Elephants being an integral part of Indian culture and mythology have always fascinated me. So when I heard about the elephant training centre in Kodanad near Kochi, I was sure not to miss it. Located on the southern bank of the river Periyar, the area is part of the Malayattoor forest division and is about 42 km from the city of Kochi. Initially established as an elephant training center, Kodanad is accessible via a minor detour enroute to Munnar from Kochi.
Elephant capturing started as early as 1895 in the Malayattoor reserved forests and the captured elephants were housed here and trained for employment for various tasks in the forest. However, with the latest Government rules and policies with respect to animal welfare, the elephants are just looked after here and not ’employed’ for any ‘tasks’. The present day six room structure was built in 1965 and is used for the upkeep of elephants rescued in various parts of the state.
If you reach there early in the morning, say, at about 8-8.30, you can catch the elephants at bath and witness the joyful sight. We were, however, a bit late and arrived when it was time to feed the elephants. Food consisting of a mixture of sugarcane, jaggery and banana among others is prepared by the mahouts and fed to the elephants in the morning after which they rested for a while before being retired to the nearby forest for the morning. The same ritual is repeated in the evening.
There are not many elephants here currently, so it is a nice quiet place and ideal for a family outing with kids!