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Kerala's Elegant Elephant Enclaves

Updated on March 30, 2017
'Ezhunnallippu', a temple ritual in Kerala
'Ezhunnallippu', a temple ritual in Kerala | Source

You are an animal lover and your most loved one is the elephant. You wish to watch this elegant animal and in large number. You also like to learn more about the jumbo animal. But you are clueless how to proceed and where to go about. Then, be cheerful. You have a good place for your elephantine exploration. 'The God's Own Country' better known as Kerala is your right destination.

Kerala, a southern state in India is famous as well as infamous for a lot of reasons. The most literate, hygienic and beautiful Kerala is a paradise of elephants. It is the right place for elephant enthusiasts to observe the features of this big black animal and understand their behavior to some extent. As Kerala has the largest presence of both wild and domesticated elephants, you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy these 'black beauties'. To update your elephant -knowledge, I may also inform that the Asian elephants are known to be more attractive and among the Asians, the Kerala brand is the most beautiful and attractive one.

Video of Guruvayoor Aanakotta (Elephant Park)

Kerala's Elephant Circuit


By Road: Regular Bus service from all towns/cities of Kerala

Nearest Railway Station: Guruvayoor. Trains from Ernakulam & Trivandrum side available. Those coming from Kozhikode/Calicut need to alight at Kuttippuram or Pattambi.

Nearest Airport: Cochin Airport, Nedumbassery.


By Road: 90 minutes journey from Kochi

Nearest Railway Station: Aluva, 28 km, west of the village

Nearest Airport: Cochin Airport, Nedumbassery


By Road : Taxi & Buses available from Kottayam

Nearest Railway Station: Kottayam (114 km)

Nearest Airport: Cochin Airport, Nedumbassery

For your observation or study on elephants, you can visit the enchanting elephant circuits such as Guruvayoor (Punnathurkotta), Mangalamkunnu Elephant Village, Kodanad, Konni and Thekkady.

All Malayalees love elephants. All religious people respect this giant animal. It could be the reason why most of the major temple festivals in Kerala parading tuskers. The Churches and Mosques also display the animal during their festival procession. The famous Thrissur Pooram and Guruvayoor festival give us ample opportunity to watch the spectacular sight of the caparisoned pachyderms being paraded with pride. You cannot see such a magnificent scene of elephants standing together anywhere in the world. The most spectacular sight of the paraded elephants you can watch is at Aratupuzha in Thrissur. More than 60 elephants representing as many deities take part in the festival. Thus, Arattupuzha Pooram is considered to be the most extravagant of all temple festivals Kerala being witnessed.

The most amazing aspect of Kerala's elephant story is that here you can see both wild and mild (read domesticated) animals. Kerala has a thick forest in a match with its abundant greenery. The forest in Wayanad like Muthanga and Tholpetty, the forest in Idukki, Malappuram, Palakkad, Pathanamthitta have good habitation of elephants. I had had the opportunity of observing some wild elephants during my forest journey to Muthanga and Walayar in Kerala and Bandipur of Karnataka and in the Muthumala forest of Tamil Nadu. It was a challenging experience. The domesticated animals are more in Thrissur and Kollam. The domestication of the elephant is not a common thing elsewhere in the world. But is a common sight in Kerala. I remember having read once that like Kerala, Thailand too has a large stock of elephants and the people there too love the animal so fondly.

The people of Kerala love, respect and worship elephants. The animal has a relevant place in Hindu mythology. Ganesha, the 'God of Obstacle Remover' is often called 'Elephant God' since he bears the face of an elephant. Those who wish to learn more about Ganesha and how he got the elephant face can ready my hub 'Ganesha, The God of Good Beginning and Prosperity'.

If you are an elephant enthusiast, the place I suggest you to visit is Thrissur as I have observed that the people of Thrissur are the great fans of this animal. They love it like anything. The people there consider the animal as a symbol of status and prosperity.

As keeping an elephant at home is a huge task involving great spending of money, only the rich can accord this practice. the domesticated animal needs the care and guidance of a professional mahout. The elephant lovers always eloquently talk about the temple elephants. They have even ranked the elephants in Kerala according to certain features of these tuskers. As per 'Aanashastram', a scientific text on elephants, there are some features an elephant to possess to classify it as a 'VIP'. Obviously, the owners and lovers of high ranked or VIP animals walk and talk in a superiority feel.

Though these animals cost hundreds of thousands of bucks to the owner, they bring him high revenue too. The rent or fee charged for parading elephants for temple festivals, exhibitions and also for lifting heavy goods, loading and unloading of timber, etc., are the sources of money for the owner. The owner of the high ranked elephants will be paid more. For the temple authority, parading the 'VIP' elephant is a prestige matter and they don't mind in spending more for bringing the best for the purpose.

Watch this Official Video of Kerala Tourism Dept. to know more about "Anayoottu"

'Anayootu' (Elephant Feeding)

Elephants follow a vegetarian diet. Keeping of elephant is a costly affair. The salary of the mahout, feeding, etc., cost dearly. Feeding of proper and rich food is essential for the health of these animals. There is a ritual in this regard every year at various places of Kerala. It is religiously practiced at Vadakkumknathan Temple, Thrissur and Guruvayyor.

This ritual is done to please Lord Ganesha, the elephant-faced god. This is usually conducted in July, a time by which the elephants are back on their own camp after a long season of festivals. They get relief during this season as there is no festival during the time and moreover it is Monsoon season.

