The Hindu scripture Ramayana says that Lord Rama built a bridge or causeway, called Ram Setu or 'Rama's bridge', between the mainland and Sri Lanka, in order to bring his army across. After Rama won the war and crowned a new king of Lanka, Vibhishana, requested Rama to destroy the bridge. Rama broke the bridge with one end of his bow. Hence, the name Dhanushkodi or 'end of the bow' (dhanush meaning 'bow' and kodi meaning 'end'). It is also said that Rama originally marked the spot for the bridge with one end of his famous bow that he strung to marry Princess Sita. The series of rocks and islets currently found in a line between India and Sri Lanka suggests there was indeed a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka.] The Kodhanda Ram Kovil temple marks the place where Rama is said to have begun his journey to Lanka.
Hindu pilgrims usually bathe in the ocean here before completing the pilgrimage to Rameswaram. The spot is considered a sacred confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. In addition, it is said that pilgrimage to the holy city of Kashi in North India is not complete without also worshipping at Rameswaram, including the ritual bath at Dhanushkodi.
The incident of Sita swayamwara wherein Rama strung the bow of Shiva (obtained by Raja Janak) and annoyed Parashuram is an interesting one to note. The incident begins with Prince Rama of Ayodhya being brought to the city of Mithila (Present day Janakpur, Nepal) by Maharishi Guru Vishwamitra, for participating in Sita Janaki's swayamvara. The test of swayamvara to win princess Sita, was to sting the bow of Shiva. After many kings failed to even lift the bow (due to the shakti possessed by it), Rama accompanied with the Mahabala accorded to him by Maharishi Vishwamitra, strung the bow of Shiva. Ravana's who was also part of the failed kings rose up to question Rama's valour. To prove his strength and avert a war in the Swayamvara Mandapa, Rama pulled the string and broke the bow into three pieces. This not only proved Rama's superiority among the audience, but also deterred all kings from using any force against this unconquerable warrior (read Rama) who broke the bow which none of them could even lift. The bow of Shiva (which is considered to be a living object due to the Brahmic energy possessed in it) flew in three different directions. The one that fell on Bhuloka is presently housed in a small temple at Dhanushadham in Nepal. It continues to grow till this very day. The one that entered Pathala, is submerged in Dhanushsagar, Janakpur Nepal. Eyewitnesses at Janakpur aged above 35 years testify having seen part of the bow in Dhanush Sagar before 1990. It presently lies submerged in Dhanushsagar due to water pollution. The one that flew to Akasha, fell in Dhanushkodi. The Swayamvara ended with the wedding of Princess Sita Janaki to Prince Rama and the epic Ramayana took a new turn, which can be read elsewhere. It is said that the wrath of the broken bow pulled Rama to its farthest location (Dhanushkodi), to the save the very princess whom he had won by breaking the divine object.
Dhanushkodi has the only land border between India and Sri Lanka which is one of the smallest in the world-just 45 meters in length on a shoal in Palk Strait. Before the 1964 cyclone, Dhanushkodi was a flourishing tourist and pilgrimage town. Since Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) is just 19 miles (31 km) away, there were many ferry services between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar of Ceylon, transporting travellers and goods across the sea. There were hotels, textile shops and dharmashalas catering to these pilgrims and travellers. The railway line to Dhanushkodi—which did not touch Rameswaram then and was destroyed in the 1964 cyclone—went directly from Mandapam to Dhanushkodi. Dhanushkodi in those days had a railway station, a small railway hospital, primary schools, a post office, customs and port offices, and other buildings. It was here in this island in January 1897 that Swami Vivekananda again set foot on Indian soil, after his visit to the west to attend the World's Parliament of Religions held in the United States.
After the devastating effects, and destruction of Danushkodi, the Indian government declared this once thriving city a ghost town.
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