The Lost City of Dhanushkodi - Guest story by Anshul Kumar Akhoury
I am not a staunch believer of mythology and highly dubious of the claims it often makes in terms of events and places. The notion of not accepting everything that was written thousands of years ago often puts me in a conflicted situation when I actually end up at one of these places. Something like this happened when I stood at the top of the sandy lands of Dhanushkodi and saw Adam’s bridge right in front of me. A small underwater bridge connecting this piece of land from the Indian subcontinent to all the way to a smaller landmass known as Sri Lanka brought all the stories of Lord Ram and his army making a bridge on the sea to invade Lanka.
Popularly known as The Adam’s Bridge, a formation of coral reefs can be seen between India and Sri Lanka. Bridge or not, this piece of land is deemed extremely important by the ecologists and has been a part of infinite controversies thanks to Indian, Sri Lankan, and Chinese governments. The traders and shipping companies have tried hard to break this formation to create a faster, cheaper, sea route in the Indian Ocean. On a clear day, you can see the coastal lands of Jaffna located in Sri Lanka. A certain points of this place, you’ll see tourists complain about their phone signal getting international roaming charges from the neighboring country.
The Cyclone of 1964
Dhanushkodi once used to be a flourishing coast town. It was connected via rail with daily trains from Chennai and Rameshwaram. There was a post office, a cargo office, railway station, church, temple along with many small lodges and hotel for pilgrims who used to come for their Char Dham yatra to Rameshwaram. On December 22nd, 1964, Dhanushkodi was struck by a cyclone so powerful that it blew off an entire train into the ocean killing more than 100 people. More than 1800 people died due to this disaster. People took refuge in the Rameshwaram temple where the water couldn't reach. A massive tidal wave engulfed all the buildings and destroyed everything. After this disaster, Dhanushkodi was declared as a GHOST TOWN and was deemed unfit for living.
Today, this deserted island is inhibited by the migrating fisherfolk who commute here via jeeps to the mainland. Their only means of livelihood is catching fish from the sea. Located at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, Dhanushkodi, is located at a distance of some 20 km away from Rameshwaram. The local women have a very interesting way to finding fresh water. At the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, small lagoons pop up randomly. These lagoons surprisingly have sweet water and all these women need to do is remove sand using homemade filtering plates. It is very interesting to see how life works on this isolated island.
Dhanushkodi is a gorgeous place filled with clear blue ocean and whitest sand that you can imagine. The gorgeousness takes your breath away and is a visual treat for travelers and photographers. It also makes you think and wonder as you look at the ruins and the dilapidated remains of what was once a flourishing town.
How to travel – Dhanushkodi is half an hour away from Rameshwaram. Rameshwaram is accessible via Chennai and Bangalore via Bus and Trains. You can find regular buses till Dhanushkodi beach and then find minibusses that take you to the Ghost Town. The bus charges 20 bucks and the minibus takes between INR 100 to 150 depending on the season. You can also hire a 4x4 jeep from Rameshwaram for INR 1200. Four people are allowed in the jeep. The jeep and bus services are shut down between June and last week of August.
Where to Stay – Rameshwaram is the last place with guesthouses, dorms, and luxury hotels. Stay is not allowed in Dhanushkodi.
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