Coast to Coast Ride – Day 4

Visit to Dhanushkodi

A day dedicated to explore Dhanushkodi … nothing more nothing less.  Ghost town looks completely barren but for the ruins post 1964 Cyclone which is considered the fiercest in 20th century. It’s hard to believe that this land mass covered in sand dunes was once a thriving tourist and pilgrimage center. Historically, this region had been prone to tectonic shifts in the 40’s submerging 7kms of land mass along with residential areas, places of worship. 1964 cyclone battered this town 22-23 Dec post which government declared this place as unfit to live and hence “Ghost Town”.  Local fishing communities have set up souvenir shops at the tip of island and at ruins site catering to tourists and pilgrims. One has to either walk along the sea shore or hire a jeep to reach top of island.  We learnt about new road being constructed in Dhanushkodi which was in final stages… hence we decided to take our bikes.  We crossed Kothanda Rama Temple , supposed to be starting point of “Rama Sethu”. To beat the heat , we decided to complete our trip to tip of Island and then explore the Kothanda Rama temple… it proved to be wise decision in the end.

At Check post in Dhanushkodi, 4 wheeler are not allowed to proceed. Tourists have option of hiring jeeps that go along the sea shore to the tip of island or one can walk on the new stretch of Road that runs straight to tip. 14 kms is distance from check post to the tip of Pamban Island.

Pic top: L to R New Road in dhanushkodi; Natural spring , source of fresh water for locals

Bottom L to R: Jeep taking tourists along sea shore; Bikes facing the ruins

Of the 14 kms, 10 km stretch has been completed and for remaining stretch work was in progress. We were allowed to ride past the check post till the completed stretch.  Now it was time to test our mental and physical endurance as we had to walk from here for another 4 kms one way, in total 8 kms.  Along the way, we chatted with workers who were setting up rocks on both sides of road which acts as wall to avoid sand erosion. Rock beds tied together using nylon ropes dipped in Tar are placed on top of nylon sheets. Working conditions being extremely hostile, we realized being much better off compared to workers. Most of workers were from Salem and this road project has been running for past 5 years. As tourist shops got closer and closer we were relieved lot…. On the left side is Bay of Bengal and right side Indian Ocean. As advised by local fishermen we jumped into calm waters of bay of Bengal after an hour long trek. This is the only land border with Sri Lanka … located 31 kms away. After spending ample time floating in ocean, we noted that we could walk further 2 kms from local stalls…to reach the south eastern tip. Sun had reached its pinnacle position right above our head and showering his power in full strength. As long we remained in waters we didn’t feel the heat.

Pics: Amazing shades of sea and ocean at island tip.

Amazing to watch as vociferous waves of Indian Ocean merged with calm waters of Bay of Bengal. Hard to believe you are at the TIP. After photo ops at India’s Tip on Pamban Island, we started our trek back to point where we left our bikes. We noted the workers standing beneath temp sheds and behind construction vehicles for relief from blistering heat. Must confess, it wasn’t easy to walk along the sea shore on loose sand. We hopped on to the road which had been leveled with firmed up red soil, this eased our stress in a big way.

Pic: Final 4km stretch of road work in progress

Once back to point where our bikes were parked, we dashed to nearby snack stall, had gallons of water and fruits. It was well past lunch time and as we engaged in conversation with family (Grandma and her Granddaughter) running the stall, they offered food, which I found hard to refuse!!!  Rice, Potato Fry, Coconut Chutney + Rasam were the menu spread.

  What more could one ask for in Ghost Town kms away from main land. In the meanwhile, the great grand kids returned from school .Yes, a school (up to 8th Standard)exists with strength of 75. These kids seemed oblivious to extreme climate, sporting that contagious SMILE. We practically experienced the effectiveness of SMILE. Our Pain vanished and so did our thoughts about the extreme weather. Grandmother’s eye’s turned moist when she traveled back in time on that eventful day in 1964. She had no words on how she survived that cyclone. Cherished our brief but touching experience interacting with this family.

We stopped over at Kothanda Rama Temple, where pilgrims stop over and perform pooja. Back waters around the temple which is hardly few inches deep forms the perfect stretch for migratory birds.

Pic: Kodak moments around Kothanda Rama temple. Pic at bottom right .. Flamingos flight captured.

We spotted flamingos and cranes. Flamingo’s outnumbered the cranes, and I was told that it was fag end of birds season. Nov-Jan is ideal season to spot the range of migratory birds.We were lucky to spot group of flamingos fly … Beautiful with reflection on backwaters!!! As mentioned earlier, this point is considered to be starting point of Rama Sethu… we were shown the floating rocks that was used for construction of bridge.

Thus ended our eventful day in “End of the Bow”, immersing in History, experiencing the wonders of nature in waters of sea and Ocean, hopeful of town coming back to life with emergence of Road all the way into the town.  One thought which kept coming back was why weren’t the Humans accepting the fact that how much ever progress we make in fields of science, we cannot control Mother Nature. Century after Century, the world has faced natural calamity one after the other…. Yet we tend to repeat the same mistakes by fiddling with fine balance of natural eco system.

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