A highlight of the Malayalam movie Aashiq Abu's Mayaanadhi, running successfully in theaters, is the song Uyirin nadhiye..., which captivates viewers with its stunning visuals and also evokes feelings of wanderlust.
Aashiq Abu takes the viewers into the life of his main characters, played by Tovino Thomas and Aishwarya Lekshmi, through this song that captures the stunning landscape of the ghost town of Dhanushkodi – perhaps a first for Malayalam films. He couldn't have chosen a better spot than this strip of land soaked in pain of loss to show the love that once connected his lead characters, who are struggling to continue that journey.
The song depicts a road trip by the hero and heroine from the temple town of Madurai to the land’s end at Dhanushkodi. Starting from the Meenakshi temple, a towering representation of Dravidian architecture, and other landmarks in Madurai, the visuals follow the highway to the seaside along the Pamban bridge, which also has witnessed history being made by human effort. No Malayalam film has also shown such aerial views of the twin bridges so far.
The pain of loss
The ruins of the once-thriving and thickly populated Dhanushkodi leave feelings of loss and pain in the viewer. In the past, regular trains connected the coastal town to Chennai. The railway station, police station, post office, school and market… all were in no time swept away by the cyclone that lashed the area on December 22, 1963.
Tens of thousands of people lost their lives. Those who escaped the cyclone’s fury abandoned the town and left it to nature’s mercy. Over the years, Dhanushkodi turned into a tourist spot. Among the most evocative scenes in the Mayaanadhi song are the visuals of the ruined church – one of the few structures left standing.
The Annai Indira Gandhi road bridge connecting Rameswaram to the mainland is one of the longest bridges in the country at 2.3 km. Parallel to it is the railway bridge, built by the British in 1914, which is the first across sea waters in India. It was badly damaged in the cyclone, but was rebuilt in a very short time under the supervision of the legendary engineer E. Sreedharan, who later became the ‘Metro Man’ of India.
Off to the ghost town
Dhanushkodi is about 18km from Rameswaram. The motorable road ends at a spot named Mukundarayyar Square. From here, the path leads one along the seashore. Vans with expert drivers take tourists on a thrilling ride along the beach when the tides withdraw during daytime. The uyirin... song includes this van ride as well as scenes from the Dhanushkodi beach. As Lord Rama is believed to have stepped on to this shore, devotees consider the sand at the beach to be holy and take some back to their homes as a memento.
A two-km walk from the beach takes a visitor to Dhanushkodi point, where the land ends. Scan the sea from here and you can see the coast of Sri Lanka as a speck on the horizon.
Other attractions in the area include, the Ramanathapuram Temple, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam’s ancestral house, Rameswaram Beach and Ramarpadam – a temple with a footprint believed to have been made by Lord Rama.
Rameswaram is directly connected to Kerala by a weekly train from Ernakulam, which involves a 450-km trip. Visitors can also take a train to Madurai, from where there are several daily services to the coastal town.