Abandonment of Dhanushkodi

How many such abandonned, submerged places are in our memories or narratives from past 2000 years

Rupa Bhaty
4 min readSep 14, 2021

Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town at the south-eastern tip of Pamban Island of the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is south-east of Pamban and is about 24 kilometres (15 mi) west of Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. The town was destroyed during the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone and remains uninhabited in the aftermath — Google.

Another memory hails from way back 5000 BC.

Pic 1. from German Memories in Asia — By Rajkumar Kanagasingam · 2007

The flourishing city and general plan of the city of Puhar is described in considerable detail in the fifth book of Silapathikaram. One can read in brief about it here.

The ancient city of Puhar was destroyed by the sea around 300 BC. Marine archeologists from the National Institute of Oceanography have established that this could have been the effects of sediment erosion and periodic tsunamis. Such a tsunami is mentioned in the Tamil poem Manimekhalai — Wiki

We have one such cultural memory of submergence of Poompuhar near Madurai which was authenticated by the research — read here.

Dhanushkodi in sussession went down in yet another Tsunami in 1964. It appears that likewise Puhar, Poompugaar/Poompuhaar (name and city ) shifted towards shore each time it experienced a deluge for last 20,000+ years due to various reasons. See the pic 2. below.

Pic 2.

One can note from the above pic that last -4m shores drowned around 7000 yrs before present. This is an important note which we will be using to evaluate Shrilanka’s bathymetric ( shoreline and measurement of depths by the side of it) situation around its island as well as around the Palk strait/Adam’s bridge.

Pic 3. Typical sea level rise in particular areas; Not all sealevel rises equally, there are certain sealevel drops also.

The above picture shows, that around Palk Strait — Adam’s bridge as well as Gulf of Cambay, there had been considerable rise of sea level in regional levels. In almost 15 years the rise is around 5 cm.( read here). The rise is rapid. This had been the phenomena before 1993 as well.

Another researcher Unnikrishnan Alakkat of National Institute of Oceanography researched about changes in extreme sea levels along the east coast of India and at the head of the Bay of Bengal. These were studied by analyzing hourly tide gauge data at Visakhapatnam, Chennai and Hiron Point. At Hiron Point, the increase in the 99th percentile of sea level shows an increase of 5.2 mm/yr, which is consistent with changes in mean sea level. This tide-gauge station is located on the deltaic region.

Millennium-old ‘sunken town’ found off Tamil Nadu. Read more about this lost memory of a sunken city with huge length wall submerged in sea just few Kilometers away from the shore:

One can now easily evaluate on what would had been the condition of depth of oceans, i.e., bathymetry around Shrilanka. Lets dive in.

The above picture clears all the doubts what would be the situation of Palk strait even 2000 years ago. I have already given the data about the sea level rise in Pic 3. The yellow to orange area is bound to increase with sea level around Palk Strait. One can see that the palk strait has hardly and mostly only -2m depth except for a little mid portion which is -5m. One can easily imagine that this is not the case of Rama-setu. The mere 10 km distance doesn’t appear to be 100 yojanas in any Indian scale of measurement (whether of larger values or lesser values as was and is being debated on social media by various so called authentic researchers who have taken vow to eradicate storymakers, — i.e., me, from the face of the earth).

Well, the write up is about How many such, i.e. Dhanushkodi, abandonned, submerged places are in our memories or narratives from past 2000 years. And the answer would be — “?” — well well!.

Then how do we have the memory of “portion of” Lanka being submerged some 14000 years ago or how the name Lanka shifted to Shrilanka? There are so many questions that calls for answer. But there sould be questions first, isn’t it. Why did I write “portion of” Lanka, for that you will have to wait for the book.

— Excerpts, “Negation of Shrilanka to be the Historical Lanka” from my upcoming book — Tale of Three Cities, Kurukṣetra, Avantī & Laṅkā



Rupa Bhaty

Architect and Adjunct Assistant Professor at School of Indic studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, MA, USA