Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Elephant Sanctuary,Guruvayur, Kerala

Gently lift it!

Meet one of the 65 elephants in the sanctuary, the only one of its kind in the world. Rich devotees of the Lord Krishna donate elephants as offerings. We were told that an elephant costs about 1 lakh which equals 100,000 rupees. The elephants are well looked after, there is no breeding.

Coconuts are synonymous with Kerala and in this sanctuary their home, elephants feed and live

A hillock of elephant dung and there were plenty and more around

I'm back! Thanks to each and everyone for your wonderful wishes. Hope you're enjoying the year end festivities and keeping well. The 2 week holiday in Bangalore and Kerala is over! All good things have come to an end. It has been a roller coaster of memorable happenings. The main purpose was to visit Ravi's maternal relatives who are Indian citizens. Being intrepid travellers, we soaked in and squeezed in as much of India as we could savour as we moved among the destinations. Where did we go? Many places - Bangalore, Trivandrum, Kovalam Beach, Cape Comerin, Thekkady, Kumakoram Lake Resort, Mulanthuruthy, Kochi and Trisshur. Looking back it has been amazing. First of all, the relatives are truly ambassadors of India. They accorded us a truly warm welcome. We have in our hearts their wonderful smiles and hospitality wherever we went. These memories are precious.

In Bangalore, Johnny our cousin made us feel so much at home. There was never a dull moment with him. Luckily being retired, he caught up with us again down south to Mulanthuruthy and Kottayam, Kerala. News had gone round that Ravi and his wife and daughter from Malaysia were visiting. Even our cousin, Mohan from Chennai flew in to join the huge gathering. It was as if the whole village of Mulanthuruthy (where his late mother was born) had come to get to know us better and exchange lots of stories of family ties and we delighted in exchanging mundane daily stories in a family guest house. The VVIPs were Ravi's 92 year old uncle and 85 year old aunt. He was toasted with whisky by the menfolk and he got a peg or two of rum his favourite. Over so many typical Kerala meals we sat and talked. Indeed it was a gastronomical feast not forgetting the big party where liquor were downed so liberally beginning with fish and other snacks before the actual meals took place. I think we've covered almost all of the Kerala cuisine! Yes, we had the dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Very quickly I realized my usual breakfast of 2 slices of toast with peanut butter/ jam and a cuppa of tea will have to wait till I reach our shores again!! Each meal was a journey for our tastebuds though some not totally strange as we are familiar with some South Indian cuisine. That meant we ate till our hearts' content and pleaded (politely!) we couldn't have anymore!! Which also meant we added a few kilos of weight to each of us. I fell in love with the kurtis and was always eager souvenir hunting for traditional crafts as gifts to friends and relatives. Our guide, Shibu to the various destinations was a superb driver on Indian roads which admittedly can have many pitfalls!! What would all the drivers do without their car horns??

Despite the tight schedule we kept I 'm so glad I had some lovely moments with my blogging friend Indrani and her family in Bangalore. She made a special visit to our cousin's house. As we hugged, it was as if we had known each other for a long time! Indrani 'popped up' from cyberblog when I started blogging in March 2009. Upon my request our scientist cousin, Sarjan in Trivandrum got me to my blogging friend, Dr Antony's house to meet up with his wife Celine and their grandson. He had arranged for us to meet as he was still in Dubai. That notched up for me having met 3 blogging friends overseas including Trotter in Lisbon last December.

The visit to the world renowned elephant sanctuary was second last on the list in Trisshur where our cousin Baju, an opthalmologist lives with his family.

This sanctuary was highly recommended to tie in with the visit to the temple at Guruvayur. Only Hindus are permitted to enter this place of worship so my daughter and I waited outside while my husband paid homage to Lord Krishna. It was a pity we couldn't linger as the time schedule was tight to depart from Kochi back home.

When we got there the public area was filled with a sea of faces. Not knowing Malayalam, we stuck very close to the driver who speaks very little English. We were caught among huge crowds of wedding guests and devotees. The throngs remind me of the Thaipusam festival back home. In such an atmosphere, be prepared to be in 'auto' mode as the crowds move you along! Every devotee had to pass by a metal detector and security guards before entry into the temple proper.

Rajan the driver then drove us to the elephant sanctuary. As we alighted the vehicle, the smell of dung hit the air. 'Poo!' we chorused aloud and indeed there were mounds of them.

So friends, to start the year 2011 with a bang, fresh from a truly memorable visit to Guruvayur, Kerala here's JUMBO greetings from me to you ! I wish you good health, happiness and wealth. Thank you very much for visiting my blog and your encouraging comments. Happy 2011 and may God bless you.

A vast land to accommodate these huge elephants 20 -40 + years old

I think he overdid it. Some of the feed landed on his back!

