Diocese of Shimoga

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Welcome to the website of the Shimoga Diocese, India
History of the Diocese of Shimoga


"Id Spectantes"

The Apostolic Decree of

Pope John Paul II

Pastoral Logo


The Diocese of Shimoga was erected on 14 November, 1988, by virtue of the Apostolic Decree of Pope John Paul II, entitled Id Spectantes. This Diocese initially comprised of two civil districts: Chitradurga and Shimoga. Shimoga district was separated from the Diocese of Chikmagalur and Chitradurga from the ArchDiocese of Bangalore. This is the eighth Diocese in Karnataka and is a suffragan of the Metropolitan See of Bangalore.


In 1997 during the time of reorganization of districts, certain places from the districts of Shimoga and Chitradurga were put together to carve out the new district of Davangere, which came into existence on 15 August,1997. Thus, the Diocese of Shimoga now comprises of three civil districts namely Shimoga,Chitradurga and Davangere.


At present the Diocese has 20 parishes, 10 independent mission Centres with resident priests, 20 sub-stations. There are 50 diocesan priests and 18 religious priests working in the Diocese. About 200 relgious sisters belonging to 23 different religious congregations render spiritual, educational and health services in the Diocese


On 14th November, 1988 the Rt Rev. Msgr. Ignatius Pinto, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Bangalore was appointed its First Bishop by His Holiness Pope John Paul II through his Apostolic Letter "Bonevolentiam Quidem Nostram." The Episcopal Ordination of the first bishop of Shimoga took place on 31st January,1989, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral ground, Shimoga. He was promoted as Archbishop of Bangalore on 10th September 1998 and installed on 25th November, 1998.


In 2000 the Holy See appointed Most Rev. Dr. Gerald Isaac Lobo as the Bishop of the Diocese of Shimoga. He was ordained Bishop by Archbishop Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Pinto, on the 20th March 2000 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.



History of Shimoga  Diocese:

The proclamation of the gospel in the region of Shimoga-Chitradurga dates back to the sixteenth century under Polygars or Nayakas.  Christianity found its way into the dominions of the Nayakas. 


Nayakas and Christianity:

The Nayakas of Ikkeri, later, of Bidnur, favoured many Catholic priests with their benevolence.  Eg: when the Viceroy of Goa, Conde de Lin Lars  went in person to Barcelor on 7.3.1631 for talks with Virappa Nayaka; there  was with him D. Joao da Rocha.  Bishop of Athojia. 


In 1653, Fr. Goncalo Martins accompanied  by Ramoji Sinai Quothary, was at the court of Shivappa Nayaka on a peace mission, at Bidnur, now called Nagar.  In 1658-59 Shivappa Nayaka is also said to have been in good terms with Fr. Spinola  S.J. and reported to have allowed him to build churches in his dominions.


Recommendation for Bidnur Empire as Diocese with an Indian Bishop: 

Severine Silva the author of the book titled “History of Christianity in Canara” Vol. I says that the king Shivappa  Nayaka desired to convert the Bidnur Empire into a Diocese and have an Indian Bishop as its head.  Fr. Andrew Gomes, who in 1649 was sent as a missionary to Canara was selected for the post and his name was recommended to the Holy See.  This recommendation was accepted.  The order was brought by Fr. Pedro Borges.  Unfortunately before Fr. Borges reached Goa, Fr. Gomes died.  (Page No. 55).  Severine Silva here mentions the source for this important event, i.e. Mitras II, 45, Leonardo Paes:  Pront., das Dif. Indie. Filotelo Perreira de Andrade:   Andrew Gomes.


First Church of the Region- Now in the Diocese of Shimoga:

The first historical reference available about the existence of a church at Bidral town itself (or Bidnur, later Hydernagar and now Nagar) dates back to 1681-84 when Blessed Fr. Joseph Vaz, constructed a church in honour of Our Lady  of Good Success.  A new church was put up  in 1723 – 1725 by Rev. Fr. Sebastino de Rego.  This church crumbled after some years and in that place now stands a tall cross.  Later the church was dedicated to our Lady of Victories.  This is the first church of the region which now forms part of the Diocese of Shimoga.


