Dhanushkodi - The Lost Land
Do you know which is the most spectacular sight of India? Opinions may differ from Leh to Kanya Kumari or Jaisalmeer to Tinsukia. Can you imagine the roaring waves of the mighty Indian ocean embarace the gentle and calm waters of Bay of Bengal without making any commotion? In the wildest of dreams can you see a ghost town cursed by nature's fury or drifting stones on water? That is DHANUSHKODI which means the breakage of Ram Sethu with the tip of his bow by Lord Ram.
Dhanushkodi is the southern tip of the island of Rameshwaram, which is wellknown for the ancient Ramanathaswami temple and is at a distance of about 22 kilometers away from Thalaimannar, the northern most part of SriLanka. It was a thriving coastal town having a railway station, fishing harbour, police station, church, post office and school until 1964. There was a steamer boat service between India and Ceylon (now called SriLanka) starting from Dhanushkodi to Thalaimannar. Even there was rail connectivity between India and the farthest places of SriLanka at that time. But the disastrous cyclone on 22 december 1964 wipedout almost everything on Dhanushkodi and erasing it from the Indian railway map. The furious waves destroyed the Pamban bridge connecting Pamban of Rameshwaram and Mandapam of the mainland even engulfing a moving train with hundreds of passengers. However, the Ramanathaswami temple remained intact even after its proximity to sea. But the most amazing thing was the Kodandaramaswami temple of Dhanushkodi which remained unhurt. The lively coastal town was covered with sanddunes which burried almost everything including the railway tracks and railway station.
Nowadays, people can go to Dhanushkodi by cabs, plying between the checkpost and the Sethu. On the way to Sethu one can see Kodandaramaswami temple. According to a legend, Vibhishana, brother of Ravana, surrendered to Rama at this spot. The idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Vibhishana are installed here. One can see the remains of old railway tracks, railway station, old church, and water tank en route the Sethu. There is no road but bouncy tracks created by hired cabs, mostly Tata 407 vans. It is thrilling to watch the gentle waves of Gulf of Mannar licking out the sand gradually just in front of the vehicle. The driver has to change the course accordingly. One can see massive thorny bushes along the west coast. It is really frightening to see the edge of roaring waves of Indian Ocean over the bushes.
A dip in Sethu is considered very holy. New moon in Adi (Aug–Sept) and Thai (Jan-Feb) are auspicious and many pilgrims perform shradha for their ancestors.
Nowadays, we can see a few number of fishing hamlets in place of the once thriving township of Dhanushkodi and a few hundreds are residing. One can see a drifting rock kept in a small water tank near the remnants of the old railway station. Similar stones are said to be used for the construction of Ram Sethu in Ramayana and some of them are kept in the Ramanathaswami temple.
On reaching back at the check post we enter the road to Rameshwaram with a heavy heart full of nostalgic memories of this ghost town.