Guruvayur: Cheered by devotees and elephant lovers, 33-year-old tusker Gopikannan won the annual elephant race held ahead of the 10-day-festival of the famous Guruvayur Sreekrishna temple Saturday.
The winner raced past four other pachyderms, entered the eastern portals and took a round of the the shrine before touching the golden flagpost.
In all 34 elephants lined up at the 'Manjulal' area about half-a-kilometre from the shrine, from which 10 were selected for the race.
People gathered on both sides of the eastern street of the temple to watch the race.
According to temple lore, there was a time when the Guruvayur temple did not even have a single elephant of its own and it used to bring tuskers from other places for festivals.
Once, the temple authorities failed to get an elephant in time.
To the surprise of everyone, a tusker came running from somewhere when the festival rituals were about to begin.
The elephant race, 'anayottam' in Malayalam, commemorates that event.
Now the temple has 65 elephants lodged in a park at Punnathur Kotta, three kms from the shrine.