Located at a distance of 200 kms from Hebbal in Bengaluru, the ruins of the 150 year old Shettihalli Rosary church are hiding in plain sight. A perfect day trip!This church was built in 1860's by french missionaries in Gothic architecture style for the then wealthy British estate owners and later used for worship by the surrounding villages for around 100 years. Around 1960 the initiation of the Hemavati/Gorur Dam and Reservoir project necessitated the relocation of the village around this church as the entire area became a flood plain for the project.The villagers left, leaving the church behind to hold its ground against the raging waters that it is half submerged under, every monsoon (July-October). It emerges from the floods every winter and the walls and arches stand tall through the summer, a testament to the quality and durability of 19th century craftsmanship.
- Shettihalli Church as well is just a bunch of pillars left after the whole place was brought down to ruins. There really isn't much history here. It's a church which was being built by the French in their famous Gothic architecture which was suddenly abandoned and left incomplete. The road leading to it is quite bad or maybe it was just Google taking us down a bad route. There is garbage strewn everywhere, so if you are a photographer going to click photo-journalistic pictures, then you've got a tonne of Photoshop work coming your way. The only significance of this place is that the place gets submerged in water during the monsoons & very high tides and you can do some boating around it. But even then, it wasn't worth the rocky detour.
Now we were on our way to Chikmagalur from Shettihalli in Hassan and the spikes in my watch clicked 11.00 a.m. Within 30 minutes and a ride of 15 kms we were welcomed again by showers and this time it was in full fledge stopping us mid-way nowhere on a road. We had our water resistant jackets to stay dry, but riding was impossible at this time. Standing there in rain, we saw of bunch of riders riding on a bikes which were meant for rallies. Asked upon where they headed, one of them told us that there is a rally held nearby on a slushy track on the way to Chikmagalur. Couldn’t resist ourselves from seeing a rally of bikes like this, we headed our way in rain for next 2 kms slowly. There were a few hundred people gathered under umbrellas to see bikers revving their engines on a muddy track to win the title. We somehow made a way to the other side of track and stood aside to witness the ride as we had nowhere to go in rain at this point of time. I was lucky enough that I carried my Go Pro with me and made a video of the race for a while, and saw how talented were these riders to stay on slush and balance their machine to cross the finish line successfully. After 45 mins of staying there, rain gods stopped and we left for Chikmagalur. By the time we reach the main city of Chikmagalur, it was 1.30 p.m. and we were hungry. Had a short 30 mins break to fill our stomachs with chicken biryani in a roadside hotel. After that we reached Mullayanagiri parking area which is 300 metres below the peak. And Mullayanagiri peak is the highest peak in Karnataka at about 6,330 feet is nestled in the Chandra Drona hills ranges of the Western ghats of Chikmagalur district. As it was raining and the winds blew everything in its way, we couldn’t walk to the top and were just hiding from rain below big vehicles there. After a lots of effort and time we could get our bike below the hill and we started to go towards Kemmanugundi, which had to be crossed to reach Chikmagalur city. It was already 5.00 p.m. by the time we were on actual road towards Kemmanugundi. Now crossing this challenging junction of mud with water roads in Bhadra wildlife sanctuary we also came across a herd of sambar deer making their way up to the hills. On the way we saw many water streams in full swing as it was heavily raining for last one week. By this time we were completely drenched and didn’t mind to ride in rain as it gave a new essence of adventure. The roads by now were slippery to the core and posed challenges on every curve of this hill station.
On reaching there, things were exactly the way we had hoped and church was completely dry. It was amazing to see how a structure survives such weather and water conditions year after year and is still standing tall. Barring a few people, there were just the two of us enjoying the serenity of the church with the river flowing alongside it. After roaming around the area, we realized there are a couple of trails on which we can actually take our bikes and explore the region a bit more. So once we had taken a fair share of pics with the church, we took our bikes for some off-road experience. Struggling through our first off-road experience through the slush, we finally managed to find a road leading back to the highway.