You all know that The Thanjavur Big Temple, also called as Brihadeeswarar Temple is a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site and an architecture pinnacle of Cholas, built thousand years ago by RajaRaja Cholan (in 1010). Vellaiyammal was a 63 year old elephant donated to Thanjavur Mariamman Koil Temple by veteran actor Shivaji Ganesan when she was a year old, shifted to Big Temple in later days.
I visited the Big Temple during its millennium year of built and find the Vellaiyammal blessing the devotees and tourist entering the temple, by standing between the first and second gopuram (tower). The elephant seemed very kind being, moving side-by-side constantly, wore a neatly drawn bar on its forehead and stars on each ear. I stood there sometime watching its activity and captured few shots (flash off) before moving inside the temple without a mind to move on.
During my childhood I fear a lot for elephants and every time a mahout drives elephant across our street I would go and stand on our balcony to watch it safely. Before the ban imposed on elephants being used for begging on streets in our state, we could see temple elephants drove by mahouts on streets to make their own collection out of elephant’s free time. Every time I hear a bell sound, I would rush out to look for elephant and so was my affection toward them even I still bear little fear for them, I love the pachyderm sincerely.
Vellaiyammal was suffered from knee pain for the last seven years, due to old age, made her unable to lie or sleep properly. The elephant had been on stand for last few years, slept only by slanting on the wall and was often fell ill to get treated by doctors, breathed her last after fell down at the early hours of morning today. Hearing this I couldn't avoid recollecting the moment stood in front of her and watching the majestic beauty, inviting us into the Big Temple.