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Shivamogga – ‘Sacred Hearts Cathedral’ – 2nd Largest in India !

Sacred Heart Church

Sacred Heart Church
Sacred Heart Church
Shimoga – as known to us, is called ‘Shivamogga’ today – ‘the gateway of the Western Ghats’. A dozen & odd statements qualify why this place goes by that name. . . ! *Shiva Mukha – face of Lord Shiva. *Shiva Mugu – nose of Lord Shiva. *Shiva Moggu – buds of flowers meant for Lord Shiva. *Moga in vernacular Kannada means the Kamandala (water receptor) god men & saints carry, hence Lord Shiva’s Kamandala – Shivamogga. This colorful district is an attractive landscape of green forests, rivers, beautiful waterfalls, valleys etc – Garden of Eden on this planet! This 25 sq. km. town with a population of 8 lakhs is situated 640 mts above sealevel and is surrounded by a confluence of 5 rivers – Tunga, Bhadra, Sharavati, Veranda & Kumadarthi. This region is also the ‘rice bowl of the state’ – Karnataka.
Shimoga’s existing history goes back 2000 years – Neolithic, Megalithic & Early Historic. Cultural remains were unearthed at Guddemaradi – a 2 km town away in 1996! Two stone inscription stone tablets dated 1079 & 1121 AD describing the existance of this beautiful town were discovered at Tattekere & Mandali at Shimoga. Shimoga was to the Southern tip of the great Mauryan King’s Ashoka’s kingdom in the 3rd Century! Jainism flourished here. Kadambas, Chalukayas, Badami Kings, Gangas, Rastrakutas, later Hoysala Vijaynagar Kings ruled this region. Around 1500 AD for another 263 years, Keladi Nayakas ruled the region, one can see their palaces, temples & museums even to this day!
In 1763 Hyder Ali, the General of the Mysore Wodeyar Kings lay seize to this region, handing it to the British hands and back to the Wodeyars and finally to free India on India’s independence 1947. This place is a naturalist’s delight, an artists dream location and a photographer’s ideal natural studio. The best time to visit is post monsoon to January.
16th Century, Portuguese landed on Indian soil, they also brought Catholic Christianity to this region along with their trade relationship. Keladi Nayaka’s agreed and gave land for construction for the first church in the region. Rev.Ignatius Pinto, the first Bishop here conceived the first church here which became a Cathedral. Later construction began in the year 1871 and ended in the year 1875. Modifications were done in 1998 and it’s this year this church got the Cathedral status. The Church bells which adorned this place was made in France in the year 1859 and interestingly donated by a Hindu Businessman from Mysore.
This Cathedral – ‘Diocese of Shimoga’ under the Ecclesiastical Province of Bangalore was blessed by Pope John Paul II on 14th November 1988. It covers areas of Chitradurga & Chickmagalur. This Edifice is a stone built Roman Rock Architecture rising to a height of 180 feet! Covering an area of 18,000 sq.ft.! This massive stone built structure accommodates 5000 people and is the second largest church of India. The architecture and interior design compliments excellent use of natural light and ventilation. Glass painted window panels compliments the interiors and there’s much room for additions and improvements in time to come.
This beautiful Cathedral stands tall in the heart of Shivamogga. Adjacent is the parish hall for social functions & celebrations. It also houses a school. The area around has two grottos of Mother Mary and St.Anthony and tomb of Fr. Jerome F Fernandez. The peaceful statue of Jesus Christ is the salient feature of this cathedral. This church is open to all faiths from 7am to 7 pm.
Shivamogga tourist sector has about 25 destinations to cover consisting of temples, religious mutts, literary homes, churches, waterfalls, forts, palaces, bird & wild animals parks & sanctuaries, dams, trekking routes, sunset spots, valleys, hilltops, rivers, picnic spots and so on. It does take a tiring week of extensive travelling around making Shivamogga as your base. This place has reasonably good hotels to stay & restaurants which are reasonable. The cuisine is mostly Indian – Specially South Indian.
Local transportation is buses, autos and taxis. This place is well connected by road and rail. Nearest international airport is Bangalore (Bengaluru). The other smaller airports are Hubli & Mangalore 165 kms & 200 kms respectively. But makes sense to travel from Bangalore which is 275 kms away. An airport is under plan at Sogane -6 kms away from Shivamogga.
More about these places in my future articles. A staggered 3 weekends will do justice to this place. Shivamogga is surrounded with tourist locales all over.
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography

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