While on one side there’s a wide variety of landscapes, right from the seas to the mountains, on the other, there’s a plethora of languages, cultures and a rich history.
Dhanushkodi, located in the Rameshwaram district of Tamil Nadu, is the place where the wonders of nature and man become one. A place shrouded in mystery, this is a place that’s easy to miss by the regular tourist. Not only because it’s not really a part of the tourist map, but also because this place is hard to reach.
Nonetheless, Dhanushkodi is a place an exploring traveller would love to visit and know more about. For reaching this place one needs to cross over to the Pamban Island from the mainland. The best way to do this is by train, through the famous Pamban Bridge.
It’s here that the journey to Dhanushkodi begins through several fishing villages, accompanied by the mesmerising views of the Palk Strait on both sides. The Palk Strait is the one that stretches between India and Sri Lanka.
After a rather bumpy ride, which is only possible on 4×4 vehicles, thanks to some large sandy stretches on the way, the ‘ghost town’ of Dhanushkodi will welcome you. A long time ago, especially during the British Raj, Dhanushkodi was a small yet prosperous town. It had everything you expect a town full of residents to have–railway station, a church, a temple, a post office, and houses, among other things.
Bordered by the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, Dhanushkodi once used to serve as an important port for both traders and pilgrims. Ferry services were available between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar, a town in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon). These ferries used to transport both goods and travellers across the sea, from one country to the other. The town of Dhanushkodi was home to all kinds of facilities a traveller would need–hotels, dharamshalas, and textile shops catering to pilgrims, travellers, and traders. And believe it or not, Sri Lanka is located at a distance of just 31 km from this town.
When everything came to an end
But all of these things is no more than history now, thanks to a cyclone that took place in the year 1964. It destroyed everything, and what remains now is a sandy shoreline with ruins dating back to those days.
Although with the stunning views of the two oceans and a beautiful shoreline, Dhanushkodi is a picturesque place to be, there’s an eeriness to the fact that what once used to be a town so significant, is nothing more than a ruin now. The only residents of this island now are the 500 fishermen folk who stay here for the sake of their livelihood in about 50 hutments that are spread across the place.
Apart from the coastal charm and the mysteries attached to the place, there’s one more thing that makes Dhanushkodi a really unique place to visit. And it dates back to none other than our mythological history, Ramayana.
The town of Dhanushkodi is believed to be the place where Lord Rama had ordered Lord Hanumana to build a bridge which could carry his army across to Sri Lanka, where Demon King Ravana had kept Sita captive. As ordered, Lord Hanuman had obliged and it was here that the Ram Setu was built by the Vanara Sena.
If myths are to be believed, a particularly beautiful stretch of sandy shore you see from Dhanushkodi is the place from where the Ram Setu starts. This is also believed to be the end of the bridge which Lord Rama had broken using his bow and arrow.
Also known as the Adam’s Bridge globally, no one really knows if this is the Ram Setu, but satellite pictures taken over time, and a recent image released by NASA have confirmed that the a stretch of land formation visible between Dhanushkodi and the Sri Lankan mainland is certainly man-made.
We don’t know what the real truth is–research is being done over it for years now. But what we can say about this place with absolute certainty is the fact that as a traveller, Dhanushkodi will never cease to charm and surprise you with its unique mix of history, myth, mystery and unparalleled natural beauty. While sea lovers will love this place to the core, it will prove to be a paradise for birders for its population of migratory birds who fly to this place from places as far as Australia, and those having a hobby of collecting shells for this place is home to the rarest of them.