As the panicked elephant ran amok, trampling parked cars and motorbikes, crowds of people gathered to watch from balconies and roof tops. Some followed from a distance as the elephant moved through the streets.
The elephant had wandered from the Baikunthapur forest, crossing roads and a small river before entering the town of Siliguri in West Bengal state.
Divisional Forest Officer Basab Rai said the female elephant appeared to be a loner, and was likely searching for food when it strayed into the town.
He said it did not attack any people, and appeared to be afraid of anyone approaching. After several hours, it became clear the elephant was unable to find its way back to the forest.
Authorities eventually shot the elephant three times with a tranquiliser gun and used a crane to lift it into a truck once it had calmed down.
It was then taken to a special park for domesticated pachyderms that is maintained by the forest department. Once the effect of the tranquiliser wore off, authorities planned to return the elephant to the forest, Rai said.