Ruins of forgotten structures are intriguing and even more intriguing are the stories spun around them. Always on the lookout for such structures, a couple of weeks ago I chanced upon a picture of an abandoned church from South India. A simple google search further revealed some interesting facts. Shettihalli Rosary church, now home to a few birds, was built in the 17th Century by the French Missionaries. Tucked away in a small hamlet, Shettihalli church in Hassan district of Karnataka is popular for all the right reasons.
An interesting phenomenon can be observed every monsoon. This gothic styled church, which now stands tall without any pews or stained glass windows, is submerged under water due to heavy rains and the concomitant rise in the water level from the nearby dam. The dilapidated structure is sometimes submerged completely and other times, one can only make out the spire.
The story of Shettihalli church goes something like – it is believed that with the construction of Gorur Dam on the banks of River Hemvathi in the year 1960, thousands living in the area around the church were displaced. People had to abandon their houses and move elsewhere. And this is how the church was forgotten too. Its eerie charm and hauntingly beautiful appearance is now a paradise for photography buffs. Today Shettihalli Church is also a popular pre-wedding photoshoot location for young couples.
When I visited the church, there was not a single soul in sight and to my surprise, there are no roads leading to it either. A dry field takes you to the abandoned monument that stands tall in the water. As you make your way to the church, you can enjoy the illustrious company of reptiles, cattle, birds and wild bushes, but not a soul can be seen otherwise.
How to reach, best time to visit the church and more
It is fairly easy to reach Rosary chapel ruins. Shettihalli is about 200 km from Bengaluru and regular buses can easily help you reach the hamlet. One can avail buses from Hassan to Shettihalli as well. All you have to do is inform the bus driver to drop you at the church. From the deboarding point, the abandoned structure is a mere 10-minute walk. Or you could avail Savaari’s Innova on rent in Bangalore to get to there directly in under 2 hours.
A lush and populous hamlet where the River Hemavathi once flowed, Shetihalli church is now an abandoned and decrepit ruin and the curious floating structure is a reminder of a past that was lost to ‘development’.
The best time to visit Shettihalli church is from July to October when you get to enjoy the surreal experience of a boat ride that takes you through the crumbling arches of the old church. You can also visit this place any time between December and May when the water level goes down and witness the charm and beauty of the ruins in all its glory.
There is something about this abandoned monument that holds your attention. The silence here is beautiful. The sound of the river flowing is a song to the ears. The solitude experienced here is unmatched, unforgettable and certainly cannot be described in words. If you are someone who loves the offbeat, then this mysterious, floating church should be on your bucket list. And the fact that there are no people around makes this place absolutely safe for one of those weekend getaways after a tiring week.
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