The second day of the trip I got up early, refreshed and went for some more early morning shots. At around 7.30 am, the jeep came to the parking slot and from there our journey to the famous Dhanushkodi started. It was a straight road from Rameshwaram, following the yesteryear’s railway line that was there. Most of Dhanushkodi got submerged in the cyclone of the 60’s and there hasn’t been much progress with respect to rebuilding the place. The driver cum guide was very helpful with lot of information about that place.He was telling us how during the 2004 Tsunami the warning was given well ahead for the fishermen who are still in Dhanushkodi (but are very scattered) and they were able to stay safe and they were even able to witness the way the sea went inside so that they could see the buried parts of the city during that time.
The road to Dhanushkodi is flagged on the left hand side by Bay of Bengal which is a little calmer than the one on the right hand side, i.e. the Indian Ocean. They have made enough measure to protect the sea water to come to the main road (even though the levels are equal) but they still cannot prevent the wind coming from the Indian Ocean side which brings the sand along with it to the roads. After one point of time, the roads are all covered with sea sand. When we near the place where the actual path to the end of the place starts, if we were in a car, we might have to take a mini van from that place or a jeep to visit the other parts of the ruined city. Because there are no roads and we have to go via the mud tracks that border the back waters in some places and in other places by the sea shore. And the sand will prevent any other type of vehicles from going further ahead. There is no such defined route, only the regulars can travel very easily following the track marks of the previous vehicles or by their experience. Since we were in our jeep, the driver went ahead and registered us and fixed an axle sort of thing to the jeep for traveling in that sand and mud. Till that point, we are allowed to go to the beach , but swimming is prohibited as the waters of the Indian Ocean is always rough. (People were still swimming and risking their lives). There weren’t many patrols done there.
Then we started our journey on the sea side, sighting so many varieties of birds and some horses (which were earlier used for rides when the town was there, but now they are running wild) on the way. We were going through the Bay of Bengal side and hence it was a little calmer and some places it was the back waters of the sea. On the way we saw a St Anthony Church which was a very important church earlier (when it was highly populated and all) and sort of a very religious place for Srilankans and Tamilians. The trip to the ruins took almost half an hour to 45 mins if I remember correctly.
The first place we see in the ruins is a temple which is said to be built by Ram to pray to Lord Shiva and also to test the waters to see how they can reach Lanka (as part of Ramayana). That small temple has a floating rock displayed. I am not sure how genuine it is , but when we touched it, it seems heavy and yet it was floating in the water. From that place, if we travel 4 kms we would come to the place where Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meets. But at this time of the year, they have had it closed because of the rains and the rough weather and all. Sad thing. They open it only in Summer it seems.
After the temple, we come to the old Railway Station area where the ruins are still in place. We also see a ruined Church a little further ahead and also other old offices that acted as harbor office, post office etc a little further ahead. I left my sister and my mother to laze near the sea shore and went exploring on the sand (yeah !! with my not-so-good left leg cooperating very beautifully) for some very nice shots. We saw a group of fishermen playing kabbadi. The tourists start visiting as early as 6 am it seems. Because the fishermen start their day early at around 3 am to venture to sea and their day ends by 5 pm max. But the place is so wide and deserted that you won’t notice the crowd. They are all very scattered. There are fishermen who still live there , except that they need to commute to Rameshwaram every now and then to buy stuff. They also manage by selling shells and its products to tourists there. They hitch a ride with the jeep persons or the van people for their commutation. For drinking water, it seems that they dig the sand every day in different places to find fresh water at a particular level, we even saw them do it. But if they dig more, then they would get salt water. They cannot take the water from the same place again. Every day it has to be a different spot. Weird but true. They also try to store it in cement wells, that they constructed (a very small one actually) for their storage purposes.
We were there for almost and hour and a half and after feeding the kid and myself taking enough photographs of the various ruins and feeling bad that we couldn’t see the two sea joining, we started our way back. On the way, there is a Kothanda Ramar Temple (again its a small island) connected by road now. This is the place where Vibheeshanan met Rama it seems (in Ramayana). From there you get a beautiful view of Rameshwaram temple. Prayed there and then started on our way back to Rameshwaram. Its not a very huge place or anything, but its about a city that got submerged in a cyclone and the remains tell you a story of deserted life , both of that place and that of the people there. I have wanted to see that place for too long. Everyone says that this place is haunted and any effort to rebuild the roads is always met with some or the other interruptions. It looks haunted except for the few people living there. It’s also possible to see Thalaimannar (of Sri Lanka) from Dhanushkodi at nights when the lights are on in Thalaimannar it seems. We weren’t that lucky anyways. But lucky enough to visit that place. I hope that those fishermen are able to reconnect with the main land sooner (some talks are there for new roads to be laid).
We reached our Mutt at around 10 am and after a quick snack headed to Coimbatore at around 11.30 am, with a stop over for lunch. We reached Coimbatore by 8 pm and were dead tired due to the journey. But one more of my dream place has been visited and I was very happy about that.