|Place of interest|
|• Official||Malayalam, English|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Punnathurkotta was once the palace of a local ruler, but the palace grounds are now used to house the elephants belonging to the Guruvayoor temple, and has been renamed Anakkotta (meaning "Elephant Fort"). There were 86 elephants housed there, but currently there are about 59 elephants. The elephants are ritual offerings made by the devotees of Lord Guruvayurappa.
This facility is also used to train the elephants to serve Lord Krishna as well as to participate in many festivals that occur throughout the year. The oldest elephant is around 82 years of age and is called 'Ramachandran'. The rituals of Gajapooja (Worshipping Elephants) and Anayoottu (Feeding Elephants) are observed here, as an offering to Lord Ganesha. The legendary elephant "Guruvayur Keshavan" was housed here.
The compound also has a naalu kettu, a traditional rectangular home with a central courtyard, which belonged to the Punnathur Raja. It is poorly maintained and presently houses a training school for Papans (Mahout).
This complex also contains a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Bhagavathy. Some scenes in the famous Malayalam movie "Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha" (starring Mammooty) were filmed at this location. The visiting hours are 8.00 AM to 6.00 PM. The entry fee is Rs 10 per adult. An extra Rs 25 is charged for to use a camera inside the complex.
Elephant Camp at Punnathurkotta
The Elephant Camp is located in Punnathur Kotta, at a distance of 3 km from the Guruvayur Temple. This Elephant Camp houses 58 elephants in 11.5 acres of land and is famous for housing the largest numbers of elephants in the smallest acreage of land. ( As per the regulations of the Central Zoo Authority of India, one elephant in captivity must have a minimum of 1.25 acres of land as holding area and this is in direct violation of the CZA norms, the Project Elephant Guidelines, and the conditions under which ownership has been granted under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972).
A serious violation of all the rules and laws are the shelters provided - this facility has 8 sheds for the 50 odd elephants housed here. Thus most of them are exposed completely to the elements all year round, standing in their own faeces, urine and food waste. The other glaring violation is the lack of running water in the facility, with just 3 algae filled tanks and drinking water provided from water hoses.
The 'fascinating' feature is that all the elephants are 'offerings' that are made (donated) by the devotees, (degrading them to the level of commodities), to the temple, ignoring the fact that these animals are sentient beings. The camp also acts as a training school for the elephants. All the bull (male) elephants here are trained to participate in major processions and daily temple rituals. This camp is visited by several tourists every year. There are many instances of elephants running amok, getting beaten by the mahouts, suffering grievous injuries and becoming handicapped at this facility. All the elephants, barring a few, earn a sizable revenue for the temple since they are hired out and forced to participate in temple festivals from October to April every year.
Animal welfare at this elephant sanctuary has come into question due to several videos being posted online of elephants displaying stereotypic behavior, being chained by the ankles with very short chains and one obviously being beaten. Following these allegations in the media and after receiving a lot of complaints, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) commissioned an inspection of the animals housed in the premises and its facilities. The Commission submitted its report in September 2014. In spite of the report highlighting the pathetic conditions in which the elephants were being housed, the violations of in welfare norms including that of feed, water and veterinary care, no action has been taken by the authorities in spite of numerous reminders by the AWBI.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Punnathurkotta.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Punnathur Kotta Elephant Sanctuary.|
- Kerala Tourism
- Guruvayur Devaswom
- Guruvayoor elephants
- Travel Feature
- Photo album
- Mathrubhumi Yatra Article
- Indian Columbus. "Punnathur Kotta Elephant Sanctuary - Guruvayur, Kerala, India". Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- Thrissur Kerala. "Punnathur Kotta". Retrieved 19 July 2012.