A minar in loving memory of a dead elephant

Shyamhari Chakra

In a region infamous for killing of the elephants, a minar built in loving memory of a dead elephant baffles you. But, as you hear the touching tale behind the making of the memorial, you find it difficult to suppress your emotions.

More than a decade ago, during November 2009, an elephant had died due to electrocution in a paddy field near Jali village of Champua block in Keonjhar district near Odisha-Jharkhand border. The elephant had come out of the nearby Jyotipur reserve forest in search of fodder.

The paddy field belonged to Padmini Naik, an elderly lady of the village. “My mother was so shocked that she did not receive food for three days. She used to worship elephant as a god as per her parents’ family tradition. Moreover, elephant, as the vahan (vehicle) of Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth – is also revered as a sacred animal by our family. So she had asked me to build up a memorial for the elephant at the site where it was killed,” shared Krushna Chandra Naik who has built the Hati Minar as per his late mother’s wish.


Naik, who retired as a professor of Odia literature, started construction of the 40-feet tall Minar in 2018 investing his personal savings. He further donated five acres of land to develop the site as a public space where around 30,000 saplings have already been planted. The site would have a children’s park and a herbal garden for public use.

More than 5000 people of the area gathered at the site for inauguration of the Hati Minar on Makara Sankranti, the most auspicious day for the people of the region, in 2019. Since then, it has been a very favourite destination for the people of the region.


The island-like site is surrounded by a rivulet from three sides coupled with the adjacent lush green forest cover and a Shiv temple nearby has been the perfect place for picnickers who flock there in large numbers. The nearby road that connects the 1100-year-old famous Khiching temple at a distance of 25 kilometres also attracts the passing-by pilgrims and tourists to visit the Hati Minar round the year.

“I wish all, who visit Hati Minar, to be reminded of the sad story of the innocent and sacred animal that was killed here. I also hope that it would arouse in them compassion to care for the rapidly decreasing number of elephants,” confided Naik who has published two books based on the folk theatre tradition and heritage sites of his district.

“I wish my mother would have been alive to see her wish come true. Unfortunately, I lost her eight years ago”, he sighed.