A mysterious experience awaits travellers in Dhanushkodi
Dhanushkodi is undoubtedly one of South India's undiscovered scenic beauty. It been know as the Ghost Town after it has massacred by super cyclone 54 years ago. But I believe that the charming tiny village, which is perched on the edge of the Indian continent, is a must-see location for adventurous travellers. It was a small town at the southern tip of the Rameswaram island, at the eastern coast of the Tamil Nadu state of India, which is 24km from the Sri Lankan coast, is the melting pot of Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. This magical land is surrounded by water on three sides and the crumbling structures and deserted pathways of Dhanushkodi would give a surreal feeling to the travellers.
Dhanushkodi - Historically a thriving township
Only after it was declared unfit for habitation, the place has started gaining more eyeballs. Experience seekers visit Dhanushkodi in search of new thrills and adventures. And there is actually a lot of things to do and places to explore when you are planning a trip to Dhanushkodi or it can also be maintained that makes for a perfect day trip when you are planning to visit Rameshwaram.
Dhanushkodi, about 20 kilometres from Rameshwaram, is one of the most beautiful stretches in Tamil Nadu, with no more than 50 fisherfolk homes and a population of about 500. It is bordered on one side by the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. As per myth, this is the location where Lord Rama indicated with the tip of his bow and where Lord Hanumana and his army constructed the Setu bridge to cross the sea and arrive in Sri Lanka.
A visit to Dhanushkodi takes your breath away and is a visual treat with breathtaking views of the clear blue sea, but at the same time envelopes you with sadness with its ruins and the decrepit remnants of what once was a thriving town fill you with despair. It was a major point of entry to India until 1964, when a cyclone devastated the entire town.
The town that a cyclone destroyed in 1964
There were various ferry services between Dhanushkodi and Sri Lanka, transporting travellers and goods across the sea. There were hotels, textile shops and dharmashalas catering to these pilgrims and travellers. In those days, it had a railway station, a small railway hospital, a higher secondary school, a post office, customs and port offices etc. One can still see the sad ruins of the railway line, some of the parts of the offices and the hospital and the old school, which is reused now for the 500 inhabitants who continue to stay on the island.
On that night, December 22, at 23.55 hours, as it was entering the station, the train No. 653, Pamban-Dhanushkodi Passenger, a daily regular service that left Pamban with 110 passengers and 5 railroad employees, was only a few hundred yards from Dhanushkodi Railway station when it was struck by a tremendous tidal wave. All 115 people aboard the train died when it was completely washed away. The signal failed a few metres in advance of Dhanushkodi. The driver blew a long whistle and made the risky decision because it was completely dark outside and there was no sign that the signal had been restored. The six coaches were all immersed in deep water a few minutes later by a massive tidal wave. The tragedy that left no survivors also destroyed the Pamban bridge, which connected the mainland of India to Rameshwaram island.
Lost Land of ghost town
Over 53 years and counting after the horrible incident, the town is gradually coming to life and has begun to show up on the radar of adventurous tourists looking for an unusual place to visit. Travelers are fascinated by its tranquilly and quiet, its azure water, its fine white sand, and the ruins along its sandy shoreline.
You can still see the remains of a church, a train station, a temple, and dwellings used by the locals back then. Even you can relax on the beach and listen to the sounds of the mighty waters of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. On the beach, there are also a few little shacks and a modest tea shop.
We can drive or take a bus to Dhanushkodi from Rameshwaram up until Moonram Chathiram. The trip is exciting as travelling down a narrow strip of land with the sea on both sides.
Note: Entry after 5 pm is not allowed. No cafes, rest rooms or hotels in Dhanushkodi. The entire tour to be covered within 2 hours.
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