Life In Dhanushkodi

Dhanushkodi – In Search of Ram Setu

One of the twelve jyotirlingams and probably the largest of them all. A temple with world’s longest corridor with stories of Ramayana painted on every wall of the corridor. The grand temple of Rameshwaram.

That’s where we were headed from Pondicherry.

My wife, a devout Shiv Bhakt, wanted to go through the ordeal of standing in a long queue that was almost 1 km long. At 4 A.M. in the morning. I tried to protest but in vain. Shiv Bhakts have always been adamant. Remember that guy called Raavan?

The temple is a marvel of indigenous architectural brilliance. A gigantic structure built in the 12th Century. To see it in it’s absolute glory, one must choose the off season period.

We visited Rameshwaram in December, most crowded time of the year. But that was intentional because that’s the best time to visit the historic Dhanushkodi Village. Rameshwaram serves as a gateway to Lanka. It once did, way back in the times of Sri Ram.

Initially, the plan was to travel from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar in Srilanka, which is believed to be the other end of ram setu constructed by Sri Ram, as described in the epic Ramayana. However, there’s no operational ferry service as yet. We had applied for Srilankan eVisa without inquiring enough because of which we had to forfeit Rs. 2100.

On Indian side, the farthest one can go is Dhanushkodi, which is a small uninhabited village almost in the middle of the ocean. Dhanushkodi literally translates to ‘end of bow’ which means end of the ‘bow shaped’ bridge that is believed to be built by Sri Ram.

Dhanushkodi - Waterway to Lanka
Dhanushkodi – Waterway to Lanka

Dhanushkodi – The Tip of Southern India

Some call it the ghost town and rightly so. One that fateful night in December 1964, a train carrying 110 passengers from Pamban to Dhanushkodi was washed away by a giant tidal wave. This is how the railway ministry described this mishap.

All that remained visible above water was six inches of the engine smokestack. (Asian Age, 28 December 1964)

Today what is known as the ghost town was once a happy town. The town had a railway station and jetty on the coast to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka way back in 1960s. The cyclone not only devastated the town but gave it a desolate look that still exists. Today 4X4 motors take tourists to the leftover town by literally driving through the ocean. The actual tip bow is quite far away from Dhanushkodi and one has to either walk or shell out huge money to reach there. That too if the motorists agree to take you there.

There’s an interesting account of a person walking all the way to the tip of the island. Usually, motorists don’t encourage people to go to the tip because that way it affects their waiting period and ultimately their business. The sight of rickety 4X4’s riding on waves is bemusing.

Dhanushkodi - Oceanic Traffic Jam
Dhanushkodi – Oceanic Traffic Jam
Dhanushkodi Water Wells
Dhanushkodi Water Wells

How To Reach?

A new wide road has been laid all the way from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi which has made it easier for tourists to visit Dhanushkodi. From Rameshwaram, one can either board a public transport bus (cheap but time consuming) or hire an auto. Auto costs around Rs. 500 for a return trip with a maximum waiting time of 3:30 hours.

From road end, 4X4’s take you to Dhanushkodi in one hour where you get to spend a maximum of 30 minutes.

Ram Setu – The Legend of Sri Ram

Imam me Gange Yamune Sarasvati Sutudri Stomam sacata parusnya a ~ Rig Veda

These are the fifth and sixth verses of the Nadistuti Sukta Hymn (Praise of the Rivers) which means, “O Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Shutudri (Satluj), and Parushni (Ravi), hear my praise!” (Read Michel Danino’s The Lost River to know more)

For many years, in the post-independence era, we were made forced to believe that Sarasvati never existed. Theories like Aryan Invasion and Dravidian Divide were peddled ad nauseam. The left leaning historians almost made us outsiders in our own country.

Until they were proven wrong. Suddenly, the Aryan Invasion Theory was renamed as Aryan Migration Theory to suit their agenda. On the same lines, another theory is being propagated; the theory of negation of Ram Setu. And it doesn’t stop there, some even claimed that there never existed a man called Sri Ram.

Few years ago, a photograph was circulated on the internet that was claimed to be released by NASA (click to see the photograph). It was hyped that NASA has finally accepted the existence of Ram Setu. That was not true. NASA categorically refused having made any such claim.

Ram Pathhar - Limestone Shoals
Ram Pathhar – Limestone Shoals
Life In Dhanushkodi
Life In Dhanushkodi
The Lost Remains at Dhanushkodi
The Lost Remains at Dhanushkodi

But that doesn’t mean that the bridge never existed. A lot many things that have happened in ancient India that were believed to be myths and rejected as daydreams of snake charmers. 

We don’t need no NASA to tell us whether Sri Ram existed or not. Are we afraid of scientific theories? Are we afraid of questions being imposed to our faith?

No! We are not. Of all the religions in the world, and I make this claim with great pride, the Sanatan Dharma has always been open to questions, doubts, and all sorts of agnosticism.

Yes, they are limestone shoals which we proudly call ram pathhar. At the same time, we I will continue to believe that it was only Sri Ram and his army that put these limestone shoals to good use.

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