India@75: Gangadharrao Balakrishna Deshpande, the Lion of Karnataka
Gangadharrao Balakrishna Deshpande is known as the Karnataka Kesari or the Lion of Karnataka and was among the most prominent freedom fighters of Karnataka.
Gangadharrao Balakrishna Deshpande is known as the Karnataka Kesari or the Lion of Karnataka. Deshpande was born on March 31, 1871, in a Brahmin family in the Belgavi district known before as Belgaum.
As a young man, he joined the rising Swadeshi movement and became an ardent admirer of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Following Tilak’s example, Deshpande took the initiative to organise Ganesh Festival to mobilise national consciousness.
He was actively involved in the non-cooperation movement heeding the call of Gandhiji. Deshpande was the chief organiser of the Belgaum Session of the Indian National Congress; the only session presided by Gandhiji.
Following Gandhi’s path, Deshpande set up the Kumari Ashram at Hudali near Belgaum. Mysore kingdom’s first Khadi unit was set up there, and he came to be known as Khadi Bhageeratha. When Gandhi launched salt satyagraha through the Dandi March, Deshpande took the lead in breaking the laws in Mysore and courted arrest.
In 1937, Gandhiji, on Deshpande’s invitation, arrived at Hudali and stayed there for seven days. Deshpande actively participated in the Quit India movement and was imprisoned. Gangadhar Rao Deshpande was among the most prominent freedom fighters of Mysore.