Dhanushkodi - The eerily beautiful city of Gods

30th Oct 2016
Photo of Dhanushkodi - The eerily beautiful city of Gods by Akul Bajaj

Let me start by giving a little background. This excursion was actually a part of a biking expedition in which me and a friend tried covering a distance of 1800 km over a span of 4 days.

When we reached Rameswaram, visiting Dhanushkodi was at the top of our list because we had heard a lot about the place and more importantly the drive to that place. The pictures of the drive are more than enough to describe the story. There's a 2 lane close to perfect road which has almost no traffic and all the 20 km you'll be surrounded by sea on both sides. The view is next to perfect. You'll be so close to the sea that the water from sea will be almost touching the sides of road at some places.

Photo of Dhanushkodi - The eerily beautiful city of Gods 1/1 by Akul Bajaj
Rameswaram Beach

After the fabulous 20 km drive you'll finally reach a police barricade where you have to park your vehicles and can roam around. To your right will be Rameswaram beach which I can safely say is one of the cleanest beach our country has to offer after Radhanagar beach in Andaman. To your front will be the road leading to Dhanushkodi. Although that road is restricted to drive but with permissions you can go ahead and drive till the very end point of India from where Sri Lanka is just 16 nautical miles.

Dhanushkodi Beach

Photo of Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India by Akul Bajaj

We however had different plans. The friend with whom I was taking the trip had heard of some jeep/bus ride through the waters which take people to the abandoned town of Dhanushkodi.

We asked around and found the Bus Stand from where mini buses go every 15 min for Dhanushkodi. This bus ride is what defines the real thrill in Dhanushkodi. They charge about 500 per head for the trip.

So it starts off from the bus stand where this mini bus starts moving towards the beach. We were thrilled for the ride as the wet sand made the beach surface pretty uneven because of which the mini bus was tilting quite a lot. To experience what was about to follow first hand, me and my friend were able to grab the front seats beside the driver. It started when the bus started going in the water along the beach. We were kind of hoping that the driver was doing that just for the excitement and to woo people. Everyone inside the bus was pretty excited seeing the bus go in water.

The floating bus

Photo of Dhanushkodi - The eerily beautiful city of Gods by Akul Bajaj

But then it happened. The bus just kept on going in the water towards the sea. All the people in the bus were wondering if the driver has a death wish or something. As it turns out that was the only way for a mini bus to reach Dhanushkodi. Initially we couldn't really figure out how the bus was able to go so far away from the land in the water but very soon we figured the water was barely knee deep. But it still gave the chills as we were still in the sea with a bus which looked like it was just floating.

After about 15 min of sea travel in the bus we finally came back to the shore. From here it was another 15 min drive to the main view point. After this even if the driver faked going to water just to scare the people it didn't really scare them as it did the first time. Rest of the drive was pretty normal compared to what we had just experienced.

On reaching there, you can see the ruins left by the Rameswaram cyclone and the tsunami which was considered as one of the biggest natural disasters in the history of India and is said to have been the cause of disappearance of a whole town along with 1800 people who used to live there. In 2004, the coastline receded 500 m which revealed how the whole town was destroyed by a natural calamity. Post the incident Dhanushkodi was declared a ghost town and is now only a tourist spot. Owing to it's position near the shifting tectonic plates, Dhanushkodi is extremely vulnerable to high tides, cyclones and tsunamis because of which even the railway line which used to function till 1964 was never really made functional after the cyclone and tsunami.

The floating stone from Ram Setu

Photo of Dhanushkodi - The eerily beautiful city of Gods by Akul Bajaj

Although the place has a history which can give chills to your spine, the surrounding sea is still a marvel in itself. Because of the dangerous topography of this place it's largely empty leading to a super clean beach. Also in those ruins there is a temple where you can see the famous floating stone from Ram Setu.

Here you'll have ample time to go for a dip in the sea too. The beach is pretty clean so you can even consider having some fun in the water. This is almost the point where the Indian mainland ends.

After spending time here your mini bus will take you back from where it started. The sunset at this place is also an amazing view to watch. Beach sunsets are always unique and beautiful in their own ways and this one is no different.

One word of caution would be to drive slowly and safely. Because of the nearby beach there is a lot of sand on the road sometimes. This sand can cause your bike to slip. I am telling this because in a span of 14000 km which I managed to cover in an year, this is the only place where I slipped and fell because of hard braking. That too at a speed of 30kmph. So be very careful while driving to the end point of the drive.

Best time to visit:

Since it's a coastal area, you can visit this place anytime of the year. But because of it's dangerous topography and history avoid visiting during monsoons.

How to reach:

Dhanushkodi is a 20 km drive from Rameswaram. If you have your own vehicle then you can take it till the police barricade and park it there.

You can also hire a cab from Rameswaram and reach here. Although it might be a little costly.

There are regular buses from Rameswaram too which will drop you near the barricade.

Where to stay:

There are no accommodation arrangement in Dhanushkodi. So, the only option is staying in Rameswaram. There are plenty of good hotels near the Rameswaram temple itself where you can stay at pretty affordable prices.

What to carry:

A water bottle would suffice you for the trip if you are going from Rameswaram. There are small shops in Dhanushkodi too where you can have some fast food.

Fish is a specialty offered there. So if you like fish, you're definitely going to like Dhanushkodi.