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Rosary Church – A Surreal Experience

Was I standing in one of the paintings of Salvador Dali? No jokes. I mean it! Cause it felt that surreal. Beautifully carved arches in ruins and spaces so intriguing. A place time has forgotten to visit. This church is submerged in water during every monsoon and magically reappears after the rains subside.

Apparently, the French architects built it for the wealthy missionaries in this locality in 1860. It used to be a masterpiece of Gothic architecture then and was a flourishing church. A century later, a dam was constructed on Hemavathi River and the backwaters of the dam formed reservoir Gorur. Two thirds from the bottom of the Rosary church was then submerged under water and one could see only the top of the chapel during the monsoons. After the rains are over, the church magically reveals itself. The road to the church is also accessible. Needless to say that it is not a functioning church any longer. It was abandoned a century ago.

This repeated process has taken a toll and the water assault has deteriorated the condition of the church. However, it has not taken away the basic majestic character and added a surreal aspect to the ruins. The peace and tranquility of the church are undisturbed even today.

There is a quaint bridge that connects the church to the Shettihalli village. The church looks stunning and serene. If you a photographer, you are in for a treat. The scenery is stunningly beautiful in an unusual way. It could easily be a Monet painting done in his typical impressionistic style. You have to take a ride on a coracle if you wish to check out the insides of the Rosary church. You can literally float through the church and admire all the arches and walls. Watching the dancing reflections of the water on the remains of the walls is mesmerizing. However, I was warned against jumping into the water for a swim as it was dangerous. It could be due to the life in water or the water currents.


If you reach there in dry season, you will find yourself in the middle of a dried field full of wild thorny bush. You will have a variety of birds, reptiles, and cattle for company. There is no wide access road to speak of. There is an eerie silence engulfing the church. This place is still undiscovered and there are very few visitors. If you are fortunate you will find a soul or two, otherwise, it is desolate. However, there is a huge amount of mysterious feel to it, which is enthralling.

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The roof of the church caved in long ago. The famously stained glass windows are no longer shining colorful magical light inside. There are no windows left either. The pew has gone and the alter remains empty. Just quiet pillars and decorated arches stand still telling a story of the past glory. In a way, it feels sad and depressing.

A visit to rosary church leaves an impression on you. The scenery and the feel of the place linger on and make you introspective. You enter a world that is surreal and have a weird experience of time. You cannot help but feel that if only, a hundred years ago, someone had taken the trouble to shift the church out of the harm’s way…we would have had yet another glorious church to go to.

Featured Photo: Dreamlike church by Tambako The Jaguar under CC BY-ND 2.0

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