This 2018, I was honored to be part of the Kerala Blog Express that allowed me discover a lot of the beauty that Kerala had to offer. I have to admit, prior to that I knew nothing about the place! It wasn’t even part of my bucket list, but right now I only have praise for the country and I continuously encourage my fellow Filipinos to visit Kerala.
I coined Kerala as an introduction to India. This and Sri Lanka gave me ample time and opportunity to know what to expect about India on a smaller scale and to prepare you for the larger Indian sub-continent.
When Kerala Travel Mart 2018 invited me to return to Kerala, I didn’t hesitate!
I know I had seen a lot in my three days in Kerala last March but I also know that I have a lot more to discover. One of which is the Jatayu Earth’s Center.
It wasn’t part of our 2-week itinerary so I was glad that this time around it is open to the public.
An Unrivaled Expanse
It wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that the expanse of the Jatayu Earth’s Center is jaw-dropping. Built on government-owned land and funded by individuals (instead of the usual corporate investors), this 65-acre tourism project covers multiple terrains. Whether you’re looking for rolling hills or rugged mountains, lush forests or deep caves, you can have it here. It’s an ongoing project with a spectacular future, and the infrastructures inside are built with dedication to global standards. It’s been in the pipeline for about 10 years, and it finally opened its doors last 2016.
What’s even more amazing is the fact that as Jatayu Earth’s Center is being built, the surrounding nature is almost untouched. The management says it will be the same even when huge crowds have started gathering here. Aside from the expanse having its own continuous water supply as a part of the project, there is also a full agricultural society planned here to make the Earth’s Center as sustainable as possible.
The Legend Behind the Fact
All epic things have an origin story.
Jatayu is a prominent figure of chivalry and valor in the Ramayana. According to this epic, the noble bird Jatayu batted the evil Ravana in an attempt to save the kidnapped Sitha, Lord Rama’s wife. After a bitter fight, Ravana sliced off Jatayu’s wing and he plummeted defeated to the ground. He fell on a rock, and this eventually became known as Jatayupara (“para” means rock). Legend has it that the dying bird was able to point Lord Rama to the whereabouts of his wife. This aided the latter in his rescue attempt.
Jatayu’s bravery and sacrifice was enshrined in the Earth Center’s giant eagle statue, which measures 200 feet long and 150 feet wide. From Jatayupara, the heavenly eagle watches his surroundings with a keen eye, looking for any creature — man, animal, or plant — who is in need of help. The Jatayu statue is the largest functional bird sculpture in the world, a fitting tribute not just to the legend but to the epic scale of the nature park it oversees.
Soaring to the future
The Jatayu Earth’s Center project is the first of its kind in India, an adventure park that spans multiple terrains and landscapes. As we toured the area, we were told that numerous people had told the people behind the project that it was impossible to accomplish. But as we walked around, we saw that the vision was coming to life. It’s not yet complete, sure, but there’s already enough to entertain visitors like us.
There are four “hills” or major sections in the Jatayu Earth’s Center. Each one features something completely different, and this diversity is one of the park’s attractions.
Hill 1 – “Jatayu Rock Hill”.
This is the hill which enshrines Jatayu, complete with the giant bird statue and an audio-visual museum. The latter is still being built, but there is already a functional cable car to take visitors to the top of the 1,000-feet hill. We were also told that there is to be a mini-theater in one of the statue’s wings.
This hill also features the main water supply of the Earth’s Center, a dam and water reservoir built to hold around 1.5 million liters. This was created after a careful study of the environment, and has positively impacted the ecosystem by providing enough water throughout all seasons.
Hill 2 – “Adventure Rock Hill”.
This is the Adventure Center, which lives up to international safety standards. There’s to be a private forest where visitors can go tramping, and there is also a paintball station that aims to take advantage of the natural terrain. This section was meant to be primarily used for corporate team building programs, and there are various courses available once the whole project is complete. This includes common activities like bouldering, rappelling, and ladder climbing. There’s also a rifle shooting gallery and an archery range.
Hill 3 – “Elephant Rock Hill”.
This is a wide, open space that also holds the 250-meter long zipline. There will also be a sky cycling area here, giving guests a magnificent vista of the Jatayu Earth’s Center. For those who prefer to stay on the ground, there’s also a campsite here that will be enlivened by live music. Couples and families are also encouraged to visit for a romantic moonlit dinner!
The rest of the area may also be reforested in the future, further contributing to the ecosystem of the park.
Hill 4 – “Kitchen Rock Hill”.
This is the most relaxed of all four hills, with a herbal garden and a space especially allotted for relaxation, meditation, and rejuvenation. Jatayu Earth’s Center will offer a 10-day rejuvenation package that is meant as a retreat for those who need to detoxify themselves from the stress of the city. Guests can take a heli-taxi to the hill, in keeping with the stress-free theme.
More to come
There are lots of things to be seen in the Jatayu Earth’s Center, especially when the whole area has been completed! The project is going on in multiple phases. These are just a few of the things we expect:
- Museum visit
- Valley crossing
- Log walking
- And much more!
How to get there, and how much
Jatayu is just 500 meters away from the Main Central Road of South Kerala’s Kollam district. It is also just around 50 kilometers from the Trivandrum International Airport. You can take a cab from the airport to here, and it’s also about an hour’s travel time via cab from the center of Kollam.
You can also take the bus here. The route starts from the Chadayamangalam bus stop. There are also buses from Varkala, Punalur, and Kottarakkara. For those who prefer the train, the Punalur railway station is just 25 kilometers from the Jatayupara.
Visiting the sculpture (and the cable car that takes you there) costs around 400 INR plus tax. To book the Adventure Center, however, you must have a minimum of 10 people in your group. Prices range from around 3,500 INR per person for groups with 20-39 members, but you can get discounts the more people there are.
If you can gather a group of people for an excursion here, by all means do so! It’s a one of a kind experience everyone should have.