How does the Amazing Dhanushkodi Become the Mysterious Abandoned Land of India?
Dhanushkodi is the abandoned town of India located on the southeastern end of Rameshwaram island in Tamilnadu. Dhanushkodi is the place where the Indian Ocean meets with the love of her life, the Bay of Bengal.
We begin our road trip from Kerala at 10 A.M as on 17 -11 – 2019. We took the root of Kattappana – Cumbum – Theni – Madurai and reached Rameswaram by 8.30 at night. While coming back home, the night view of Bodimettu to Poopara was simply amazing.
Once we crossed the Kerala border the bumpy roads do give way to the high-quality roads in Tamilnadu. They will definitely tempt you to test the power of your vehicle. However, please control your self. Because throughout the trip at any given moment, there is all probability that a domesticated animal will run into you.
Dhanushkodi: The Beauty Begins
Dhanushkodi is approximately 19 Km away from Rameswaram. There are no hotels, restrooms or any other facilities to stay at Dhanushkodi. So, you have to spend your night in the nearest town, Rameswaram.
We started our journey from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi very early in the morning. Once you crossed first few kilometres; the view is really out of this world. Flanked by the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other – it feels like it is the road to eternity. The Indian Ocean side of the Dhanushkodi was where I saw the most bluish and clean water ever. While the Bay of Bengal chooses to flaunt its beauty in light green.
The sky was a bit mystic and colourful. Some eagles were flying so low in the open sky like they literally want to get into our frames. The sand on the beach was so soft and white that they made the fisherman’s tiny huts on both sides of the road look picture perfect. The colourful boats on the shore and out there in the sea just magnified the beauty of this abandoned mystery land. The ruins of the old rich Danushkodi can be seen laying scattered on both sides of the road.
Dhanushkodi was the only place where I’ve ever felt bad for the fact that I didn’t carry a DSLR with me. The place is so Frame rich that even a casual mobile picture will look like a masterpiece. While we were standing on the Arichal bridge (local name) we could literally see the beautiful fishes and everything else under the sea. My Disappointment only got intensified when I realised that my mobile camera was not capable of capturing those beautiful memories.
The waves on the beach were very strong and dangerous just like in the cause of paradise beach in Gokarna. But still, even they got a beauty which is beyond words. Dhanushkodi will fill your mind, no matter whatever you prefer as a traveller. Be it peace, serenity, loneliness, adventure, mystery or beauty of nature. Because this abandoned small town of India got it all in it. This is literally a journey to the unknown mysteries and beauty of the world.
The Bustling and Prosperous Past of Dhanushkodi
Srilanka is located at a distance of 31 Km from Dhanushokdi. There is used to be ferry service available between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar a town in Srilanka (then known as Ceylon). Dhanushkodi was a flourishing town with a railway station, a customs office, post and telegraph office, churches and temples, one railway hospital and higher elementary schools.
Thousands of people resided in this tiny town which was one of the richest fishing belts during the British Raj and also after the independence. A local fisherman was telling us that once this town was one of the most prominent centres for both traders and pilgrims. According to him, the British used to called this town” Mini Singapore”. But all this become just a story of the past by the early midnight of December 23, 1964.
How does Dhanushkodi Become the Abandoned Land of India?
According to an article published by The New Indian Express in 2017, by early midnight of December 23, 1964, a cyclone hit Dhanushkodi town at an estimated wind velocity of 280 km per hour. According to local people, the cyclone, along with tidal waves as high as 23 ft, swept away almost 3 km of the town into the sea. Around 1800 people died that night.
That modern-day super cyclonic Storm took along with almost everything the town ever possessed. That includes the famous Pamban bridge and the life of 115 people who were travelling by the Dhanushkodi passenger train that night.
After the cyclone, the Tamilnadu government declared Dhanushkodi as a ‘ghost town’ – unfit for living.
Mythological connection of Dhanushkodi
Dhanushkodi when get translated means ‘end bow’. According to Mythology Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman along with their army build Rama Sethu; a bridge connecting Rameshwaram Island in Tamilnadu and Manner Island in Srilanka. After rescuing his wife Sita, Lord Rama destroyed the bridge with a bow.
There are different arguments and political controversies regarding the origin and presence of Rama Sethu or Adam’s bridge. However, for the local people, Adam’s bridge or Rama Setu is a reality.
Is Dhanushkodi – a ghost town?
The town’s remote location and tragic past lend it a name as the ‘the ghost town’. The ruins after the cyclone including the warehouse, Roman Catholic church and the post office are still standing like a reminder of the tragedy. According to the local people, as of now, 484 small families of fisherman are still living in the ruined town.
After the cyclone, the Pamban bridge was rebuilt and stable road connection was reconstructed. But the town was never rebuilt. The town’s only commercial establishments consist of very few small shops selling corals and bottled water and a small tea shop. So to me, Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town, not a ‘ghost town’.
Moreover, no outsiders are allowed in the town after 5 PM
I contacted the Rameshwaram tourism officer over the phone to know the reason. The official said that it is because of some suicide attempts in the recent past. Some local people told me that it is not safe for the outsiders to stay there during the night. However, no one ever said that it is a haunted place.
How to reach Dhanushkodi?
You have to reach Rameshwaram, crossing the Pamban bridge as there are no direct transport services between Dhanushkodi and other main cities in India. The nearest airport is Madurai which is about 199 km from Dhanushkodi.
Where to stay at Dhanushkodi?
As outsiders are not allowed in Dhanushkodi after 5 pm, you have to stay in the nearest town, which is Rameshwaram. There are many hotels available for travellers of all budget at Rameshwaram.
- You may come across articles on the internet saying you have to hire a jeep to reach the endpoint. However, that’s not the case anymore. The road is so good that even auto-rickshaws and government buses will take you to the endpoint of Dhanushkodi now.
- Dhanushkodi will get active only by 10 in the morning. However, the best time to enjoy the serenity and real beauty of the town is in the early morning.
- Two wine shops of Rameshwaram is located right in front of the Pamban railway station road (approximately 10 km away from Rameshwaram). Price is cheap but the quality is even cheaper.
- Don’t miss out the Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam national memorial at Rameshwaram and Madurai Meenakshi temple (if you are touching Madurai).
- Don’t forget to enjoy the spectacular view from the Pamban bridge.
- For any further pieces of information please contact tourism officer Rameshwaram: +919176995871.
A huge shutout to my partners in crime – Martin Joseph, Joseph Simon, Simon Simon and Alexander Rose for helping with the amazing pictures here.
Thinking about a visit to Dhanushkodi ? Happy journey.