Dhanushkodi - Life in The Ghost Town

Dhanushkodi - Life in The Ghost Town

"Diversity in the world is a basic characteristic of human society, and also the key condition for a lively and dynamic world as we see today. ~ Jinato Hu"

In Dec 2010, I, along with 3 friends, went for a 10 days long coastal road ride to 2 south Indian states of Tamilnadu and Kerala.

Starting from Bangalore, Karnataka, we drove through popular destinations in Tamilnadu, such as Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Trichi and Madurai to the famous hindu pilgrimage located between Indian peninsula and Sri Lanka,  known as Rameswaram or Pamban Island, and spent ample amount of time at this holy place, walking, beach trekking, mountain biking.


Rameswaram, spread over in a area around 62 sq. kms, extending for around 30 kms in width and 2 to 7 kms in length, is a bustling pilgrim centre, and is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and also the part of the Char Dham pilgrimages. Connected to the mainland India by Pamban Bridge, this small island is only 32ft above MSL.

The southern most tip of Rameswaram which is only 29 odd kms from Sri Lanka is known as Dhanushkodi, Once a flourishing and prominent town, well connected by rail and road with Pamban and the mainland, later destroyed in the cyclones of year 1964, claiming over 2,000 lives and crippling power supply and communications. From temples to churches, houses, dharmashalas,  roads and railway station, all were destroyed leaving no signs of life.

Following the Disaster, Govt of Madras declared the place unfit for the living. Some of the dharmashalas and a prominent mutt based in Dhanushkodi were moved to Rameswaram. The ruins of the station and the railway track were left untouched and Dhanushkodi could never be rebuilt.  However in the ruins of the old island town, that was swept away in the recent history, now is a small fishing hamlet around 10-12KM away from the Adam's Bridge, famously called the Ghost Town.


We took accommodation near the main temple Rameswaram, and instead of driving the four wheeler around town, decided to take an auto-rickshaw to this very point in down south where road ends. On your right greets you the great Indian Ocean beach and to your left flows the shallow green water of the Bay of Bengal.

From here on only few dedicated minibuses and jeeps are allowed to go further where the land ends also known as Adam's Bridge. Hosting a few shops for the tourists coming over and houses the place otherwise remains crowded being one of the favorite beach spot for many national and international tourists.

Since we couldn't find any jeep when we arrived at the beach, which could take us to the land's end. We boarded a mini bus, and it dropped us half way to the ghost town, instead of waiting for another lift, we decided to trek the last stretch of 8-10 KM of beach trek to the Adam's Bridge, it's in that 8Km walk, that I encountered life, so full and alive, that just 50 Yards fat peninsula with nothing to accompany but super hot weather, boats, fishing nets and vast ocean, gave me another reason to question life.


Entire area of Dhanushkodi is covered with white sand and hence is not suitable for cultivation. Coconut and palm trees are found in abundance apart from fig and eucalyptus plants. Scrubsand rushes are found in abundance all along the sea-shore. a population of less than 500, the nearest telephone about 20 km away, no mobile signals  and, adding to that standing at the tip of India, a country so diversified, gives anyone a pretty heady feeling!

Haunting yet appealing, deserted but still full of life, eerie but fascinating — Dhanushkodi is full of contradictions. Bow's End (as translated from Tamil) is a sure delight if you have a penchant for impossibly blue seas, pristine white sands and ruins by the shore. Bordered by the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, breathtaking beauty,  and the feeling of being in a place which was once alive and now a ruin city, reduced to rubble, makes it a place truly less travelled.


How to go there:

By Rail
Rameswaram (Mandapan station just 2 km away) is well connected by rail with many south Indian cities including Chennai (Chennai Express), Coimbatore (Jan Shatabdi Exp), Thanjavur (Chennai Exp) and Trichy (Bhubaneshwar Exp).

By Air
Madurai is the nearest airport to Rameswaram, which is located at a distance of 163 km away from Rameswaram. Madurai is connected to many cities by air including Coimbatore, Chennai and Bangalore. 

By Road
Rameswaram is connected to the mainland India by the Pamban Bridge (Annai Indira Gandhi Bridge). Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Service links Rameshwaram with a number of destinations of Tamil Nadu as well as other cities of neighboring states such as Thiruvallur, Kanyakumari, Trichy, Madurai, Thanajvur, Pondicherry, Tanjore, Bangalore, and Chennai etc. Overnight deluxe super fast luxury buses provide connectivity with Bangalore and Chennai from Rameshwaram.


Travel tip shared by poonamparihar