17 Km from Rameswaram lies sand covered remains of what used to be a bustling town about 4 decades back. The remains of a church, a water tank, post office, railway station gives you an idea of value of this place which used to be the best point for travelers to go to Srilanka in ferry services until 1964.
On the fateful night of 22 December, 1964, a large cyclone caused the devastation of such extend that the whole Dhanushkodi town along with the Rameswaram Dhanushkodi railway line was destroyed. After the cyclone, the Government declared the place to be unfit for living and it remains as it is.
There is a mythology behind this ghost town. It is believed that, the prince Lord Rama had constructed the bridge called Rama Setu to Lanka from the mainland for fighting against the king of lanka, Ravana who had captured Sita, the wife of Rama.
This bridge was used to bring in his troops to Lanka. After Ravana was killed and upon request from the new king Vibhishana, Rama broke the bridge with one end of his bow. Hence the name Dhanushkodi or ‘end of the bow’ (dhanush meaning ‘bow’ and kodi meaning ‘end’).
However on reaching Dhanushkodi, the mythology actually lies behind nature’s power in the minds of travelers. The approach road from Rameswaram to Dhanushkodi ends approximately 4 Km before Dhanushkodi. From there onwards, only a specially modified jeep or big vans can go further.
The drive from check post to the devastated town is like a roller coaster ride through the sands. It is better not to try out any other vehicle on that part. On one side you can see the Bay of Bengal and other side, the Indian Ocean.
There are numerous moss covered areas which can be seen during the ride. The ride takes about 30 minutes to reach the wreckage part of the town.
From there the travelers can see the remains of Church, Water tank, some other buildings which used to hold the custom office, post office. Dhanushkodi before 1964 was an important trade hub as well for India because of it closeness with Srilanka.
There are several parts in the beach where Hindu pilgrims can perform Poojas and take bathe in the sea after darshan from the Rameswaram temple. Upon sitting in the beach you can see the endless sea in its pristine condition.
Very few families are left there to be called as natives and most of them are into the small shops that sell snacks and other light food items to the tourists visiting there or Pooja items for the pilgrims. You will also get a handful of sea shells for a small price from the children of these natives.
Not to be missed
A trip to Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi is definitely a must go one. While, on one side of Rameswaram lies an engineering masterpiece called Paamban Bridge, the other side makes us understand that man is nothing but a part of nature’s true power.
Other places to visit include Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple and Rameswaram beach, Former President Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s house which has been converted to a museum by the Government of India and Kodanda Rama temple enroute Dhanushkodi.
A new road is getting constructed till the end of the coast land. This is expected to be completed soon. This will make the journey to the tip of island less hectic and hopefully the island can attract more tourism which is the only way to revive a little of the importance it had in the past.
How to reach Dhanushkodi
Dhanuskodi is 16 Km from Rameswaram, which is the main town of Ramanathapuram District. It has a railway station as well. There are regular Express/ Passenger trains from Chennai and Madurai. Buses are also frequent till Rameswaram. From Rameswaram, it is better to hire a cab for Dhanushkodi.
If you are travelling by Air, the nearest Airport is Madurai.
Before you go..!
Please make sure to go to Dhanushkodi during daytime as visitors are not allowed there after 5 pm. The way to Dhanushkodi wreckage site from the check post will be very difficult to maneuver after evening as the water level goes up. Make sure to carry an umbrella which can serve both during a very sunny day and during rain.
You will get only snacks/ soft drinks once you reach Dhanushkodi. So better have enough food before you go or take something with you.Keep your sunglasses with you always.