Snap Stories is a monthly column I write for a travel magazine. ‘With the elephant god’ was published in April 2014.
I frequently visit the historical town of Hampi on work. It is a large area filled with monuments—temples, mantapa and palaces. Most of the temples are in some degree of ruin today and have no deities to worship. But Virupaksha Temple, now the heart of the town, has remained intact and is the only place that sees a daily puja.
This story is about Lakshmi, the resident elephant at the Virupaksha Temple. From my very first visit, I was charmed by this gentle giant and have spent considerable time watching and photographing her interaction with people. In most occasions, she is seen standing patiently at her stable at a corner of Virupaksha temple, blessing the curious visitors who come to see her. Most visitors are scared at first and take time to approach her. Girls giggle and push their friends ahead before following them. Boys appear daring, feeling accomplished after being blessed. Older men and women approach cautiously, reserved in their emotions but clearly unsure if it is safe to get closer. But Lakshmi treats everyone in the same way, blessing them with her trunk without betraying any of her own thoughts or emotions. click to read more »