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 in Hassan district of Karnataka is getting 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.
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.
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 isolated 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.
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 church is a mere 10-minute walk. Or you could avail Savaari’s Innova on rent in Bangalore to get to the church directly.
A lush and populous hamlet where the River Hemavathi once flowed, Shetihalli is now an abandoned and decrepit ruin and the curious floating church a reminder of a past that was lost to ‘development’.
The best time to visit the 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 the church any time between December and May when the water level goes down and witness the charm and beauty of the ruins in all their glory.
There is something about Rosary Church. The silence here is beautiful. The solitude experienced here is unmatched, unforgettable and surely cannot be described in words. If you are someone who loves the offbeat, then Shettihalli Rosary Church should be on your bucket list.