The town of Dhanushkodi is an irony in itself. It’s hard to believe that the peace and tranquility that surrounds this tiny place is only an epilogue to the fury of a devastating cyclone. Ripped apart in 1964, Dhanushkodi now stands in ruins with just a few fishermen who refuse to leave. The island miraculously seems to take care of them.
My trip to Dhanushkodi was an eventful one. First, I experienced Pamban Bridge (said to be the among the world’s most dangerous sea-bridges) in all its glory. I was still on that high when I stepped into Dhanushkodi. Broken churches and houses were lying in rubble. The town was once a flourishing trade centre with goods being transported from India to Sri Lanka. There were hotels, textiles and dharamshalas. There was a railway station, a hospital, police and tradesmen. However, on the night of 22/23rd December 1964, all of this and more was lost. Approximately 2,000 people died that night.
I asked my guide why the city was never rebuilt. He said that there’s a lot of unrest here due to the immense destruction in the village. No one can live here now because it is haunted by the souls of those killed in the cyclone. In fact, the government forbids anyone from entering Dhanushkodi after dark. I couldn’t help but agree. There is indeed a feeling of eeriness that surrounds Dhanushkodi although the beautiful view of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean enchants you.
Dhanushkodi has more than grief in its history. It is said that Lord Rama pointed to this town with the tip of his bow. Lord Hanuman built a bridge to Sri Lanka from here. It seems quite believable given that Sri Lanka is a mere 31 kms from Dhanushkodi.
I walk on to the very edge and I watch as the Bay gently converges with the ocean. I wonder how such beauty can cause so much damage. Dhanushkodi is a tribute to beauty and destruction.