Sprawling over an area of 65 acres in Chadayamangalam, Kollam lies the Jatayu Park. The sculpture of Jatayu in Jatayu Nature Park is enormous – 200ft length, 150ft breadth, and 70ft height, covers an area of 15,000 square feet – and is the biggest bird statue in the world. Not only is this park an exciting adventure-themed zone, but is also the ideal place for calm nature lovers.
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The park is located on a hilltop in Kollam and can be reached via road and for those interested in the aerial route, a helicopter ride is also available. One can reach the sculpture at the top either through cable cars or by taking the 1km route of 826 steps, as they enjoy the nature around them. With thrilling adventure activities like trekking, archery, paintball, and commando net, Jatayu park is one good destination for the daredevils. Then again it is also ideal for those interested in relaxing and sightseeing, with its breathtaking view, ayurvedic resorts, temple, and the preserved sites of the historic footprint of Rama and beak mark of Jatayu.
The main attraction of this park is of course the sculpture of Jatayu, which symbolises the protection of women, their honour, and safety. It is the result of 10 strenuous years of hard work. Legend comes to life in Jatayu Park, as it is situated on the rocks of Chadayamangalam, where the legendary bird Jatayu is said to have fallen.
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The mastermind behind the sculpture and the park itself is the internationally acclaimed movie director and sculptor Rajiv Anchal, known for his movies including the fantasy-drama film Guru, the first Malayalam film submitted to the Oscars. His idea for the park was to not only make it a spectacular work of art but also have a unique eco-friendly approach and create an ideal business model.
To begin with, Jatayu Park is Kerala’s first BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) tourism project. It was a 100-crore project, being extremely low in cost compared to the thousands of crores usually spent for statues. Among the statues that have emerged with either our taxes or government funds, Jatayu stands out as a 100% privately funded project. Rajiv Anchal himself being the first, around 130 NRIs had invested in the making of Jatayu Park, making it the result of the collective effort of not affluent investors, but of hardworking people.
This is not just a tourism project for Rajiv Anchal. For him, Jatayu is a symbol of the time when man and wildlife lived in harmony. He aims to protect the Jatayu rock and also preserve the nature around it. The construction of the park is designed in the most nature-friendly way, making it seem like a part of the landscape itself. The sculpture of Jatayu looks like the bird is embracing the rock.
The land around Jatayu rock was completely barren, with only wild grass and no trees. Lakhs of trees were then planted solely for the project. So instead of forests getting cleared for projects, the Jatayu sculpture rests on a man-made luscious bed of greenery.
There were also problems of water shortage and electricity. So, a check dam was constructed between two rock valleys that can hold up to 20 lakh litres of water. Moreover, they also make use of rainwater, through rainwater harvesting, they collect up to 15 lakh litres of water. Thus, water is conserved and plants grow well. As for electricity, solar power is used.
Literally, nothing was destroyed in the making of this park. The Siddha Healing Caves, another attraction in the park, are not man-made but naturally occurring caves that were converted to ayurvedic resorts. Also, organic farming is promoted, for which a planned agricultural society was formed and their products sold at the Centre.
Jatayu Park truly brings the legend to life, including the wildlife of the Treta Yuga itself, as per the imagination of Anchal. The sculpture has a virtual reality museum that brings Treta yuga to reality and also has a multi-dimensional theatre, that will screen an animated movie featuring the battle of Jatayu and Ravana.
The Jatayu Earth’s Centre Nature Park is not only an exciting, fun-filled tourist destination but also a model to behold for its efficient use of money and resources with an eco-friendly approach. In addition to being another must-visit place for us humans, it has turned out to be a gift for nature too.