The Sunken Church

Hassan district is a home to 19th-century French missionaries, who have left a mark on the architecture of the region. One such region with a discernible French hangover is the village of Shettihalli. This is offbeat in every sense of the word and holds secrets that once unraveled and enthrall any traveler.

In pursuit of exploring unexplored areas around the country side I landed at the gates of this 19th-century abandoned Rosary Church in Shettihalli. ‘The Sunken Church’ or ‘The Floating Church’, as it is popularly known as, remains submerged in almost water half the year.

There is something about this ageing Rosary Church, which is quite mysterious and romantic at the same time. The silence and the solitude that you get to experience here is completely unmatched and unforgettable. So, if one likes to explore off the beaten track Indian destinations, then Shettihalli Rosary Church is a place one just cant miss to have on the checklist!!

Built in the 1860s by the French missionaries in India, the church, though derelict and ghostly, is a magnificent example of Gothic Architecture. The church was abandoned after the Hemavati Dam was constructed in the town in 1960. the missionaries left the village and later, the church too was forgotten.

In the monsoon, the structure and its surroundings is submerged  in water from the nearby dam, making the area uninhabitable.

During summer, apparently there is a service is held inside the church by locals and the church is lit up for the occasion. One can experience beautiful interiors of the church while wondering around it.

Interesting facts about Shettihalli Church

  • It is said that along with mortar and bricks, a mixture of jaggery and eggs were used to build the Rosary Church.
  • During monsoons, the entire church is submerged in water and once the water recedes, the church can be seen in its full glory.
  • It is a photographer’s paradise as the blue skies reflects through this ancient church in the foreground.

Best time to Visit

To enjoy the surreal beauty of Shettihalli church, one needs to travel to this place twice in a year. Once during the time monsoons have set in (July–October), when the church is partially submerged in water and then again during the month of Dec to May when the water level recedes and the church grounds emerge.

The church posses some excellent night photography opportunities for photographers. I suggest reach here a little before sunset on a non monsoon day and make the most of the ambience that the church presents

How to reach

  • Location: Shettihalli is 205 km from Bengaluru, 22 km from Hassan and around 123 km from Mysore.
  • By Rail: Trains frequent from Yesvantpur railway station to Shettihalli on a daily basis.

As offbeat as it was, I still got an opportunity to meet some fellow like minded travelers. The only possible discussion one could have here was to revisit the church in the monsoons. That’s how the church got its name “The Sunken Church”


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