The elephants get best food and treatment during the time of 'Anayoottu'. Sugarcane leaves, coconut, jaggery, banana and sweet Ganapati pooja 'prasadam' are lavishly offered. The animals get proper rest also during the period. You can watch the above video for more details.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The most popular Arattupuzha FestivalA temple ritual involving elephantsElephants in accouterments A picture taken during the famous Thrissur PooramElephants gazing at MunnarElephants at KodanadAn elephant in Muthanga Forest, a danger one if roaming alone.Elephants crossing a road passing through a forest'Anayottam' (Elephant race) at GuruvayoorWild Elephants in MunnarA scene from Punnathurkotta, GuruvayurDon't worry, it is a bath scene!
The most popular Arattupuzha Festival
The most popular Arattupuzha Festival | Source
A temple ritual involving elephants
A temple ritual involving elephants | Source
Elephants in accouterments
Elephants in accouterments | Source
A picture taken during the famous Thrissur Pooram
A picture taken during the famous Thrissur Pooram | Source
Elephants gazing at Munnar
Elephants gazing at Munnar | Source
Elephants at Kodanad
Elephants at Kodanad | Source
An elephant in Muthanga Forest, a danger one if roaming alone.
An elephant in Muthanga Forest, a danger one if roaming alone.
Elephants crossing a road passing through a forest
Elephants crossing a road passing through a forest
'Anayottam' (Elephant race) at Guruvayoor
'Anayottam' (Elephant race) at Guruvayoor | Source
Wild Elephants in Munnar
Wild Elephants in Munnar | Source
A scene from Punnathurkotta, Guruvayur
A scene from Punnathurkotta, Guruvayur | Source
Don't worry, it is a bath scene!
Don't worry, it is a bath scene! | Source


After the Guruvayoor Deavaswom, the Mangalamkunnu Tharavadu also known as the 'Elephant House' owns the highest number of domesticated tuskers. While Guruvayoor has 60 elephants, it is 13 at Mangalamkunnu, all beautiful and more than 300 cm tall. This house also accommodates some of the most prestigious elephants in Asia. Since some of the biggest animals in Kerala are here, the place is a favorite destination of elephant lovers and tourists. The second and the third largest elephant in Kerala are here. To reach here, the nearest railway station is Ottapalam (19km) and the nearest airport is Karipur International Airport (70km). (See the box for other elephant locations).

'Aana', that is the Malayalam term for the elephant. ("Aa" to be pronounced as the sound "A" in "Ant"). 'Aana premi' means the elephant lover. If you are an elephant lover, Kerala is undoubtedly your right choice. Where else on the earth you can find so many elephants in accouterments?

"The God's own country' is the country of elegant elephants too", a statement you may scribble on the visitors' diary after your elephantine experience in Kerala.

Google Map of Guruvayoor

A markerGuruvayur temple -
Guruvayur Devaswom, Guruvayoor, Kerala 680101, India
get directions

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© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth


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    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 3 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      You can see a lot of elephants in Kerala. The people here love the animal like anything. Thank you for visiting and commenting on my elephant story.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      What a wonderful adventure it would be to visit there. I have adored elephants since i was a little girl ...even before I ever saw one as an adult.

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      Angels are on the way once again to you ps

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hello WhiteMuse

      Glad to note you loved the hub and our love for elephant. As you said, the elephants too love to remain in Kerala as they get such love, care and treatment here. Thanks for your comments.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hi sgbrown

      I too glad that you love my hub on elephant. Like you, I too love very much the animal. We Keralites treat it well. I am happy that you wish to visit Kerala one day. I request you to read my other articles too related to Kerala, The God's Own Country. Thanks for your visit, comments and vote. Keep on watching for more.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hi Pinto2011

      Thank you very much for your comments. Glad to note you have good idea about Kerala and you love the place too much. Thanks for your visit, comments and support.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)


      Thanks for your compliments. Glad to note you have some idea on Kerala and her elephants and also about the famous Thrissur Pooram. Your vote also is appreciated. Keep on following.

    • profile image

      WhiteMuse 4 years ago

      It looks like the elephants are treated well there. I hope the elephants like it too. It really made my day today.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 4 years ago from India

      Excellent hub!

      You have brought out the glory God’s own country and her elephants in this article.

      I enjoyed reading it

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I'm glad to see that the elephant is so highly thought of in Kerala. I am sure they are treated well. They are such amazing animals to me and I would love to visit Kerala some day and see all these places and events in person! The elephants are just beautiful in all their adornments! Voted this up, interesting and beautiful! :)

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi sunilkunnoth! You have really written a very well peek-a-boo of this place. Not only elephants, its backwaters, houseboats, fish, dance, greenery, Ayurvedic spa, Yogic healing centers and everything else is unmatchable to any other part of the world. It is simply unique.

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 4 years ago from chennai

      Beautiful Kerala. The scenic beauty of Kerala is always a treat to watch and the decorated elephants Thirsuur Puraam is world famous and your hub has done credit to it. Voted up sunil.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Oh! So glad to note that you have visited Kerala. Hope you will come again and explore the state in its entirety. Thank you for your comments.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      When I was in Kerala, I was there for a short time (only two days). And I could not see Kerala in her entirety. Hopefully, I will see every thing when I travel there again.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hi srsddn

      As your customary practice, this time also you came as the first comment-maker soon after I published yet another hub. I acknowledge your true spirits and love for my hometown The God's Own Country. I welcome you to this lovely land to watch our colorful festival and the elephants with costume and ornaments. You are lucky that you could visit Dehra Dun. It is one of my dream place to visit once. My love to the place doubled after I finished a book written by Ruskin Bond. Hope I will make a trip once. Thank you for your wonderful comments and support. I hope you enjoy hubbing and achieve some positive results soon.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 4 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      sunilkunnoth2012, your Hubs on any subject related to 'God's own country' always attract me. I got an opportunity to see some elephants in the thick forests of Dehra Dun as a student. It is good to see an elephant with all its costumes during festivals. Thanks for sharing such a useful information.