Few Hours Into The Myths & Reality Of Dhanuskodi

#1 Oct 27th, 2014, 13:29
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My first encounter with "Dhanuskodi" while reading a Bengali novelette 'Antarip' ( 'The Cape' ) few years back made me enough curious to visit the place. The novelette was written by a little known but a very powerful novelist Arupratan Bose. Bose'd passed away almost a decade ago at a rather early age for a writer leaving only two Novelettes , 'The Cape' and 'Hologram' & two interesting collections of short stories "The Stick of Archimedes & Other Stories" and "The Debris" for us.

However after a long 6 years waiting I actually had a chance to visit Dhanuskodi during early October this year & decided to post a Trip Report here on IM. But before proceeding further I would like to put some well known facts about the place just for reference.

The entire township of Dhanuskodi (south eastern tip of Pamban Island & 20 Kms away from Rameswaram Town) was destroyed by one of the deadliest cyclones of the last century formed in the Bay Of Bengal having a velocity of near about 300 Kms Per Hour in 1964 .Before that there was a busy little town with regular train services, Railway Station, Hospital , School & other establishments. As it is only 30 Kms away from Sri Lanka, there were boat services also to erstwhile Ceylon from Dhanuskodi for travelers & merchants. The Cyclone at night on 22nd December put a sudden stop on everything. The entire city was submerged & a passenger train heading towards Dhanuskodi was washed away killing all 110 Passengers on board & 5 Railway Staffs. The entire locality along with all dwellings & establishments went under the high & violent tidal wave. Almost 2000 people died in that cyclone.

When we had a talk with a local villager ( the great man.. I should write a few lines about him on this thread) , he told us now about 250 villagers (all are Hindu Fishermen & Women) live in the village , which was declared unfit for living by the state government after the disaster . Still there is no water Or electricity connection in this part of the Island . Life is hard , very hard there apart from the fact that Dhanuskodi is also considered as a holy place by the Hindu pilgrims & it has a direct link to the Hindu mythology, Ramayana. As per the myth this place was chosen by Lord Rama to built the Setu (Bridge) to connect the mainland to Lanka. He spotted the place with one 'End' ( Kodi ) of his 'Bow' ( Dhanush ) & the place was named as 'Dhanuskodi' .Infact still there is a chain of rocks & islets under the sea across the Palk Strait connecting Dhanuskodi with the North Westeren tip of Sri Lanka. We heard a floating stone ( 'Rama-Shila' , the kind of stones which as per belief were used to construct the bridge) is kept for the pilgrims & tourists at the temple in Dhanuskodi Village . We were eager to touch that.
#2 Oct 27th, 2014, 13:30
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To reach Dhanuskodi directly from the nearest town Rameswaram, one needs to hire a Jeep . The metal road ends at Dhanuskodi Bus stand (at a distance of 15 Kms from Rameswaram Town). And then you have to travel through the sandy coastal stretch of 5 kms to reach Dhanuskodi village & except Jeep or Bus / Van no other type of car can ply on this stretch. As far as I know, there is no direct Bus from Rameswaram to Dhanuskodi. Small cars Or buses from Rameswram will go only upto the Bus stand & then for the remaining 5 Kms you have to travel in the shared Jeeps/Vans mainly used by the villagers & the fishermen . We hired a Jeep (Rs 1500 for a round trip) from Rameswaram Town & our journey started around 7.30 am . The jeep ran through the nice & well maintained road on the lonely Island with fascinating views of a relatively calm Bay of Bengal on the left side of us & the violent Indian Ocean on the right.
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#3 Oct 27th, 2014, 13:39
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Hey Arupratan, I was there at this time last year. It's a really interesting place. There is a temple (if not more than one) in Rameswaram that displays the floating coral rocks the like of which Ram's Vaanar Sena (army of monkey's) is said to have trodden on all the way to Lanka.
#4 Oct 27th, 2014, 13:52
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Just within 20 Minutes , we reached the bus stand. This place has a separate name, which I forgot. Lots of buses parked on either side of the road & some small shacks selling gift items , but we had not seen any Jeep or shared Vans there. There is a beach next to the bus stand . Naval authorities has put a notice board warning the tourists not to swim as the Ocean is very rough there. We stopped there for 10 minutes to visit the beach. No other tourist was there in that early hours except the three of us..
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#5 Oct 27th, 2014, 14:07
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Then the sandy stretch started .. no road .. Only a narrow land border of about 100 Meters in width that separated the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean & the width gradually narrowed down as we proceeded further towards the village. Were we heading towards the end of the world ? I did not know. But I'm sure it was one of the beautiful stretches I've ever met. I can't describe the beauty of those lonely sands just with my words. So here are some photos to tell you more about the South Eastern tip of the Pamban Island ..
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#6 Oct 27th, 2014, 14:21
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Just before entering the village we saw the abandoned railway tracks .. the lifeline of yesteryear's Dhanuskodi , now sleeping in the lap of the dunes ..
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#7 Oct 27th, 2014, 14:23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arupratan ghosh View Post Then the sandy stretch started .. no road .. Only a narrow land border of about 100 Meters in width that separated the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean & the width gradually narrowed down as we proceeded further towards the village. Were we heading towards the end of the world ? I did not know. But I'm sure it was one of the beautiful stretches I've ever met. I can't describe the beauty of those lonely sands just with my words. So here are some photos to tell you more about the South Eastern tip of the Pamban Island ..
I agree. And for me it was made the more poignant being sandwiched as I was, in a rickety bus, between two tearful aunties who were both verbally reliving Ram's journey through the sand, in bhajans (devotional songs) as much as in speech.
#8 Oct 27th, 2014, 14:45
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We saw a bus crossing us on our way back .. Were you on that bus, BB ?