One of the tuskers feeding and shutterbugs clicked away keeping a safe distance from the animals

Just a gentle reminder

The classic Ambassador car fondly known as 'King of the Indian Roads' parked next to our vehicle. There was an immense crowd as there was a wedding outside the temple.

My husband getting a helping hand  from his cousin in Trisshur to wear the dhoti tied the Kerala way

The long queues to worship in the most famous Krishna temple in  the town of Guruvayur, the Lord Sree Guruvayurappan temple. It is one of the most famous pilgrim centres in South India. Thousands of pilgrims come from all over India.

Holding on to their shirts, the men have to be bare chested before entering the temple. This is part of the homage to the deity

Women in sarees and men in dhotis

The high shine of the brass - for ornaments and worship for sale . As we walked past, the glow  seemed to reflect on us too!
Parents helping the young ones to wear the dhotis before entering the temple.

Ayyappa devotees recognisable in black dhotis and bare footed also joined the throngs. 
We came across many of these worshippers during our stay in Kerala. The devotees follow a strict 41 day austerities (vruthams) preceding the pilgrimage to the shrine at Sabrimala

Fragrant jasmine flowers from vendors  for wearing on hair or for prayers

One of the very colourful shops displaying ornaments and other paraphernalia


  1. As usual, you've outdone yourself again! What a remarkable post.
    I've always been fascinated by Kerala, its natural resources and history.
    Thanks for your pictures and post. They were very educational and entertaining.

  2. wow, what trip you had!
    Welcome back
    very Happy New Year!

  3. Wonderful photos, Keats. Happy 2011 to you and yours.

  4. What an incredible place!

    Hope your New Year is a wonderful one!

  5. What a wonderful post! Isn't the internet a wonderful thing? I have always wanted to visit India, and Kerala in particular. Thank you for your tour brochure!! It has really brightened up my dark Winter day. Happy New Year !

  6. Happy New Year to the Sunshine Girl!!!
    Wow, what an incredible journey through Kerala... everything must have been so green and delicious. What a wonderful way to end the last year and welcome in this new year :)

  7. Nice pics. Sounds like you had an awesome trip and I learned a thing or two too, Happy New Year!

  8. O Keats I do so admire your charm and zest and discipline. Your friendship wings spread all over the world and what is so beautiful is I know there are friendships to last and not just passing fancies. I can just imagine the excitement you and Ravi created across India and the warmth that enveloped you as you visited family and relatives. Must be a special experience for your daughter.

    The pictures are colourful. Thank you. Happy New Year and we must try to meet up again soon.

  9. Looks like it was so much fun!!
    Gotta love the Elephants!

    Happy New Year 2011!

  10. Glad you had a chance to visit such an awesome place. I love elephants. They are such majestic creatures!!

    May 2011 be your best year ever, Keats!

  11. Oh you India pergi lah. Welcome back need your sunshine being raining in KL lately haha. Nice post on India about dressing and prayers. Now I know its called a dhoti. Namaste tQ.

  12. Oh, what a delightful post this is. Glad you are back here, spreading your sunshine and cheer. Happy New Year 2011!

  13. Interesting trip........ I have not seen elephants live for decades. ~bangchik

  14. just stopping by to wish you a happy new year, so, have a great new year

  15. Good to know you had a nice trip. I am sorry we couldnt arrange something better for you. I had thought you would be around Trivandrum for some time.
    It was kind of you to remember and visit us.And thanks for your gift.That looks wonderful.
    My wife told me you have a wonderful family.
    Have a blessed New Year. Our love and regards to your family.

  16. Hello!
    As a usual very interesting post!
    Happy New Year!!!

  17. It's good to know that you had a wonderful time to close your year. I have been experiencing many great moments with you on this blog. Hopefully 2011 brings us even more joy and happiness. Hugs and love, my dear.

  18. What a fascinating and memorable trip, Keats! I've heard so much about Kerala's "green magic", and how much progress Kerala has made in terms of education, healthcare and quality of life. It looks like an exciting and colourful place to live in! Anywhere with elephants and I'll be happy! I can be a fulltime elephant care provider!

  19. Such an amazing journey! I love pachyderms...ha ha. It is good you go to enjoy wonderful cuisine and travels. Happy New year!

  20. sure that has been an amazing and unforgetable trip and it's simply wonderful to get some time off to meet your blogger friends.

  21. I found you from Music of My Life. I love your site. I’m going to poke around a little bit, but don’t worry I’ll put everything back where I found it!!

  22. So you had a great time! :)

    I glad we could meet up Keats, it is memorable for me. My daughter still talks about you. Thank you so much for the wonderful gift. Hope we meet again!

    A Very Happy New Year to you and all your loved ones!

  23. Welcome back. Big but gentle creature, love em!

  24. They look like adorable companions !
    Happy New Year to you and may 2011 bring you peace, joy and such exciting moments as those !


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