Rising out of the waters

Rising out of the waters

From what I had read about the submerged church in Shettihalli, my interest was piqued – a church that went underwater when the monsoons hit the Gorur Dam, only to re-emerge in all its Gothic glory when the waters receded in the summer months. As we drove along the narrow, pothole-ridden road, wild, yet dry foliage stood taller than the car on all sides. Villagers we met along the way gestured forward when we asked them for the church. My desire to see the church got the better of me and I hung out of the window, straining hard to see through the yellow-coloured foliage for any sign of the church.

Peeking out

And then its turrets appeared, almost out of nowhere, peeping up against the wall of tall grass that attempted to hide it from passing traffic. By the time I yelled out, we had crossed the church a bit. We threw the car in reverse and looked for a way to get through to the church.

A narrow path emerged, seemingly out of thin air. People and vehicles that had come before us had flattened out an approach road to the church. As we drove down this path, every twist and turn heightened the anticipation of seeing the structure.

And slowly, it appeared – a majestic structure, albeit in ruins. Greying with age, yet divine in appearance. Its walls, sadly, have been defiled by miscreants. The church was partially submerged when we visited it. The coracles that supposedly take you through the church in such cases lay overturned with no soul in sight with whom we could negotiate such a tour.

Nevertheless, the structure still stood mighty and magnificent. As I looked at the church, what little I had read about its history, came back to me and seemed to fall into place.
The Rosary Church was built by the French Missionaries sometime in the 1860s. Built in Gothic architecture style, the church is quite large for a small village like Shettihalli.

In 1960, the government decided to build the Gorur Dam to channel the waters of the Hemavathi river, which flows close to Hassan and this Church. As many as 28 villages were relocated for the making of this Dam. Scores of homes now lay vacant and with them the church bells of the Rosary Church fell silent too.

We spent a little more than an hour on the banks of the church – its serenity enhanced by the blue skies and white clouds that were lying low. As we turned on the engine and made our way back up the small path, the Church receded into the grass wall, much the way it does perhaps into the waters that envelop it. A visit in summer months will be good when you will be able to walk through the church and another right after the rains to watch it in its half-submerged state.


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