Fully recovered and armed with motion sickness medicines from our hospitable hosts, we began the next morning, once again on very poor roads, for a trip to Dubare Elephant camp. The camp lies on the banks of the Cauvery River, which Viji told me is the most used river in the world. The dozen or so elephants that live here, are all retired from the forest department. We arrived on the opposite bank, took a small boat ride to the other side and then were within inches of these huge animals...so unlike the animal encounter one might experience in the states.
One by one, the elephants, ridden by their mahouts, were escorted into the river and were instructed to lay on their sides so that we could wade out to them and help bathe them. A surreal experience to say the least. The texture of their skin is like a bumpy brillo pad with wiry hair. Exhaling and groaning as we scrubbed, it appears that they really enjoy the pampering. Devi was in shock, I think. Her eyes were huge as she splashed water onto the animals possibly not fully comprehending the WOW of the moment. I was proud of her, as I think she was one of the only children brave enough to enter the water. Once in, it was hard to get her out!
On entry, one elephant in particular rushed the water, spooking the other elephants a bit, and the mahout was firm (hard to watch firm) but with animals this large, I suppose that there is no room for misbehavior, no matter how slight.
After bathing, the elephants were ridden up to a penned area, where we helped to feed them rogi balls that resemble huge meat balls, but appear to be made with various grains all packed together and made in the small cooking room adjacent to the feeding area. There we were free to pet them. Surprisingly, they seem to enjoy human touch and were very curious about us.
Nisargadhama was our next stop - an island that you reach by crossing a hanging bridge. Below you see huge fish swimming just inches below the surface. The island also has deer, rabbits and other attractions, but the most amazing thing we found was the a shed snake skin whose belly measured over 4 inches across, making us wonder just how big around he must be.
Although Devi was doing well, we didn't want to press our luck so we called it a day and headed back to the serenity of the Elephant Corridor. I might add here, that NImi and Viji were insturmental in helping to plan our days, arrange drivers, and always had a cup of that fabulous coffee waiting for us at the end of the day, followed by a wonderful home cooked South Indian meal. Their niece, Dillini, was on a holiday form college and staying with them, and became best buds with Devi...or rather Devi with her, hounding her for attention and one on one time, even going into her room to wake her in the mornings. Between Dillini, Jomo and Viva, Devi made herself quite at home.
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