Located 22 km from Hassan in the small district of Shettihalli in Karnataka, the Shettihalli Church is a structure in ruins, but one that has also stood the test of time. Also known as The Submerged Church and The Floating Church, it has recently become a popular tourist attraction in the region and in Karnataka. Standing tall in the middle of barren fields, Shettihalli Rosary Church gets submerged in water every monsoon. A popular picnic spot and home to some birds, several tourists flock here to spend quality time with friends and family. However, you will have to carry your own food and beverage, as there are no eateries or shops in the vicinity.
The best time to visit the floating church is between November and May. During summer, the church is seen in its full glory, whereas visiting during the monsoon narrates a different story. There is no entry fee.
Also read: 10 of the best places to visit in Hassan
How To Reach Shettihalli Church?
It is 116 km from Mysore, 169 km from Mangalore and 204 km from Bangalore to Shettihalli. You can easy to get to the area via road and railways.
Buses are available to Shettihalli from the major cities in Karnataka like Bangalore, Mangalore and Mysore. Additionally, local buses regularly ply from Hassan bus station to the Shettihalli church. The bus will drop you on a road leading to the floating church, from there it’s a 10 min walk to get to the church ruins.
The Mysore Junction Railway Station is the closest railway station to Hassan. From the station, it is approximately 40 km to Shettihalli. You can take an auto to get to the Shettihalli church.
Mangalore Airportis the nearest major international airport. From there you can book a cab to Shettihalli church.
History Of Shettihalli Church
It was built in the 18oos by the French missionaries of the region for wealthy British estate owners in Alur and Sakleshpur. This ancient catholic floating church in Hassan boasts some exceptional Gothic architecture. It is said that along with several talented architects, Fr. Abbe Dubois, a French missionary constructed this church in 1810 using mortar and bricks along with a mix of jaggery and eggs. It was later renovated in 1860. In the beginning, a single-storeyed church was built with a tower containing two bells. Glass from Belgium, gypsum from Egypt, paintings from Scotland, palm trees from Malaysia, and decorative items from Italy and Brazil were used in the construction.
The church was set up to serve the Christian communities residing in Karnataka, in areas in and around Hassan, including Changaravalli, Shettihalli, Doddakoppalu, Gaddekopplu, and Madanakopplu. The church soon acquired world fame for rendering yeoman services to the poor and needy in matters of health from all walks of life, irrespective of their religious affiliations. It is believed that many Christian scholars including Rev. F Kittel, Hermann Moggling, B L Rice, and John Hands stayed at the church during their research work.
Over a century after the construction of this church, during the 1960s, the Gorur reservoir, also known as the Hemavathi dam was constructed to redirect the waters of Hemavathi river in Karnataka. Subsequently, the collateral damage during the construction of the Hemavati dam led to submersion of around 28 villages around the banks of the river. The floods resulted in the relocation of villages around the church and the latter being abandoned. Prior to the Gorur reservoir’s construction, Shettihalli used to be a very rich agricultural hamlet that was known for its sunflower fields.
Digitising Of The Submerged Church
An in-house project called #DigitalHeritage was initiated by Axesmap, a company that uses drone solutions, where important sites of cultural heritage are digitised. This floating church is one such site that’s been digitised by reconstructing a 3D model using photogrammetry technology.
Team Axesmap captured 200 images using a DSLR camera and 800 aerial images using drones for the reconstruction of this floating church. These images of the church were digitised and made available in the public domain by Axesmap for viewers to experience the Shettihalli Church through virtual reality.
Facts About Shettihalli Church
The rosary church in Hassan is naturally blessed with a bridge across the dam, from where visitors can take in stunning views. While visiting this place you’ll notice that the church’s entire roof has caved in while part of the altar and the central nave still stand. But there are no stained glass windows or pews or even windows left in the church. Some of the villagers avoid the church at night, saying it’s haunted.
This place remains submerged in water during monsoons, making it special and unique. Only one-third of the chapel is visible when you visit during peak monsoon season. In the afternoon sun when the retreating sun casts a shadow on the water below, this dilapidated ruin looks hauntingly beautiful. As the water level rises in the dam every year, the church gets lost underwater. You can hire boatmen available near the dam to give you a tour of the chapel from inside when you visit the church during the rainy season. A mysterious yet very romantic backdrop, this abandoned church is a local tourist hotspot nowadays. Those who have visited the Shettihalli church in Hassan have felt a surreal experience.
For nature enthusiasts and bird lovers, this place will steal your heart. You may be able to sight different bird species such as the painted stork, little cormorant, grey heron, Indian pond heron, Brahminy kites, river tern and egrets.
The vicinity around this church is also a significant spot for wedding photoshoots and shooting regional movies. Its hauntingly beautiful appearance and eerie charm is now a paradise for photography buffs. A panoramic view is created when the dark sky reflects on the Shettihalli church through the Hemavati river on its background.
Also read: The 40 most haunted places in India
Why Should You Visit Shettihalli Rosary Church?
Shettihalli Church has become a popular tourist destination since many shutterbugs have started capturing the mysterious ruins. If you visit this mystical place, ensure to preserve its sanctity by avoiding scribbling on itswalls, and by not littering with glass and plastic bottles. Places like this are a handful and so we need to be responsible citizens when it comes to preserving such monuments.
Here Are Some Tips To Help You Make The Most Of This Trip:
- As it gets hot during summer, carry water and a decent hat with you.
- There are no restaurants nearby so have your meals before visiting or plan a picnic.
- Try visiting on a weekday as it may get crowded during weekends and so you may face some challenges in getting great photos.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit this old church is from July to October when half of the church remains under the water. Or else, visit it anytime between December and May as during this time water level goes down and one can witness the beauty of the church in all its glory.
A gorgeous example of Gothic architecture, there is something about this ancient church that is quite romantic and mysterious. This is one of the places where you get to experience an unforgettable and unmatched silence and solitude while visiting. If you are someone who likes to explore offbeat destinations in India, then make sure the church is on your travel bucket list.
- Hemavathi Resorts
- Hoysala Village Resort
- Pavanputra Resort
- The Coffee Castle Villa
Places To See Nearby
- Hasanamba Temple
- Kedareswara Temple
- Gorur Dam
- Sahyadri Theatre
- Hemavathy Reservoir
Places To Stay
- The Ashhok Hassan
- Mallige Residency
- Hotel Sri Krishna Hassan
- iLike Satya Comforts
- Hotel Raama
6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Some hotels near the church are The Ashhok Hassan, Hotel Raama, Hotel Sri Krishna Hassan and Mallige Residency.
Some restaurants near this church are Shantala Bar and Restaurant, The Ambience, Suruchi Veg, Swad Restaurant and Amber Leaf Restaurant.
The church is close to attractions like Hasanamba Temple, Kedareswara Temple, Sahyadri Theatre and Gorur Dam.