Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Travel Story of Dhanushkodi Ghost Town: The Spot Where Lord Rama Built Ram Setu (Adams Bridge)

It was about 2.30 AM (Night) when we reached Rameshvaram. Before exit from Railway Station we refreshed us with hot coffee and some snaks. There were plenty of autos available outside station.Hired an auto for advance booked hotel Agni Teertham (Tamil Nadu Tourism Corporation Hotel).

Hotel Teertham is standing just at one side of Arab Sagar at a short distance from Agni Teertham Mandir. I took my camera and walked to Agni teertham Mandir. It was 6.00 mornings. Walked towards Bay of Bengal, saw many people were bathing, many fishermen were pulling the jaal (fish net). I was exited to see the way they were pulling the net.


Clicked some shots and soon back to room.As our main attraction was a visit of “Dhanushkodi the Ghost Town: The Spot Where Lord Rama Built Ram Setu (Adams Bridge).

Very interesting to know that: this is native place of APJ Abdul Kalam former President of India. His father was a boat owner and imam of a local Masjid, Who owned a ferry that, took Hindu pilgrims back and forth between Rameswaram and the now uninhabited Dhanushkodi.

A Road Journey To Dhanushkodi From Rameshvaram.

Hotel manager was a nice man, he arranged a taxi ride to and fro to Dhanusukodi beach for Rs 1500/= we left for Dhanusukodi Beach.


Journey started, the roads became quite spooky, and my heart started pounding faster when Taxi moved to secluded area leaving the town behind.

After half hour journey of 20 Km, we saw a long stretch of Bay of Bengal, running just parallel to road.As we drove nearer to Dhanusukodi, this lining of Bay of Bengal was coming closer and closer to road.It was life time ride,I was seeing Indian Ocean on other side of… the road was in between two seas.


Our jeep was running rouh and jerky on a land mix with the mud, sand and water.We reached Dhanushkodi old town after one hour travelling.


It’s breathtakingly beautiful to see Bay of Bengal on left and Indian Ocean on right. The huge waves from Indian Ocean (called as Female sea) as its wild, and small waves from Bay of Bengal (called as Male sea) as its calm.


What a fun adventurous ride that was, although the water is shallow but still you feel the thrill of going inside the sea, the boats on the left  and lot of seagulls flying.


The winds were so soothing, full of moisture, when it touches; I felt I was never touched by something so pure. The water was clean, the sand was cleaner.


It is difficult to describe beauty of Dhanushkodi Beach. the ruins of a town, the church, the railway station .the white/gold sand and crystal clear water with multiple shades of blue and green, huge waves scary ones. Spent 3-4 hours there but it feels like seconds to me, I was reluctant to go back but had no other option.


I just walked on the beach, went little inside the water. There was no turbulence, only peaceful blue Bay of Bengal. The winds were so soothing, full of moisture, when it touches;I felt I was never touched by something so pure.The water was clean, the sand was cleaner.


Dhanushkodi in Mythology

As per Hindu mythology, this is the place from where Lord Hanuman along with his army built a stone bridge (Ram Setu) to cross the sea to reach Lanka (now Sri Lanka) to rescue Sita from the demon king, Ravana.


Thereafter the war, Lord Rama broke the bridge with the tip of his bow. The word Dhanushkodi can be split into dhanush (bow) and kodi (the end) literally it means “The end of the bow” in Tamil language. 


Sri Lanka is just 31 kilometres away from Dhanushkodi. Bordered by the Bay of Bengal on one and the Indian Ocean on the other, Dhanushkodi, some 20 kilometres away from Rameshwaram, is one of the most spectacular stretches of Tamil Nadu.

Dhanhukodi Beach

During the bumpy ride, Taxi driver pointed us at the remains of the rail tracks covered with sand, and those of the school, the hospital and office buildings. He also shows us the village that includes some 50 households staying in makeshift thatched houses.


They say that Bay of Bengal is male in Dhanushkodi and female in Rameswaram, where it  embraces Indian Oceon,after devastating seven-km sand strip separating them.


Dhanushkodi was a busy township with European bungalows, church, temple and even a railway station, custom office, post office and other govt offices building.


We walked closer to the clustered villages, all made up of thatched roofs with children playing alongside the houses who run up to us to sell sea shells.


The dwellings here seem to survive mostly on fishing, besides getting some income from the small number of tourists who brave their way here by traveling in old jeeps and a very bumpy ride.


We roamed around in the village and found some of the fishermen with their boats collecting their catch for the day. We also saw a few women washing clothes near a well and wonder where they get their water from. There seem to be a few wells that have salty water that people use for washing clothes and utensils.


Devastation: Haunting Story of Dhanushkodi By Tsunami on Night of 1964 December 22

On that night (December 22) at 23.55 hours while entering Dhanushkodi railway station, the train No.653, Pamban-Dhanushkodi Passenger, a daily regular service which left Pamban with 110 passengers and 5 railway staff, was only few hundred yards before Dhanushkodi Railway station when it was hit by a massive tidal wave.


The entire train was washed away killing all 115 on board. A few metres ahead of Dhanushkodi, the signal failed.  With pitch darkness around and no indication of the signal being restored, the driver blew a long whistle and decided to take the risk.


Minutes later, a huge tidal wave submerged all the six coaches in deep water. The tragedy that left no survivors also destroyed the Pamban bridge, which connected the mainland of India to Rameshwaram Island.


Reports say that over 1800 people died in the cyclonic storm. All houses and other structures in Dhanushkodi town were marooned. The high tidal waves moved deep onto this island and ruined the entire town.


Naval vessels sent to rescue people reported seeing several bloated bodies around the eastern end of Dhanushkodi. Following this disaster, the Government of Madras declared Dhanushkodi a ghost town and unfit for living.


At Main land of Dhanushkodi beach: The last south eastern tip of Indian soil.

A little ahead, we come across the ruins of a water tank, church, post office, custom office and other buildings, once a popular town.All these were totally washed away by a deadly cyclone in 1964. The town has been rendered unfit for living and is a ghost town, but a few fishermen still live here in tents and huts.


The ruined buildings of the church, temple, school and homes around were silent testimony to the great cyclone. Lost in the surrounding, I almost tripped over only to find a glimpse of what appeared to be the lost train track concealed under sand leading to a ruined structure which has seen busy days as the local station.


I walked for two hours to get to the place where it used to be “Dhanushkodi Station”. I couldn’t find any sign of the train tracks, except a couple little piece of metal sticking out of the ground.


Finally reached the South-Eastern tip after a brisk but a little long walk. It was absolutely wonderful! Seeing two oceans meet is a heart-warming sight and the feeling. Water from two oceans was brushing under our feet … amazing. I had been dying to see this place.This point of this tour just made my entire trip-- A golden memory.


If you have the ears to listen the silence too. You may hear the sounds of cries, the recitements of the prayers in the remnants of the Catholic Church, the noises from the broken pieces of busy railway station and the port office.

Now it was time to say good-bye to the blue seas and white sands. I recalled the lines of this old ever green song of Film Madhumati that seems fit for this place.It is real story of Dhanushkodi, which is now a haunted ghost town due to Tsunami on 22nd December 1964.


Aise veerane mein ek din

ghut ke mar jayenge hum

Jitna ji chaahe pukaro

phir nahin aayenge hum.

The End

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