Change of Administration:

Under Paris Foreign Mission Society:  At the end of the seventeenth century (17th C), the Paris  Foreign Mission Society with its seat at Pondicherry took over the administration of the Mysore Mission which was formerly under the jurisdiction of Goa.  Mysore Mission was dismembered from Pondicherry on 16-03-1845.  It was divided into three districts:  Nandidoorg (Bangalore), Ashtagram (Mysore) and  Kadur (Shimoga) corresponding  to the three great unit divisions of the time.  The Kadur division comprised  the  present  civil  districts  of  Shimoga, Chitradurga,  Davangere and Chikmagalur.  This set-up remained in force until 1888, when the three latter districts were separated from Shimoga. 


Vicariate of Mysore elevated to Diocese:  The Mysore Mission became a Vicariate Apostolic  in 1850 and entrusted to Msgr. Charbonnaux. In 1886, the Vicariate of Mysore was elevated to Diocese.  On 13-02-1940 Bangalore was separated from Mysore, which included the district of CHITRADURGA.  But the present district of SHIMOGA remained a part of the diocese of Mysore.


Formation of the Diocese of Chikmagalur:  On November 16, 1963 by the Apostolic Constitution “Indicae Regionis Canditio” of Pope Paul VI three more districts, Chikmagalur, Hassan and Shimoga, were separated from the Diocese of Mysore to form the diocese of Chikmagalur.  The first Bishop of the Diocese was Most Rev. Dr. Alphonsus Mathias.  District of Shimoga was known as “District of Nagar” till the beginning of the 20th Century.  The present city of Shimoga was a village and it was raised to the category of a town in about 1830.


Chitradurga District under Shimoga Diocese:

As we can see in the register of books, the first baptism given by a French Priest in the Shimoga Parish was at Harihar on 27-07-1847 and the first marriage blessed also at Harihar on 04-08-1847.  The church in Chitradurga was constructed  in 1869-1870 by Fr. Kleiner of Shimoga.




       Shimoga Diocese is located in the very heart of Karnataka in the mid south-western part of South India. The total area of the Diocese is 21,405 square kilometres. There are three district viz. Shmoga, Chitradurga and Davanagere comprising of 19 talukas and 3,138 villages in the Diocese.


The civil distrcit of Shimoga is often refered to as the Rice Bowl of Karnataka. It is situated in the mid region of the Western Ghatsand lies along the Sahyadri mountain ranges of Malnad (thickforest ranges).

       The world famous Jog Falls is situated in Sagar Taluk of Shimoga district. Bhadravati, a taluk head quarters of Shimoga district is an industrial nerve centre. While Davangere has an industrial and commercial importance, Chitradurgahas a historical fort for its centre of attraction.


Geographically so vast, yet in terms of Catholic population Shimoga is the smallest of the eight Dioceses of Karnataka. In the vast ocean of 73,46,000 people only 20,506 people, i.e. 0.28%, are Catholics.      


Scoial Structure


Caste system is prevalent among the people. Lingayats and Vokkaligas are the dominant castes. Dalits or harijans (scheduled caste) comprise 15% of the total population of the three districts. The total rural population of the three districts is 41,50,808 and that of urban area is 31,95,192. The total population of the scheduled castes is 8,24,491 and of scheduled tribes is 4,11,311.


There are a number of social problems, namely, dowry, alcoholism, child labour, bonded labour, etc. This is mainly due to lack of awareness and motivation in life. Out of 4,247 families, 1,348 families face one or the other kind of social problems. About 69.58% of these families face the problem of alcoholism and another 15.95% suffer from smoking. This is very alarming and dangerous for their health and progress in life. Out of 20,506 Catholics 664 are disabled and handicapped. About 560 of them suffer from physical disability and the remaining 104 suffer from mental disability. Health and hygiene are just satisfactory among the Catholics in the Diocese. About 765 families have been affected by some disease or the other. Only about 2,972 families have access to the government hospitals.




