Friday, May 31, 2019

A night at the haunted church : Shettihalli

Frankly speaking, I never knew this beautiful church had a haunted background to it. I always thought that this church was a perfect weekend getaway to many Bangaloreans and people of other towns nearby. Though my thought is still true, the other side of the story can still be creepy especially at night.

The once beautiful church is now nothing but a mere ruin. Because of its uniqueness, it is also a sought after destination to many photo lovers. This place also has less light pollution compared to other places in the state, thus making it a good destination for night sky / astrophotography.

History of the Church

The church was built during the 1860's by the French missionaries. However a century later, the denizens of the area moved along with their belongings, thus abandoning the place. This was due to the construction of the Gorur dam which was built across the Hemavati river, had caused the church to be submerged in water. Even today during monsoons, the church is covered with water, and many tourists visit the place to get a glimpse of this magnificent architecture in a different dimension.

Best time to visit

Though the church is open all around the year, it is suggested to visit the church at-least twice in a year to see the beauty in two different perspectives.

Dec-May : The church is seen as shown above, and one can take a stroll around it to enjoy the structure and appreciate the church.

July - Sep : The whole perspective is changed during this time, where the church is partially submerged in water.

How to reach

Shettihalli is located around 35kms from Hassan (in the state of Karnataka). Hassan is very well connected by roadways and railways from various other places in the state. Hassan is situated around 200kms from Bangalore , around 130kms from Mysore and around 170kms from Mangalore.

Bangalore -> Nelamangala -> Kunigal -> Channarayapatna -> Hassan -> Shettihalli

If you are going by a private vehicle, take the deviation to the left just before Hassan and exit the highway. 

If you are still unsure, use Google Maps :)

Where to Eat

There are plenty of restaurants/dhabas all along the highway until Hassan.  Among these, few noted ones are, Kicchana Halli Mane run by the famous movie star Sudeep , Swathi Delicacy , Hotel Mayura , A2B etc.,
However, if you plan to stay overnight at the church, then it is advised to carry packed food as there are no hotels in the vicinity.


This season I made a couple of visits to the rosary church. First in April 2019 with a group of around 9-10 people and again in early May with a team of almost 25 people. I was mentoring this group as part of the astro photography workshop conducted by Youth Photographic Society.

The church has its own glory even though it is a ruin. Though there are cracks that are developed in the structure, I was amazed at the construction and silently appreciated the people behind its construction back then. 

Why is the church fascinating ?

While I was wondering about the church, I pondered upon these things:

1. Even though the church was abandoned from 1960 (almost 60 years back), the major part of it is still intact.
2. Every year, the church is submerged in water for a good amount of time, and also subjected to immense heat during the later part of the year. However, the church is standing tall irrespective of the harsh natural conditions.

Tips to photographers

1. I suggest you to reach the place before sunset, so that you can shoot the monument along with the setting sun.

The above image is a composite image which was stitched using 10 single images. The gradient light and variation of colors is what makes the place more attractive.

2. Post sunset, the clouds can be as dramatic as it can be. This is considered as the golden hour when you can capture vivid images of the enchanting vistas.

3.  Once the golden hour starts to recede, try the long exposure photography. If you have a private vehicle and a co-operative friend, then ask him to encircle the church with the vehicle's headlights ON. Thereby, in a single exposure you can capture both the light trails and the movement of clouds as shown below.

4.  Later in the night, steel wool can also be tried. However, be careful when playing with fire and also keep in mind that protecting the monument comes first than anything else. So none of your actions should cause any harm to the monument.

5. Also, try your hands with Light painting. 

Light painting, painting with light, light drawing, or light art performance photography are terms that describe photographic techniques of moving a light source while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or space, or to shine light at the camera to 'draw', or by moving the camera itself during exposure of light sources. Practiced since the 1880s, the technique is used for both scientific and artistic purposes, as well as in commercial photography.

Technically even Steel Wool can be considered as Light painting.

6. Once the stars engulf the sky, the magic unfolds. A person who is from urban areas will get to witness millions of glowing jewels that they seldom see in cities.

Night sky / Astro photography is a very challenging genre of photography and equally exciting as well. Once you start capturing the beauty of the night sky, it is very hard for you to come out of it.

Star Trails :

These are not falling stars, but the movement of stars captured using a technique called Long Exposure. The movement of stars is due to the Earth's rotation and it can be seen as a trail.

More details on the techniques to capture Night sky is written in this blog. Click here to read about it.

Once you have captured the trails, try to make it more interesting by placing an object of interest and compose the frame accordingly.

Milky Way :

Milkyway is the galaxy where we live. Inorder to capture the milkyway, one should have a camera that is capable to shoot long exposure with a high ISO. A fast lens with a large aperture is a good choice.

Haunting at the church :

While we were shooting the night sky and enjoying the tranquility, an eerie feeling arose and we could sense something amiss. All of a sudden we heard a sound and when we went near the entrance of the church, we could not believe what we saw.

This marks the end of our eerily beautiful trip to the land of the rosary church : Shettihalli.

Don't get tensed, this was one of our model who posed for us :D

Points to remember : 

1. As I always say, please don't litter the place. The last time I went there, it was very disappointing to see the church surrounded by plastic plates and other trash around it.
2. If you are alone then night stay is not suggested. 
3. Carry sufficient food and water to keep you energised.
4. Neither the walls of the church need your poetry nor the people visiting the place need to know whom you love. Hence, please do not scribble on the monument and be a disgrace to the humanity.
4. Be a responsible citizen and help to protect the monument.

Thank you


  1. Hey Arjun, Like all your blogs this one too is immaculate , appreciate the style of telling stories with beautiful befitting images. Keep it up my boy!!

  2. Hi Arjun,

    I liked the flow of your travelogue along with the fantastic photos. Thanks for sharing your happiness with us!



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