Jumbo fun! 48-day annual retreat for temple elephants takes off in Tamil Nadu; Details

By: |
February 9, 2021 4:04 PM

In order to prevent wild elephants from entering the premises of the camp, the area has been solar-fenced and watchtowers have been established.

elephant retreat Tamil NaduIn 2021, the retreat is hosting as many as 26 female elephants from across the state. (Image: IE/Nithya Pandiyan)

Elephant retreat: Temple elephant retreat in Tamil Nadu begins! In Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district, at the Thekkampatti village near Mettupalayam, this year’s edition of the annual 48-day retreat for captive elephants began on Monday, according to a report in IE. The retreat, which has been organised by the Hindu Religions and Charitable Trust, was inaugurated when the elephants were fed fruits and sugarcane by Forest Minister Dindigul Srinivasan, Hindu Religions and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Minister Sevur S Ramachandran, and Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani.

The preparations for the retreat had begun a few months ago by the government of Tamil Nadu, and it had asked the mahouts and their assistants who were planning to attend the retreat to give their COVID-19 negative certificates. Only upon furnishing these certificates were they allowed to enter the camp.

The report cited officials as saying that Rs 1.67 crore had been allocated to the camp for the setting up of shelters, walking tracks, mobile toilets, bathing platforms, food court and kitchen, among other things. This amount was also used to ensure that adequate necessary medicines were arranged for the elephants and the people coming to the camp along with the majestic creatures.

In order to prevent wild elephants from entering the premises of the camp, the area has been solar-fenced and watchtowers have been established.

This camp had been the brainchild of former Tamil Nadu CM Late J Jayalalithaa, who had come up with this to provide these jumbos with rest and relaxation, along with nutritious food, as these mighty creatures are usually kept chained and lodged in small spaces and often do not get proper food at temples. It then became an annual retreat and at the camp, the elephants were pampered and provided ample food, long walks in jungle-like ambience, showers and anything else they could need. The camp has now also come to be known as a place where elephants strike friendships with each other, some even forging friendships that last through the years and are visible in every annual retreat.

In 2021, the retreat is hosting as many as 26 female elephants from across the state, including the famous Sengamalam, who became an internet sensation due to her famous bob-cut hair. However, this year, several restrictions have been put in place for visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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