I was travelling to Rameswaram with my dad on 27th Dec 2012. There was cyclonic rain since 4 days before we reached there, which we came to know after reaching Rameswaram. It was on the way to Rameswaram, my dad said that he had been to Rameswaram early in 1967 and he further said about Danushkodi, a place which is 25 kms from Rameswaram temple that was devastated by a massive cyclone in 1964.
He further said that all together over 1800 people died in the cyclonic storm. All dwelling houses and other structures in Dhanushkodi town were marooned in the storm . The high tidal waves moved deep onto this island and ruined the entire town. Before the 1964 cyclone, there was a train service up to Dhanushkodi called Boat Mail from Chennai Egmore. The train would to halt at a pier on the south-eastern side of Dhanushkodi township where a waiting steamer transported passengers to Sri Lanka across the Palk Strait.
The train that left from Rameswaram at 23:55 on Dec 22nd 1964 to Danushkodi was hit by a massive tidal wave washed away killing all 115 people on board. Now train goes only upto Rameswaram through the Pampan bridge which lengths about 2.5 kms.
By the time he finished saying about Danushkodi, we reached the other end of Panpan bridge which started from the mainland of India, Mandapam (A place before Rameswaram from where the Pampan bridge starts & ends in Rameswaram). After reaching Rameswaram bus stand, we got down from the bus while it was raining heavily. I suggested my dad for a tea.
While the shopkeeper was preparing Tea, my dad asked him what are the places we nearby to visit after we visit the main temple (Ramanatha Swamy temple), the shopkeeper said few places and added Danushkodi… I looked at my day & So he did. Then both of us looked at him & wondered , Danushkodi? It is lost in 1964, isn’t not? ‘Yes’, he said. Bus would go up to certain place there post which there are Jeep, Metador which would would take you to Danushkodi.
As it was a surprise that people can visit Danushkodi, we were very eager to go there, as it was already evening 6:00 we decided to go there the next day. Morning at 5.45 with dothi and a towel took bath in the sacred ocean which was very cold because of the cyclonic rain and 22 wells in the temple, which is considered as a sacred practice in Rameswaram.
Boarded bus to Danushkodi at 9.30 from temple. Reached end of road after 18 kms, which is beginning of Danushkodi. The sides of the beach were covered by big stones & small rocks with huge net. There were many Van & Jeep that are ready to take people to Danushkodi which is 7 kms from there. I was standing at the back & the van started to the Lost land!
Our van started at 10.10 from there with approx 16 people on board, I was standing at the back holding a rope for support. Remember… there is no road here after, our van went into the sea directly at-least for 50 meters, I’d no clue where he is driving us… Then there was a sand dune with several signs that several van used that route… There were many ups and down that was covered by the sea water on which the Jeep & Van goes.
It was an absolute thrilling experience, at-least for several times I thought our van will fall because all the way it was leaned on both sides heavily. On the way I was able to see a church half drowned in sand and many dilapidated houses. Reached the lost land after 30 minutes travel. It seems Danushkodi before cyclone in 1964 had a Railway station, a church, a railway hospital, a school & a post office. Leaving a clue of it’s dilapidated building/pillars there now.
Danushkodi was like heaven. A water-body heaven. You can see difference in the ocean color blue & greenish blue. Which is Indian ocean & bay of bengal. An absolute silence. There was a small temple which is believed to be the beginning point of the Ramar Palam (Ramsethu Bridge/Adam’s bridge) which is believed to be devastated in 1480 CE (CE – Common Era, Same as AD) and yes I too believe there was a bridge there, because there was a big rock that was floating in water, it’s kept at the temple. It’s a floating stone, I pushed it in the tank, it came up immediately!
After coming out of that temple, I turned back and saw a huge pillar kind of building, the van driver said, it was railway station! Walked few meters behind the temple, I could witness the complete place. Looking for about 200 meters surroundings , I could see a dilapidated church, houses and a tunnel kind of shape. Reached the sea and stood there for few minutes. There was just the nature’s sound I could hear! Transparent water near the shore that was formed after many years!
It seems that in Dec 2004 just before the arrival of 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that struck South India, the sea around Dhanushkodi receded about 500 meters from the coastline exposing the submerged part of the township for a while. This rare event was witnessed by the local fishermen.
As the van just stops there for 30-40 minutes we went back to board the van to return. Now I took the front seat in the van where my dad seated while coming. Now he was standing at the back of the van. The van and jeep that takes people to visit here charges Rs.100 and it’s worth paying for the risk and the adventurous ride. There was lot of season birds there, I’ve noticed a tortoise that was resting there!
No road, no current (don’t say there is no current in rest of TN as well), It’s been announced as a Ghost-Town and unfit for living by then Govt of Madras. Only few fisherfolks now live there, it’s there land, a Lost land.