Among the three districts of the Diocese, Chitradurga and Davangere are constantly drought prone areas. The people who live in these regions are by and large poor. 43.82% of the total 4,247 families belong to an annual income group of below Rs. 22,000.00. In other words these 1,861 families are below poverty line. Families who have an annual income of Rs. 2 lakhs and more are just 2.4%. People who are below poverty line struggle hard to make both ends meet. They solely depend on daily wages.


During Certain times of the year it is not possible to get work on a regular basis. Out of 4,247 families, only a meagre 10.12% have their own piece of land, 90% are landless day wagers. 89.30% of the little land owners own a maximum 3 acres of land which is inadequate to support them and 45.81% own just less than half an acre of land.


This being the economic condition of the Catholic families, values such as education, training, health, etc., fall into insignificance amidst their struggle to earn their daily bread. 39.30% of the families do not have a house of their own. The number of families owning a tiled house is 67.86% while 107 families live in thatched houses. Among Catholics 43.06% of the employed population is daily wage labourers and only 4.59% is engaged in some kind of business.




The literacy rate of Shimoga and Davangere districts is 63% and that of Chitradurga is 52.3%. The illiterate Catholics form around 12.66%. The literacy level in the Diocese is very low. The Catholics who have studied up to the level of primary school is 24.67%, secondary is 20.13% and high school is 23.26% which according to present standards is below minimum. Only 14.8% have studied up to college and a negligible 4.4% have gone for technical studies.

The above figures indicate that there is absolutely no chance or way open for these poor students to acquire the benefits of technical or higher education. Accordingly, the number of school dropouts is very high. Out of the total dropouts 46.58% are in the age group of 11-15 years and 46.38% are in 16-18 years. By this it is clear that the children lack facilities and opportunities to continue their education. Nobody has succeeded in obtaining State Administrative Services or other top civil positions.








From the remotest antiquity of Indian history, Karnataka is known to be an integral part of Bharatavarsha; and the course of cultural and political events in this region has been moulded, as anywhere else in India, by the traditions and legends.

Karnataka is the sixth largest state in the country. Provided with long range of Western Ghats and a long coastline by the Arabian sea. Watered by the river Cauvery in the southern part and by the river Tungabhadra in the north, considerable agricultural and hydro-electric activity is present in the state.


In the ancient times, Karnataka was known as ‘Kuntala Desa’ comprising of an enterprising people who had trade connections with the Egyptians, the Sumerians and many other countries. There was close communication between the cities of Karnataka and the Indus valley civilization.


By the 4th century B.C., it had become a part of Mauryan Empire, having Kanakagiri as the Southern capital.  It was later taken over by the Satakarnis, who expanded their empire upto the vindhyas in the north and the whole of Deccan in the south. Then came the Kadambas, followed by the Gangas and the Chalukyas. Many architectural monuments were developed in Chalukyan style in North Karnataka.


Another famous dynasty, the Rashtrakutas ruled in the region from the 8th to 10th century. After their decline, the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kalachuris of Kalyani and the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra became powerful. Vijayanagara Empire, founded by Vidyaranya through Hakka and Bukka rose to prominence and it was the period of revival of Hindu religion and culture. The two great kings of this powerful dynasty were Devaraya and Krishnadevaraya.


By the 16th century, this empoire too declined and new dynasties such as the Nayakas, the Paleyagars and Wodeyars started coming up. Many of these chieftains were subdued by Haidar Ali who became the Sultan in the second half of the 18th century.  His son Tippu Sultan then came to power in Mysore and his conflict with the rising British power ended in his death in 1799.


Karnataka is a land of enriched heritage, culture, natural beauty, arts and its people. Snugly located on the Deccan Plateau, the state is an emerald in the peninsula. At about 600 meters average height above sea level, the climate of Karnataka is almost moderate though widely varying in different places.

