Elephant Camp at Abhayaranyam Kodanad - Near Cochin Airport
Elephants are an inextricable part of the state of Kerala and its culture. An elephant, in all its magnificence and glory, is the pride and delight of every Keralite. It is the state animal of Kerala, and whenever you visit Kerala, you can see an elephant somewhere or the other; on the roads, river banks, temple processions, etc. There are three elephant camps in Kerala, all devoted towards the betterment of these grand beings; The Abhayaranyam, close to the Cochin International Airport; The Konni elephant camp in Pathanamthitta district and The Anathavalam which is a dedicated place for the elephants of the Guruvayur temple. This blog is all about our visit to Abhayaranyam.
Abhayaranyam is an elephant Kraal almost functioning very much like an elephant orphanage. It is located on the banks of the beautiful river Periyar, close to Kodanadu, a village near the Cochin International Airport. A drive of around 45 minutes, with a slight deviation on the Aluva Munnar road, will take you to the beautiful premises of Abhayaranyam. This facility functions under the Forest Department of Kerala and has a lot of elephants and mahouts rehabilitated in here. These elephants are either orphans or were restored when a rule was passed in Kerala, where elephants were not allowed to work anymore. Most of the elephants that worked in timber mills and other work sites were brought here, and they started a new life after a series of rehabilitation procedures. Elephants breed here and so baby elephants can be seen here. There are limited numbers of elephants, around 60 of them. Apart from the elephant camp they have a deer park and an arboretum where a lot of distinct trees and plants are planted and preserved.
The most exciting thing about Abhayaranyam is the bathing sessions of the elephants. All of these elephants are given a bath at around eight in the morning which is an amusing site for the visitors who come here. In the morning when you go to the banks of the river Periyar you can find elephants playing around in the water and mahouts give them a good rub around their ears and head as part of their daily routine. We have been to Abhayaranyam many times and each time we have witnessed how the elephants play around along with the mahout. They put up a drama when mahouts instruct them to turn and lie down so that they can bathe them conveniently. The visitors get thoroughly entertained watching the bathing routine. The elephants lie lazily in the calm waters of the river, relishing every moment while the mahouts give them a good shower.
The elephants have a great time here in Abhayaranyam as they are not involved in any work, and they feel safe and protected. Probably, the best place for these elephants would be the forest, but Abhayaranyam has already become the kith and kin of these elephants. A return back to forest would be unimaginable for them. They are well domesticated and might not survive the jungle phenomenon. Also if any elephant gets into trouble in the woods and if the forest department identifies it, they are straight away brought to Abhayaranyam and rehabilitated here. They have separate areas for each elephant, and you can see a large number of palm leaves put all over the place for them to eat.
Abhayaranyam works more of a picnic spot where a lot of school and college students, visit to see and understand about elephants. Once in a year, the elephants are given a rejuvenation program where they are allowed to rest and the food provided includes medicinal content, which is mostly intended to keep them away from diseases and live a healthy life.
Next time you visit Kerala, and you are planning to head to Munnar, you should add this place to your itinerary. It will add on to the excitement of your trip. Don’t forget to reach by 8' O clock in the morning. There is an entry ticket, and the elephant bathing process starts at 8 'O clock. The highlight of the whole viist is the elephant bathing and missing it would ruin the visit to Abhayaranyam. Going there around 10 or 11 would be just like visiting a small park and seeing some elephants and deer. What makes the entire thing interesting is the visual treat that you get when these elephants walk down to the banks of the river, have a good shower and come back to their respective places.
The below are the details of Abhayaranyam. Anytime you can give them a call and understand more about them. Hope you enjoyed reading the blog. Thankyou
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France
Divisional Forest Officer, Malayattur Forest Division, Kodanad, Ernakulam Dist. Ph: 0484 264 7025 *The park is closed on all Mondays, plan your trip accordingly