Postcards from…is a series about one picture perfect capture from a place I have recently travelled to. I am just back from a short monsoon holiday to the southern Indian state of Karnataka and the postcard is from one of the most picturesque and atmospheric places that I visited during this trip — ruins of the Rosary Church at Shettyhalli.
This Church was built by French missionaries in the 1860s. This was abandoned in 1960 when the Hemavathi dam was built and the reservoir created partially submerged the church when the water levels rose during the monsoons. The monsoons had not fully set in when I visited, so was able to see and walk around the ruins of the Rosary Church.
For reasons that I cannot really explain, ruins fascinate me. Their history, the people who lived there, their beliefs, their art, culture, their life and their ultimate downfall never fails to interest me. While in Jaisalmer, I heard about the ruins of Kuldhara, and knew that I could not come away without a visit. Yes, ruins have that effect on me; they draw me in like a magnet.
So that is how I came to be on the road to Kuldhara, about 20 km from Jaisalmer, one February afternoon listening to Sushil, my car driver-cum-guide, narrate the fairytale-like story of how Kuldhara came to be abandoned, cursed and haunted; forgotten, and then discovered after almost 2 centuries. It was a story that was fascinating in every aspect !
There is some connection between rains, ruins and me. I have always had rains for company whenever I have visited ruins. Be it Tintern or Hampi or Champaner. It is never a heavy downpour, mind you, but a gentle drizzle. So I was not really surprised when rain welcomed us on arrival at the Hyderabad airport last month. I was on a day trip to Hyderabad with Neena, a colleague, and we had arrived early in the city so that we could visit the Golkonda Fort, before getting down to business.
We got that first look of Golconda, rising tall and majestic in the distance from the car we were travelling in. With rain clouds in the distance, it made for an unforgettable picture. As we neared the Fort, we kept getting tantalising glimpses of the Fort, each one a little closer. By the time the car stopped at the entrance to the Golkonda Fort, we were raring to explore the Fort.
It was 9 in the morning, and with hardly any other visitors in sight and it appeared that we would have the Fort almost to ourselves. This also meant that we were swamped by a horde of guides before we even got to the ticketing office. Since we had decided not to hire a guide, we had to politely and firmly decline every offer of a guide service.
We hoped to get around the Fort with an information booklet on the Fort, which we were told was available here. To our surprise, the ticket clerk informed us that no such booklets were available for the Indian tourist, and the few copies he had were only meant for international tourists only! So we ended up walking through Golkonda Fort without a guide, without any information booklet and with only a few signposts and boards to help us find our way around. And of course, the rain !