Dhanushkodi is no longer a ghost town, abandoned after the sea destroyed everything in its path. The national highway has been extended to the place, providing tourists eager to take a look at the ruins a smooth ride.
No wonder, Dhanushkodi now resembles Kanyakumari in many respects. There are big crowds who rush to enjoy the scenes of the sunrise as well as sunset on the seashore. The old church, railway station and post office destroyed by the invading sea are surrounded by a large number of visitors.
Meanwhile, residents of nearby areas are trying to earn a living utilizing the arrival of a large number of travellers. They have set up shops with thatched roofs selling curios and light refreshments like watermelon, pineapple, cucumber, tea, samosa and ‘parippu vada’ along with meals and fish fry.
It seems the once-thriving town of Dhanushkodi that the sea swallowed is getting a rebirth. Long queues of vehicles can be seen on the road to the place, which is a new favourite among travellers.
The drive to Arichal Munai
Along with Dhanushkodi, travellers also visit Arichal Munai, a tip of land protruding into the sea. Till July 2017, reaching this spot was a difficult task as there was no proper road. Jeeps and mini buses that could negotiate sand and water were the only means of transport and tourists had no option but to crowd into these vehicles to reach the place.
But with the authorities laying the national highway, tourists can drive up to Arichal in their own vehicles. This has led to a sharp increase in the number of visitors.
The road from Dhanushkodi to Arichal is a straight line and can be covered like a racing car. Or, one can drive in a leisurely manner, observing the life of the local people on both sides of the stretch.
In the morning, fishing boats arrive with their catch as women wait on the shores to collect their day’s merchandise. From the boats, the fish are shifted to the beach and sorted.
How does fresh sardine look like? It looks predominantly bluish-green on a silver background! But when packed and transported in cold storage vans to Kerala, all the colour would be drained away.
The road ends at a circular platform in the middle of which is a sculpture in the form of the Ashoka Pillar. Earlier, only adventurous travellers could reach Arichal, but now it has become a popular attraction.
Till a few months ago, the place was a deserted area. However, at present, one can taste tea, sip drinking water and crunch on snacks at the several shacks.
Visitors crowd near the shore and focus their eyes on the distant horizon. Beyond the wide expanse of the sea, the tip of Sri Lanka can be noticed in the distance. At noon, the sun would be blazing but holding an umbrella would be impossible as the wind is very strong.
There are several small restaurants with thatched roofs in Dhanushkodi serving lunch and fresh fish fry. Fish curry too is available.
Drinking water tankers
Drinking water is brought to Dhanushkodi in tanker lorries. “Each shop owner has to purchase the water. Every item except fish has to be brought here from Rameswaram,” says Muthumani Akka, who runs an outlet serving food.
Akka’s house in Dhanushkodi had been swept away in the cyclone of 1964 and her family left the place. However, with tourists rushing to place, Akka has returned to start her business.
Dhanushkodi often witnesses short spells of rain, after which the heat becomes tolerable.
The church and railway station
Ruins of the church are the chief landmark of Dhanushkodi. It lay abandoned for years, but now people are visiting again.
Right opposite to the church is the ruined railway station. Behind it is a small temple where a stone which is believed to have been part of the ‘Ram Sethu’ is kept. It keeps floating on the surface of the water and devotees offer prayers to the stone.