Meeting the elephants was the one of those cherished moments.
We got to meet them twice at Thekkady; during the trip with my brother and family we rode them and when we went there again with our friends I was contend to just watch the mighty royals.
Just like how we still look up in the sky in all wonder and eagerness like a child, just to catch a glimpse of the mighty machines flying nimbly, so is watching the mighty elephants at close quarters.
Maddy as usual has given a detailed and informative post on elephants.
In Thekkady, they have many places where the tourist can take the elephant rides. Most of them will have more than 2 elephants and the ride of half an hour will be through spice farms. During the ride one gets to see coffee, cardamom, betel trees entwined with pepper vines and other spices and you can even pluck a few peppers, still green. They also arrange elephant baths where one can bathe the elephants and get drenched in turn, when the beasts shower water upon you with their trunks. We did see one couple opt for it even in the cold weather. Ours friends were also lucky in getting a few elephant hairs.
Quenching the thirst after a ride.....
On our first trip we got to see Akbar whom the Mahout claimed is the third tallest elephant in Kerala. It was a huge one! Unfortunately he had gone for log picking on our second trip. These elephants are normally on heavier duties and these rides I guess are the lighter ones.
Then there was Shantha whom we rode. Upon calling her name during the ride she used to lift her trunk and acknowledge. Son was riding Akbar with my brother and family and was all excited. Then there was Unnikrishanan and Lakshmi who was 21 months pregnant (they carry for 22 months and she should have delivered by now). Lakshmi was exempted from rides and hence one could watch her at ease. She is being taken care of well and I was told that a Vet visits her frequently, although the Mahouts are not that impressed with the Vets. They say one need to work closely with the elephants to know them and take care of them and no “book knowledge” can replace this experience.
These elephants are trained to “bless” the tourists and they in turn can gift them cash. On our second trip our guide Thomas advised Hubby to buy bananas and both of them managed to get a big bunch of it which we happily fed the elephants and the Mahouts. (The Mahouts asked to be fed first!) Though the bananas may have satisfied the Mahouts, for the elephants it was nothing, but the joy of placing the tiny bananas on the trunks of the elephants and watching them deftly shift it to their mouths was great. We even got to place the bananas directly into their mouths. While gazing at their tender eyes one cannot be blamed if one feels their magnanimity directed at the puny humans. But the mahouts do have to be firm with them and admitted that they have to occasionally use their sticks.
We did not have much hope in seeing the wild elephant during the boat rides in Thekkady but we did see them at Munnar near the Mattupatty dam. During the rainy season in Thekkady, wild animals seldom venture out into the open since water will be available inside the forests itself, but we did see a few deer’s, bison’s, boars, tortoises and plenty of birds.