From piquing people’s curiosities to achieving a mammoth upsurge in online searches, Theppakadu Elephant Camp in Mudumalai National Park is quickly becoming a favoured tourist spot, all thanks to the Academy Award winning documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperers’. Here’s all that you need to know about planning a trip to this natural beauty.
The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, recently made history by winning the Best Documentary Short Film at the 95th Academy Awards — giving India its first Academy Award win for a movie. The documentary chronicles the journey of Bomman and Bellie, an indigenous couple who care for an orphaned elephant calf named Raghu at Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. But it’s not just the film’s achievement generating buzz; its stunning location is turning eyeballs, too.
According to a report by Celeb Tattler, the documentary’s win at the Oscars spurred a 246 percent surge in online searches for this picturesque destination, raking in curiosity about the film’s shooting locations to a five-year high.
What is Theppakadu Elephant Camp?
Established in 1923, Theppakadu Elephant Camp stands as the oldest elephant camp in Asia. Presently, it houses 24 elephants and serves as a training and rehabilitation center for these majestic creatures. It is situated within the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and was initially founded to manage and train elephants used for forestry tasks like logging and timber transportation. The Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which spans across the border of Tamil Nadu and its neighboring state, Karnataka.
What can you do at the elephant camp?
At present, the elephant camp functions as a popular tourist destination and a center for rehabilitating captive elephants. Tourists can witness elephants being fed and bathed, and can also take elephant rides and safaris. In addition, the camp provides training programs for mahouts and educates visitors about the significance of elephant conservation.
Beyond the elephant camp, you can also explore the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary that is home to a variety of animals, including tigers, leopards, gaurs, and deer. A safari ride through the sanctuary offers a chance to observe these animals in their natural habitat. Moreover, there are several safari lodges situated around Bokkapuram where you can stay and soak in the beauty of nature.
What makes the elephant camp special?
With its abundant biodiversity, Mudumalai National Park makes it an excellent destination for sustainable travel. Moreover, visitors have the opportunity to meet Bomman and Bellie — the caretakers starring in The Elephant Whisperers–at the elephant camp, as well as interact with the elephants featured in the documentary, including Krishna, Raghu, and baby Ammu. At the camps, visitors can engage with the elephants by playing with them, bathing them, feeding them, or simply observing them in their natural habitat.
How to reach Theppakadu Elephant Camp?
By Air: The nearest airport to Theppakadu Elephant Camp is Coimbatore International Airport, which is about 160 kilometres away. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the camp.
By Train: The nearest railway station to Theppakadu Elephant Camp is in Ooty. From the station, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the camp.
By Road: Theppakadu Elephant Camp is well-connected by road to major cities in Tamil Nadu and neighboring states. You can hire a taxi or take a bus from cities like Coimbatore, Mysuru, and Bengaluru to reach the camp.
What’s the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Theppakadu Elephant Camp, and by extension Mudumalai National Park, would be from October to May. During this time, the region experiences winter and early summer seasons. The weather during this period is generally pleasant, with clear skies and moderate temperatures, providing excellent conditions for outdoor activities and wildlife sightings.
During the monsoon season, from June to September, the park receives heavy rainfall, which may lead to landslides and roadblocks, making it difficult to explore the park. Prior to visiting, it is always advisable to check the weather forecast and park opening dates.
Hero and Featured Image credit: Netflix
Related: Mudumalai National Park’s Online Searches Rise After ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ Oscar Win