The sugar bowl of Karnataka | Milaap

The sugar bowl of Karnataka

Belgaum district of Karnataka is second most populated after Banglore. Part of Smart City program the main city Belgavi is growing rapidly. My stay here for last five and half month gave me chance to get closer to the culture of this entire district.  Belgaum got its name from "Venugrama" meaning a 'bamboo village'. Belgaum witnesses amalgamation of Kannada and Marathi culture.  In the cuisines and dressing, we can see a lot of similarities with its neighbouring state Maharashtra. You often hear Kannada and Marathi songs in buses and on tea-stalls.  As you visit the village you also meet a lot of immigrants from Maharashtra who are equally affluent when it comes to speaking in Kannada.  

Belgaum district has its own charm. With every taluka contributing some specialities. The food is no exception.  The north Kannada thali (meal) is well known amongst the travellers. In Belgaum people eat Jowar Rotis. And they also serve fenugreek (meethi) as part of the salad. In beginning, you might find it odd but as you start living here you also start enjoying the raw meethi flavour. The main sweet which holds importance during all the major festival is called as Godhi Huggi (sweet wheat porridge). While Puran Poli, which is usually served as the main sweet dish in most of the Maharashtrian festivals is also made on certain occasions.
(Godhi Huggi Pic Courtesy:Let's eat something) (Traditional meal offered in local mess)  
Gokak taluka is famous for the Karadant also known as Karadantu.  Sweet made out of dry fruits, edible gum and jaggery. The Belgavi city it's famous for its Kunda. Kunda is sweet made out of milk. People here call Belgavi as Kunda Nagari. The Purohit is the household name and is quite a popular chain known for the best quality Kunda. Ghataprabha is known for its station ‘meduvada’.  You will often see people huddling and enjoying as you step out of Ghataprabha railway station. Iyengar bakeries can be spotted in every market area of the village.  Apart from sweets ‘mirchi bhaji’ is popular snack among people.  South Indian dishes such as idli, dosa, uttapam are enjoyed for breakfast and during tea-breaks.

(Karadant- Pic Courtesy:              (Kunda- Pic Courtesy:archana's receipe)

Apart from the cuisines, Belgaum is also known for its ‘Ilkal sarees’. A special type of weaving done here. As I enquired I got to know that the weavers have settled majorly in Chikodi and Ramdurg taluka.  The whole of Belgaum district produces the enormous amount of Sugarcane. Thanks to the favorable weather. You will witness Sugarcane plantation throughout the district. Which also is a major reason why most common occupation here is working on the farm. And hence Belgaum is also known as the Sugar Bowl of Karnataka or the Sugar district. Production of corn is also significant. Apart from sugarcane and corn Belgaum is also known for its vegetable, milk, poultry and fish trade. And in addition to this if stay here long enough you might get chance to experience the traditional ‘jatras’ which are also the backbone of the economy of the villages.

(The famous ilkal saree- pic courtesy: gatha shop)
The district was ruled by Mughals, Marathas and later British. The architecture here stands as a proof of its rich history. All the kingdoms have left behind some mark on the local culture that prevails today.  You can also see large spread military cantonment in Belgavi. The Belgaum fort being most sought after and must visit the place. Belgaum is a peaceful district with lot more to offer.