Away from the concrete jungle, Lakshmi and Prakruti, the two temple elephants of the Union Territory, the darlings of several devotees and fans, are going to enjoy a 48-day holiday camp organised by the Tamil Nadu government.
Far from madding crowd, they will be in the company of their clan and back in their natural habitat. A steady supply of delicious food and mirthful games are on the agenda to fit in with the overall stress buster purpose of the camp.
The Forest Department of the Tamil Nadu government every year organises the 48-day rejuvenation camp for elephants belonging to temples, mutts and others. This year over 100 elephants including Lakshmi and Prakruthi, temple elephants in the Union Territory of Puducherry, will be attending the camp that gets rolling from December 11 in Thekkampati, Coimbatore district.
The pachyderms would be taken to the Bhavani riverbed in Coimbatore district and Puducherry government would bear the cost for its part. The authorities have been busy with preparations to send the elephants for the camp.
G.Sathyamurthy, Deputy Conservator of Forests, told The Hindu, “The permit was issued for sending the animals to the elephant rejuvenation camp to be held at Coimbatore organised by the Forest Department of Tamil Nadu government.
The temple authorities should take all appropriate preparation to ensure safe transit of the animals as per the rules specified in the Wildlife Protection Act.”
Lakshmi of Manakula Vinayagar Temple and Prakruthi of Dharbaraneswara Swamy temple located in Thirunallar, Karaikal are to participate in the camp for third consecutive year. The mahouts of the temple elephants will also join the camp for training.
Lakshmi, now aged 29, was donated to temple as a 10-year-old when R.V.Janakiraman was the Chief Minister of Puducherry. Since then it has become the darling of devotees who come to temple who have lavished on her all kinds of gifts, including silver anklets.
In the recent past, the maintenance of Lakshmi has been mired in controversy following animal activists raising ill-treatment charges. Later the Forest Department censured the temple authorities for certain lacunae in the maintenance. Since then the temple authorities have provided extra facilities to the animal.
Prakruthi at the age of 7 was brought from Karnataka to Thirunallar and now it is 11 years old.
A. Manikandan, a mahout said, “It may be disappointment for several devotees but the camp will be stress buster for the animal. Prakruthi is always friendly and mirthful. Last year, when the camp was concluded, the animal was not able to move out of camp as it became too close to another elephant from Srivilliputhur.”
An official said the two elephants are in hale and healthy condition.
Various experts in the camp will also inspect the health of the elephants and they were provided with supply of vitamins and other supplements.
The only flip side to this vacation is that fans will miss them for the next 48 days.