Our jeep stopped in front of the old Railway Water Tank right on the entrance to the village . We noticed a couple of tea stalls & the small temple. Again no tourist was there .. As we got out of the jeep one middle aged villager from one of those tea stalls rushed to us . He had a quick chat with our jeep driver in Tamil & then expressed his wish to show us the village & guide us as well. I could not understand his language properly as he was continuously mixing Hindi & a few English words with Tamil. But somehow I felt certain degree of comfort in his approach & although we had not thought to have a guide, the man showed us the way to the village. He first took us to the temple . The pilgrims usually visit this temple after having the holy bath at Dhanuskodi. There he showed us the Rama-Shila (The floating stone) kept in a small water tub . We tried to push it down into the water & it again appeared on the surface ..
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#9 Oct 27th, 2014, 14:48
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Then the man guided us to the Ghost Town & showed us the remnants of the Church , the Hospital & the School . He pointed out that few floating stones were used to construct the walls of the Church also. While walking with him I asked a rather childish question, " Have you ever been to Sri Lanka ? " He replied with smile , " Our fishing boats sometimes enter into the Lankan Water which is about 15 Kms from here. But there are risks of getting caught by the naval authorities . I've not been to Sri Lanka . But one can easily reach the Island on the other side of the Strait . It takes only 2 hrs by boat to cover the 30 km distance. " ( After spending half an hour together both of us became comfortable with our languages .. ) We spent almost an hour in the ghost town . The man told us that still a big portion of the old city is submerged several feet under the sea .
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#10 Oct 27th, 2014, 14:52
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We again came to the point where our jeep was waiting for us through another route on the other side of the dunes. The time to say a good bye to Dhanuskodi had arrived. I asked the man about the guiding charges & to my utter surprise he told , " I will not take any money.. I just liked to be with you and show you our village." I was dumbstruck ! Then I requested him to have some tea together & he agreed. We entered into one of those shacks & again had a brief chat .. Life is really hard, very hard there !!

When we were on our way back to Rameswaram suddenly Sukanya (My Mrs) asked " A gem of a person .. have you asked his name ? " And then only I realized that I'd actually forgot to ask that. But he also did not ask my name. So I pretended to be smarter & replied " Oh! I forgot .. We don't know each others name. But then , Is there any difference ? " She just smiled a bit as our jeep was about to touch the eastern limit of the holy town of Rameswaram .. .. ..
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#11 Oct 27th, 2014, 17:10
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#11
I am moved by your pictorial narration as I was moved by the place itself. Dhanushkodi is one such place which has it's eerie charm. This is no place to frolic around but a place to bow your head in front. Perhaps a place which demands you to be a bit alone with your thoughts. Brilliantly relived through you AG.

By the way , APJ Abdul Kalam was born and raised in muslim fisherman family not very far from there. Can you measure the enormity of the man's talent and achievements ? Again my head is bowed.

cheers
Somnath
#12 Oct 27th, 2014, 17:40
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Interesting place and beautiful photos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arupratan ghosh View Post the Rama-Shila (The floating stone) kept in a small water tub . We tried to push it down into the water & it again appeared on the surface ..
I saw a similar stone at an ashram in Rishikesh and I did the same and it resurfaced every time. The scientific explanation to that is it's a volcanic rock and has floating properties due to its composition.

May be a volcano was there during Ram's time and he used those stones, and the volcano got submerged in the ocean, like the town during the cyclone. This is my theory on the floating stones.
#13 Oct 27th, 2014, 19:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamsomnath View Post I am moved by your pictorial narration as I was moved by the place itself. Dhanushkodi is one such place which has it's eerie charm. This is no place to frolic around but a place to bow your head in front. Perhaps a place which demands you to be a bit alone with your thoughts. Brilliantly relived through you AG.

cheers
Somnath
Thanks somnathda for your comments. Yes, that strange feeling .. possibly no word can describe that !

Quote:
Originally Posted by prince09 View Post Interesting place and beautiful photos.



I saw a similar stone at an ashram in Rishikesh and I did the same and it resurfaced every time. The scientific explanation to that is it's a volcanic rock and has floating properties due to its composition.

May be a volcano was there during Ram's time and he used those stones, and the volcano got submerged in the ocean, like the town during the cyclone. This is my theory on the floating stones.
Thanks Prince for your kind words ! I also got some similar references on the floating stones from some other sources .. But I must admit that we forgot to think of the science behind it when we touched the Shila.. We were so exited !
#14 Oct 27th, 2014, 22:49
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#14
Very interesting Arupratan, and excellent photos.
#15 Oct 27th, 2014, 23:05
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Beautiful pics and narration Arupda.I was waiting for your report on Dhanushkodi and your TR was well worth my wait.
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