Highway Burnout To Dhanushkodi – The Ghost Town

The Place:

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.

Sounds interesting? Hell yeah it does…

Before i moved down south to Bangalore to pursue my career further, i had already made up my mind to visit this place for sure. I mean ‘Ghost Town‘ , who wouldn’t want to visit right? Specially for a guy who has always been intrigued by ghost stories.

dhanushkodi
Ferry services between India and then Ceylon(now Sri Lanka)

As it turns out, Dhanushkodi was actually a bustling town before 1964 with a flourishing business with regular ferries to then Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka). A massive cyclone in 1964 washed away most parts of this town. An estimated 1800 people died in this cyclone, which included a complete train being washed away with 115 people in it. All that remains now is few broken buildings and tracks, the old railway station building and church to tell the story of that fateful night of 22nd December 1964 thus gaining the name of ‘Ghost Town‘.

The Ride:

8 Motorcycles, 13 people, 1 car…. 1400 Kms approx…. 1 hell of a ride…!!!!

The Elite 13 :
Shashi+Sowmya
Shobhit
Sreenath
Keerthi
Satish+Shreya
Harinath+Pratima
Ramandeep
Mahesh
Alok+Nandini

Ask any avid biker,the night before a ride sleep just evades you. No matter how early you go to bed,you wont get sleep and also wake up before the alarm goes off. *SIGH*

Same thing happened with us. Keerthi stayed the night at my place,and we were as excited as kids for the ride. Finally managed to sleep around 12. Got up at 2:30 A.M ,freshened up, loaded our bulls,and off we went to our starting point at silk board.




Day 1 (Bangalore-Salem-Dindigul-Madurai-Rameswaram)

Reached the starting point expecting just our riders, but as usual Abdul bhai(Big B) was there waiting for us(no surprises there) with a delicious breakfast and tea/coffee. Loved the home-made omelettes. What better way to start the day. Thanks bhaijaan.

After filling up our hungry tummies,and hugs n wishes from Big B, we finally rode off at 4:45 A.M. What a sight it was to watch 8 bullets on the highways riding towards our first stop. While riding we realized that we can delay the first stop as our tummies were full and we can push off for breakfast. So after a small sutta break we did ride on to reach A2B at Dharmapuri (140 kms from Bangalore) at around 7:15 A.M.

002 - Highway Burnout -_
Riders on the highway!

**Just an FYI- When i had planned the ride,i always was telling the boys to reach Rameshwaram before 5 in the evening to see the sunset from pamban bridge.N this was used against me for pulling my leg throughout the ride. I genuinely did believe we can do it but as you will find out,we didn’t make it in time for sunset  **

Had breakfast(usual idli/dosa/upma n all) and filled fuel in the bikes and we were ready to ride on. Started  at around 8:20 A.M towards Salem. Next major stop was to be at Dindigul for the famous Ponram Biryani.
Rode on at decent speeds of 85/95 kmph. But what’s a ride without any breakdowns considering we all are Royal Enfield riders. After around 30 kms Raman’s chain link broke and chain fell off without him realizing for a very short while . A local guy on bike told him that his chain has fallen off,and took Raman on his bike to retrieve the chain,where another local was running off with the chain set. 1 guy helps and other plans to make merry with a free chain set,that’s our India.
Keerthi,Mahesh bhai, n myself fixed the chain link on Raman’s bike while others were waiting few kms ahead. Fixing took a little time as none of us were having expertise in it. Huffing and puffing we finally did it in 30 minutes i think. Others in the meanwhile had a nice nap while waiting for us.

Finally we again started riding towards Dindigul. The heat was extreme and we were praying for rains but alas,clouds were nowhere to be seen. TN has always been HOT. Crossed Cauvery river,thought of stopping but the heat didn’t help our cause and we rode on hoping to find a place with shade. On indian highways its difficult to find trees and shade right next to the road. Finally near Karur,we found a tea/juice shop and stopped for some much needed break and liquids(not the tonic you thinking of )

30 Minutes break and we were ready to hit the road again.Reached Dindigul around 1 P.M. I had made bookings  in Ponram Food Square for our lunch as it was right besides the bypass but little did i know there is a flyover on the bypass and the restaurant is right under the flyover. Imagine my surprise when i heard my GPS lady saying ‘you have reached your destination’ when i was over the flyover . Had to take a minor detour and finally we reached. Settled down for the famous biryani. It was delicious and very good but yeah we have had better biryani’s. A leisure break of one and half hours and after lot of leg pulling again (5 P.M Sunset ) ,at 2:30 P.M we finally started for Madurai which is around 90 kms from Dindigul.

