Photographer's Note

Karnataka - Hampi - Lakshmi, the temple elephant

Lakshmi is the name of an elephant that lives in the complex of the Virupaksha temple in Hampi. It is the only elephant there.

In India elephants are often part of Hindu festivals. For the believers this animal represents Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed god and one of the most worshipped deities in Hinduism.
In important Hindu temples in the south of India one or two elephants are sometimes standing at the entrance blessing people by putting the trunk on the head.

In the Virupaksha temple of Hampi the only elephant living there has a full-time job.
Lakshmi is very well trained to receive gifts in the form of money or bananas and other fruit.
A ten rupee note is passed immediately to the mahout (= elephant trainer or care taker) and the donor is blessed with a tap of the trunk on the head. The fruit is of course eaten immediately.
A mahout and the elephant are normally bonded to each other throughout their lives.

Every morning the elephant is washed in the nearby river.
The trunk and forehead of the animal are painted with red and orange patterns and the designs would be different every day.

All this much to the delight of the many visitors, both westerners and Indians.
With all due respect for the beliefs and customs you may wonder whether this is animal suffering or not.
I am not sure and am only the reporter here, telling you a bit more about my experiences.

In the WS a picture of a monolithic Ganesha:
the Kadalekalu Ganesha, one of the largest monolithic images of Ganesha that is more than 4,5 metres high and that has been carved in-situ from the rock.

A second picture in the WS shows bas-reliefs of elephants among others on the outer walls of the Hazara Rama temple.

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4554 W: 17 N: 10827] (44054)
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  • Date Taken: 2017-12-28
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  • Exposure: 30
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  • Date Submitted: 2018-04-30 12:50
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Points: 54
Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4554 W: 17 N: 10827] (44054)
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