Dhanushkodi – The Ghost Town

Dhanushkodi – The Ghost Town

Dhanushkodi – The Ghost Town

A cyclonic storm with high velocity winds and high tidal waves hit Dhanushkodi town from 22 December 1964 midnight to 25 December 1964 evening causing heavy damages and destroying the entire town of Dhanushkodi.

This is the simple epitaph one can read on a memorial at the Dhanushkodi Bus Stand.

Dhanushkodi is on the southern tip of Pamban Island in Tamil Nadu, India. The place is about 28 kilometres away from Sri Lanka. It is believed that there is geological evidence suggesting that this 28-km bridge known as Rama Sethu or Adam’s Bridge once connected the Pamban Island tip to Talaimannar in Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. The place is serene, secluded and far from the maddening crowd.

Dhanushkodi – The Ghost Town

We had been to Rameshwaram a couple of times but had always missed out on Dhanushkodi, and hence were determined not to miss out this place on our current visit. We had our breakfast in Rameshwaram and set out in search of the ghost town in an auto rickshaw which took us through a relatively lonely but scenic road with a wonderful view of the Indian Ocean. After traversing about 13 Kilometers, we reached a beach and the driver signaled us to get off, indicating that we had reached our destination. The place had some small eateries and stalls on the fringe of the beach as well as buses and auto rickshaws parked waiting to ferry passengers back to Rameshwaram. Apparently this was the final terminus for them.

We walked towards the Indian Ocean roaring magnificently and spent some time taking pictures and simply marveling at majesty of the ocean.

A few enquiries later enlightenment dawned on us. This beach was New Dhanushkodi and the original Dhanushkodi village was still some 7 Kilometers. Further and there was no road to reach this ghost town. The only means of transport was to take one of the numerous Tempos or Jeeps which drove across sand and water to ferry people to and fro from Dhanushkodi.

Soon we were seated in a crowded tempo which slowly weaved and heaved its way across the sand, the experience was indeed unique. It was as if we were driving into no man’s land where there was no road, no pathway, no signals, all we could see was just sand and more sand along with water and more water. There were times when it seemed that that the driver was driving straight into the ocean and suddenly he would take a sharp turn to get onto a bank of sand amidst the accompaniment of excited shrieks from the passengers. Finally after about 30 minutes of this adventurous ride we reached the ghost town of Dhanushkodi. We were told we had an hour to explore the place before our tempo would make its way back. We scrambled off to make the most of this time.

The place seemed to have frozen in time on that fateful day of 23rd, December, 1964, when a cyclone with a wind velocity of 280 Kilometers/Hour and tidal waves of over 23 Ft. height battered it. A train which used to run up to Dhanushkodi in those days was washed away by a huge tidal wave along with all 115 on board. The entire town of Dhanushkodi was ruined and more than 1800 people lost their lives.

The Government declared Dhanushkodi as a ghost town and not fit for habitation.

Dhanushkodi – The Ghost Town

Today skeletal remains of some of the stone structures stand as a silent testimony to the havoc wreaked by nature on that fateful December night. We looked at the remains of the Railway station and could almost hear the frantic long whistle of the passenger train as it was tossed aside by a huge tidal wave in the pitch darkness of the day of the cyclone. We looked at the remains of a church and the calm soothing notes of the choir wafted into our ears, who were the people who had attended their last service here before being washed away to oblivion?

We looked at the remains of the post office whose address had been wiped off the face of the earth. We looked at a school and were haunted by the chirpy chatter of children playing innocently, unaware of the looming tragedy.

Dhanushkodi, was indeed a ghost town, we thought as we sank into the sand to view the place where the Indian Ocean merged with the Bay of Bengal. The place had a sepulchral calm, it was peaceful, but the peace was of an eerie kind, as the place seemed to cling to its past. Probably, that was the very reason why this destination was so unique, we thought.

Soon, it was time to bid farewell to the ghost town and we made our way back to the tempo for our 30 minute sand drive back to civilization.

We turned for one last look at the ghost town and our eyes fell on the remains of the Railway Station and we thought; “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.

