1964 Storm

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Dhanushkodi has the only land border between India and Sri Lanka which is one of the smallest in the world just 50 yards in length on a sand dune in Palk Strait. Before the 1964 cyclone, Dhanushkodi was a flourishing tourist and pilgrimage town. Since Ceylon now Sri Lanka is just 18 miles away, there were many weekly ferry services between Dhanushkodi and Thalaimannar 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 Rameshwaram then and destroyed in the 1964 cyclone-went directly from Mandapam to Dhanushkodi. Dhanushkodi in those days boasted of a railway station, a small railway hospital, a post office and some state government departments like fisheries etc. It was here in this island in January 1897, Swami Vivekananda after his triumphant visit to the west to attend parliament of religions held in USA in September 1893, set his foot on Indian soil from Columbo. Before the storm, there was a train service up to Dhanushkodi called Boat Mail from Madras Egmore Now Chennai Egmore and the train linked to a steamer for ferrying travellers to Ceylon. During the 1964 storm a huge wave of about 20 ft came crashing on the town from Palk Bay/Strait east of the town and destroyed the whole town, a passenger train, and the Pamban Rail Bridge -tragically all happening at the dead of the night. The storm was unique in many ways. It all started with a formation of a depression with its centre at 5N 93E in South Andaman Sea on 17 December 1964. On 19 December it intensified into a cyclonic storm. The formation of depression at such low latitudes as 5N is rare in Indian seas though such cases of typhoon development within 5 degrees of Equator has been reported in North Western Pacific. The Rameshwaram storm was not only formed at such low latitude but also intensified into a severe cyclonic storm at about the same...
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