About 75 km from Mysore is yet another world. The Dubare Elephant camp. A short boat ride across the river Cauvery and you're standing in front of one of nature's biggest, most beautiful animals.
Seeing an elephant in the flesh really puts your existence in perspective. And ironically makes you think more about ants.
Dubare is a project undertaken by the forest department and Jungle Lodges and Resorts, where elephants are trained by naturalists. Earlier this was where elephants were trained for Mysore's Dassera festival, which is why most of the animals are quite docile. Now they are mostly used for jungle rides and for capturing rogue elephants.
If you stay at the camp, you can partake in riding, bathing, oiling and feeding them.
The elephants are enclosed in giant log cages. On reaching there, we found new arrivals on the premises. Some only a week old who had been captured from nearby forests. They were understandably restless and didn't seem like they enjoyed the many prying eyes. Each log cage has the name, the date of capture and the approximate age of the animal on a small board.
Each elephant has his own mahout who trains him/ her from the time of their arrival at Dubare. We witnessed feeding time, where football sized balls of lentils, jaggery and other nutritious ingredients were rolled into the elephants' waiting open mouths after a series of instructions were hollered out by the mahouts.
From the outside looking in, it's difficult not to feel a little sad for these magnificent creatures as they stand tethered and conquered by man. Their tiny eyes know and remember all.
And even as their mahouts feed and scrub them, when they look at you from the corner of their eyes, all you can see is their longing to roam free again.