Where land ends: Dhanushkodi, a beautiful yet haunting ghost town of India

On our recent trip to South India, we had decided to stay in Rameshwaram for two days. You know, breathe in the religious air, grow a bit in the spiritual culture of the town and visit the nearby tourist attractions. My ultra religious family (read: parents) try and discover temples of every kind, on each trip. So, it was really fun to explore a not-so-religious, but religious nonetheless touristy point with them: Dhanushkodi, Rameshwaram where the land ends.

Interesting name, Dhanushkodi: what is it?

Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town at the southern-east tip of Pamban island, Rameshwaram. But that wasn’t the case always. There was a time when this town bloomed with life. People lived here. It was like any other simple, grounded town of India. And then a cyclone hit this town badly in 1964, and everything finished. Today, you can see the ruins of the town and a few vendors who sell eatables during the day. This town remains uninhabited till date.

Is that it?

No. Of course, not. There is more.

It’s believed that Lord Rama used his bow’s (called Dhanush in Hindi) end (called Kodi) to break the bridge that connected India & Sri Lanka. Confused? Well, initially Lord Rama and his army built this bridge to reach Lanka and wage a war (for all the right reasons) against the evil king Ravana. At the end, when Lord Rama emerged victorious and came back to India, Vibishina (Ravana’s step brother and the new king of Lanka) requested Lord Rama to destroy this bridge so that Lanka doesn’t remain easily accessible. Some strategic thinking there!

Today, the part of Bay of Bengal on one side and India ocean on another form an image of a bow, and the piece of land in between looks like an arrow – and hence the name, Dhanushkodi is still relatable.

Fun fact: Doctor APJ Abdul Kalam, the ex-President of India belonged to Rameshwaram and his father often took people in his boat to Dhanushkodi and brought them back from there (before the cyclone).

How do you reach Dhanushkodi?

Well, you can reach Dhanushkodi via Rameshwaram. You can either hire a cab/ taxi or get yourself a seat in the bus, and reach here. Do not plan to stay overnight in Dhanushkodi. You cannot. You come back to Rameshwaram and stay there only. Govt of India has declared Dhanushkodi as inhabitable for human civilisation. And hence there are no hotels, motels or lodges.

You can, however, find many a vendor selling fresh fruit, fried fish and other local eatables on tiny, little stalls. So, if you are planning a visit, do plan to reach there early and leave before evening.

What do you do in Dhanushkodi?

The route to Dhanushkodi is extremely mesmerising. Even though it was super hot, and the Sun was at its brutal best, we were absolutely enchanted by Indian Ocean on one side of the road and Bay of Bengal on the other. It’s beautiful in the true sense of the word. You might have driven by the side of the ocean many a time (like in Udupi, major areas of Western Coast) or might have found company in a flowing river (such as Pahalgam, Manali) as you cover the distance on the road, but this is different. Unique in so many ways. We stopped our taxi in the middle, got down and spent time looking at the waves crashing against the rocks and stones. Once in a while, a wave would come from nowhere and gain quite a lot of height just before crashing against the drop, and leave all of us drenched. 🙂

You could also explore the ruins of Dhanushkodi town – that remind you of the busy and humane times before the cyclone of 1964. You could click some pictures and remind yourself how temporary everything in the world is: towns, life, forests, buildings, our achievements and our sorrows. Anything can change, anytime! For better, or for not-so-good! In all such times, you may hold on to your faith and put all your trust in ‘hope’, for good things may also happen anytime. I’m

You could also visit Dhanushkodi teertham (beside the ghost town) and remember your gods. It’s believed that Lord Rama declared that whosoever will visit Dhanushkodi will drop its material bondage here. 🙂 I don’t know for sure but it’s been passed on as stories.

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