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Travels on My Elephant Paperback – 27 Feb 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (27 Feb. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140166807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140166804
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 594,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Mark Shand has worked at Sotheby's and as a jackaroo in Australia, has competed the London-Sydney motor race and been shipwrecked in the South Pacific. At present he divides his time between London, India and his hime in BAli. He is co-author (with Don McCullin) of Skullduggery, the sotry of a search for the head-hunting tribes of Indoneisa. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 July 2002
Format: Paperback
The British seem to be particularly adept at coming up with whimsical ideas, making them happen, and then writing about them (cf. comedian Tony Hawk's Round Ireland With A Fridge, and Playing the Moldovans At Tennis or journalist Andrew Marshall's The Trouser People to mention just a few recent examples). Shand continues the tradition, concocting a scheme to buy an elephant and march around India on its back. This quick-reading book is an account of his adventure in India, where he purchases an emaciated 30-year old elephant for about $6,000 from a pair of saddhus (mystic holy men) in the province of Orissa (a few hundred kilometers SW of Calcutta). His goal is to walk her from the coast to the great elephant market on the banks of the Ganges at Sonepur Mela, some 1000 kilometers north, in Bihar, where he would sell her.
However, as he soon discovers, elephants have a lot of personality, and he quickly falls in love with his. The pleasure of the book is not its travelogue description of the sights and sounds along the way (although these do break things up), but the mischievous antics of the elephant and the discovery of its personality as a loving and lovable creature. Tara, the elephant, displays remarkable intelligence and wit over the course of the journey, although at times Shand does veer into anthropomorphizing her. While he doesn't go deep into the role of the elephant in Indian and Hindu culture, it's clear from his travels that they are widely revered as symbols of Ganesh, as bystanders often often small prayers and alms to Tara.
Shand's own lessons in becoming a "mahoot", one who is versed in the ways of elephants and able to ride/guide one, is an equally fascinating and touching story.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By tom.vandevoorde@degroof.be on 5 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Mark Shand has the ability to let you make his elephant journey via his words. It is a 'must' read for elephant lovers. The book is a mixture of a travel experience, elephant anecdotes and a love story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By pat on 19 July 2009
Format: Paperback
Brilliant book; read it ions ago when first out. Bought it for our our son prior a trip to India, he loved it as much as we did,if you love life , animals, travel, and have compassion in your soul,buy this book!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tamara on 11 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
Although at first this book seemed a vaguely amusing travelogue of an eccentric Brit (who happens to be Camilla Parker-Bowles brother), I was surprisingly touched and almost choked up towards the end when he goes to the elephant market and can't bear to part with his elephant - especially as by then I had also become really fond of her!! The ending does seem suspiciosly too good to be true but cheered me up nicely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By steve on 2 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
brilliant--if you love adventure--even better if you love India---you've got to read this.
Fascinating insight into rural local India by a Brit on the back of an elephant. All you'd want from an travel book and more. Wish it had been me!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By YvonneF on 15 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We had never heard of Mark Shand or his journey through India on Tara until we met the magnificent animal while on holiday this year. We spent a wonderful afternoon with her still unaware of her exploits until we returned to camp and found "Journeys on my Elephant" in their book collection. After reading the epilogue we were hooked and promised ourselves that as soon as we got home we would buy the book.

All the emotions are covered: humour, sadness, anger etc. It is a very easy book to read and should be included in your book collection if you like elephants or travelogues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mrs Gillian Millett on 15 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I started reading this book I must admit it did not seem to be very exciting, but I was wrong. The more I read the more involved I got with their travels. A really good read, and I'm glad the elephant ended up getting a good home.
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Format: Paperback
Mark Shand, British travel writer and conservationist was restless. He was so restless that he decided to ride across India on an elephant. He started by looking at the feasibility of his idea and carried out a good deal of research. There is a bibliography in this book of some thirty titles. If he read them all or even simply consulted them he must now be a world authority on the Asian elephant. Mr Shand then travelled to India, spoke with a number of people he knew, bought an elephant and hired an entourage of experts to assist in his task.

It was decided that the trek would be from Konarak to Sonepur, across Orissa and Bihar.Mr Shand describes the journey expertly, with style and with a tongue in cheek sense of humour. He talks about his growing relationships with his helpers and, more particularly with his elephant Tara. He breaks of where necessary to describe the scenery and ancient buildings and at one point to recount an eerie story about Tara's refusal to cross an ancient battlefield.

His arrival at Sonepur is timed to coincide with the Mela because the Mela in part is an enormous elephant market and he knows he will be able, regrettably but necessarily, to dispose of Tara.

`Travels on my Elephant' was published in 1991.Eric Newby has also written about the Sonepur Mela in `The Land of the Elephants' (a chapter in `Departures and Arrivals' published in 1999). Both reports are vivid and very readable. Perhaps Mr Newby just has the edge in reportage, as he was not in love with his elephant.
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