Housing more than 60 elephants in a lush green surroundings of Punnathur Kotta, the Punnathur Kotta Elephant Sanctuaries is one the largest elephant sanctuaries in India. It is located in Punnathur Kotta, which is approximately 3 km from the famous Guruvayur Temple and is used to train elephants to participate in major processions and daily temple rituals. Several tourists visit this destination on their way back from Guruvayur Temple. One can fed bananas to these elephants and click pictures with some of the popular elephants in the sanctuary.
Two main rituals of this sanctuary, the Gajapooja (worshipping elephants) and Anayottu (feeding elephants) are observed every year with several attendees, who are here enjoy the ceremony. During the normal days, the visitors can simply enjoy the view of magnificent elephants gazing in a lushly green gardens. The prime attraction of this sanctuary is a 500 years old palace, constructed by the erstwhile local rulers known as Punnathur Raja's.
The palace is constructed in a traditional style of Kerala known as Nalukettu, a design according to the climatic and geographical factors of the state. This particular design includes, a rectangular style building with a sloping roof, wooden carvings, and a central courtyard open from the top.
Punnathur Fort was purchased by the Guruvayur Devasom Board in 1975 to house all the elephants of the temple in a comfortable surrounding. The most famous and celebrated elephant in the history of Kerala was Kesavan, also from Guruvayur Temple. His majestic and behavioral qualities made him one of the most popular elephants. He passed away in 1976 after serving the temple for a period of 54 years. His 12 ft statue is constructed in front of the temple and every year on his death anniversary, a floral tribute is observed by the elephants on his statue.
The visitors can also witness elephants bathing and massaging, using a small stones and coconut husks. It is a pleasure watching these giant animals enjoying their bath. Also, don't miss the elephant training session, which is a fun to watch.