Mysuru Dasara: Do you know what the howdah elephant Arjuna eats?
Mysuru, Sep 09: With Dasara round the corner, Howdah elephant Arjuna and his team are on a tough training session and are given special diet to ensure that they are physically fit for the Jamboo Savari.
The jumbos, which are camping on the premises of Mysuru Palace, are monitored regularly and their diet consists of nutritious food.
The food diet
The elephants special diet includes urad dal, green gram, wheat, boiled rice, onion, vegetables, rice, groundnut, coconut, jaggery and sugarcane during the rehearsal.
The food is served twice a day at 6.30 in the morning and 7pm in the evening. Each time, each elephant is given two and half kilos of special food.
The pachyderms are bathed by the mahouts who live with them in the palace premises.
15 kgs of paddy, 250 gms of jaggery, 2 coconuts, 500 gms of groundnut cake (Indi).
The jumbos in between are given snacks which include sugarcane, branch fodder, green grass, beaten rice (poha). The elephants are fed unlimited quantity of grass and branch fodder.
Massage to soften rough skin
The Dasara jumbo's are given a full body massage. Castor oil, neem oil and cinnamon oil are applied on each elephant's body. Mahouts massage elephant's head, back and legs with the oil before giving them a cold water bath spanning more than an hour.
A 5km walk everyday
Everyday, the elephants rehearse the 5 kilometre route through the city, to make them customise to the noise and crowds.
And Arjuna is weighed down with increasingly heavy sandbags to get used to the weight he will carry on the final day of the procession. The golden howdah that he has carried each year since 2012 weighs a whopping 750kg.
Sand bags session
To begin with, sand bags weighing 300 kgs will be tied to the back of the elephants and gradually the weight will be increased. They will then be trained to carry a wooden howdah with sand bags, weighing 750 kgs (the weight of the golden howdah). Authorities plan to give weight training to second line elephants too so that they are ready to carry the howdah in the coming years.
Dasara jambos gain a good weight
The elephants gain good weight during their stay in Mysuru. They undergo weight check once they reach the city. This time too, as usual, Arjuna, the 59-year-old howdah elephant from Balle elephant, weighs 5,800kg, the highest of the lot. Vijaya, the 62-year- old jumbo from Dubare elephant camp, weighs 2,825kg, the lowest.
The team Deputy conservator of forests, chief veterinarian, assistant veterinarian, mahouts, kavadis, cooks, cleaners and store helpers and family of mahouts. All of them camp on the Palace premises keeping 24X7 watch on elephants.