Temple elephants
Indias holy animals


The Jambukeswara temple elephant

The Jambukeswara temple in South India is one of the "Pancha Bhoota Sthalams" or the "Five Elements Temples" dedicated to Lord Shiva, situated around Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu.

Elephants are considered very holy and a representation of the much loved and revered elephant God, Ganesh or Ganapati.

From my travel blog: As usual feeling happy and soft hearted, when visiting these holy shrines, I went inside the huge temple complex and to my amazement found the elephant stable right inside after the Gopuram. The mahut (elephant keeper and trainer) was about to get the temple elephant ready for the daily walk around in the temple complex.
The little she-elephant was decorated mainly in the head and on the ears - only a simple decoration, as it was a "normal" day in the temple, not a big festival day!

A carefull and professional mahut decorating the temple elephant

The keeper is very happy with this elephant

Applying white colour ...

 ... and kumkum, the holy powder used in all hindu rituals and ceremonies.

Finish and ready!


A walk in the temple compound

The daily walk

The mahut is looking very pleased with the little she-elepant


And what she can do ...

From scared little she-elepant trained for only eight months
to be the pride of the Jambukeswara temple!

This little 9 1/2 year old she-elephant had only been in the temple for a few weeks. The old temple elephant had died and she came all the way from the Assam province. The mahut had trained her in Assam. Finding her easy to train, it was decided to buy her.

The elephants are strongly connected to their mahut, and the "relationship" normally lasts for life. Keeping elephants, training them etc. is enherited from father to son and is a very respected job.

The elpphant had been used to work with timber the place she was born, and had been fairly mistreated in her old "job". She had been very thin at arrival to the Jambukeswara temple, but having her own doctor, she quickly recovered. Now only a few bruises can be seen.
That's why she was bought for a resonable price. Trained elephants in India are very expensive.

Living all her life in the temple, her job to bless people visiting the temple. You give her a coin. you bow before her and she touches you a few times on your head.
Having seen many small chlidren cry out loud from fres the first times, the parents are extremely happy for the blessing of the child. The elepants are very gentle to especially to children.

The elephants are also the main attraction at festivals, in processions in the temple area and outside in the city.

Keeping elephants in India often gives you surprising experiences. One of the more peculiar sights, were on a drive on the highway in South India. Suddently you can see an elephant in the middle of the road on it's way to a festival or helping with work in another town.

"OM gam Ganapataye Namah!" 

Page not finished still under construction sorry!
More photos will come.



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