Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town which was devastated by a mega cyclone in 1964. Subsequently the place remains uninhabited but for a few fishermen. At the south-eastern tip of Dhanushkodi you see side by side the waters of Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.
Mythology of Dhanushkodi
Lord Rama had ordered Lord Hanuman to build a bridge connecting Dhanushkodi and Sri Lanka. As one would expect, Hanuman and his Vanara Sena constructed the bridge. This is the Ram Setu that we have read about in Valmiki Ramayana. Lord Rama crossed over with his army on Ram Setu and rescued his abducted wife Sita from demon king Ravana. Afterwards Lord Rama broke the bridge with his bow and arrow.
NASA had released satellite images which show traces of what could be Ram Setu. The bridge is 48 km long and linked Dhanushkodi and Mannar in Sri Lanka.
Destructive Cyclone of 1964
On the night of 22 December 1964, a mega cyclone struck Dhanushkodi and Rameswaram. The wind velocity was 280 km/hour and tidal waves rose to a height of 23 feet. All the 115 passengers on board the Pamban -Dhanushkodi train on the meter gauge line perished. The entire town was isolated and about 1,800 people lost their lives. Later the government declared Dhanushkodi as an abandoned town.
Abandoned Town of Dhanushkodi
At the tip of Dhanushkodi is Beach Point. When you look out from there, you will find Indian Ocean on the right and Bay of Bengal on the left. Indian Ocean is turbulent and Bay of Bengal placid. Both have different colours. The sea in Palk Strait and around Rameswaram island turns a remarkable dark shade of green due to the presence of marine algae. The algae spreads in the sea from July to September. During this period the colour shifts to green.
Beach Point is 24 km to the west of Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. I could get the mobile network of Airtel Sri Lanka on my phone while we were at Dhanushkodi.
A focal point at Beach Point is the Ashoka Chakra on a pillar. Several Ayyappas had gathered around it to take photos. There are no washrooms for visitors and no electricity either. At lunch time, the locals sell fried fish in stalls by the roadside. The area gets completely dark after sunset.
Architectural Ruins of Dhanushkodi
The main architectural remnants of the Dhanushkodi are the church, hospital and railway station. The church has lost its roof. But the walls are still standing and have bricks of coral on them. Behind the church are thatched huts where you can buy sea shells and memorabilia.
Pillars of the water tower in the railway station are standing now. But rest of the edifice has disintegrated.
The Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi railway line was washed away in the destructive cyclone of 1964. Since the night of December 24 that year, the celebrated Boat Mail discontinued its services. Also known as the Indo-Ceylon Express, this was a train and ferry service that connected Madras and Colombo.
Two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the new Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi railway line, work is yet to start on the 17.2 km route. Railway officials await approval of the amended cost estimate which has tripled. Only the survey work for the project has been completed.
The best time to visit the place is early morning or evening. When the sun is high above your head, the heat beats down relentlessly. Rameswaram to Dhanshkodi is 19 km and takes 22 minutes by car. Cars can travel up to Beach Point. At times of bad weather or turbulence in the sea, police block entry. The road is good and has the sea on both sides.
If you liked the post, you could…
- Ramanathaswamy Temple Rameswaram jyotirlinga shrine
- Vivekananda Memorial in Rameswaram
- Pamban Bridge – gateway to Rameswaram island