Dhanushkodi ghost town near Rameswaram

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Dhanushkdi; ghost town; Tamil Nadu; ruins; uasatish;

Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town which was devastated by a mega cyclone in 1964. Subsequently the place has remained 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.

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Church Ruins

Ram Setu Bridge of Dhanushkodi

Lord Rama had ordered Lord Hanuman to build a bridge connecting Dhanushkodi and Sri Lanka. Hanuman was a divine vanara companion of Rama. and a Hindu god. As one would expect, Hanuman and his Vanara Sena constructed the bridge. Hanuman, Vali and Sugreeva piloted the sena. This is the Ram Setu that we 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.

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Ram Setu – A Bridge Out of Ramayana

NASA had released satellite images which show traces of what could be Ram Setu. The bridge was 48 km long and linked Dhanushkodi and Mannar in Sri Lanka. Mannar town is located on Mannar Island overlooking the Gulf of Mannar

Recently a show called ‘What on Earth’ by Discovery Communications’ ‘Science Channel’ aired an episode called ‘Ancient Land Bridge’. It said that the bridge is man-made and that the rocks are resting on a sandbar to form the bridge. While the sandbar is natural, the stones on top of cannot be natural. The rocks are 7,000 years old, but the sand bar is only 4,000 years old.

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.

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Dhanushkodi Beach Point

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.

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Remnants of Railway Station

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.

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Indian Ocean Off Dhanushkodi Coast

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.

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Hospital Building in Ruins

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.

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Road to Dhanushkodi

Reaching Dhanuskodi

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.

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Ruins on the Beach

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