This place got the limelight a few years back when some of my friends had posted pictures of it on Facebook. It was a new car shoot, and the place gave it a tremendous majestic background.
A little bit eerie, but then it is a ruined church standing in the middle of a river, so the eeriness is justifiable. Ever since then, Shettihalli has been on my mind.
I get quickly drawn towards ruins and heritage architecture, so I badly wanted to see this. I have gone on road trips down the Hassan highway many times, but I do not know how to drive and am always at the mercy of the one who drives, that a visit to the Shettihalli church has eluded me for so long. Recently on a trip to Sakleshpur, we took a quick detour to Shettihalli church, and my wish gets fulfilled.
About Shettihalli Church
The church is believed to be built by the French missionaries for the wealthy British estate owners in the 18th century. With it being on the Hassan highway, which leads to many coffee estates, this theory could be quite possible.
Apart from word of mouth and information on the internet, I don't know where to source information about this abandoned church. It is built on the banks of River Hemavathi, or that is how it is now. In all probability, from what I read, there was a village along with this church. They decided to build the Gorur reservoir, which meant the surrounding area started to flood. The villagers were relocated, but this splendid church was left behind. I can only imagine it to have looked magnificent as it looks very similar to churches like St.Philomena's Cathedral of Mysore. Maybe it is not that majestic, but the architecture was a good competition!
Bangalore to Shettihalli Rosary Church
The Hassan highway is one of the prettiest highways to go on a one-day drive from Bangalore. I love this highway.
The coconut farms are still up, and the plantain farms are up, and it is green farms throughout the way. It is the way to Belur, Halebid, and many other Hoysala temples. And it is also the drive to Chikmagalur, and Sakleshpur is through this Hassan highway.
So, Shettihalli can be clubbed along like a stopover on the way or combine it with other Hoysala temples and make it a one-day trip. On this particular day, it was drizzling beautifully, adding to the beauty of this highway.
Drive down the NH 75, and once you reach Hassan, a deviation on your left marks the way to Shettihalli.
It is a village, but the way to the church is like solving a mystery puzzle. We did solve it, but I do not know if it is the right way to date.
Once you take the deviation from the highway, more farms spring up, and the village scenery sets in. After driving up for about 20km, we could see the water body, which meant the church was nearby. But we couldn't see the church and the maps seemed to have small lanes branching to the church. A bike emerged from a muddy path, and they directed us on the same mud path. It was one-way, and definitely, the way meant for two-wheelers. The thick bushes suddenly cleared up, and there it was standing. There was another way from the other side of the church, which opened up to a vast space, and cars could drive without hindrance.
When we reached the place, it was just us, and the place wore an eerie, deserted look. Only the walls are up. I stood in front of it, putting a roof above it in my head, adding some colored glass panes to give that Gothic architecture a complete look, a simple altar and wooden chairs filling up the place. I took a couple of pictures and walked towards the Hemavathi river.
I walked towards the Hemavathi river. It remained super calm, and it was super vast. The water from the Gorur Hemavathi Reservoir had receded so we could see the entire church. During the monsoon, the water brims and submerges the church. That is quite a scene that many people drive to see while it is raining.
Even coracle rides are done during the monsoon. But it is not a tourist place so there will be nobody monitoring it and there will be no lifeguards.
Take it at your own risk. Soon a couple of bikes drove in with young guys and girls who were not happy to see us. Seriously?
It is just four walls standing up, and I do not know what kind of privacy they were expecting—a couple of white Egrets diving into the water to fish caught my attention.
The place could have been kept a lot cleaner. People come here to camp and leave behind beer bottles and plastics. It is Painful to see an area such as this kept uncleanly. I also learned that photographers come here at night to capture the church against the Milkyway and do some stargazing.
The place is pretty deserted, and I wouldn't recommend solo women traveling to this place.
How to Reach Shettihalli Church
From Bangalore, take on the NH 75 and follow the Hassan highway bypassing the city. Soon you will find a deviation pointing the way to Shettihalli church. It is a deviation from a major four-way, so there are very fewer chances for you to miss it.
Shettihalli Church is about 200km from Bangalore. Driving or riding down is the best way to enjoy Hassan highway, and it is easier to reach the church.
If you are taking a bus, there are plenty of buses to Hassan from where you can hire an auto or so.
From Hassan, it is about 20kms away.
Also Read: A quick tour across Chikmagalur - Read Here