While in the US (Colorado Springs), some nights, I would take a drive alone around the city. I would always pick the Garden of the Gods….Which is a public park open till 11:00 PM during summer. I would drive on the lonely roads with absolutely no other light except the ones from my automobile. I would drive up to the balancing rocks and then climb on top of one of the rocks next to them to get a beautiful glimpse of the city sparkling like stars spread on a sky…
Though nothing equivalent, but I had a long drive all alone for the first time after I bought the car. I took my automobile called i10 on a stroll to Surathkal…my home town on the 21st of April. Many eyebrows raised – Alone!!! Won’t you get bored? Tired? Is it safe? What if something happens? Like many in my geographical location (Being politically correct :-)) would generally ask. I choose to answer some, and ignore the rest. Because, as I am perceived in the minds of others; I am known to behave differently from the clan, which answers many of the questions even before being asked anyways.
On my drive to Mangalore….I had one agenda – To visit a church in ruins, submerged in the backwaters of Hemavathi dam. I hit the road at 6:00AM, at 9:00 reached Hassan (Thanks to the four lane construction on NH-48); I asked for directions for Shettihalli. Many rough calculations say – 2Kms off the road. So don’t worry here is what you have to do –
While traveling from Bangalore to Mangalore, take the Bypass route at Hassan…Some distance gone you see a Reliance petrol bunk on your right. Few meters from here is the first junction where the road to left takes you to Gorur. Don’t take this road! Drive further on the bypass and a kilometer or so gone, you fill find another small junction (small I say, as the roads that meet are very narrow and off centered) which apparently also takes a left deviation to Gorur. Take left and drive 15 Kms to reach Shettihalli. A few meters past the village on your left stands The Rosary church sadly overlooking the backwaters of Hemavathi dam.
I parked my car and walked to the church. I was glad that unlike some dull pictures on the internet, I was fortunate to witness greenery that seemed as though trying to remind the monument of its lively days. But the church stood silently, definitely dead. Some television crew, along with few villagers had just finished shooting a video and they left as I approached the church.
According to villagers, French missionaries built the church in 1860 for wealthy British estate owners in Alur and Sakleshpur. The church was reportedly built with mortar and bricks and a mixture of jaggery and eggs. Villagers say that this has given the edifice the strength to withstand the vagaries of nature. The church was used by Christians in Shettyhalli, Changaravalli, Madanakopplu, Doddkopplu and Gaddekopplu.
Though the church lacks a roof, there are remains of the pillars in the nave and an almost intact altar. An array of pockets on the side walls of a structure hints once presence of a wooden stairway towards the church bell.
A few meters from the church is a small piece of land with a bush of bougainvillea flowers and the May bulb flowers (Red Allium Globemaster). I am sure somebody lived there and had planted them. I wondered if it was of the father. He could have been someone from France or Britain and like every other missionary would have promoted his religion and tried to attract people towards his faith. Did he convince people? Did they get offended by his talk? Was he nice to them? Where they good to him in return? As I sat there having breakfast, several such thoughts crossed my mind. Several years from now, I hope all this becomes a myth and a bad memory to be forgotten and man, like all other animals becomes back into one species with no distinction of class, religion, country or colour. The more we progress, the more I see the distinctions add on but the amount of globalization happening has sparked a hope in me.
Rest of my drive was great. The evergreen forests of Shiradi ghat welcomed with good weather and nice roads.
A small accident blocked the traffic at Nelliyadi. In his attempt to avoid hitting a deaf woman, driver had to steer the automobile into a ditch. A truck helped pull the vehicle with a rope tied between them and passing through a thick tree as a support. An old man, who seemed to have lived in a foreign country for several years got irritated by the delay caused by this process. He walked down and asked a villager what had happened. After that he says – “Driving barolva? (Can’t he drive?), In India nobody knows to drive properly.” He makes a general statement. The boy answering him thankfully was very sharp who said – “Sir, this is an accident…things happen in fraction of a second.” Perfect answer!
I reached home by 3:30 PM.
My vacation was great. I relaxed all day at home, walked by the farm and met cousins and friends. But my trip had to be eventful, so one day I plan to drive to Mangalore and as I sit in my car to drive and look straight, I see the images cracked. A coconut had fallen from the tree, on the sheet at the top and bounced on the car's front glass living it crushed and several cracks propagating from it. Thankfully I got it repaired in a day with the Hyundai service being excellent and hopefully most of the cost will be covered by insurance.
Anyways with that incident, most of my holiday was spent relaxing at home, which in a way was very refreshing. Mother had cooked several "Mangalore special" foods that kept me in good company. I drove back on Sunday (April -24th) with few plants in the car's trunk – purple hibiscus, Ceylon Jasmine, Mangalore jasmine and an unknown creeper.