I liked the view of the fishing village on Pamban’s beach from the road bridge over the Palk strait. In one glance you could guess the main sources of income: fish and coconut. At the horizon here you can see the long isthmus which leads to Dhanushkodi. Since Dhanushkodi port and town was drowned in 1964, Pamban island only has two towns: Pamban and Rameswaram. The vanished economic prosperity created by Dhanushkodi port has not really been compensated by anything new. Tourism and pilgrimage are the mainstays of the island.
The Pamban channel had a flotilla of boats. One reads in newspapers every month about low-level friction between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen. This is one of the communities on the Indian which must be most affected by the mismatch of international treaty borders and traditional fishing rights. The Sri Lankan navy patrols the international border and is not very friendly to the Tamil fishermen who stray. It will require decades of effort on both sides for this irritant to be resolved.
In Pamban we passed many small churches. The biggest was the very striking one whose photo you can see above. It is clear what the profession of the majority of the congregation is. Pamban island has a curious mixture of faiths. The most famous person from this island was A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, once the chief of ISRO, and later president of the country. An interestingly large number of shops are named after him; an even larger number have huge portraits of him framed on the wall. Before 1964 there must have been good schools and inspiring teachers here.