012 - -_
Biryani lunch at Dindigul

As this was monsoon season,so rains were expected. And we were prepared. It started belting before we reached Madurai. Stopped to get our rains gears out,and we were ready to ride again.
(Here would like to share, 1 fellow known as 500shashi(cc) went missing ,i rode back rode ahead but he was nowhere to be found,his story comes later)
So we were on the road again,enjoying the much needed rains. Had to go slow because Shashi was missing. We were in 2 minds, if he is behind or ahead of us. Funny part is that he left his phone and wallet in the car. So with no way to contact him,we kept riding at a slow pace hoping to find him again. We entered Madurai,and as expected city traffic greeted us. Just then Shashi’s wife got a call that he is waiting for us at a weigh bridge just at the Rameswaram by-pass. He was waiting because his 500shashi(cc) bike ran out of fuel . Phewwww. Thank god, we wondered he would have reached Rameshwaram by himself if his bike had enough fuel . Finally reached the place where he was stranded and gave him a little piece of our minds and kept the rest for later at night’s daaru party(which he didn’t attend). So back on schedule,we started riding towards Rameswaram at around 5 PM. YES,5 PM – The time i hoped to be at pamban bridge to see the sunset . Jokes made at my expense were the fun part.

Madurai to Rameswaram is around 170 kms. Hoped to do it in 4 hours. But we didn’t take into consideration that this road is a two-way road. With buses zooming past at high speeds with high beams(F*** those bastards) and to top it all heavy rains again. Completely blinded, we decided that Alok in car should drive in front of us,so that we can at least follow the hazard indicators of the car. Doing speeds of 40-50 kmph,we crawled towards Rameswaram after picking up dinner from somewhere nearby the town. Finally we reached Pamban bridge, although it was pitch dark,still we all could feel the raw awesomeness of this place. The winds blowing,the complete eerie silence.. WOW….!!!!

10593092_10152446426349261_9026062531119817743_n
View from Pamban Bridge

After a break of 15 minutes we started towards the hotel. Reached the hotel at 11 PM. All we wanted was a nice bath and then some drinks. And the party started. Lots of bakar,lots of booze,lots of sorry’s(ask Alok) ,lots of crazy beach talks. At around 2:30 AM decided to call it a night after making plans for Dhanushkodi for the next morning…!!

Day 2 (Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi-Rameswaram-Madurai)

Finally managed to get up from Alok’s call around 7 AM. Ordered tea and went to check on others. Had tea and the usual morning round of bakar. Plan was to ride to Dhanushkodi by 9 AM so that we will be back to Rameswaram by 2 PM for lunch and then head to Madurai.

But as it happens, plans seldom work out. Finally managed to drag our A***S out of bed and by the time everyone was ready it was already 10 AM. High on excitement we all started towards Dhanushkodi…

The road from Rameswaram to Dhanushkodi was beautiful. With water on both sides,we stopped at few places for pics. The history behind the place was making us high on excitement. After around 20 kms,the tarmac road ends, from here small buses and 4*4 jeeps ply to take people to the end point known as rama sethu point(11-12 kms). We being bulleteers were definitely taking our beloved bikes till the end point.