Watch this video taken on the way to Dhanushkodi – https://youtu.be/iWynaBf26Jg

Dhanushkodi – The Ghost Town


For more information, you may visit this site: Wikipedia

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33 thoughts on “Dhanushkodi – The Ghost Town

  1. Shelly Reply

    What a fascinating place to visit. So sad to hear so many lost theirs lives. We always have to keep in mind that Mother Nature is stronger than we are

  2. Rob Taylor Reply

    Wow! Such a sad story but neat place to explore today. We have ghost towns in the USA but they’re usually formed by industry changing, not nature.

  3. Ami Reply

    This one is up for my long weekend in June. Have heard so much about it and plan to club this with my Rameshwaram trip. :D. Loved your narrative.

  4. Harsh Gupta Reply

    This is a new find for me as well, but I must compliment the first picture of the blog. It’s an impressive shot and totally goes with the eeriness of the ghost town. Great storytelling!

  5. Louiela Reply

    I feel sad how this place became a ghost town…
    With the way you wrote, I felt eerie as well… well-written to bring out the emotion of a reader…

  6. The Travel Ninjas Reply

    You make us want to visit Dhanushkodi. You’re such a good story teller. We love the photo of the ruined arch. It really conveys the spirit of the place.

  7. Sindhu Reply

    Such a gripping narrative of Dhanushkodi. Inspite of visiting Rameshwaram many times, I haven’t been able to pay a visit to this place. Hoping to cover it during my next visit.

  8. Chris Reply

    I’d never heard of this place until this year, but now thanks to Ami Bhat & now yourself, it is well and truly on my radar!

    Who can’t love the idea of exploring a modern day Ghost Town!

    It did look quite busy on the day you visited however, I think I’d love to have the place just to myself and the local fisherfolk…

  9. Mar Pages Reply

    Looks like a good place to sit and contemplate in serene silence, albeit a bit eerie. Very unique place, ghost towns always make me think about the past.

  10. neha Reply

    I would love to visit here. I am going to put it on one of my long weekend lists. I love such secluded places . The historical significance adds a punch to it

  11. Elisa Reply

    what a tragic ending story for this village! having said that, this is THE kind of place that I would love to visit, a kind of modern Pompei, I guess . .

  12. Erica M Poyauan Reply

    this thought made me think of some ghost towns in my country… there are some near manila but nothing like this. is there still hope for this place?

  13. Indrani Reply

    I have been wanting to go there for long now. Every post I read on this place makes me more and more curious. Really sad to imagine the loss of life.

  14. Thelittlelai: Beyond limits Reply

    This made me sad while reading the story behind why this town had become a ghost town. You’re truly a story teller cause you have penetrated me inside out through your story. The first picture says it all. Have a great day ahead!

  15. Christina Reply

    How devastating that so many lives were lost. I am also fascinated by ghost towns. I would like to see these ruins and imagine how life must have been like long ago.

  16. Andi Reply

    I am scared of ghost towns or places with ghost stories in it. But sometimes, it makes me interested in how the ghost stories or towns started to become one. Mysteries are there but the reality is that, some things are just scary.

  17. GiGi Eats Reply

    What an absolutely mesmerizing and eye opening place! I adore travel specifically to explore places like this! The ruins and the different cultures truly build who I am as a person!

  18. Elizabeth O. Reply

    It’s terrible that this town had to go through such a storm. I can only imagine what it was like that night. It’s quite an experience to be able to see this place after years has passed.

  19. Carol Cassara Reply

    I would love to visit someday. It’s sad to see the old structures, knowing that there was life thriving there before the storm. I’m sure it’s going to feel emotional when you get to the island.

  20. Neha Saini Reply

    Dhanushkodi is a great beach at the south-eastern tip of Pamban Island in Rameswaram, Tamilnadu. Its a must visit place when you are in Rameswaram.

  21. Julie Syl Reply

    A town that is full of life one day may face the wrath of God and within a short span of time turn into rubble. Dhanushkodi is one such example.

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