Sunday July 22, 2018
Home India Lost in Time ...

Lost in Time : The Less Explored Pamban Island and the Rameswaram Island | Travelogue

The land of temples, picturesque locales, architecture, and the home of the 'Missile Man' of India - welcome to the Rameswaram Island!

0
//
144
Rameswaram island
We take you through a town lost in time, Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram island. Wikimedia
Republish
Reprint

Rameswaram, September 15, 2017 : Off the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, some 500 km south of Chennai, lies Pamban Island. Seemingly a stone’s throw from neighboring Sri Lanka, this is an island steeped in historical significance, and with some of the most resilient people alive.

One of the longest sea bridges in the country, the iconic Pamban Bridge connects the mainland with the island, also known as Rameswaram Island. With breathtaking views of the Bay of Bengal, the journey to the island over this bridge rewinds one to colonial times, when it was built by the British to improve trade relations with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Built in 1914 as India’s first-ever sea bridge, the 6,700-foot structure is in itself an engineering and historical marvel that has withstood several of nature’s furies — from storms to cyclones.

Rameswaram island
An overview of the Pamban Brindge. Wikimedia

The bridge initially ran up to the southeastern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi, now a ghost town. After a cyclone hit it in 1964, Dhanushkodi was washed away by the sea and is now a mere skeleton of the town it once was.

Remnants of its railway lines, church and the devastated dwellings of people can still be seen, though in very poor shape.

From the tip of the region, cell phone networks welcome one to Sri Lanka.

Visible from here is the Adam’s Bridge — a former land link between India and Sri Lanka, now undersea — that is also known as Rama Setu, the bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army to rescue Sita from Lanka.

Nambavel, a 50-year-old, says there can be no other home for him than Dhanushkodi, of pristine waters and picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal. Three generations of his family have lived here. Although the deadly cyclone forced many to migrate to villages around, some 50 families, including Nambavel’s, refused to leave.

“This has been our home for as long as we’ve known. We grew up playing in the sea water, then learnt to make our living through fishing or running petty shops,” Nambavel told this visiting IANS correspondent.

Rameswaram island
Residents of Dhanushkodi refuse to abandon their small town; for them the “sea is everything”. Wikimedia

“Even as many people we know migrated to nearby villages, there’s no home like Dhanushkodi for us — the sea is everything,” he said.

With sea levels rising around the world due to global warming, the region is constantly threatened by nature. But that does not deter Nambavel: “Even if another cyclone is close, most of us would like to be here, a land we’ve grown up in.”

Surrounded by sea and sand, the town cannot grow any crops and has no provision for electricity due to the wind velocity in the area. It is only the solar panels, an initiative of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who hailed from Rameswaram, that light up the shacks of the few residents.

With Rameswaram considered one of the holiest places for Hindus, a majority of visitors make temples the focus of their travels.

Aiming to showcase the rich cultural and historical heritage of the island, apart from the much-visited temples, Utsa Majumder, the General Manager of the newly-launched Hyatt Place, Rameswaram, is working extensively on various itineraries that uncover the untrodden places in and around the region.

“There’s a lot more that the Rameswaram Island can offer than just the temples it is mostly known for. We want people to know that Rameswaram can be an experiential destination and not just a pilgrimage spot,” Majumder told IANS.

“From historic places that have stood the test of time to some incredible architecture and engineering like the Pamban Bridge, there’s a lot a tourist can see here,” she added.

The hotel offers these itineraries to travelers according to their interests, allowing them to explore different facets of the region, along with menus that present the cuisines of the land — from kuzhi paniyaram (rice batter dumplings) to kara kozhumbu (a spicy tamarind gravy).

Rameswaram Island
Local cuisine at Dhanushkodi. Wikimedia

The region also celebrates its much-beloved son Abdul Kalam. His two-storeyed house on Mosque Street is filled with thousands of his books and is always bustling with people.

A Rs 15-crore memorial to India’s “Missile Man”, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27, has also grown rather quickly as a tourist attraction. The memorial houses a copy of the last speech Kalam delivered at IIM-Shillong on July 27, 2015, a number of pictures of his meetings with world leaders, and a host of other objects.

As an island that is yearning to receive a boost to its tourism, even a bottle of water bought from a shack in Dhanushkodi goes towards supporting a family.

FAQs:

Reaching there: Flights to Madurai, the nearest airport, from all major cities. From Madurai, Rameswaram can be reached in 3 hrs 30 min (160 kms) by road.

For the picturesque views from a train, pick one that is available almost every hour to Rameswaram from Madurai Railway Station.

Stay: There are four-star, three-star hotels and smaller lodges in the town.

Best time to visit: October to March as the temperatures drop and stay between 20 to 30 degrees C, making travel easier. (IANS)

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction

The department has pumped in almost Rs 500 crore in the area for tourism and infrastructure development

0
Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction
Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction. IANS

Are Kovalam and backwaters the first things that come to mind when thinking of Kerala? All that’s set to change as more places will soon be added to the bucket list from ‘God’s own country’ — at an outlay of Rs 500 crore.

The Kerala Tourism Department is taking new initiatives and expanding its horizons, not just in the southern belt but also the northern zone with new “must visit” destinations.

“Kerala has seen a strong tourism sector since two decades and we have been doing well domestically and internationally.

“We are starting new destinations in different geographical areas. We are widening our canvas and including new destinations,” P. Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism told IANS.

He added that the northern parts of the state like Wayanad, Kannur, Kozhikode, Thissur, Malapuram and Palakad are on the list of new tourism destinations.

“This will be a separate circuit which will be complementing the existing tourism circuit in south Kerala,” Kiran stated.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

While the peak season for visiting the state is mainly November to February, the Tourism Department is also chalking out plans to attract tourists round the year.

And for that, the department has pumped in almost Rs 500 crore in the area for tourism and infrastructure development.

“We are also planning out new ventures like introducing river cruise facility in Malabar, making a Kameshwari heritage project, Jatayu Earth Centre which will feature world’s largest bird sculpture and offering plethora of adventure and rejuvenating activities and others,” Bala noted.

The department is also focusing on alluring young tourists by offering multiple adventure activities — water-based sports like river rafting and kayaking as also trekking, paragliding.

Recently, Kerala also bagged ‘Best destination for families’ award through an online poll which was conducted by Lonely Planet magazine.

Bala added in the past one year, Kerala has witnessed tremendous growth in tourist arrivals — both domestic and internatinal.

Also Read: Infosys Donates Rs 2.50cr To A Hospital in Kerala

“In 2017 we had 1.09 million international tourists and 14.6 million domestic tourists which is roughly translating into a growth of 11 per cent in the last year,” he added.

Asked about the major challenges being faced by the Tourism Department, Bala pointed out that ensuring safety and security of tourists were the first priority followed by providing world class amenities to the visitors and streamlining the waste management system.

“Kerala government is setting up a Tourism Regulatory Authority which will be a statutory body with full legal powers to intervene and execute orders whenever there are complaints on tourist-related activities,” Bala noted. (IANS)