A recent visit to Hassan took us to one of the most stunning places I have visited of late. About 25 km from Hassan, on the Hassan-Shettihalli Road, lies the gorgeous remains of the Holy Rosary church. Situated on the banks of the Gorur-Hemavathy reservoir, this church is believed to have been built by the French around the year 1860 for affluent British estate owners settled at that time in Alur and Sakleshpur.
The place where the church is situated now was a flourishing erstwhile village but when the the reservoir was built about 35 years ago, the village was displaced and the inhabitants migrated to other areas. The church however remained and very year as the monsoons fill up the reservoir, the waters submerge most part of the church. During summer, the waters recede and the entire spectacular structure can be seen like what we did. While every cycle has periodically taken away a major portion of this holy place, what remains is still utterly beautiful.
The architecture seems Gothic and the patterns on the walls stand testimony to the great craftsmanship of the past. As we moved inside we could not help but marvel at the size of the church, the central area was most probably where the altar was.
The building style and structure has a distinct European feel to it and amidst the lush green settings of the backwaters, the place has a charm of the old vintage world. The absolutely serene environment transports you into a whole different world where time seems to stand still.
Sadly, the place has not been maintained and while ‘restoration’ seems a far fetched proposition, a lot could be done to at least ‘preserve’ what remains today. There are no boards nor is there a proper approach road. The place is in need of some cleaning and definitely some thing needs to be done to maintain the sanctity of the holy environs.
On our way back through Shettihalli, we stopped by another church where we met the parish Father David who was in fact baptized in the Rosary church. On speaking to him, it was heartening to note that he has been working very hard towards preservation and restoration of the church. He was kind enough to share with us a brief history of the place and the fact that there were more than 800 inhabitants in the erstwhile village. He also showed us some pictures of how the church looked in its hey days.
Father David has been very active in getting people together for this noble cause and has also drafted plans on how the place can be restored. His future plans include presenting the proposal to the Executive engineer of the Hemavathy dam among others. We hope his efforts are successful and we see this heritage site restored to its original glory.
P.S: Special thanks to Chiradeep of Stay Simple resorts, Hassan without whom we could not have made this visit.