Tourism, Travel

Story of a Ghost Town Called Dhanushkodi.

The Haunting Real-life Story of a Ghost Town Called Dhanushkodi.

It was the 21st of December, 1964, when disaster hit the little port town of Dhanushkodi and swallowed the town and took many lives. Connectivity back then was not as advanced as it is today. There was no Internet connection and the Pamban bridge was the only way to reach Dhanushkodi other than waterways. As a result, the little town which was once a tourist spot with several pilgrims and fishermen, was reduced to ruins.

Before the cyclone hit Dhanushkodi, it had a railway station and jetty service to transport travelers to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. It was a busy port town with a working post office, a temple visited regularly by devotees and a church attended by locals and visitors alike. The cyclone devastated Dhanushkodi causing irreparable loss to life and property.

Still, Dhanushkodi has come quite a long way since the cyclone. Today, it is visited by travel enthusiasts who like offbeat destinations and are intrigued by its history. According to mythology, Dhanushkodi is the place where, on Lord Rama’s instructions, Hanuman and Lord Rama’s army built a bridge across the sea to reach Sri Lanka. It is located around 20 km from Rameswaram and around 31 km from Sri Lanka.

Tourism, Travel

Chitharal Jain Rock Cut Temple.

Chitharal Jain Rock cut Temple of Kanyakumari

45 kilometers away from Kanyakumari, atop a hillock rests an ancient rock cut Jain temple, which is believed to be built during 9th century. Chitharal Bhagwati Hindu Temple, famous as the rock cut Jain monument in Kanyakumari district is a renowned Jain and Hindu site. Chitharal is an ASI marked monument which stands lost in history and standing here you would want to get lost in time too. Here in this blog, I am going to take you through the complete history of Chitharal Jain Rock cut Temple of Kanyakumari, also known as the Bhagwathi Hindu Temple and I am going to connect its Jainism and Hinduism influence.

The surroundings of Chitharal Jain rock cut temple, Kanyakumari are really scenic. Take enough time in hand to enjoy its beauty

Chitharal Jain rock cut temple is a lesser-known gem in Kanyakumari District and I chanced upon it accidentally too. A glance at the structures and architecture impressed me but we weren’t very sure if we shall be coming here because it required a detour from our original plan. Originally our plan was to leave Bangalore before the mid night and reach Kanyakumari early in the morning.  But since this ASI monument is a cultural delight, I had to come here and therefore, we altered our original travel plan a bit.

History of Chitharal Jain Rock cut Temple of Kanyakumari

Historically, it is considered to be a place where the Jain saints would come and meditate in the caves. Therefore, Chitharal Jain rock cut temple is an important site in Jainism.

The first thing that I noticed about Chitharal Jain rock cut temple is this ruined vimana but it was difficult for me to figure anything out of it, as there was no one to guide me on this. For those who don’t know, Vimana is a structure which you would generally find on the top of inner sanctum in the hindu temples of South India. But, one thing that I can definitely note that this is not a Jain structure as it doesn’t support any of its symbol. A little research told me that this vimana was built during the 13th century which is dedicated to goddess Bhagwathi. From the vimana, don’t miss out on the beautiful view of the pond

The ruined vimana at Chitharal Jain rock cut temple, Kanyakumari which belonged to goddess Bhagwathi

The carved figures of Jain Tirthankaras at Chitharal Jain rock cut temple, Kanyakumari

The standing figures seems like of 23rd tirthankara in Jainism that is Parshwanatha swami and Padmavati goddess, one of his saviours. The one in padmasan pose is supposedly the 24th tirthankara of Jainism, Lord Mahavira. All the carved images above are believed to be all the 24 tirthankaras. A little walk ahead is this ruined Hindu temple of Bhagwati deity. So, let’s connect two things here

The view of Bhagwathi Hindu Temple at Chitharal Jain rock cut temple, Kanyakumari. The green water is a pond here

Why Chitharal is both a Jain and Hindu Site

Though popularly known as the Jain rock cut temple, Chitharal is also sometimes referred as Bhagwathi Hindu temple. The rock cut images of the tirthankaras are believed to be carved during the 9th century by the Digambar section in Jainism when the region was heavily under the influence of the religion, mainly inspired by their then king Mahendra Varman, who made majority of rock cut monuments during his reign in southern India. It was during 1258, that the site was converted into a Hindu temple and Bhagwathi temple was built here. But Jain carvings remained untouched.  This pond also has an interesting tale of a fish which wouldn’t die.

But, that’s all a thing of the past. I think if you plan to come to Chitharal rock cut temple, do keep a good amount of time in hand. Apart from its historical importance, Chitharal Bhagwathi Hindu temple is a beautiful place to spend some time with the nature and calm yourself. I already said standing here you would want to get lost in time too.

Ending, this blog with just one request. Please maintain the sanity of place as it is. Refrain from writing anything on the stones or litter the place. Because our monuments are our pride and we must value it.

Pro Travel tips:

There is no entry ticket to enter Chitharal Jain rock temple. However, the locals generally charge Rs. 40/- as parking fess from the tourists

Wear comfortable shoes. The place requires a 20 minutes hike up

Wear a hat, if you are visiting it during the afternoon. It gets hot during this time of the day

Carry water. You will need it while hiking up to the temples