Akila gets a cool birthday gift

Shower system installed for the elephant of Tiruvanaikoil

A ‘cool’ birthday gift was in store for Akila which turned 17 on Friday. The temple elephant of the famous Sri Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari shrine at Tiruvanaikoil here, Akila, the darling of devotees, can henceforth enjoy a shower bath to beat the summer heat.

Thanks to contribution from a donor, the temple authorities have installed a shower system so that the Akila could have a 20-minute shower bath three to four times a day. A separate borewell to a depth of 80 feet has been sunk to draw fresh groundwater for the shower system.

Water drawn from the borewell would fall through the square-type pipelines with holes installed on the roof for the animal to enjoy its bath. The pipelines have been installed about 15 feet from the ground keeping in mind the height of the animal and water falling down from it would give it a feel of drenching in rains, say temple officials.

Akila, which was born on May 24, 2002, was brought to the Tiruvanaikoil temple – one of the five ‘Panchabootha Sthalam’ representing water- from Assam in December 2011 after the demise of ‘Shanthi.’

The shower system has been timed with the ongoing summer season and installed as per the advice of the Forest Department and veterinary doctor, said a senior temple official. Fresh groundwater is being used so that the animal can enjoy and be safe from contracting skin allergy, another official said.

The shower system was formally commissioned on Friday. Temple officials say regular medical check was being done on the animal by a veterinary doctor every fortnight.

Being taken care of by a mahout and an assistant, the elephant has as its home below a neem tree in an airy atmosphere. It is being fed with 150 kg of green leaves, four kg of rice among other food items, said the officials.

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