You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

The ghost town revisited

A journey to Dhanushkodi

Story by Joyel Pious January 25th, 2016


This landscape never stopped attracting catastrophes of unimaginable scales. The edge of the land that slowly vanishes in to shallow light blue sea has a story to tell: The story of a tragic night that shattered the lives and dreams of thousands of people.

The entry point to Rameswar island: Pamban road bridge and rail bridge across Palk strait


The super cyclone that ravaged Dhanushkodi, the southern tip of Rameswar island, off the coast of eastern Tamil Nadu, five decades back, in 1964, had left nothing, but a few remains to tell the past glory of once a busy port town. Skeletal Remains of old port office, church; post office and railway station stand here as silent spectators of a forgotten chapter of history.

Ruins of the destroyed port office
Remains of the church

Barren land

This vast sandy, salty, marshy and windy landscape now remains largely uninhabited except for few fishermen huts.

Except for a few fishermen huts, Dhanushkodi is largely uninhabited
Fishing is the main activity in the island
Inside the small truck which carries people of Dhanushkodi
The ship of this sandy land


The other side of the island is very lively with famous Rameswar temple attracting millions of pilgrims every year. For a traveler, the entry to the island itself is a rewarding visual experience with the famous Pamban rail bridge and road bridge lying parallel welcoming each and every visitor.Rameswar is not just another island.

A sadhu walks towards the idol in Rameswar temeple


Strategically, economically and culturally it holds a special position. Being few miles away from Thalaimannar coast of Srilanka, Dhanushkodi’s strategic importance can never be under estimated. The island and its adjoining marine ecosystem become a hot environmental as well as politico-cultural issue whenever the question of Sethusamudram shipping project comes up for discussion.

Over the ocean: Rameswar-Madurai passenger train over Pamban bridge
Train enters the bridge
At the middle of the bridge
A fishing boat passes beneath the bridge

the land of winds and waves

While standing alone at Dhanushkodi, watching the land slowly vanishing in to the sea, I could feel the past talking to me. Hidden in this vastness of emptiness lies the cries and whispers of thousands of men and women, I felt. The strong waves and seamless flow of air are so powerful that we become just human creatures when facing them.

One of the longest corridors in India, at Rameswar temple
A corridor in Rameswar temple
Lemon juice: The best relief in this hot and humid island
Fishing boats return to shore
Footnote: A map depicting the location of Dhanushkodi and Rameswar
Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India