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Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town at the south-eastern tip of Pamban Island of the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is situated to the South-East of Pamban and is about 18 miles (29 km) west of Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. The town was destroyed during the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone and remains uninhabited in the aftermath.
According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Rama built a bridge to connect India and Sri Lanka, in order to carry his troops. Rama marked the spot for the bridge with one end of his bow which later became Dhanushkodi meaning end of the bow.
The area around Rameswaram is prone to high-intensity cyclones and storms. A scientific study conducted by the Geological Survey of India indicated that the southern part of Dhanushkodi facing the Gulf of Mannar sank by almost 5 metres (16 ft) in 1948 and 1949, due to vertical tectonic movement of land parallel to the coastline. As a result of this, a patch of land of about 0.5 kilometres (0.31 mi) in width, stretching 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) from north to south, submerged in the sea.
On 17 December 1964, a depression formed at 5°N 93°E in the South Andaman Sea. On 19 December, it intensified into a cyclonic storm. After 21 December 1964, it moved westwards, almost in a straight line, at the rate of 400 to 550 kilometres (250 to 340 mi) per day. On 22 December, it crossed Vavunia in Sri Lanka and made landfall at Dhanushkodi on the night of 22–23 December 1964. Estimated wind velocity was 280 kilometres per hour (170 mph) and tidal waves were 7 metres (23 ft) high.
An estimated 1,800 people died in the cyclonic storm on 22 December including 115 passengers on board the Pamban-Dhanushkodi passenger train. The entire town was marooned and the Government of Madras declared Dhanushkodi as Ghost town, unfit for living.
In December 2004, the sea around Dhanushkodi receded about 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the coastline, exposing the submerged part of the town for a while followed by massive tsunami waves that struck the coast.
Dhanushkodi is located on the tip of Pamban island separated by mainland by Palk strait. It shares the only land border between India and Sri Lanka, which is one of the smallest in the world at 45 metres (148 ft) in length on a shoal in Palk Strait.
A metre gauge railway line connected Mandapam on mainland India to Dhanushkodi. Boat mail express ran from Chennai Egmore to Dhanushkodi till 1964 when the metre-gauge branch line from Pamban to Dhanushkodi was destroyed during the 1964 Dhanushkodi cyclone. In 2003, Southern Railway sent a project report to Ministry of Railways for re-laying a 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) railway line to Dhanushkodi from Rameswaram. The planning commission looked into the possibility of a new railway line between Dhanushkodi and Rameswaram in 2010. Until 2016, Dhanushkodi was reachable either on foot along the seashore or in jeeps. In 2016, a road was completed from the village of Mukundarayar Chathiram.
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- G. G. Vaz; M. Hariprasad; B. R. Rao; V. Subba Rao (10 March 2007). "Subsidence of southern part of erstwhile Dhanushkodi township, Tamil Nadu". Current Science. 92: 671-672.
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- G. G. Vaz, M. Hariprasad, B. R. Rao and V. Subba Rao (March 2007). "Subsidence of southern part of erstwhile Dhanushkodi township, Tamil Nadu – evidences from bathymetry, side scan and underwater videography" (PDF). Current Science (PDF). 92 (5): 671–675.
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- Saqaf, Syed Muthahar (11 June 2010). "'Boat Mail' to run on main line from August 1". The Hindu.
- Jaishankar, C (17 July 2006). "Their sentiment to metre gauge train is unfathomable". The Hindu.
- C. Jaishankar (26 February 2010). "Railway budget may put Dhanushkodi back on track". The Hindu.
- "Poll-bound TN, Kerala will get more trains". The Asian Age. 26 February 2011.
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- D.J. Walter Scot (4 February 2016). "Road to Dhanushkodi may be opened by month-end". The Hindu.
- "Four-lane road planned for Dhanushkodi". The Hindu.
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