Category Archives: Landscape

Danushkodi

A few weeks back, my friends and I visited Danushkodi, the southern most tip of India. We first went to Rameshwaram, had bath in all the 22 wells and worshiped Lord Shiva in the temple, and then went to Danushkodi. Danushkodi is a small village in the southernmost part of Rameshwaram island, midway between India and Sri Lanka and is just about 30 km. far from the ‘tear drop’ island(Sri Lanka). It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. Danush means bow and Kodi means the end. This is the place where Lord Rama struck a bow to break the sethu that he built, to rescue his consort Sita from Sri Lanka. The breaking of the sethu(bridge) was done on the request of Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana and ally of Rama. That is how the place got its name.

Danushkodi in all its glory

This is the place where the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet. It is a spectacular sight to see. One part of the water body is quite calm and serene whereas the other part is full of energy and spirit. The difference can literally be seen. The beach here is very beautiful as is everywhere else in the world. Here also one can see the typical white and turquoise blue colour combination(white coloured sand and turquoise blue coloured water) just as in most of the beaches around the world. But what makes the Danushkodi beach different from the rest of the beaches is that, there is one particular point in the island(you can see that in the picture below) where you have water on all three sides and land on just one side. This is easily the best part of the island. You have water coming in from all three sides and when you stand there bare foot, its a beautiful experience to feel the loose beach sand beneath your feet get washed away by the force of the waves. Only the part that you are standing on, gets washed away. A hollow starts to appear beneath your feet. The area around you remains at the same level. It is almost as if you were sinking into the sand. Then there is the wind blowing from all directions. This part of India is totally cut off from the rest of the world. There is nothing but peace here, of course apart from the roaring of the waves and the murmuring of the wind.

It is said that when looked from this point, about 2 to 6 km far away, one can see a change in the pattern of the waves, almost as  if the waves were crashing against something beneath the surface of water. This is the Rama Sethu, the bridge built by Rama with the help of monkeys, with stones, to save Sita who had been abducted by Ravana and taken to Lanka.

The ride to Danushkodi was however, very tedious. We were taken in huge trucks which are capable of containing about 20 people, when jam packed. There were times when we thought that the truck would just topple. Luckily it didn’t 🙂 But the trouble was worth it.

Danushkodi had been a developing town before 1964. But in the year 1964, a highly intense storm destroyed the town severely. Before the disaster there had even been trains that ran from Danushkodi to Pamban but the storm caused severe damage to the railway tracks. The remnants of the railway tracks as well as the railway station can still be seen.

A trip to Rameshwaram is incomplete without visiting Danushkodi.

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The Queen of Kerala Backwaters

Recently my friends and I visited a place where houseboats were being made. The owner of the business started way back in 1986 and the business is flourishing very well. The interior of the houseboats was so intricate. From the living area to the kitchen to the washroom to the living room, everything about her looked so serene.

A Basic House Boat on the Ashtamudi Backwaters in KollamThis is a basic house boat with two bedrooms and a kitchen and living room floating on the Ashtamudi Backwaters in Kollam district of Kerala.

The houseboat that we visited, had only two bedrooms and of course a kitchen and a living room. But the people there, claim to have built houseboats with eleven storeys or so. The eleven stories were divided into ten bedrooms and a kitchen on the ground level (as in the first level) and  one bedroom and a huge living room on the top. When the guide first said that the living room was on the top of the boat, personally I felt a little weird, because we usually have living rooms in the ground level, in our houses. But then one trip to the top floor removed all my doubts as to why the living room was being designed in the top instead of the bottom-most floor as is the case of ordinary houses. The view from the top of the living room is exotic. A part of it is even open with no foliage. You need not use your imagining capacity too much to guess how beautiful and calm a place like backwaters of Kerala would be. The scenery is picturesque , with the horizon showing only three things – coconut trees ,coconut trees and coconut trees.

As you must be knowing , Kerala is famous for the abundant number of coconut trees that grow here. It also provides a good range of employment opportunities to many along with providing .

OK, now coming back to house boats , the makers of the boat have made sure that even the most minute of details, like the door and the bolt on the door and several other places have been taken care of and though they have tried to give the boats a posh look (like in the case of wash rooms which are styled in the European manner) keeping in mind, the taste of the tourists who come here, who are mostly foreigners, they have not forgotten to give it an authentic look, an ancient look. Like I mentioned earlier, the doors of bedrooms are not of the modern type. They have been designed to be a replica of how the door locks were, in olden days, in Kerala. You can still see locks like that in palaces in Kerala. They are famously known as ‘Manichitra poottu’ where ‘poottu’ means lock.

For the benefit of those who do not know what a Manichitra pootu is, the above is a picture of the Manichitra lock as seen in the boat.

The roofs have been made with great care and hard work so that they are not porous and non-porous roofs are a must in Kerala even in the houses considering the plentiful quantity of rains that this small state receives. They have first covered it with P V C sheets and then beneath the sheets they have placed a layer of coconut leaf blades. This layer is thin and is capable of falling down , if proper support is not provided. Thus to prevent this layer from falling they have also placed a layer of thick bamboo sticks crisscrossing each other and tied up with rope. They say they did not stop with just the P V C sheet so that it would keep the interior of the boat, cool. Also the more the number of layers on the roof, the more is the roof non-porous. The walls have also been built with the blades of coconut leaves.

The roof of the House Boat

The staircase leading the way up , is spiral and one has to be very careful while climbing these because they have railing only one side. All the furniture inside the boat is carved out of Banyan wood – everything including the stairs, doors, windows, etc.. The boat is itself made of Banyan wood.

The spiral staircase leading upwards to the living room

The washroom has been designed European as I mentioned earlier. The water that is used is recycled using special cleansing tablets that kill germs and remove them from water thereby making the water safe for future use. Thus, due to this process recycling only very little amount of water gets accumulated as waste even over a long period of time. I think this is a great idea to reduce the waste water.Besides it also conserves water by treating and using the same water.

The experience was absolutely wonderful. But what amazes me the most is that the people have not graduated in engineering, but still know all the concepts related to engineering, in building a boat so that it does moves smoothly in water and not only do they know concepts but also know how to apply  them. Moral of the day : You need not be a know-it-all to succeed in life. All you need to have is a little amount of common sense and creativity along. Instead of just following the bandwagon, think independently and have little bit of courage to take risk. This can definitely take you to great heights.