005 - Highway Burnout -_
Wading through the soft sand
014 - -_
The 4*4 jeeps and mini buses

 

This ride of 12 kms is something which i wont ever forget,even the 12 others will agree. Started with a 100 meter patch of real soft sand. So 1st gear,full throttle,and NO CLUTCH- that’s the rule to ride here(Did research before coming here). Crossing this we thought easy-peasy, little did we know whats about to come. Took lot of pictures here and then started again. Carefully we went through the tracks made by the jeeps,with Raman’s and Mahesh’s go-pro capturing our ride. Let me add,its pretty easy when the sand is little damp,but hell difficult when it dry n soft. Huffing and puffing we reached till Dhanushkodi town where the old railway station used to be. Raman,Sreenath,Shreya and myself reached early and visited the temple nearby. The pujari had a lot of stories to share and was happy to see us riding bikes till there. Saw the famous floating stones(porous it is). Also the remains of the old railway station.

10599115_10152450440339145_7427998749059237847_n
Bikes at the remains of the old railway station

All came by that time and we refreshed ourselves with lime soda,amla,biscuits. (If u visiting this place,do carry lots n lots of water and some energy food too-you don’t get much here to eat except biscuits)
A group of Harley riders were there who came by SUV’s leaving their bikes on the mainland. They admired our bikes and took pics and went off.

007 - Highway Burnout -_
We all together at the remains of the church

From here another 5 kms was rama sethu point,which people advised to go in buses. But we still wanted to take our bikes so we went ahead. From here hell started. Tyre’s were going 1 feet inside the sand and was hell difficult to maintain balance. Worst part was the sun,happily burning us to the core. Somehow we kept going,but a point came where 4 bikes got stuck in the sand. Raman,Mahesh and Sreenath somehow found their way through the sand and reached the destination. My bike was stuck at a track where a bus and jeep were coming from the opposite direction. They were honking crazy and asking us to move away. Finally we had to lift the bike and change our direction. We took a perpendicular route and parked our bikes on the beach. Here,we were completely exhausted and were thinking of going back. Sun was too hot and drained out all our energy. 3 guys had already reached rama sethu point. We could see the place and then thought,come on guys we came till here, shouldn’t give up now. So mustered all our strength and decided to ride on. We now were riding right on the beach near water where the sand was damp and hard. It was much easier riding here., and awesome fun too. Finally completed the last stretch and we were finally there. Yayyy….!

Raman,Mahesh and Sreenath were waiting eagerly for us and cheering for us. What a sight it was,the violent Indian ocean on one side and the calm Bay of Bengal on the other side. With 8 bulls parked at the end point of India. WOW…!!! We couldn’t take the heat anymore,and dived into the sea for some much needed swim. What fun it was. The feeling of being at such a place which has so much history is just something that cannot be put into words..!!

004 - -_
The machines..! At the endpoint of India..!
015 - -_
The much needed dip in the ocean..!

40 Minutes later,we had to start back to Rameswaram and then on-wards to Madurai. Literally had to drag Alok & Nandini out of the water. This time we decided to ride along the coastline. It was amazing,imagine small waves touching your feet while you are riding. Return to Rameswaram didn’t take as much time and we were back by 3 PM. Had juice and some beer,gave our bikes for a much needed wash(All chrome parts had gone white because of salt water) and had awesome lunch at a very small hotel. Went back to hotel to freshen up hoping to start back for Madurai by 5 PM…(Which didn’t happen AGAIN) Some guys were still at the washer,so Alok,Nandini,Hari,Pratima,myself and Shreya went on towards Pamban Bridge for my much awaited and anticipated SUNSET. And as i had imagined it was breathtaking. Just loved the small fishing boats floating on the sea,it looked like someone has just put them there in symmetry for a portrait. After the sunset we went to Rameswaram temple but it was hell crowded so had to take darshan from the gates of deity’s abode. Rushed back to find everyone were ready,so we also packed our bags and loaded the bulls and were ready to hit the road again by 6:30 PM.

009 - Highway Burnout -_
Fishing boats at the bay

Just as we all fueled up and started,Mahesh’s bike gave some problem and stalled. Luckily found a mechanic nearby. It was a rectifier problem and good that Mahesh was carrying a spare one with him. Fixed it and off we went by 7 PM.

