Dhanushkodi – A mystically beautiful ghost town


Ominous dark clouds hung over the chilly December sky as the Pambam-Dhanushkodi passenger train was waiting at the source station to start its journey towards the then bustling but remote temple town of Dhanushkodi. On December 21st 1964 the train with six coaches and carrying 115 people began its soon-to-be-last journey as it tore through the storm towards the famous sea-bridge Pambam bridge. The Pambam Island was continuously being bombarded by cyclones in the preceding days and that fateful night the signal at the bridge stopped working. The train driver took a risk and moved towards the bridge. Just then calamity struck, a huge tidal wave washed away the entire bridge along with the train killing everyone on board. A cyclone hit the Dhanushkodi at the same time devastating the town and killing about 1800 people and turning the town into an eerie and mysterious ghost town that it is today. This is the story of the mysterious ghost town in Tamil Nadu known as Dhanushkodi.

Photo of Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India by Sayantan Saha

I travelled to this hauntingly beautiful place during my visit to Rameshwaram and this abandoned town is one of the most intriguing places I have travelled to. Situated at a distance of about 20 kilometers from the temple town of Rameshwaram, one needs to take a 4X4 jeep at the final stretch to negotiate sand dunes and reach the village which presently is home to about 50 fishermen families. To reach Dhanushkodi one needs to cross the breathtaking Pambam bridge which was later rebuilt after getting washed away that fateful night. Once I reached the town I could literally feel the melancholy hanging in the air. Dhanushkodi is located at the south east corner of the Pambam Island and is about 30 Kilometers from the coast of Sri Lanka. Regular ferry services to the neighboring country was common till the devastating cyclone rendered this place un-inhabitable. Some of the breathtaking sights which can be experienced in this ghost town are:

1.The Mixing of the Seas

Dhanushkodi is the place where the calm and serene waters of the Indian Ocean meets the rough and stormy Bay of Bengal. The stark difference in the color of water is a treat to eyes.

Photo of Dhanushkodi – A mystically beautiful ghost town by Sayantan Saha

2.The Migratory Birds

There are many species of migratory birds found here especially during the winter months making it a paradise for bird watchers. Pink Flamingoes are abundant from December to March adding to the alluring beauty of the place

Photo of Dhanushkodi – A mystically beautiful ghost town by Sayantan Saha

3.The Ruins:

The ruins of the former town devastated in the cyclone half a century ago still stand on the sea shores just like a phoenix among the ashes. There are remains of the railway station, a church and broken railway lines submerged by the sand giving the impression that the time here stopped on that fateful night when nature unleashed its fury blowing away everything which came in its way

Photo of Dhanushkodi – A mystically beautiful ghost town by Sayantan Saha

4. Freshwater Pits:

One extremely interesting thing here is that instead of being surrounded by seas there are pits which are dug in Dhanushkodi from where sweet and fresh water gushes day and night.

Dhanushkodi is actually an ancient place mentioned in the great epic Ramayana. This is where Lord Ram supposedly started building his bridge towards Sri Lanka with the help of his Monkey army also called “Vanar Sena”. As per old histories and lore, Lord Ram had marked this place with the end of his bow as the place from where the bridge starts. The name Dhanushkodi’s literal meaning is “end of the Dhanush (Bow)” in the local language.

Photo of Dhanushkodi – A mystically beautiful ghost town by Sayantan Saha

This serene and remote hamlet is a place where one can truly be one with nature but the ruins would always remind us of the devastating destructive capabilities of Mother Nature. Dhanushkodi is a place which every traveler must visit at least once in her/his lifetime

Nearest Airport: Madurai – 185 kms

Nearest Railhead: Rameshwaram – 22 kms

Rameshwaram is well connected to major cities like Coimbatore, Chennai and Bangalore