The Ghost Town of Dhanushkodi.

A minibus ride took us 4kms to the ghost town of Dhanushkodi. The bus was full, and we were merrily sitting on top of it as it was a short ride. The golden sand was glazing by the afternoon sun rays, burning our eyes and our butts by hot metal. The occasional cool breeze brought us some relief but at the cost of a typical briny sea smell. The occasional dips in the sand were felt directly by our backs.

Bus ride to Dhanushkodi.

Apart from our backs it was now the tire which was under the wrath of one sand dip. The sound of heavy acceleration and grinding of sand brought us down. The tire needed our help, we thought. Everyone was doing their bits: people trying to lift the tire, pushing the bus hard. It felt like Vanar Sena (Army of monkeys) of Lord Rama (God from mythology). After all the futile efforts another minibus came and stopped, immediately took out a wooden plank and placed it under the stuck tire. It worked like miracle we were out towards Dhanushkodi.

As per mythology, this is supposed to be the holy place where the Ram Setu or Adams Bridge, was built by Rama’s army to rescue Sita from the clutches of evil King of Sri Lanka, Raavan. After rescuing his wife, Lord Ram forcefully destroyed the bridge with arrows from his bow, on request of Vibhishan (new Lanka King), thus the name of the town became ‘Dhanushkodi’, meaning ‘end of bow’.

However, the first sight of this Ghost town was horrifying: ruined houses, temples, churches all due to the deadly 1964 cyclone. Bricks, small pieces of metal roofs were scattered around. Every bit of the land made us imagine the massacre night of 21st December; wind speed of 270km/hr hitting the shore and waves as high as 7mtrs gulping up 1800 humans and their property. That’s why it was declared a Ghost city (unfit for living) by the state government. No one can wait after 5:00pm.

The nature at Dhanushkodi is against all this: beautiful golden beach, honking of sea eagles and a melange of blue water from Indian ocean and Green water from Bay of Bengal. The sight of this melange helps you forget all the massacre behind. Our two hours in this town were full of ups and downs.

Dhanushkodi beach

While leaving we saw an inspiring sight. Locals despite massacre worship Dhanushkodi and the stones of Ram Setu. They collect pumice stones from the Ram Setu and offer it to devotees. One of the sellers said, “Ye pathar lelo sir ye daivi patthar hai ispe Ramji ne pair rakha, uske upar baan chhoda, aur toofan ke baad ye khud dhanushkodi tayarte aya hai. Shayad usko bhi pata chala Ram ji ko Lanka accha nai laga.” (Trans: This Stone is blessed with Lord Rama’s feet and his bow. After the huge cyclone this stone floated back to this shore. May be even the stone knows that Lord Rama did not like Sri Lanka.)

The road back towards Madurai is parallel to the Pamban Bridge. This longest rail bridge in India was destroyed in the cyclone but was restored within 48 days. It is a miraculous sight of a rail bridge over soothing blue waters, so near to this Ghost town. The Pamban bridge is a true example of how connection can never be destroyed permanently. The gap can be easily mended. We all need is to build our own bridges to re-establish long lost connections, may be just a call or a message could be your bridge over soothing blue waters. As against, Dhanushkodi is an example of how forceful destroying of connections can be full of pain and loss. If you don’t reconnect, soon a pumice stone will definitely hit your shore reminding you each day of the destruction you caused.

Digital Painting by- Ms. Arpita Rokade.

We build too many walls, but not enough bridges.”

Isaac Newton

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5 thoughts on “The Ghost Town of Dhanushkodi.

  1. The mysterious beauty of the town is just so intriguing. Totally loving how you interprete the secret to human relations through bridges❤️


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