Makara is a mythical creature in Hindu mythology who is the Vahana or mount for the Ganga and Varuna. Makara is also an insignia of Kamadeva as Kama's flag depicts Makara and hence known as Karkadhwaja. Traditionally this aquatic or amphibian creature is a fish or crocodile bodied and elephant headed.The creature has a long proboscis. In astronomy the Makara or Capricorn is one of the twelve symbols of zodiac.
There is one interesting story regarding the origin of Makara. Once Gajendra, the king of elephants was bathing with his herd. The custom was that the king always remained surrounded and guarded by other elephants. But that particular day a crocodile, who was disturbed by the elephant's activity, suddenly grabbed a leg of Gajendra and pulled him under the water. Though Gajendra was very strong and powerful but he was unable to make himself free from the jaws of the crocodile. He asked for the help of other elephants but their combined effort was all in vain. Exhausted and defeated the others gave up the hope to rescue their leader.
The Gajendra almost sank totally with only his trunk in the air. In desperation the Gajendra appealed to Lord Vishnu. Listening to his devotee's cry, Vishnu rushed in to his help on his vehicle Garuda and the God beheaded the crocodile. Thus the concept of Makara with elephant head and crocodile body was originated.