Elephant Sanctuary at Punnathur Kotta
The Devaswom maintains a unique elephant sanctuary, the only one of its kind in the World. It has 51 elephants now. These jumbos are the offerings of the devotees to the Lord. A large number of pilgrims and tourists visit this fascinating spot every day. In this vast compound, there are road facilities for pilgrims and tourists to go around.
The present elephant sanctuary is in Punnathur Kotta about 3 kms north of Guruvayur temple. Punnathur Kotta is the ancient palace of the Punnathur Rajas, now in the possession of the Devaswom. There is also an ancient temple where Lord Siva and Bhagavathy are worshipped.
It is a 10 acre compound which Devaswom purchased in 1975, which was under receiver rule of Trichur sub court. Till that time elephants were kept in this Kovilakam compound (present Sreevalsam) to the south of the temple.
All the elephants were shifted to the Punnathur Kotta in a grant procession lead by Gajarajan Kesavan, all the elephants from the Kovilakam marched to Punnathur Kotta on 1975 June 25.
Many elephants of Guruvayur have become the part of history. The sweet memories of Gajarajan Kesavan - literally the king of all Elephants- still enthrall the hearts of the elephant lovers worldwide. The mammoth physique, his intelligence and devotion to the Lord were very famous.
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 66 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 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.
The visiting hours are 8.00AM to 6.00PM. The entry fees are Rs. 5/- per adult & Rs. 1/- for Children. An extra Rs. 25/- is charged for to use a camera and Rs. 1000/- inside the complex.
Famous elephants of Sree Guruvayurappan