen sugar water in a stick and 1 Anna for milk cake. This was in the early 1960s. Anybody remember?

  10. 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. !

  11. 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

  12. 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…

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

  14. 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 🙂

  15. 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

  16. 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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