By Joyel K Pious
This landscape never stopped attracting catastrophes of unimaginable scales. The edge of the land that slowly vanishes into a shallow light blue sea has a story to tell. The story of a tragic night that shattered the lives and dreams of thousands of people. The super cyclone that ravaged Dhanushkodi, southern tip of the Rameswar island of the coast of eastern Tamil Nadu, five decades ago in 1964, had left nothing but few remains to tell the past of once busy port town.
Skeletal remains of the old port office, church and railway station stand here as silent spectators of a forgotten chapter of history. This vast sandy, salty, marshy and windy landscape now remains largely uninhabited except for few fishermen’s huts.
The other side of the island is very lively with the famous Rameswar temple attracting millions of pilgrims every year. For a traveller, the entry to the island itself is a rewarding visual experience with the famous Pamban rail Bridge and road bridge lying parallel welcoming each visitor.
Rameswar is not just another island. Strategically, economically and culturally it holds a special position. Being few miles away from Thalaimannar coast of Sri Lanka, Dhanushkodi’s strategic importance can never be underestimated. The island and its adjoining marine ecosystem has always been an environmental as well as political issue, whenever the question of Sethusamudram shipping project comes up for discussion.
While standing alone at Dhanushkodi, watching the land slowly vanishing in to the sea, I could feel the past talking to me. Hidden in this vast emptiness lie the cries and whispers of thousands of men and women.