Old Dhanushkodi

The area around Rameswaram is prone to high-intensity geomorphic activity. 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 under 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 a ghost town, unfit for living.

In December 2004, around the 40th anniversary of the deadly cyclone, the sea around Dhanushkodi receded about 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the coastline, briefly exposing the submerged part of the town before massive tsunami waves struck the coast.

The wreckage of the Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi passenger train, which was hit by the cyclone and tidal waves that struck the area on Dec. 22, lies half submerged here. More than 115 people died in the area-wide calamity 1964.12.31 (UPI Radiophoto)

The locomotive in the picture is B Class 4-6-0 No. 31376 built by North British.