Vivek talked about Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi in his last post and I found that he missed visiting inside Dhanushkodi village. So, my story will start from Dhanushkodi and to your surprise, it will end at Dhanushkodi. We reached Rameshwaram from Madurai about 3:00 PM, we planned to visit Rameshwaram temple in the morning, so we asked our taxi driver Kannan if there is any beach nearby, he nodded his head and said “Yeeessss” (I liked the way he used to say Yeeessss”), it is 13 kms from here and is called Dhanushkodi. Without saying anything else, he started towards Dhanushkodi. As Vivek mentioned, Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi was a two lane road, roaring ocean on both sides. Left side of the ocean is called “Male” and right side of the ocean is called “Female”, reason, left side is quiet and calm and right side is roaring all the time, my wife and my mother didn’t liked the reason, and neither did my daughter – As told by Kannan, no offence please. Well, we reached the beach in about 45 minutes, on the way, we also visited a temple where Lord Rama performed the “Raj Tilak” of Vibhishan. Kannan told us that this is the beach, it was very deserted. We found an Indian Navy post there, a tea stall and a snack shop. The Indian Ocean was beautiful, roaring and with high waves. We dared not go too deep inside and also asked the kids to stay off.
Wait a minute; I think I was about to start the story from Dhanushkodi and about to end at Dhanushkodi. Oh yes, let me ask our driver Mr. Kannan. I asked him where to go now, he said Dhanushkodi, I asked him let’s go then. Then he explained the history of Dhanushkodi, the village no longer exists, it was destroyed in 1963 due to a cyclone or say Tsunami and nobody lives there now. Then why should we visit there, he said, we can go and see the remains of the village, remains of a church, post office, railway station etc, sand buried roads and railway line. Sounds like a haunted village but interesting. Dhanushkodi is 7 kms from here and we can go further for another 4 kms where Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean meet and Dhanushkodi to SriLanka distance is just 13 kms from there via sea, sounds like farthest end of India from South-East, also known as Gulf of Mannar.
We cannot go to Dhanush kodi by car, because there is no road. Then how can we go there ? There are some local tempo services, they charge about 1500 rupees for a round trip and if there are more people, then it can be divided equally between all. Little unconventional, we asked Kannan to arrange for that. Luckily, there was a tempo with 11 people inside it and waiting for 4 more people. My mother was not very keen, but kids and my wife convinced her. Here we start our journey, it was a very old matador or small truck or tempo, had couple of benches, enough for 15 people though.
It started on the sand, driver’s assistant, call him “cleaner”, took out a flat wooden “fatta” and threw on the sand, and driver took over the tempo on the fatta. The logic behind the “fatta” was that, it was dense sand where a vehicle cannot even move. Poor cleaner he has to run in front of the tempo for the whole journey and it will take ages to cover 11 kms one way, forget about coming back on the same day. But, here comes the wet sand, and the cleaner does not need to put the fatta any more. The scene was beautiful, we were kind of in the middle of the ocean, “No land, only Sand” and water.
Tempo was going at about 20 km/hr of speed. It was evening, and you can see the Sun Set, Australian swans in the ocean and fishermen’s boats. We saw a concrete road and a railway line buried under the sand. Suddenly, the driver stopped the tempo, I asked if we had reached Dhanushkodi, he said something in Tamil, one co passenger explained to me that the engine is very hot and the radiator needs some water, the cleaner had gone to fetch some water.
We started our journey again after 10 minutes, and we reached Dhanushkodi in 45 minutes, but the driver didn’t stop there, I asked him to stop, he again said something. Same fellow passenger explained to me that he is going to take us to “Sangam” first and on the way back he will give us some time to spend in the village. Finally we reached “Sangam”, where the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet. The driver asked us to get down and come back in 10 minutes.
After getting down, we were welcomed by thousands of flies, it was really hard to keep open your eyes and stand still. We all tried and walked towards the beach, kids were busy fighting flies and I was busy taking pictures of my mother and wife and some surroundings. From Dhanushkodi to SriLanka its 13 kms by sea, but you cannot really see anything. People say we can see the lights in the night. We came back to the tempo and started our journey back; my mother was wondering all the time why there are countless flies, nobody could explain that.
We reached Dhanushkodi village in another 15 minutes, the driver instructed us to come back in 15 minutes. Dhanushkodi is all deserted, as I mentioned earlier, you can see remains of a post office, church and Dhanushkodi railway station. You can find a few fishermen selling water, chips, soft drinks and fish. There is another good thing I find in India, wherever you go, two things you’ll get for sure, mobile phone network and cola and chips. We spent some time admiring the place, capturing a few pictures, talking to locals in sign language because everybody was Tamil speaking. Kids were trying to play with the national bird.
We settled again in the tempo and suddenly another 15 people (fishermen going back to their home) boarded the tempo, someone was on the roof, few people were standing on footboard, few were trying to get adjusted on your bench. And then the cleaner started asking for the money, we told him that we will give as soon as we reach back, he said, he is not going to start unless he gets all the money. People were fighting as to why we should give all the money as he is allowing other people on our cost, but he was not willing to hear anything. Finally, a couple of us who were with families convinced all to pay him the money as it was getting dark and it was not safe due to coastal area and the surrounding people. At last, we reached back to the naval post; sun was going down, birds and travelers returning back to their home. Kannan was waiting for us, kids spent some time on the beach and we headed back to Rameshwaram to spend the night at Maheshwari Dharamshala.
Next day we visited Rameshwaram temple and then moved on to Kanyakumari, will write about it in another post. Below are the details about the mode of transport, distance we covered and amount of time we spent in Bangalore-Madurai-Rameshwaram-Kanyakumari-Madurai-Bangalore Trip.
For more pictures on this trip, you can visit : http://picasaweb.google.com/upanshu/MaduraiRameshwaramKanyaKumari#
Bangalore to Madurai – 485 kms via Mysore Express – Train # 6732
Madurai to Rameshwaram – 175 kms via Taxi NH 49 – 3hrs
Rameshwaram to KanyaKumari – 420 kms via Madurai via taxi – NH49 to Madurai bypass and then joins NH-7 Kashmir – Kanyakumari. – 6.5 – 8hrs
KanyaKumari to Madurai – 245 kms via taxi on NH-7 – 4 hours
4 day trip, 1 day in Madurai, 1 night stay @ Rameshwaram and 2 night stay in Kanyakumari.
Madurai Hotel – College House – good for freshening up, very close to Meenakshi Temple, not good for overnight stay.
Rameshwaram – Maheshwari Dharmshala in Rameshwaram – Good, cheap and food is awesome
Kanyakumari – Madhini hotel, moderate rate, Sunrise view from room balcony.