Once upon a time, Lord Rama with the tip of his bow, instructed Lord Hanuman to build a bridge from the coast of Dhanushkodi to Sri Lanka. The rest, they say, is the stuff of legends and mythology. Fast forward a few centuries and in the 1960s, 1800 people inhabited this coastal town of Tamil Nadu. Located 31 km away from Sri Lanka, life went ahead in the usual manner. The struggles of life and death, the joy of victory and the guilt of failure, cycle of happiness and sadness engulfed the inhabitants of Dhanushkodi. With the Bay of Bengal at one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, life was simple, life was beautiful.
But, it all changed one night. On 22nd December 1964, the entire town was stuck by a massive cyclonic storm. No one survived. Not one soul! Overnight Dhanushkodi got declared as a Ghost town, unfit for living.
Till date, the dilapidated remains of the once bustling town stand. The Church without its devotees, the hospital without the doctors, the ruins of a lost legacy.
Located 20 km away from Rameswaram, reaching the beach isn’t difficult. Jeeps and small buses are readily available. To reach Ram Setu, one can hire 4x4 cars, when the water retreats in the summer. Otherwise, it is a 5 km walk to Arichal Munai – the magical place, where the Bay of Bengal meets the mighty Indian Ocean.
At Arichal Munai, the water turns all shades of blue and green. Totally worth the walk and the sunburn.
Traveller’s Tip: Always carry sunscreen and a bottle of water in your bag.
Ram Setu or the Adams bridge is not visible from there, but is widely believed to be the location of the mythical bridge. Priests offering prayers are a common sight. One has to retreat back to Rameswaram before sunset, as the local myth prevents curious travelers and adventure seekers from staying back. I won’t deny the eeriness that surrounds this once thriving town.
Loneliness is not a feeling here, but a constant escort. Not for long though, the Government of Tamil Nadu is trying to rehabilitate the ghost town. Roads are being constructed. Fishermen are moving back.
I guess a few years down the line, the town will indeed come back from the dead. I sincerely hope that it does, after 54 years of mourning the dead, it’s time we make way for the living.
(For feedback, please mail us at Khushboo@missnolabel.com)