Imagine a palace dedicated only to Elephants where you can see elephants being fed, bathed and cared for. Welcome to the world's only Elephant Palace in Punnathur kotta in Kerala. Elephants are the state animal of Kerala and also figure prominently in all religious rituals in Kerala.
Once the palace of a local ruler today the palace is under the care of the famous Guruvayoor temple and is called Anakkotta meaning Elephant Fort. Once there were 86 elephants here but today it houses about 66 of them. The elephants are pressed into temple services and also take part in various festivals that take place throughout the year. The legendary elephant "Guruvayur Keshavan" lived in these premises. For those unfamiliar with Guruvayur Kesavan, Kesavan is perhaps the most famous captive elephant of Kerala. He was donated to the Guruvayur temple by the royal family of Nilambur in 1916. Standing over 3 metres tall, Kesavan was known for his devout behaviour and died in 1976 at the age of 72.
The statue of Guruvayur Kesavan In memory of the services rendered to the temple, a statue of Guruvayur Kesavan was erected and every year till date on his death anniversary, elephants line up before the statue and the chief elephant garlands the statue. Guruvayur Kesavan was alo the subject of couple of Malayalam movies. Today, the oldest survivng elephant in the palace is Ramachandran who is 82 years old. The complex houses a training school for mahouts as well. Visitors can witness the elephants been bathed, fed and trained for various religious rituals and duties. The visiting hours are 8.00 AM to 5.30 PM. The entry fee is Rs 5 per adult. An extra Rs 25 is charged for to use a camera inside the complex. When to visit Between February to April when the Elephant festivals are happening around the state. How to reach Punnathur Kota: Nearest airport: Kochi International Airport (109 km) Nearest railway stations: Thrissur Railway Station (32 Km) Directions by road from nearby cities: Well-connected by buses from Thrissur Distance from Guruvayoor - 3 kms; Guruvayoor is 32 kms away from Thrissur. Photos.