Known as Mysore in the olden days, the various dynasties who held sway over the land have left their mark through magnificent edifices strewn over the state. Karnataka has been a melting pot of races, religions and culture in the south with strains coming in from historical interest and beautifully carved and sculptured temples to serve as a pilgrimage for people of diverse faith.


The ruins of the great Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagara-Hampi, evoke the time and spirit of a culture and civilization that existed from the 14th to 16th centuries.  The circuit in the state offers the tourist some of the finest stone architecture that are simply incredible.  The bygone era boasts of some extremely talented sculptors who have curved brilliant edifices in stone that remain as a testimony to the inherent skill that runs in the veins of men of art. 


The monuments scattered all over the south and north Karnataka contain sculptures in stone, of gods, goddesses, dancers, that pierce the imagination of the tourist.  The poetry that is relieved in stone and rocks dates this horizon as standing evidence of a glorious past. This land of temples and monuments welcomes all the tourists.


The fabulous land of sandal wood, jasmine, gold and silk, for centuries, it has attracted powerful dynasties.  The people of Karnataka are the friendliest people in the world and receive visitors with a great deal of warmth.  They are always willing to share their glorious culture to the discerning tourist. An alluring stretch of Arabian coastlines, dark and majestic rocks, crystal clear waters of the rivers, the grandeur of temples of temples and monuments, lush green tropical forests abound with wild life, innumerable species of flora and fauna poured with gay abandon all over the state makes Karnataka an intoxicating amalgamation of the best things nature and man has to offer.


Kannada is the official and spoken language by majority of people besides Telugu, Tamil, Konkani, Malayalam etc.  English is understood widely along with Hindi. Karnataka, with its long colourful past has much to offer to the tourists.




The capital city of Karnataka state, originally founded by Kempegowda of Magadi in 1537, is popularly known as the Garden City.  It is one of the loveliest cities in India and is considered as the fastest growing cities in the world. With well laid out parks and gardens, long avenues of brightly blossomed trees and salubrious climate throughout the year. Though it is also the greatest industrial and commercial centers of South India, the pollution level has not exceeded the limit in many parts of the city.




Shimoga is located on the banks of river Tunga, it is a historical place which beckons the tourists with her emerald finery studded with lakes, rivers and valleys.  The ancient fort is almost in ruins but a few old monuments and temples can still be seen. Shimoga town itself is steeped in history. Shivappa Nayaka ruled this place. A fine museum is set up at the old palace where the entire history of the dynasty and several ancient masterpieces of sculpture are exhibited.  The Sacred Heart Cathedral in the town is a beautiful monument which is 10 years old.  It is a popular base for tourists visiting places around the region as good lodging facility are available here.


Interesting Places around



30 fromSringeri. Agumbe is located on an elevated spot on the western ghats, it is a small village which has become famous for viewing the glorious Sunset in the distant horizon.  The landscape and surroundings present one of the loveliest sights in the world. Best season to see is November-December.



10 This place is located on the banks of river Bhadra, it was once called the Birmingham of Mysore having the iron and steel producing plant and the Mysore Paper Mills. The town has developed into an industrial region. This was the earliest place to produce iron and steel in South India.



10 The dam here is an ideal place for picnic. Elephant training camp is located here by the forest department. Visitors can make use of the forest lodge for overnight stay and view wild life around the area.



60 A famous Jain pilgrimage established in the 7th century by the noted ruler Jinadattacharya.  Padmavathi Devi, the main deity of the temple is held in great reverence.  The famous Lakki tree planted many years ago is still green and fresh inside the temple. The Panchakuta Basadi has five cells in a row occupied by serene and splendid images of Mahavira Tirthankara.  The temple has a striking Manosthamba, a monolith pillar encrusted with carved elephants and lions, a procession of Ashtadikpalas with their musicians. 



3 from Sagar.  A hamlet of Aralikoppa village which was once the capital of the Nayakas of Keladi. The temple of Aghoshwara built in the 16th century is a well proportioned stone building constructed in a mixed style of Hoysala and Vijayanagar. A huge Nandi is installed in front of the main temple in a separate structure.


