In a land area of 32,147 square kilometers, the Diocese of Gulbarga includes four revenue districts of Bidar, Bijapur, Yadgir and Gulbarga all in Karnataka state. Gulbarga, the largest city in north Karnataka state is also the divisional headquarter. In the olden days it was known as 'Kalburgi' which in Kannada means land of stones or heap of stones. Today there is a move to rename Gulbarga again as 'Kalburgi'. Krishna and Bhima rivers flow through this land.
The total population of Gulbarga Diocese is approximately 6,435,095. (Population of whole Karnataka state according to the Census of 2011 is 6,11,30,704). While just 15, 87,950 people live in urban areas 48,47,145 people live in the rural areas. There is a surplus of men in the area. While 76 percent of the majority are Hindus 18 percent are Muslims. Catholicism is a minority in the diocese with approximately 6,500 followers. Many Christian denominations are prevalent in the region Methodists making the majority.
Gulbarga Diocese is predominantly a Kannada-speaking diocese of Karnataka. Kannada which is the state language of Karnataka is the main language across the diocese. It is also the official language of Gulbarga diocese. There are people who speak Marathi, Telugu and Hindi having influenced by the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Tamil, English and Konkanni speaking people can be found, too.
Pope Benedict XVI created the new Diocese of Gulbarga comprising of the four Districts of North Karnataka (Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir and Bijapur) on June 24, 2005 together with the appointment of Bishop Robert Michael Miranda as the first bishop of the new diocese. The Diocese of Gulbarga was carved out of the three geographical dioceses of Hyderabad, Belgaum, and Bellary. Prior to that Bidar district was a mission adopted by the Diocese of Mangalore even though it was the juridical part of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad. Bijapur, a part of Belgaum Diocese was taken care by the Jesuit priests. The Gulbarga and Yadgir districts were the part of Bellary Diocese.
Gulbarga is around 200 kilometers west of Hyderabad and around 600 kilometers north of Bangalore. NH 9 connecting Hyderabad and Pune passes through Bidar (Humnabad). NH 13 connecting Bangalore-Sholapur-Pune passes through Bijapur. SH 19, the new state highway connects Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur city. The nearest Airport is at Hyderabad, 200 kilometers from Gulbarga. Gulbarga has a prominent railway junction. All trains from Mumbai to Hydrabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore and Kanya Kumari pass through Gulbarga city. There is also an inter-city train connecting Bijapur, Sholapur and Gulbarga. There are a number of government and private busses from Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur to Hyderabad, Pune, Bangalore, Hubli, Goa, Mumbai and other neighbouring cities. A domestic airport is coming up in Gulbarga.
The majority of the people in this part of the state are poor. Popularly known as the 'Hyderabad-Karnataka Region', it is the most backward region of Karnataka. There are only two kinds of people: the land lords and the daily wage earners, the coolies. The vast majority are the coolies or the landless labourers who live on daily wages. Unfortunately, they do not get work all through the year. In many places, they do not have work even for six months in a year. The small and marginal farmers have only arid land in their name and do not make any profit from their farms. Discrimination on the basis of caste still prevails.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy in this region. Jowar, rice, wheat, cotton, ground nuts, oilseeds, vegetables, sugarcane, spices and cereals of all kinds are grown in the entire area. Animal husbandry and sheep rearing is a common occupation. This part of the state is declared as a Horticultural Zone by the government. All the three districts of the diocese are figuring among the 200 most backward regions in the country. Bidar and Bijapur are 'no industry' districts of Karnataka. Shahabad stones well known for the construction works, a couple of cement and sugar factories and a few Dal mills are the only industries of the region.
Though the region can boast of a rich religious and cultural heritage, the region has a highest rate of illiteracy and the lowest standard of education in the entire state. The number of people coming under the category of below poverty line is the highest in the region. There exists the great division between the rich and the poor, the landlords and the landless. The lowest industrial growth and the lowest per capita income is also the cause of acute illiteracy. Highest number of child labourers, high rate of unemployment, under employment and seasonal employment are also the causes. The diocese has 56.69 percent literacy in which 67.97 percent men are literate and only 47.34 percent women are literate.
'To drive away the darkness of ignorance through formal and non-formal Education' is one of the mottoes of the diocese. There have been number of programmes and animations planned and executed in this regard.
The existence of a number of temples with their historical background speaks of a rich spiritual and cultural heritage. The 'Bidri Art' which found patronage of the Mughal Kings is very attractive and popular. Lambani dance by a tribe called Lambanis, kolata (dancing with sticks), bhajan singing and folk songs (Janapada) are the popular folk arts of this region. Even the Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter are celebrated by singing the bhajans and songs all through the night by the localites.
Though the region has given birth to great poets and laureates, the one person who has definitively made an impact in the religious, social and literary field, and revered even today in the entire region is Basavanna of Bagewadi. From a poor family he rose to the position of the prime minister under King Bijjala. He started reform of the Hindu religion by denouncing all discrimination based caste. His followers are known as the Lingayats, and they now claim Veera Shaivism is a distinct religion from Hinduism. The Vachanas written by Basavanna are his unique contribution to Kannada literature. Taking examples from day to day life of the people, he conveys a powerful message to his followers.
Though the casteism is prevalent in the society even among the Lingayats today, people of all faiths live in harmony, and one does not see much of religious intolerance. The celebrative and festive culture of the people is something that is unique in this place. The Hindu calendar is marked with a religious feast every fortnight. Of these the Dassera, Deepavali, Moharam, Sankrathi, Holi are celebrated with pomp and gaiety by all people. Jathras and Urus (public religious celebrations) are common phenomena in most of the villages and towns. Pravachanas, the explanation of the Puranas or Vachanas and cultural programmes form part of these Jathras. 'Gulbarga Utsava' (Gulbarga festival) is a annual local cultural festival promoted recently by the governmental