During our Kerala trip, while we were at the Guruvayur temple, to visit the Punnathur Kota or the Aana Kota was on the cards. ‘Aana’ means elephant and ‘Kota’ means fort. Punnathur is the name of the place. This was once the palace of a local ruler, but the palace grounds are now used to house the elephants belonging to the Guruvayur temple, and has been renamed Anakkota.
Elephants are an integral part of the daily life in Kerala. During all my childhood summer vacations, to run into temple elephants was a very common thing. These elephants are loved, revered, groomed and given a prestigious place in the state’s culture. The elephant is also the state animal of Kerala.
Right at the entrance, were many elephants. This was the first one, we ran into …
When we visited, we were told that there were 65 elephants there. At the AanaKotta, elephants are trained to participate in temple festivals that happen through the year. The legendary elephant “Guruvayur Keshavan” used to be here too.
We strolled through the campus, and the kids saw how the elephants were bathed and groomed. In fact, the elephants are given pedicures and manicures of sorts.
There is the traditional naalu kettu, a building with a central courtyard inside. This used to belong to the king of Punnathur. It is beautiful; however is poorly maintained. It right now serves as a training school for Mahouts.
The pics below were shot inside the naalu kettu.
The kids loved meeting the elephants at such close quarters and the walk in the campus.