The Mammoth Beckons: Best Places In India To Spot Elephants

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The mighty Asian elephant is an awe-inspiring creature that has emerged to become one of the gems of Indian wildlife. Found only in a few places in India, elephants in their natural habitat are a photographer's delight. In fact, most places across the world, create experiences around interacting with elephants in their natural habitat. If you're looking for such an adventure, there's no need to head to Sri Lanka or Thailand, you can get it right here in India! Here are some of the places that you can visit in order to spend some time with one of the most magnificent creatures in the animal kingdom.

Periyar National Park. Credit: Ben John

Photo of Periyar National Park, Kerala, India by Saumiabee

Located in Kerala, the Periyar National Park, an important reserve for a lot of endangered species, is one of the top reserves for Indian elephants. With abundant plantations, jungles and tranquil water bodies, elephant sightings come by extremely easily at Periyar. As a visitor, you will be given ample amounts of time to observe elephants as they go about their daily routine in the plantations. Enjoy watching a herd bathe playfully in the waters while they strut around like giants.

The Haathi Village caters elephants to the Amber Fort. Credit: Co9man

Photo of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Saumiabee

Near Jaipur's famous Amber Fort lies an Elephant village where you can not just witness mahouts taking care of elephants, but you can actually volunteer as a caretaker. Your work as a volunteer will involve feeding the elephants, bathing them, cleaning the area, bringing water, oil massaging the elephants' head, trimming their nails and even taking them on walks. Open to people from all across the world, there could be no better opportunity for you to immerse yourself into an elephant's life than this!

This little town is Assam's best kept secret. Home to the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, it is a perfect area to spot Asian elephants. An isolated and protected area amidst the evergreen forests, elephants are often found roaming around in herds here.

Mahouts massaging the elephants. Credit:Sarvagyana

Photo of Punnathur Kotta, Elephant Park, Iringaprom, Kerala, India by Saumiabee

Located in the Thissur district of Kerala, Punnathur Kotta is a palace in Kottapadi that has been renamed the Elephant Fort. The palace is home to elephants of the Guruvayoor Temple, where they are reared and trained to participate in the temple's rituals and festivities. With around 60 elephants, this elephant park is said to train them in order to make them suitable to serve Lord Krishna. A visit here will not only pull you into observing elephants, but also into the numerous myths and stories around the animal.

Located near Agra, this is a rehabilitation centre for elephants rescued from exploitative and deprived conditions. With a guided tour of the centre, you can meet and interact with elephants, learn about the species and also hear about their rescue stories. This care centre is sure to leave you with humility and a love for animals in your heart. A must-visit for a wholesome experience.

Elephants at the backwaters. Credit: Mukesh

Photo of Kabini, Mysuru, Karnataka, India by Saumiabee

A popular destination to observe wildlife in India, the elephants at Kabini are a major source of attraction for tourists from all over the world, especially the ones passionate about elephants. Home to the Asiatic elephant, the Kabini backwaters are a favourite among elephants, and a spot where they can usually be found bathing and frolicking.

A herd of elephants at Chandaka Reserve. Credit: Travel Odisha

Photo of Chandaka Elephant Reserve, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India by Saumiabee

A wildlife reserve located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, the Chandaka Elephant Reserve is enveloped with the Khurdha uplands of the biotic region of the Eastern Ghats. The reserve was inaugurated in 1982, to especially preserve elephants. These mammoths are such an integral art of the ecosystem at Chandaka that it is indicative of the reserve's productivity. Here elephants can be seen enjoying an unharmed, non-exploitative life amidst nature.

Manas National Park in Assam is home to a youth-run elephant camp that provides habitat for jobless elephants. Assam was once infamous for the maximum number of elephants who were held captive and employed for work. However, the recent reduction in such employment has rendered numerous mahouts homeless and jobless. Smiling Tusker is a venture to help such elephants and their owners. At Smiling Tusker, visitors can feed and bathe the elephants. The camp also has a museum where one can learn about the elephant heritage in Assam.

A Bull Tusker at Theppakadu. Credit: Ajt John Singh

Photo of Theppakadu Elephant Camp, Theppakadu, Tamil Nadu, India by Saumiabee

Located in the Nilgiris, the Theppakadu Elephant Camp is one where you can actually live and spend time with the elephants. You can ride an elephant while you're here, feed them, or take a safari around and spot them in their natural habitat. Alongside, you might also spot deer and different species of birds. It is best to spend a night here and enjoy the serenity of the forest area, while you observe elephants at leisure.

So with this list, step up your wildlife experience and plan an elephant safari the next time you plan a vacation.

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