Drona (elephant)

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SpeciesAsian elephant
Bornc. 1936[1]
Died1998 (aged 61–62)
Balle, Heggadadevana kote, Karnataka, India
Nation fromIndia
OccupationGolden Howdah carrier
Years active1981–1997

Drona (c. 1936 – 1998) was one the lead Dasara Elephants of the Jamboo Savari of Mysore Dasara. He carried the Golden Howdah for a record 18 years consecutive years between 1981 and 1997, before being electrocuted while grazing in 1998.[2] Of all the carrier elephants since the 20th-century, he is considered the best "because he possessed an excellent ability to learn and correct himself".[3]

The name[edit]

The elephant was named after Drona, the great guru of Mahabharata. In the epic, Dronacharya is a priest, but he was so mature and intelligent that he taught warfare for a livelihood. The elephant Drona was named so because of his amazing ability to learn and correct himself.


Drona was captured in a khedda operation in the Kakanakote forest area of Heggadadevana kote in 1971. He was used for a brief period in Shimoga to carry timber. Doddappaji was Drona's mahout. Doddappaji's association with Drona began from the day it was captured, as his father, Chennakeshavaiah, was in charge of taming it. Having grown up together, he understood the animal better than anyone else.[4]

The Mahout[edit]

Doddappaji, who once handled Drona, the elephant that carried the howdah, has refused to take part in the Dasara festivities since Drona was electrocuted. A third generation mahout and an expert in taming wild elephants, Doddappaji is haunted by memories of Drona. After the death of Drona, he has requested senior officials not to ask him to participate in the "Jamboo Savari." The mahout says he has not come across another elephant that matches the size and strength of Drona, whom people adored for his gentle behaviour.


Drona died of electrocution in 1998, when he was grazing in the Nagarhole National Park, that spans across the borders of Kodagu and Mysore districts of Karnataka.[4] In a village, Balle, attempting to eat the leaves from a tree, he pulled down the trunk, which brought down a high-tension power cable and instantly electrocuted him. Following his death, Drona was mourned in Karnataka.


  • Drona attained celebrity status in Karnataka for its majestic gait, grace and timid behaviour.
  • The elephant was very sensitive, he just wouldn’t relish the idea of anybody other than his mahout sitting atop him. Drona would shrug and shake his back, if any of us ‘lesser mortals’ tried hitching a ride.
  • Drona had amazing ability to learn and correct himself. When the Golden Howdah shifted left or right during the procession, Drona could move his muscles selectively and stabilize the weight. His trainers were very surprised because they had not trained Drona in this skill.
  • Drona also practiced energy conservation techniques, he would walk slow early in the procession to conserve energy.
  • Drona had rigid eating habits, he was very particular about his diet, and always ate in solitude.
  • Drona's Mahout did not wear slippers while mounting the animal as it was considered sacred.
  • Drona had a perfect curve on its back to carry the 800 kg howdah.


  1. ^ David, Stephen (27 October 1997). "Dussehra Drona". India Today. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Balarama to lead despite strange behavior". Bangalore Mirror. 12 October 2012. Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  3. ^ P. K. Surendran. "Balarama is raring to go". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b Srivatsa, Sharath A. (13 September 2005). "A gentle giant he cannot get out of his mind". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 October 2015.

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