Jog Water Falls:

105  The magnificent waterfalls is the highest in India. The river Sharavathi cascades down 292 meters in four distinct branches known as Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket.  This is also the centre of hydro-electric power generating station in the State named after Mahatma Gandhi. Best season to visit is August-December.



5 from Sagar.  Historical place is associated with Rani Chennammaji. The Keladi dynasty had 16 kings and two queens of whom Chennammaji was most famous. The temple of Rameshwara and the Veerabhadra built by the Nayakas are the famous monuments of the place.  There is a museum near the temple which is worth a visit as the entire history of the place is depicted here.



52 A small village near Soraba which has a Shiva temple.  It contains very old mural paintings of the 14th century. The style reminds the Vijayanagar school. This is a place worth a visit.



64  A famous historical place for the Shiva temple dedicated to Kaitabheshwara.  The entire temple is a treasure house of sculpture.  The outer walls, inner halls, ceilings, pillars and every inch of space is filled with finely carved figures.


Kudala Sangama

14 it is the confluence of river Tunga and Bhadra with an enchanting beauty in natural surroundings.  An ancient Mutt of Shankaracharya order is located here with  a pontiff.    



10 This old village on the banks of river Tunga is the only place in the country where Sanskrit is the spoken language of the residents.  All the 90 families who live here speak Sanskrit.  There is a Sanskrit college which is run on the ancient Gurukula system.



77  A prosperous town in the Malnad area which has developed as the best sandal wood carving handicraft centre.  Also famous for its Marikamba temple has a modern structure with many paintings.  Nearby is Varadahalli where the famous Samadhi of Sridhara Swamy is located.



10 A famous lion safari and sanctuary developed recently by the government of Karnataka.



48 A historical place of the Paleagar times of 1558 having some exceedingly good temples of beautiful sculpture.  The huge Pushkarini (pond) with a two storied building in the middle is a fine structure with mixed Hindu and Muslim architecture.  Built entirely of dressed red granite stone, the sides and corners have shrines for the Ashta Dikpalas.


Other places of interest worthy of visit are Belagami and Bandalike near Shikaripur, Talagunda, Bidanur, Kappagodu and Kuppattur. Shimoga is well connected by rail from Bangalore and the road is exceedingly good as hundreds of buses operate from this place to various parts of the State. Good accommodation is available here.  Taxis can be hired for visiting places at reasonable charges.




Nestling in the heart of Karnataka, Chitradurga was once the capital of the Paleagars with its rich historical background. The hill near the town is surrounded by seven fortifications which are a masterpiece of architectural beauty. They give an idea of their impregnability. According to epics, it is said that Jataya the heroic bird of Ramayana fell mortally wounded here fighting with Ravana to save Sita Devi. Bhima of the Pandavas is said tohave killed the man eating demon Hidimbasura here.  There are seven temples on the hill dedicated to Gopalaswamy, Sampige Siddheswar and goddess Ucchangiamma.  The Hidimbeshwara temple is the oldest being the patron deity of the local people.  It was here that Onake Obavva killed hordes of soldiers all alone fighting with Muslim invaders.



About 3 kms. from the town is the famous site of Chandravalli excavations which has revealed the seat of an ancient civilization.



Situated on the banks of Tungabhadra river, it is famous for the Hoysal style temple of Hari Hareshwara, depicting both the aspects of Shiva and Vishnu.  The town has been developed by a few large scale industries.  Harihar is about 75 distance from Chitradurga.



11 Located in a range of hills, about 1200 meters above the sea level, it has been developed into a picnic centre with beautiful surroundings and natural scenery all around.  The forest lodge here provides accommodation to tourists and visitors.


Vanivilas Sagar:

32  A huge reservoir created by constructing a dam across river Vedavati.  From the top of the dam, one could enjoy the natural scenery around. Boating facility is available at the reservoir to reach a small island in the middle of the lake. A fine rest house at this place provides accommodation for overnight stay.

All these places are connected by good roads and a number of buses and vans operate in these routes. Chitradurga offers very good lodging facilities for tourists.



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