Mouth-organ playing elephant off to jumbo spa

Mouth-organ playing elephant off to jumbo spa

Lakshmi, the 11-year-old “mouth organ specialist” and the elephant belonging to the Eratai" Tirupati temple in Tirunelveli district, will be a special guest at this year’s rejuvenation camp conducted on the foothills of the Nilgiris.

Last year, Lakshmi had enthralled fellow elephants and local visitors alike by playing the musical instrument, which she keeps closer to her trunk and blows carefully to produce the melodies.

When Lakshmi was taken closer to the truck, she seemed to have understood that she was going on a long picnic and eagerly boarded the vehicle.

Some of the elephants arriving at the camp have to do so without their companions, like Rama Lakshmi from the Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameswaram.  For the last couple of years, she visited the jumbo spa in the company of Bhavani (52). But she has to take the journey alone this year, as Bhavani has died. 

However, the veteran temple elephant Aandal from Sriranganathar temple took delight in the company of her 22-year-old companion Lakshmy from Thayumanavar temple. Both the temples are in Trichy district.

Akila, the animal from Tiruvanakaval temple near Trichy, caused some anxious moments for her caretakers. A first time visitor to the jumbo spa, she was hesitant to board the vehicle. 

Devotees may miss the blessings of the temple elephants, but they were excited to watch the animals board the trucks that would take them on a long journey to the scenic hills at Thekkampatti village near Mettupalayam on the banks of the Bhavani river, where they would have their 48-day retreat.  Along with the temple animals, pachyderms belonging to the forest department will be part of the annual camp which began on Thursday.

In the first phase, about 30 elephants from the temples arrived on campsite on Thursday morning. The rest are expected to reach the spot on Friday.  However, on government order, the ailing pachyderms were excluded from the camp and are given rejuvenation at their own place.

About 100 elephants, both temple and kumkis, will be given complete rest after the year-long activities.

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