Dhanushkodi the ghost town

Danushkodi is on the very far southern point in India, just 24 kilometers from Sri Lanka, on the island of Pamban, separated from the mainland by the Palk Strait. It shares the only land border between India and Sri Lanka, which is one of the smallest in the world at 45 metres.

There are many pilgrims that walk along the road to tthe Ramanathaswamy Temple on the island.

One of the legends associated to Dhanushkodi, is that when Rama was on his way back to Rameswaram, he crowned Vibhishana to be the king of Lanka. While returning however, Vibhishana adviced Rama to destroy the bridge once all of his people reach the other end of the island safely. Hence, by the time Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and the entire army reached this tip, Rama broke the bridge with one end of his bow, hence naimg this town Dhanushkodi which roughly translates to one end of the bow.

In Dhanushkodi is the Ram Sethu, where pilgrims visit in huge numbers throughout the year. Ram Sethu is the floating stones in the Bay of Bengal which are believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army. This bridge was built to reach Lanka now known as Sri Lanka where the demon King Ravana had abducted Lord Rama’s wife, Goddess Sita. Pilgrims enter ankle to knee length deep water to worship these stones. Kothandarmaswamy temple is in close proximity to Ram Sethu. This temple is believed to be the place where Lord Rama and Vibishan, first met.

One of the survivors of the 1964 disaster can be seen there and he has a water tank with one of the legendary floating stones which you can try to lift – they are heavy, but they float – it must be true then …

Survivor Dhanuskodi

On one side of this holy town is the calm Bay of Bengal and on the other side is the raging Indian Ocean. The confluence of these two water bodies can be seen at Dhanushkodi. Dhanushkodi is the closest point from India to Sri Lanka. It is the shortest water border dividing any two countries in the world.

The beach at Dhanushkodi is another famous attraction and a must visit place. The beach area is clean with white sand and crystal clear water. There are small stalls at the beach selling coconut water and some snacks. Along the beach there are coconut trees and a few fishing trawlers parked.

The 1964 Rameswaram cyclone (also known as the Dhanushkodi cyclone) was regarded as one of the most powerful storms to ever strike India on record, killing around 1,800 people and rendering the town uninhabitable.

In December 2004, around the 40th anniversary of the deadly cyclone, the sea around Dhanushkodi receded about 500 metres  from the coastline, exposing the submerged part of the town for a while followed by massive tsunami waves that struck the coast.

It really is a pace of an exquisitely eerie beauty, and the place has a poignat atmosphere that is difficult to ignore, but there are a lot of pretty tacky souvenir stands amongst the ruins, sadly.

Church in the dunes

You won’t see too many tourists apart from Indians and Sr Lankans though, as this place appears not to be on many people’s tourist agenda, but it is well worth visiting.

There are snack stalls selling local Indian tiffin, coconut water and drinks, but there are no places to stay here and no real restaurants, so the best is to stay at Rameshwaram, only a short drive away.

The beaches are largely deserted with fine white sand and you can walk from the Indian Ocean to The Arabian sea in a matter of a few minutes, there is also a small fishing port about 500 meters down the road on the National Highway, where you can see fish sellers and fishermen repairing their nets in the sun.

Mending fishing nets

Dhanushkodi is a place to spend half a day, or more if you want, there is also a bird sanctuary on the islan a couple of kilometers from the ruined village and many sea birds and kites all around the island.

 

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