Punnathurkotta Elephant Sanctuary, located at a distance of about 23 km from Thrissur city and 2 km from Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple at Kottapadi, is home to about 66 elephants which belong to the Guruvayur temple.. This Elephant Camp houses 58 elephants in 11.5 acres of land and is famous for housing the largest numbers of elephants in the smallest acreage of land.
This sanctuary happens to be one of the biggest elephant sanctuaries in the world. More than 60 elephants have made it their home. But don’t think these elephants just walk in to the sanctuary, they are in fact donations that are made by devotees of the Guruvayur temple. Each elephant is, therefore, a donation to the sanctuary. These elephants not only get to live in their natural habitat but it also houses a training school for them where they are trained in performing daily tasks such as transporting logs from one place to another, carrying the deities on their backs for the procession etc.
The camp also acts as a training school for the elephants. All the bull (male) elephants here are trained to participate in major processions and daily temple rituals. Sanctuary premises as well as the animals are owned by Guruvayoor temple. Temple management takes care of all aspects of their care. Morning is the Elephant bathing time, many tourists like to visit and enjoy it. Remaining time the elephants are loosely tied and will be actively engaged in their own activities. The Sanctuary is located on the Ponnani – Guruvayoor Road near to Kottappadi.
This sanctuary, which was once the fort and the palace of Punnathur Raja, consists of shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and Bhagavathy. Known also as Elephant Fort or Anakotta, Punnathurkotta Elephant Sanctuary is regarded as the largest elephant sanctuary in the world.