When the deadly cyclone hit Sri Lanka (or Ceylon as it was called then) in the mid-December of 1964, the effects traveled upward to cause one of the most deadly display of destruction in the sleepy little town of Dhanushkodi in Pamban Island.
Before I visited Dhanushkodi, which is now a ghost town, I had read a book by the former President Dr. Kalam, who was born in Rameshwaram, and grew up around Dhanushkodi when it was a thriving municipality. His description of the cyclone conjured up like a specter when I first stepped onto the cold morning sand of Arichal Munai –the end point of India where the silent bay of Bengal merges into the noisy Indian Ocean.
An excerpt from Kalam’s book reads:
“I still remember the night of that terrible cyclone vividly. The wind had pick up speed for days, till it became a howling gale. It screamed and whistled in our ears and pulled and hacked at the trees or anything that stood in its way. Soon torrential rain started. We had retreated in our homes much earlier. There was no electricity in those days, and the lamps barely managed to stay alive. In that flickering darkness, with the wind working itself into a frenzy, the sound of the rain lashing down outside, we huddled together and waited for the night to pass.”
Today, a sandy stretch of badland spotted with ram-shackled structures that once happened to be churches, temples, mosques, postoffices, railway stations and homes, Dhanushkodi stands as a testimony of unanticipated wrath that the oceans sometimes wreak on the coastal plains. Here, below, I present you some pictures from the ghost town, which will surely tickle your imagery, and maybe, inspire you to pay a visit to this mighty grave of a once thriving civilization: