The Drowned French Church At Magge

When the sluices are raised, the water recedes and one can walk up to the church at Magge, Karnataka

We discovered a neat narrow road from Magge to Hassan with no pot-holes in it. Mid-way en route, from a high bridge, we saw a Western-style building in ruin, and many cattle on a wide landscape. We walked over to the building and met a lone man grazing cattle for their owners.

Cattle herder before the Magge church (Karnataka) in the dry season

He spoke of years ago when this building—a church—was alive, of thousands of people who lived in the village that existed then, of which the church was a part, of a convent-school near the church, of orchards, and of the great inundation when the Gorur Dam was commissioned. He told us people died. He told the story with many repetitions and suddenly, without changing expression, he became eloquent and in a high pitch charged that crores died when the waters came over. Again and again he made the charge. His aged voice grew intense and his speech was a strain on his frail frame, and the only way to stop his self-torture was to leave. I thought he might ask for money for a cup of coffee but he didn't.

When rain takes hold end of June, the church and the vast expanse round it will again be drowned.

I've not verified that deaths occurred. A crore is ten million, and if any died at all, the old man's count is garbled and exaggerated by imagination and remembrances of a tumultuous event. But I saw the awesome power of government — that when they wish they can arrive at a hapless citizen’s door and ask them to leave their home because they’re going to flood it.