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Dharwad - Gateway of Learning

by Jyotsna Kamat
First Online: September 08, 2004
Page Last Updated: January 10, 2018

Dharwad, home of delicious, tongue-melting Dharwad phedas and artistic Kasuti saris, is also famous as a seat of learning for at least one hundred and twenty-five years. Together with Hubli, it is the second largest city in state of Karnataka. Hubli-Dharwad city has been home of political, social, educational and economic activities for the whole of North Karnataka and the region beyond erstwhile Mysore state ruled by the Maharaja of Mysore.

History of Dharwad goes back to more than one thousand years. Two epigraphs dated 1116 and 1126 A.D. mention the place as "Darwad". According to Dr. P.B. Desai, the renowned epigraphist, the name has been derived from Sanskrit 'dwarawata'. Dwara meaning door and Wata or Wada meaning town. Actually it was gateway between mountain land (malenadu) and the plains (bayaluseeme).

In ancient times, Dharwad was capital of Halasigenadu. This region was jointly ruled by Kadamba king of Goa, Jayakeshi and his queen Mailaladevi. She was the daughter of illustrious king emperor Chalukya Vikramaditya VI in the 11th century A.D. Dharwad continued to be important trading center and a strategic town and many battles were fought for its control during Mughal and Peshwa times. It was a center of 'Southern Maratha country' a wrong nomenclature of Marathas accepted by the British for some decades, for four Kannada districts along with those of Maharashtra of Bombay Presidency.

The British were drawn by the cool and pleasant climate and developed it as camp for hunting tigers in the nearby thick forests. By 1880 there were more than a hundred European families in Dharwad who had their own clubs. Even a golf club and gymkhana club made their appearance in 1886.

Christian Missionaries followed British administrators. Basel Mission school came up in 1836. Moegling, Ziegler and Kittel were the persons who strived for development of Kannada language and literature. Grammar books, English-Kannada and Kannada–English dictionaries are their contributions.

Epigraphist J.F. Fleet, a revenue officer (I.C.S) brought to light hundreds of inscriptions, folk tales and ballads besides editing important Oriental periodicals. For college education, youngsters had to go to Poona. R.H. Deshpande and Aluru Venkat Rao were pioneers in creating awareness among the middle-class about the need of higher education in Dharwad itself. Karnatak College came up in 1917, by the private organized efforts. This gave boost to students who had completed studies in High Schools started by Karnataka Education Society and Lingayat Education Society (1887) Sanskrit Pathashala was run by Murugha Math. The other pathasala in traditional vedic lore, the one in Gandhichowk has been rendering service for more than two hundred years.

The training colleges for primary school teachers (for men in 1857 and for women in 1885) were the only training institution in the whole of North Karnataka for many decades. Karnataka Vidyavardhak Sangh established by R. H. Deshpande in 1890 strived hard to create awareness among commoners about greatness of their region and language. Later the movement for unification of Karnatak started in Dharwad only as also Nationalist movement. Hubli-Dharwad produced many frontline political leaders during freedom movement.

Dharwad is home of Hindustani classical music. Musicians of  fame like Mallikarjun Mansur, Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi, Basavaraj Rajguru hail from this place. More than a dozen excellent vocalists, instrumentalists and Tabla artists belong to Dharwad.

In literature also Dharwad has made name. There is a saying that you throw a stone in Dharwad and it hits a poet. Right from D.R. Bendre, we have any number of poets who have contributed to different branches, Navodaya, Navya Bandaya etc. Poets, writers, researchers, scholars, who have spent two or more years in Dharwad, always feel nostalgic about the place.

Seven hillocks, seven tanks and seven villages round about Dharwad, made the Old Township. Alas! No more now (year 2004). The tanks have disappeared, hillocks are bereft of vegetation, making way for concrete jungle and villages have become the suburbs of dry city called Dharwad. Water-scarcity is terrible. Even then Dharwad has retained its charm as a place of learning and music.

Topics and Pictures on Heritage of Dharward

See Also:

  • Jai Karnataka -- Potpourri of topics on Karnataka's history, people, folklore and arts. Includes sub-sections on Mysore, Karavali, and North Karnataka.
  • Kannada Writers &Poets


History and Culture of Dharwad

At Dharwad Fort (Killa) Main Building of Karnatak College  Dharwad (KCD) Babusinghs Dharwad PedhaGiven to Goddess
Veerashaiva Girl with Ash on Forehead Shrimata -- Bendre HouseDharwad SweetsHembli Galli in Dharwad
Educationist R.Y. Dharwardkar

Kamat's Potpourri Timeless Theater Karnataka Dharwad

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