Museum piece of the jumbo kind

Museum piece of the jumbo kind


Mammoth: The elephant skeleton preserved in Hubli’s college. Photo by the author

This is among the only four skeletons preserved in the entire country.

The Science College is indeed a treat to visit for lovers of history. As you step into the museum of the Zoology Department in the college, you will find a mounted skeleton of the elephant, which once belonged to Hubli’s Moorusavira Math.

The elephant, named Ganesha, was electrocuted way back in 1974. Later, its skeleton was brought to the museum belonging to the college, explains Professor V B Hiremath.
It is said that this 21-year-old elephant was reared by seer Jagadguru Gangadhara Rajayogendra Mahaswami of Moorusavira Math. The elephant turned wild once and attacked people in the vicinity, and in the melee, overturned four electric poles. Eventually, it died of an electric shock.

The Math inmates were deeply hurt by the incident, and even performed the last rites of the elephant. Later, the then head of the Zoology Department Prof C J Savanur Math volunteered to preserve the skeleton.

The seer not only gave his go-ahead to exhume it, but also extended his co-operation to the Professor. A team of students that included A Sundar Pandian and Joseph Mathew, and lecturer C G Dhaduti worked on the body of the elephant for nearly a year. Work on putting  together the skeleton began in 1971. It saw completion in 1974, explains Zoology Department chief Shobha Hanagandi.

The Moorusavira Math was among the prominent Maths in Veerashaiva tradition of the region. The Math is also known as ‘Aanemath’, thanks to the several elephants that were looked after at the Math. The Math pontiff was said to have a great love for elephants.
One can see elephant motifs on the main entrance of the Math even today. Math staff Amaresh Hipparagi lauds the efforts of the College authorities in taking up such an exercise.

The Moorusavira Math elephant weighs 350 kg and is eight-and-a-half-feet tall. In life and in death, this was an elephant that generated great curiosity among people. Today, students at the college continue to marvel at the massive elephant skeleton preserved in the museum.

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