This ride back to Madurai was the most dull ride of the trip. Although traffic was less and weather was nice,but everyone was tired to the core. Rode on anyways,stopping in between as Keerthi’s bike fuses went off like diwali crackers. We put a new 1-POOF, another 1-POOF, another 1-POOF!!! Got to know its because of some wiring issue,so he had to ride without his headlights(LED’s were there). Stopped for dinner at around 10 PM at some unknown place. Had a good meal and off we went again. Shashi was getting drowsy so we asked him to sleep in car as we had 2 spare riders. But NO,bullet wale mante hi nahi. Had to reduce speeds,and by the time we reached Madurai it was almost 2 AM. Hell tired,we finally settled in our rooms. This hotel wasn’t even 1% good as the one in Rameswaram. As Mahesh said,this hotel was a ‘chaddar badlu‘ hotel. Had 2,3 drinks and off we went to bed and called it a night with plans of visiting the famous Meenakshi temple.

Day 3(Madurai-Dindigul-Salem-Bangalore)
Woke up to wild knocks on door by Shobhit as the hotel guy was asking us to remove our bikes from parking to take out other cars and all. After tea and bath few of us proceeded towards the temple. Shashi and his wife had already gone to the temple early morning. They came back when we were starting for temple. Keerthi,Raman and Mahesh stayed back as they had to visit a mechanic to sort out few problems in their bikes. Meenakshi temple is HUGE,that’s all i will say. Got tired of walking. But luckily we finished our darshan within an hour. The prasadam was tasty. Came out of the temple and proceeded for breakfast. But didn’t find any idli dosa or anything as it was already 12 PM..So went back to hotel and had an early lunch at a restaurant opposite to our hotel. Yummy food it was. Went back to room,packed up things and loaded our bulls for the final leg of our journey.

013 - Highway Burnout -_
Majestic Meenakshi temple

Started from Madurai at 2 PM and the city traffic and heat was killing us. Soon we were back on highway and then it was pleasant. It started raining again, and that was pleasant. Rode at good speeds and covered almost 170 kms in 3 hours and then stopped for tea. Here there was a discussion of how to reach Bangalore before 10:30 PM as Pratima had to catch a bus to Hyderabad at 11 PM. Finally decided that Alok in car and Hari should go ahead towards Salem and try to find if any bus is there from Salem to Hyderabad. Rest of us started around 10 minutes later. Reached Salem at around 6 PM and met up Alok and Hari with the bad news that there was no bus. Now Salem to Bangalore was another 200 kms so we still hoped that we can try and reach Bangalore before 12 AM,as there was a bus available at 1 AM. After a tea and sutta,we were back on roads and cruising at good speeds.

Little rains,nice cool breeze and we could feel we are nearing Bangalore. I was riding with all kind of thoughts,about how the ride went,what all we achieved which very less number of bikers have done,how we gelled together,how we stood by each other,remembering those sandy 12 kms made me smile, all our IBR virtues were still standing tall in my mind. Was feeling very proud and also sad that the ride is coming to an end and from tomorrow same old corporate life starts.

003 - Highway Burnout -_
On the way back to Bangalore

Around 10 PM we had reached Shoolgiri for dinner in McD’s. Had an awesome meal,i ate like Keerthi for the first time. Fueled up, and here came the big news. Pratima didn’t have to be present in her office on Monday so no hurry to go back to Hyderabad. So now with everyone happy(Specially Hari,he was dancing and jumping ), the ride was coming to an end. We did a burn-out right there at the fuel station. Loved the surprised eyes and looks people gave .

With that finally again geared up and started for the last 50 kms to Bangalore. Just after crossing Hosur Toll Booth,all stopped for saying goodbye’s and Bear hugs. From here everyone went their own way. Finally the ride was coming to an end. We 5,6 were going towards the same location,so those 20 kms also were done in proper formation .

Finally reached home. Checked with everyone if all reached their homes. Got out of riding gears and freshened up. And opened my poison for 2 pegs and also to think of the last 3 days. These 3 days will be printed in my memories forever, 8 bikes,1 car,13 awesome people… ONE HELLUVA RIDE…!

All pictures courtesy : Harinath

 

Advertisements

Author: oneguymanyjourneys

Biker, beard lover, dog lover, adventure seeker, sports enthusiast, Fauji brat, Indian!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s