Once upon a time visiting Dhanushkodi was like an adventure of the seas but now that has all gone thanks to the paved road from Rameswaram Town right till the tip of the lands’ end. When I had originally planned to visit Dhanushkodi only 4X4 vintage jeeps or minivans were being used to ferry tourists from Rameswaram and you basically had two options, either to book the entire vehicle all to yourself or wait for the vehicle to fill up with other passengers. These vehicles will then take you to Dhanushkodi Beach and wait for you to enjoy the natural beauty before returning.
The journey was scary as often the vehicles will actually be travelling for miles in knee-deep sea water and often the tyres would get stuck. All these vehicles will be having an assistant whose main job would have been to lay wooden planks under the tyres to create traction. Since no regular vehicles were allowed these jeep and minivan owners had a virtual monopoly.
In the year 2017 finally, the much promised paved road was opened and the boom in tourist suddenly spiked. You no longer needed to travel in specialized vehicles instead can take your own private or hired cars. For bikers riding all the way till Dhanushkodi is now a regular affair. If you really want to go the cheap way then just book an Auto and you are done.
Many hotels will offer Dhanushkodi trips but to my experience, these would for sure be much expensive since the hotel will always keep a good percentage for themselves. Also, the hotels will try to sell you a single day package in which they will provide you with a car for a day for visiting Dhanushkodi in the morning and then Rameswaram sightseeing rest of the day. Avoid this at all cost since it will be a complete touch and go for the Rameswaram town sightseeing thus best to avoid. Also, plan for a morning visit to Dhanushkodi instead of the evening since the beach is off limit by 5 PM and I have seen many tourists forced to return back without being able to spend any time at the beach.
An Auto will charge around something between 700 – 800 Rs. (INR year 2017) which would include waiting time at the beach. Ensure you confirm the waiting time at Dhanushkodi beach so that there will not be any misunderstanding while returning. Carry bottled water and some light snacks since these would be very expensive at Dhanushkodi.
Note: If you are travelling in an Auto then make sure you have caps or scarves to cover your head. The drive towards Dhanushkodi can sometimes be extremely windy and this makes the almost powder like soft sand to blast on your face. At a speed, these small sand particles feel like a constant sting on the face. Cover your cameras since these small sand particles can easily enter the camera and damage them.
Usually, a trip to Dhanushkodi will include a trip to the Kothandarama Temple also which will fall somewhere in between with detour. Even if you are not a temple fan do take this detour since on the way you will get some fantastic landscapes and seascapes.
Historically this is a very significant temple since this is the only surviving structure from the 1964 cyclone which had completely erased Dhanushkodi from the map of the country and isolated Rameswaram from the rest of India. According to mythology, it is at this very place that the brother of Vibhishana the younger brother of Ravana had surrendered to Rama and sought refuge.
There was an ice cream seller selling Kulfi right outside the temple and we made the mistake of buying a couple of them. The Kulfis was good but what we did not take into account were the strong winds with heavy moisture content which in turn melted the kulfis in a matter of seconds and we were just left with the stick in our hand.
Next, we proceeded straight towards Dhanushkodi, this stretch of the road has guard walls created out of stone boulders to protect the road from the sand and the sea. In spite of this, the strong winds carry the soft sand over the wall and line up at the edge of the road creating a dune-like illusion.
There are several shacks that line around the road selling freshly fried fishes. I would recommend you to try these during your return journey.
Before reaching the Ram Setu view point which is the last accessible land you will find the old Dhanushkodi Station on your left. This was damaged beyond repair during the 1964 super storm and was never rebuilt. Some structures that you can clearly make out are the Water Tank at the station along with few other smaller building around the station. At some places, you will also be able to see the old railway tracks.
A little ahead to the right you will find the Old Church. The church has no roofs but the outer walls and the main altar still stands where they were before the storm hit. On weekends and holidays, this place can become extremely crowded and a small market crops up around the church selling sea shells and other memorabilia.
On the church front wall, three letter are clearly visible “JHS” which most probably would mean Jesus Hominis Salvatus (Greek). When translated it would mean Jesus Saviour of Men.
Further down the road is the Ram Setu View Point or rather should say land’s end. Vehicles can go till a point post which you need to walk. This place also doubles up as a parking space so normally all the tourist vehicles will be parked here.
All around from here you will be able to see just blue-green transparent clear water. Walk along the sandy path till the end and at a point, you will feel as if completely surrounded by water on all the sides. It is very dangerous to take bath or swim in these waters as this place is not a proper beach and the water though looks calm can be deceiving since there is a sudden steep 6 – 10 feet drop.
Sri Lanka is just around 20 nautical miles from this spot and at a distance, you will be able to see few more sand dunes rising up from the bottom of the sea. As per temple records in the town of Rameswaram devotees from Lanka (Sri Lanka) used to come regularly on foot across the Ram Setu (Adam’s Bridge) till around 1300 AD. Post wish there were some major storms which raised the sea level and also shifted the soft seabed thus submerging this portion below the sea level.
If you are a fish lover then the numerous shacks that line up around the main road would indeed be a treat to your taste buds. Just select the fish you want to have and bargain on a price. We paid around 100 Rs. (INR year 2017) for three fishes which were cleaned and fried fresh on a wood-fired giant saucer. Served with fresh cut lemon and onions this should never be missed. Just beyond these shacks, you will find some fishermen huts.
It took around 45 minutes to reach Dhanushkodi from Rameswaram with just a ten-minute break at the temple and spent around an hour or so at the Dhanushkodi Beach. We took a further thirty minutes break at the food shack thus a trip to Dhanushkodi from Rameswaram could easily be done in half a day.
We tipped the Auto driver at the end of the journey after he dropped us at our hotel. This not only made him happy but also gave us an opportunity to thank him for his service. Hope you have enjoyed my trip to Madurai, Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi. Southern adventure for this season ends here hope to catch you soon till then Bon Voyage.