I've edited all my previous posts to show the images inline. This solves the bugging thing of having to leave this forum to just view images. Also, it makes for smoother story-telling! :)
I woke up early at 5:30 to start off my ride towards Rameshwaram. Though I was over-charged for a room at Velankanni - I was quite lucky to get a good room considering that it was Christmas eve and tourists pour into the town during this time.
For me, this day (visting Dhanushkodi) would be the highlight of the trip. I have been absolutely wanting to visit for many years. I'd read about how the town of Dhanushkodi was destroyed in the 1964 cyclone - it had been a pretty prosperous town before that. On that fateful night, even a train full of passengers was washed away and everyone on board lost at sea. The cyclone changed the landscape and destroyed many people's lives. Many fishermen were lost in sea.
Around 1800 people died that day. Dhanushkodi has been declared a "ghost town" though fishermen still eke out a living.
I had the route to Rameshwaram mapped out and confirmed it by checking with the hotel manager. The roads were supposed to be all good - all the way till Rameshwaram.
Fingers crossed and I started off, only to stop and tighten the bolt for my rear-view mirror. Someone had surely meddled with it sometime.
Early morning, the roads are incredibly empty on the state highways - just the way I like it.
Riding on, you start seeing the salt pans - where they evaporate sea water to harvest salt. And the land becomes water-logged.
Riding on a few kilometers down, I could catch a glimpse of the Bay of Bengal
A view of another salt pan
A customary click of the bike
I stopped for breakfast at a small road-side joint and had some idlis (rice cakes) for Rs.10! The same would have cost me Rs.40 in Bangalore. Amazing. I wish I'd taken pictures of that.
Riding onwards, I could smell the sea and finally neared Rameshwaram. Its a little creepy to see that you are riding on a road and both sides, the sea is storming.
And I finally reached the Pamban bridge - which was also washed away in the 1964 cyclone but rebuilt.
Reached Rameshwaram in a short while and had a really hard time getting a room. Most of the rooms were occupied and wherever I asked for a room, I was told that the police had instructed the hotel owners not to give rooms for young couples and single men! Bwahahahah - one is the moral angle - we Indians like to think we are morally superior to other people on the planet. The other one was the terrorist angle - single men who want to visit Rameshwaram might just turn out to be LTTE operatives or people who support the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka - which is just a few kilometers away. I've been told that at the right tide, you can easily swim across or hire a canoe to take you to Sri Lanka.
Anyways, I finally had to end up taking a really disgusting room with no AC. Hated the place but since I would be leaving early in the morning, decided to just bite the bullet. And I was also very excited about visting Dhanushkodi.
I settled in and had a nice lunch and decided to visit Dhanushkodi. I asked around and was told that they do not allow tourists after 5 in the evening - guess thats when the tide comes in. I was told that it is just around 18 kms away from Rameshwaram and that I can leave the bike there and hire a van/jeep to take us to the old Dhanushkodi town. Since I was riding alone, was a little worried about leaving the bike unguarded but my excitement overtook my fears and I started off towards Dhanushkodi.
The ride towards the place was amazing - as you can see from the map, it is like riding into the ocean. A narrow road and you can see the oceon on both sides - sea level!
Reached the place and it was filled with cars and SUVs. And people. All wanting to hire the van/jeeps to take them to Dhanushkodi. I knew that I would stand no chance if I bought a ticket for a back-seat in the van and quickly approached a driver and asked him for the front seat - next to his driver seat. He asked for a 100 and I was fine with that. Because I wanted to take pictures.
Thats me and the driver - Udaya.
You can see these ruts in the sand in the following pic. If you do lose driving in the rut, you are sure to get stuck in the mud!
This is how some of the people were travelling! Scary - and not a place to be taking photos from
Did I get a glimpse of Sri Lanka from here? I like to think I did
We finally reached the erstwhile town of Dhanushkodi and I saw this temple. What is written on the wall is - "This temple was built before the Dhanushkodi cyclone"
These are the remnants of an old church that was destroyed in the cyclone
Dust to dust
A shore. Fishermen still manage to eke out a living here
A shot of the vans that transported us tourists! Just take a look at their tyres - totally bald! I would have loved to take my bike there but I am sure it would have just got stuck in the mud.
Some of you might find this insane - thats a pic of the diesel tank - it was connected to the engine by a plastic tube. It was kept near my feet.
We started back by then and after getting dropped back, I paid the driver a 100 and was anxious to check back on my bike. Thankfully, no one had moved it or anything and I rode back to Rameshwaram. Took some pics of the bike on the way back.
I had an awesome time going to Dhanushkodi. Some friends tell me that a few years back, they would even go further ahead into Dhanushkodi. I was even told that some years back, you could stay back at dusk and could see lights shimmering in neighbouring Sri Lanka. What I would have given to see that.
This is where I was. As you can see from the map, there was even an old Port. My dad told me that he had taken a ferry to Jaffna in neighbouring Sri Lanka from here. It is all in ruins now. Somehow a very haunting scene - to take it all in.
As I rode back to Rameshwaram, I felt sated already. I felt that I had accomplished what I had come on this ride to do - visit Dhanushkodi. I somehow felt that anything after this would be just a ride into a town and ride out. This was the zenith of my ride.