The Konni Elephant Training Centre is a great place to spend a day with your family if you’re visiting Pathanamthitta. The training centre is located in Konni town in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala State in Southern India. The centre sits on a 9.2 acre land and the main attraction here besides the elephants itself is the massive wooden cage known as ‘Aanakoodu’ that are built to house the elephants. Built in 1942, Aanakoodu can accommodate three to four elephants at a time. The main task of the elephant trainers (mahouts) at Konni is to train baby elephants that are brought to the centre after getting separated from its herd, or found wounded in the forest. Some of the trainings, apart from that of making the elephants obey commands include daily exercises in the mornings, walking in the premises, bath in the nearby river and feeding of a special diet. The bigger elephants are some times also used for works inside the forest land adjoining the training centre.
At the training centre, visitors are allowed to have a closer look at the elephants and understand their behaviour. It is fun to watch the playfulness of the younger ones and also it is possible to ride on the bigger elephants. The elephant riding is limited to only few times in a day so only if you can reach in the morning you will be able to do that. An elephant museum containing the skeleton of a tusker and an eco store to buy medicinal and forest goods are also present at the centre. There are plans to convert the elephant museum to a complete natural history museum based on elephants
The training centre was very popular since early 19th century. Since the elephant capturing was legally stopped by the government, the activities at the centre also declined since then. Rather than taming and training the caught elephants, it transitioned to a centre that does the same activities but only to wild elephants that were separated from the herds or those found in the forest wounded. During those times, it was quite usual for large families, especially the royal families and temples to own elephants thereby an increased demand for tamed elephants. As a result, the elephants were captured from the dense forests of the Western Ghat Mountains and brought to Konni for training. The captured wild elephants are tamed and trained by the trainers along with the help of other tamed elephants and then passed over to the new owners.