Shettihalli Rosary Church: A mystique charm

Photo of Shettihalli Rosary Church: A mystique charm by Ishita Das Sarkar

There was a sudden buzz in my head to go for an unplanned trip. Well, everyone will agree, unanimously, if I say that unplanned trips are the best ones. It was a weekend (we all love weekends and wait for their arrival at the starting of every week) and I did not want to let the day pass without giving me some good memories. I had to go somewhere, but where? Time is always a constraint when it comes to unplanned trips and you have a project to submit on the coming Monday. So, me and my travel partner, a very good friend of mine who is a biker himself, quickly took Google’s help in searching for some ‘one-day travel destinations’ and decided to visit the Shettihalli Rosary Church.

Photo of Shettihalli Rosary Church: A mystique charm 1/1 by Ishita Das Sarkar
Full view of the church

Shettihalli Rosary Church, also known as the ‘floating church’, is a lesser explored destination in Karnataka. The magnificent piece of Gothic Architecture is situated 205 km from Bangalore, 22 km from Hassan, in Karnataka. 

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The history of the church dates to 1860s when it was built by the French Missionaries for the then British estate owners, on the banks of Hemavathi river where quondam villages existed long ago. Later in 1960, when the government constructed the Hemavathy Dam, in Gorur, near Hassan, the villages were shifted upstream, leading to the relocation of the people and the abandonment of the church.Since then, the Shetiahlli Rosary Church, has been standing, forlorn and forsaken, for almost 200 years bearing the wrath of time. Since the construction of the dam, every year, the church submerges in water during the monsoon when the water levels in the Hemavathi reservoir are high; only a part of the church is visible making it a rare sight. The church can be seen at its full length during the dry, summer season when the water level recedes. As we visited the church during the summer, we did not have the fortune to see the flowing Hemavathi River (it had dried up), nor did we see the flock of water birds flying above. With many shutterbugs arriving at this destination, the Shettihalli Rosary Church, has started attracting a lot of tourists and is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination.

The church in water (Image from Google)

Photo of Shettihalli Rosary Church, Hassan, Karnataka, India by Ishita Das Sarkar

Coming back to our trip, we left the city of Bangalore early in the morning, at dawn, and reached around 10.00 am. We had no idea about the route so we decided to follow the Google Map. The church was not visible from the main road so we asked the local people about the exact location. From the main road (the point where the Google map ends), we had to take a left turn and drive downhill to reach the church. The downhill road is a dirt track that leads to the church.

Distant view of the abandoned church

Photo of Shettihalli Rosary Church: A mystique charm by Ishita Das Sarkar

Well, I must say, the long bike ride is worth all the trouble once you reach the location. The perfectly clear sky and the vast stretches of Hemavathi river bank makes this place a paradise for photographers. The church is in ruins now showcasing only the skeletal structure. Few walls and towers are still standing upright, just to let us join the dots and imagine what the church would have looked like in its entirety. The eroded and mossed walls bear the testimony of regular flooding since so many years. Nevertheless, the magnificent church standing against the backdrop of the clear blue sky added a beautiful memory of another successful trip and I returned home with the hangover from the mysterious charm of the Shettihalli Rosary Church.

The remnants of the church

Photo of Shettihalli Rosary Church: A mystique charm by Ishita Das Sarkar

The broken bell tower

Photo of Shettihalli Rosary Church: A mystique charm by Ishita Das Sarkar

How to reach:

By bike or car: Takes around 4 hours

By bus: Regular buses leave from Hassan bus station till 16:00

Best time to visit:

You can visit the church during any time of year. The summer will show the church in its full glory whereas the monsoon will narrate a different story of the submerged church.

Entry Fees: Not required

Note: If you visit this mystical place, it is a kind request to keep the sanctity of this place by not littering with plastic and glass bottles, and also by avoiding to scribble on the church walls. Places like the Shettihalli Rosary Church are a handful and we need to be more responsible citizens when it comes to saving such monuments.