Thrissur, May 14: Appu, the elephant which came to be identified with the 1982 Asian Games mascot and became the lovable symbol of a defining moment in India’s march towards the modern age, died today in Kerala.
The 29-year-old elephant had captured the imagination of the country during the Asiad, gambolling about near the Games Village in the capital.
Officials had refused to make a live animal the mascot. But Kuttinarayanan alias Appu, then six years old, was inalienably identified with the balloon mascot that kept bobbing up over the Games venue.
Footage of Appu being petted by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, was beamed across the country by Doordarshan. That was one of the enduring images that marked a milestone ' the Asian Games had set the stage for the launch of live television broadcast in colour in the country.
The Games also saw the transformation of Delhi into a modern capital. An explosive spell of construction ' much maligned then ' changed the face of the capital.
Delhi marched ahead but a terrible fate lay ahead of Appu. Ten years later, the elephant fell into a septic tank, fractured its limbs and remained maimed forever.
The agony ended at the famous Guruvayoor temple after Appu developed fever today. Before the accident, Appu was the star of temple festivals.
However, it was not easy to find a final resting place as none in the neighbourhood offered land. Eventually, a planter offered a part of his estate, 75 km from the temple, as the burial ground.