Elephant sighting in Munnar
Elephants, those majestic giants of the animal kingdom, stand as a testament to the wonder and diversity of life on Earth. Their colossal size, distinctive trunks, and remarkable intelligence, elephants captivate the human imagination and hold a special place in cultures and ecosystems around the world. So is for Kerala, Elephants play a prominent role in the life of people in Kerala. They were used to pull logs, for festivals, a status symbol, temple rituals, what not even for the purpose of tourism. As the largest land mammals, they embody a unique blend of strength and sensitivity, playing crucial roles in their habitats while also inspiring awe and admiration in those fortunate enough to witness their presence.
Government of Kerala, uses the image of an elephant as part of its official emblem and logo. You can find elephant logos on state run buses and a lot more places, these huge beings are deeply merged with the people of Kerala, though there are conflicts arising once in a while.
There is a place named Anakulam, near Mangulam in the district of Idukki, around 32 kilometres from Munnar town centre. This place is very much known for elephant sighting in Munnar. The village is a dead end, neighbouring to the core forest which is separated by a river. Every day herds of Elephants come here to drink water mostly by evening. This is a natural sighting and river gives ample distance for you to watch them coming down to drink water. The visit will work well if you have a very serious interest to watch this sight (again you have to be lucky) and you should have a full day available, going from Munnar to Anakulam itself takes a little more than 1.5 hours.
Local people say that the herd comes to this specific spot, as there is something special for the water here. One can see bubbles coming from the waterbed and these bubbles contain something that these elephants like. They take a long time to drink water here, and once a herd moves out, the next herd comes to the same spot to drink water. One can see bubbles coming up from the river bed, but is it for the same reason that the tuskers come here is still a mystery.
The first road that connected Munnar and Aluva (satellite town to Kochi) was shorter than the present one. The road was via pooyamkutty and Mangulam, which got destroyed in the great floods of 1924. The Travancore kingdom decided to build a new road via Neriyamangalam and Adimaly and completed it in 1926, and abandoned the old road for various reasons. The road from Munnar to Kochi was very important because of the tea plantations of the European settlers. The Travancore Kingdom received attractive revenues in terms of trade and taxes from tea, and this road was very crucial. It was this new road that left the wildlife to flourish in these forest belts.
If you are lucky enough, another place where you get to sight elephants is the Mattupetty dam area. After the Mattupetty dam towards top station, there is an indo swiss cattle farm project, very near to this place once might get to see a few wild tuskers. You will not miss this place during the day because lot of people stop here to see if they could see a few elephants here. This is a very common spot, as it falls on route towards top station which is a regular sightseeing route during munnar sightseeing tour.
In recent times there have been many instances of single elephant bulls intruding into human habitation zones, destroying agriculture and human possessions. Over time man has intruded into their space and it looks like they are trying to regain it back. Who is wrong and who is right is very much subjective and these conflicts are to go nowhere, it will still pop up here and there once in a while. The recent transrelocation of an Elephant named Arikomban is an outcome of these man and elephant conflicts.