The famous temple Guruvayoor is dedicated to Hindu God Guruvayurappan. Guruvayoor temple is located in the Guruvayur town in Thrissur district, Kerala. This is referred to as the Holy Abode of Vishnu on Earth and is an important place for Hindus. The presiding deity of the temple is Vishnu, worshipped in the form of his avatar Krishna. This temple is also known as Dwarka of South India due to Krishna’s widespread presence. The Guruvayoor form of Lord Vishnu has four arms with one carrying conch Panchajanya another carrying discus Sudarshana Chakra, third one carrying mace Kaumodaki and the last one holding a lotus with a Holy basil garland.
Guruvayoor Elephant Fort – Anakootta
Actually, Punnathurkotta is a fort but in older days it was a palace located in Kottapadi. This is only 2 km away from the Guruvayoor temple. As mentioned earlier, Punnathurkotta was once the palace of a local ruler. But now at that place, it houses the elephants belonging to the Guruvaoor temple. It is also known as Anakotta( Guruvayoor Elephant Fort).
Around 86 elephants were there and now there exist 59 elephants. These elephants are given by devotees of Lord Guruvayurapan as ritual offerings. This place is very excellent as it is used to train the elephants to serve Lord Krishna and in the temple activities. Also, they are prepared to participate in the festivals that occur throughout the year.
The oldest elephant is around 82 years old and is called Ramachandran. As an offering to Lord Ganesha rituals like Anayoottu – elephant feeding, Gajapooja – worshipping elephants are conducted and observed. This compound has a traditional home, naalu-kettu, that has a central courtyard that belongs to Punnathur Raja and is used as a training school for Mahouts. This place also has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Bhagavathy.
Around 60 to 85 elephants are kept in a 10-acre plot of coconut grooves. This premises, as well as the animals, are owned by Guruvayur temple. At Guruvayoor elephant fort you can find elephants are loosely tied and are always active. Some of them may be eating palm leaves, playing with palm leaves while other may be playing with mud. We could also see some of them taking bath in the nearby pond. These elephants are also taken to participate in the festivals of other temples. Numerous tourists visit this fascinating spot and there are excellent road facilities for pilgrims and tourists to go around. Thus this is one of the best Kerala tourists places.
Anayoottam – Elephant Race
Elephants are known for its speed, and these largest land mammal on earth participate in the jaw-dropping Guruvayoor Aanayottam(elephant race). This practice dates back to the times of ancient Zamorin and the king of Cochin. Around 12,000 races are conducted to mark the beginning of the annual Guruvayoor festival. Winner of Anayoottam gets the chance to carry Thidambu – the replica of the idol of Guruvayoorappan on all the occasions for one year.
Devasom purchased this 10-acre land in 1975 which was under receiver rule Trichur Sub Court. Until that the elephants were kept in the Kovilakam compound that is to the south of the temple, present days Sreevalsam. Elephants marched from Kovilakam to Guruvayoor elephant fort or Punnathur Kota and the procession was lead by Gajarajan Kesavan.
Almost all elephants that remain here become the part of history. Memories of Gajarajan Kesavan still exists in the hearts of elephant lovers. Intelligence, physique and devotion to the Lord of Gajarajan Kesavan were very famous and is still remembered. You can make a visit to this place from 9 am to 5 pm.
Anayoottu And Ayurvedic Treatment For Elephants
In the Malayalam month of Karkidakam, a ritual of feeding of elephants is held in the premises of Vadakumnadha temple. The feast is prepared according to the standards stipulated by the Ayurvedic tradition for these gentle giants.
In this ceremony, elephants are lined up in a single row and are fed by the Ayurvedic food. This ritual is attended and witnessed by thousands from far and near, who also feed the elephants. This special feed is made of sugarcane, rice, ghee, jaggery, coconut and ayurvedic medicines. This festival is celebrated as a part of the belief that offering pooja and providing delicious food to the elephant is a way to appease Lord Ganesha.
Elephants also undergo the Ayurvedic royal treatment. After the festivals in the temple, elephants are taken for the Sukhachikitsa, ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy. This treatment helps them to rest and restore their energy for the coming year. Anayoottu, as well as Ayurvedic treatment, is also provided to the elephants of Punnathurkotta. Most probably, Karkidakam is opted as the best season to do these activities since there won’t be any festivals in this season. Ayurvedic treatment rejuvenates elephants and refreshes the energy level.