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SMALL TOWN WONDERS

From temples to a floating church that tell tales, the district of Hassan in Karnataka harbors in its hinterland relics of contrasting pasts.

The heart of Karnataka brims with echoes of Carnatic music, temples boasting Hoysala architecture, sunshine flowers waiting to be picked to festoon a diety and the aroma of mouth-watering meal.

The state was also home to 19-th century French missionaries, who have left a mark on the architecture of the region. Located in the Hassan district of Karnataka, one such region with a discernible French hangover is the village of shettihalli. It is an offbeat in every sense of the world and holds secrets that, once unraveled, enthrall any traveler.

It is in pursuit of one such hidden secret that I land at the gates of the abandoned 19th century, an 18 km drive from the temple town of Hassan, and rosary church in shettihalli. The floating church remains submerged in water half the year. In the 1860s, built by French missionaries, the once-thriving village of shettihalli, the church was abandoned after the hemavati dam was constructed in the town in 1960. Though derelict, this imposing structure takes your breath away with its Gothic architecture. From the bank, you spot rib vaulted ceilings, delicate spires, stained glass windows, and arches that are redolent of French churches around the world.

The base still stands strong as the locals will let you know it is built with a mixture of jaggery and eggs, brick, and mortar. What’s your opinion regarding the same?

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