Mysuru: Balarama, a 60-year-old elephant which reached Mysuru on Sunday, September 8, is all set to be a part of the famous Mysuru Dasara procession. Authorities said that the elephant is still strong and fit.
It can be recalled that Balarama had carried the golden "howdah" for 13 consecutive years (from 1999 to 2011).
Balarama, who is from the Mattigodu Elephant Camp, will undergo three weeks of training. It seems that the elephant enjoys its stay in the palace as it has gained the maximum weight among all the other elephants. Balarama will play the role of the "Nishane" elephant in the procession. Thimma will be the handler or mahout of the elephant while Gopala will be the "Kavadi". Balarama was rescued from Kattepura in the HD Kote taluk in 1978 and has been living at the Mattigodu Elephant Camp in Nagarhole Forest, Kodagu ever since.
The elephant's caretaker, Thimma said, "I've known this elephant for the past 20 years. It is a very calm and composed elephant as compared to others. This is the elephant that will commence the Dasara procession this year."
"Balarama is the oldest elephant that will be taking part in this year's procession," he added.
Last year, a book on the elephant titled "Aane Banthodaane-Balaramana Gajapayana" was released. Although the book was originally written in English by Alladi Jayasri and D K Bhaskar, it was later translated into Kannada by C R Naveen.
Veterinarian Dr Nagaraj said, "Even at 60, Balarama looks absolutely fit and fine. It is playing an important role as the Nishane elephant. Once it appears in the Dasara procession, it indicates that the procession has begun."
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