I’m no travel guru. Sure, I love to visit new places, explore cities, savor in the details of ancient structures and marvel at the aesthetic pleasures that Nature sometimes throws at us when we least expect Her to. I guess I just have a deep appreciation for the uncharted, the seldom visited and quite simply, happy discoveries. A mini-vacation to Goa, and a recent trip to Shettihalli, Karnataka captured my attention – two completely different journeys, different explorations – one awestruck me!
The Goan Escapade
Goa is an oceanic haven; I’m pretty sure everyone would agree. North Goa is considered to be more of a commercial tourist spot as compared to its southern counterpart, and within reason. We decided to give the beaches of Baga and Calangute a miss this time, and explore the lesser visited and more peaceful locales of South Goa.
English breakfasts, seafood, croquettes, visits to secret beaches and shacks- the delightful cycle of events continued to be the same, as with every visit of mine to Goa. We were driving around for a while, so tired ol’ me decided that it was time for a siesta. Soon, I was woken up by my friend’s excited announcement – We’ve reached!
We hadn’t really reached; a short walk and a climb later was when we actually made it. Where, you ask?
The heart-shaped lake filled with clear turquoise coloured water, flanked by a cliff on one side and the Bogmalo beach on the other, was a spectacle to behold! The breeze was quite strong – a welcome respite from the humidity and the heat.
I don’t really know as to what the source of the lake water could be. My guess is that the lake fills up during the Monsoon season; the water appears pristine – more mint than blue, that adds translucence to the body. The surrounding cliffs and beach are a testimony to the area being a geological marvel.
There was what appeared to be a little seat – a rocky structure at the very edge of the lake – which formed the perfect spot to enjoy the lake from. My feet in the cool waters, the swaying breeze in my hair and the buzz of friendly dragonflies hovering over tiny waves compelled me to spend an hour at the lake and soak in the enticing view.
The Stunner at Shettihalli
A friend had stumbled upon a blog post by a traveller – she had written of her visit to an old church in Shettihalli, or rather, remains of what was once a pretty massive structure. We immediately made plans to take a first-hand look at this piece of architecture that has a unique story behind it; soon, forgot about it.
I recently had to travel to the very same Shettihalli, which is a small town near Hassan, Karnataka, for a family event. The event was scheduled to take place at one Rosary Church. Although the name did sound familiar, I did not give it too much thought. While driving toward Hassan, I attempted to pull up the map and voila! An image of South India’s very own Atlantis, Rosary Church, Shettihalli pops up and I squeal! But there is no complete structure for any sort of event to take place, I wondered. Turns out, the family event was to be held at another church, also called Rosary Church, named after the original one of course. I could not miss the opportunity; we decided to drop by the old church after the event.
Rosary Church was built in the early 1860s by French Missionaries. The church, which served the Shettihalli village and a few surrounding villages, was constructed in French Gothic architectural style; made of limestone, brick and mortar among other materials, it rests on the banks of the Hemavathi River. In 1979, the State Government constructed the Gorur Dam, which would flood the Hemavathi Reservoir. As a direct result of the dam, the entire village had to be relocated, leaving behind the Church.
Come monsoon, and the reservoir fills up, submerging this marvellous structure partially. When the waters recede, the church emerges, with its skeletal structure silently communicating tales of yesteryear. This has been a recurring pattern for 25 years; despite its 155 years of existence, the walls of the church, the only elements that survive today, bear a beautiful rusticity and weathered-down charm that draw locals and travelers towards the ruins.
Unfortunately, I visited Rosary Church in March 2015 – it was way too early for the monsoon season, so I did not get an opportunity to view the church in its submerged state. I guess another visit to the area is due soon, probably in the month of July!
Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. – Gustave Flaubert