Rahul Choudhary and his elephant worked at the Amber Palace ferrying tourists up and down the winding road, day in & out. Every day, passengers asked curious questions about elephants to him. He answered each question with an unbelievably heart-melting answer and didn't let his lack of formal education ever stop him pursue a start-up dream. In 2012 Rahul founded Elefantastic as a sanctuary for a domestic breed of Indian elephant. Now home to over 50 elephants, some rescued from circuses and others born into the sanctuary. Unlike the elephants at Amber Palace, Rahul's elephants don't work. Each elephant has their own keeper whom they live with in a comfy dwelling next to their homes on the farm. Guests can visit to take part in the daily rituals of caring for these fantastic beasts.
We started the afternoon by being introduced to our elephant Chamal, one of the eldest residents at 52 (Indian elephants can live as long as a human).
"Elephants are very sensitive creatures,"
explained Chamal's keeper, "It's very important you stay close to her the whole time, talk to her and stroke her and stay calm as she will pick up on any fear or negative emotions." We spent the next hour stroking and feeding Chamal who eats a combination of alfalfa, greens, sugar cane and chapatis.
After we were sure Chamal was well fed and fully comfortable with us we had some fun painting her with brightly coloured organic paints completely safe for human and elephant. Painting elephants is a tradition in Rajasthan dating back hundreds of years when royalty would ride ornately decorated elephants on stately outings.
Every afternoon Chamal is cooled down with a shower, we took it in turns to wash our elephant with a hose and learnt the command to get her to drink. It was incredible to be up so close and we had fun getting sprayed when she flung back her trunk sending water spraying over her back.