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Temple elephant gets own bathtub

Akila, a 19-year-old elephant belonging to Jambukeswarar Temple at Tiruvanaikoil, has her own bathing pond within the temple complex now.

The bathing pond with ramp facility has been set up inside the nearly two-acre Nachiarthoppu situated a few metres away from the elephant shelter located within the shrine.

The new facility for the pachyderm became possible, thanks to a donor. Construction of the pond was taken up during the lockdown when entry of visitors into temples were barred. The nearly six-foot deep pond is on the verge of completion, say temple authorities.

The structure enables the animal to move easily once it is inside the water and relax under the watchful eyes of the mahout and his assistant who would give it a bath, said a temple official.

The animal can sit, lie down and move inside the pond while enjoying its bath. A borewell has been sunk up to 70 feet close to the pond to draw groundwater and release it into the pond when the elephant is brought there. The stagnant water will be pumped out using a motor and let into the temple garden.

The bathing pond was established at Nachiarthoppu since it is a huge area located close to the animal’s shelter and to create a natural environment. A mud path has been created to take the pachyderm for a walk, the official added.

The entire place will turn greener as temple authorities will soon be planting over 200 coconut, jackfruit and mango saplings inside Nachiarthoppu.

A borewell will be used to water the saplings. Pits have been dug and planting of saplings will be taken up soon, the official further said. Arrangements have been made to bring water through galvanised iron pipes to Nachiarthoppu as a standby from East Gopuram, where another borewell has been sunk earlier.

The famed Tiruvanaikoil temple, situated on 19.5 acres, is a pancha bootha sthalam representing one of the five elements — water. Last year, authorities created a huge green belt inside the temple complex to raise fodder for Akila and for the cows maintained in the ghoshala to avoid buying from outside.

There are 15 animals in the ghoshala — one bull, nine cows and five calves.

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