The Elephant Kraal of Ayutthaya – Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thailand - Atlas Obscura
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Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thailand

The Elephant Kraal of Ayutthaya

This elephant kraal is the only one remaining in Thailand, dating back to the 16th century when these massive mammals were integral players in war and trade. 

The elephant kraal of Ayutthaya is an unusual structure that was used during the 16th century Ayutthaya kingdom to entrap wild elephants for the Thai army. In fact, an elephant entrapment ceremony commenced within the kraal, and was attended by the kings of the era. This kraal is the only one left in Thailand.

Elephants were once an invaluable commodity used for war, transportation service, and product export to India and Persia. Elephants from wild herds were captured by men riding tame elephants who used bamboo poles with leather nooses to ensnare the giant beasts. The captured elephants were herded into the kraal through a funnel in the back wall, and were separated for either domestic use or for exporting. The last round-up of wild elephants in Thailand was in 1903.

The kraal is surrounded by a wooden gate with pillars that are easily moved as needed. Inside the gate is a huge brick wall enclosing large wooden pillars driven deep into the ground to log in the elephants. In the center of the kraal is the temple housing the image of the elephant-headed Hindu God, Ganesha.

Nearby there is an elephant farm, where elephants are presently bred and trained.