Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rosary Church, Shettihalli - As it submerges and emerges


Consider a church built by French Missionaries in the 1860s.

Consider a reservoir built by government in the 1960s.

If you are thinking how these two totally unrelated acts and timelines could cause such awe and amazement to the offbeat traveler, you are just about to know that!

The thing is, the church was built on the banks of Hemavathi River near Hassan where an erstwhile village existed long ago. When the government decided the flowing river water had to be put to better use, Gorur dam was built which floods the Hemavathi Reservoir. As with any dam, the collateral damage was relocation of the villages upstream. This village was no different and the villagers were relocated to the nearby villages but the church was left behind. It stood still standing the test of time and the wrath of monsoons. It has been more than 200 years since it was built and more than 25 years since the dam waters started flooding and submerging the church yet these walls bear the brunt with such understated charm and grit that it is hard not to let your jaw drop at the first glimpse.

Rosary Church

Every year as the monsoons fill up the reservoir, the church retires to the submerged world and as the water level recedes it emerges in all its glory. The ruins have a mysterious charm to them. The church as such is relatively huge with nothing but the skeleton of the structure in place. The columns, the architecture and few walls are preserved just so much so that one can fill in the missing pieces of puzzle to imagine what it would’ve looked like. The architecture looks very European which adds all the more charm to the setting.


Well, to talk about the setting, there couldn’t have been a perfect setting. When the sky is blue, the waters reflect the exact serenity of open skies and lovely countryside greenery dots the far shores of the river while she stands tall amidst the blue waters. The church plays its part as the graceful host to the many water birds waiting to catch fish. As the winged creatures fly across the ruins, you are not so left behind. A ride in a coracle can be the next best thing. As the flat bottomed round bowl shaped boat circled the church and went through the ruins, words failed me. I would’ve seen ruins many times and I have seen beautiful water bodies way too many times but never did I ever sail through ruins. Sailing through history, it seemed surreal and very enchanting. Who knew what lay beneath? No one would know what would happen to the fallen ruins until the water receded next season.

Me being a landscape photographer, I turned into a light stalker. We waited for many blissful hours by the river side till the evening sun was casting the golden light on the mossy remains as we floated between the standing walls. What happened next was another completely crazy drive story keeping up with the tradition of my crazy road trips over the last year. But we’ll save it for another day while you enjoy the pictures.

With many shutterbugs capturing the mysterious church, the place is just short of becoming a popular tourist destination. While I do not believe in holding back information, I do hope if you are headed there, you will maintain the sanctity of the place and will not litter the place with broken beer bottles and plastic amongst many. With little luck we’d find such places, I hope it stays pristine for years to come.

Fact File :

Driving Directions – Bangalore – Hassan – Hanumanthapura – Shettyhalli.
Time Taken – 4 hours.
Best time – Any time is a good time. When the water recedes, the church can be fully seen and the submerged church has an altogether different charm to it.
Camping options – You can stay by the river side if you have your own tents. There is Rappa island resort close by. Next best option for overnight stay could be Hassan.
Attractions nearby – Belur, Halebid



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Shettihalli church

Shettihalli church

Shettihalli church submerged in water

sunset at hemavathi reservoir

28 comments:

  1. Nice!! This is little off beat too. Had heard of the place but never seen any goo enough pictures. Super stuff. :)

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  2. Stunning photography and an awesome off-beat destination.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com

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  3. Awesome place and clicks! Thanks for sharing :)

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  4. can u give the exact route map to the church. I am trying to go to this church for so long, somehow i keep missing it everytime

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    1. Dear Sir,

      I don't know your exact place.

      Bus route From Hassan to Shettihalli Church

      Platform No 7 in Hassan Bus timings 8:00AM 9:45PM 11:00AM 12:00Am 1:00PM 2:00PM 4:00PM 4:30PM OK Just come through this bus

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  5. wohooo that's something added to my list.

    And I love the point - we must not add beer bottled and plastic. And to add it's heart wrenching to see these things destroyed. Can't we leave these things the way we want to see them for the next generations? We just need to be a little more sensitive !

    Thanks for sharing..

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  6. looks like a great place. Brilliant pictures!

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  7. ## Ravish - Hey thanks man, after I had talks with many on this church, I found out I got really lucky to see the church so submerged in February that too. People apparently have gone there twice/thrice even in monsoons only to find no water. :)

    ## R Niranjan Das - thanks, yes not quite on the tourist radar yet. :)

    ## Vaibhav - Thank you! :)

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  8. ## Pratik Mandrekar - Thanks man, the pleasure is all mine. :)

    ## subbuz1 - I travel but I am quite bad with directions. :) There is a google map route attached in the post. Probably that can help you.

    ## Vagabond - Been a long time, have you visited yet? :)

    Sankara, Sandeep, Vijay Kulkarni - Thanks! :)

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  9. The pictures are really great. I am planning to visit this place during the duessara holidays.will it be submerged in water?

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  10. Happened to visit Shettihalli after getting to know it from your blog!! Thanks a lot, Neelima! It was truly an enchanting experience!

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    1. I am sure it must've been a memorable visit. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  11. Hi, Neelima. Great pictures I must say! By the way what time of the year were these pictures taken?

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    1. Hi Anahita, this was around February I suppose. And it was an unexpected surprise. It is rare to find the church submerged these days. There is one resort at Rappa by the waters. You could check with them before planning your trip.

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  12. Beautiful pics!!! Added it to my wishlist of places to visit next in Karnataka, one of my favourite states for temple/architecture/art/history tourism!!!

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    1. Thank you. Karnataka is indeed a wonderful state with lots of diversity. Do visit this awesome church whenever you plan your visit to this state.

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  13. the photographs of the church in water are surreal!!

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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    1. It is truly a surreal place, one of my top favorites around Bangalore!

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  14. how do you manage food there?
    do you have to carry stoves or can we find fire wood?

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    1. We didn't stay the night there, there are many resorts close by. Or you do this as a day trip from Hassan/Belur or even Bangalore.

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  15. Tnx for the post i ve been to dis place twice but the place near church is not clean, at least now let the government take initiative and make this as a tourist spot!!!! and a view from the bridge is awesome please don't miss the view from the bridge....

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  16. Hi Neelima,

    It's really very Beautiful Place & nice clicks, Today we are visiting this place. Thanks for sharing wonder full
    Place.. Rocking..
    Srinivas S

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  17. I was here today. The church wasn't under water obviously but it was a humbling experience to be in midst of a structure so old and still so strong facing the hardships of nature every day.

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