The lost town of Dhanushkodi

Trip to Madurai – Rameshwaram & Dhanuskodi, sounds like some religious trip but when Rajesh Bhai, Arun and I thought about this trip, we had nothing religious in the mind. We were more excited for visiting the ghost town Dhanuskodi. As usual I spent so much time reading about Dhanushkodi and its history, why it was declared as ghost town, why no one lives there in spite that it’s the place where Lord Rama broke the bridge constructed by his army between the mainland and the island of Lanka with a stroke of his bow.

My further reading revealed a very sad and painful history of Dhanuskodi

“Dec 12 1964, 23.55 hours while entering Dhanushkodi railway station,Pamban-Dhanushkodi Passenger, with 110 passengers & 5 railway staff,was only few yards before railway station when it was hit by a massive tidal wave. The whole train was washed away killing all 115 on the spot. All together over 1800 people died in the cyclonic storm. The high tidal waves moved almost 10 km onto this island and ruined the entire town. Following this disaster, the Government of Madras declared Dhanushkodi as ghost town and unfit for living. Only few fisherfolks now live there”

Left most is Indian main land, then Rameswaram (Pamban) Island. Red spot is Dhanushkodi dead end, followed by Adam’s bridge or Ramasethu and then Srilanka (image source – google map)

We had two day plan, first to reach Madurai and then head to Rameshwaram for a night stay, then visit Dhanskodi. Unlike other trips we tried to make this trip economical, stayed at cheap but decent hotel and used only public transports.

In this blogpost I will only write about the Dhanuskodi, more about Madurai and Rameshwaram in some other blog.

We reached Rameshwaram on saturday 1:30 pm. Idea was to get fresh, take lunch and then start exploring place. We were not going to spend too much of time in hotel so we looked for good, cheap but decent hotel, where we can get good sleep at night (though mosquitos tried their best to wake me up).We stayed near Ramanathswamy temple Temple.

Next morning after taking traditional south Indian breakfast  Idly, Vada, Puri bhaji and Coffee, we got a city bus to reach Dhanuskodi (9 Rs per head). It is about 18km from temple. Road till Dhanuskodi beach is narrow but excellent tarmac road, soon after travelling around 11 km you could see sea on both sides. Later I came to  know that we had Bay of Bengal at the left and Indian Ocean to the right.Another 7km and we reached Dhanuskodi beach. All the buses stops there

then you have to travel on sand with the mini truck or jeep(they will charge you 100 rs)..we hopped on one of the such truck and you go

The Ghost town slowly revealed before us. I found it hard to believe that the place was once heavily inhabited, had road and rail services.

The journey finally ended and just 15 KM from where we stand, was Srilanka. Had there been a motorable Adam’s bridge, it would be a 30 minute drive.

I found Dhanuskodi full of contradictions, it looked haunted yet appealing, totally deserted but still full of life. For me it was sure delight for some time as I had blue sea, white sand and ruins by the shore but it was also reminding me it’s painful history and I felt very bad.

Overall its breathtaking beauty, and the feeling of being in a place which was once alive, now reduced to ruins, makes it a place truly less traveled.

And yes, standing at the tip of India is an amazing feeling! Same feeling I had when I visited Pangong lake in Ladakh (Chiana was just few KM from that point) and hopefully one day I will be at Wagha Border :-)

Dhanuskodi Island view from air – source

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