Dhanushkodi is a forlorn place – a remote land, covered with white sand, bordered by the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean at the southern tip of India, in Tamil Nadu. It was developed as a small port by the British around 1914, and eventually became a bustling town with pilgrims, travellers, fish workers, traders and others.
Half a century later, in 1964, a massive cyclone that started at midnight on December 22 and went on till the evening of December 25, devastated the port-town in Rameswaram taluk in Ramanathapuram district. Gigantic waves triggered by the cyclone flattened the entire town and killed more than 1,800 people. A train coming from Pamban, some 30 kilometres away, carrying well over a 100 people, was fully submerged.
After the cyclone, the place was variously called ‘ghost town’ or ‘unfit to live’ and left in a state of total neglect. However, almost 400 fish worker families (estimates a local panchayat leader), continue to live in Dhanushkodi and see this barren land as their only home. Some of them are cyclone survivors who have been living here for over 50 years without electricity, toilets or even potable water.