Friday, June 8, 2012
The Rosary Church at Shettihalli was built by French missionaries in 1860 for British estate owners around Sakleshpur. Every year as the monsoons fill up the reservoir, the church retires to the submerged world and as the water level recedes it emerges in all its glory.The ruins have a mysterious charm to them but I visited this place at last summer.
The church was reportedly built with mortar and bricks and a mixture of jaggery and eggs - the secret sauce that helped it withstand the elements for almost 150 years. It was submerged during the construction of the Reservoir across Hemavathy River at Gorur, to irrigate lands in Hassan, Tumkur and Mandya districts. It stays submerged in water half the year and lives above it during the other half! It is difficult to believe that there was once a thriving population around the church. When the reservoir was built, the villagers were rehabilitated to Channarayapatna and Arkalgud.
The architecture looks very European which adds all the more charm to the setting. The Church built in typical Gothic style; it has got pointed arches and ribbed vaults. The height of the structure, judging by what remains, is considerably more than its width - another standard feature of the Gothic style. It is built in the Latin cross plan, with a long nave making the body of the church towards the western facade, and two transverse arms to its either side.
The nave and the transepts are adorned with long pointed arches in cluster of three. There is a partly destroyed tower behind alter which probably had a huge bell hanging on the top. I can only imagine the majesty of this structure in its peak days, with possibly stained glass covering those big arches and windows! The atmosphere was so mesmerizing, especially with the setting sun adding its own beauty to the mix.
The church as such is relatively huge with nothing but the skeleton of the structure in place. The columns, the architecture and few walls are preserved just so much so that one can fill in the missing pieces of puzzle to imagine what it would’ve looked like.