Jatayu Earth's Centre, Kollam - South Kerala
Tourism in South Kerala has been limited to coastal areas like Varkala, Kovalam and Poovar. However, this trend is changing slowly. The Government of Kerala, in collaboration with a popular sculptor named Rajiv Anchal, has built the world's largest bird sculpture in Chadayamangalam (Kollam district) in Kerala. This giant sculpture of the mythological bird named Jatayu, has been built on a hill named Jadayupara and has been opened to visitors from the year 2018. The tourist centre where the Jatayu statue has been built is called the Jatayu Earth's Centre or the Jatayu Nature Park. This article will act as a detailed guide for you to plan a trip and visit Jatayu Earth’s Centre.
Location of Jatayu Earth’s Centre, Kollam
Jatayu Earth’s Centre is located in the Chadayamangalam area in the Kollam district in South Kerala. It is located quite close from Kollam, Varkala and Munroe Island; hence you can make any of these places as the base to travel to the bird sculpture. The nearest airport to Jatayu Nature Park is Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) airport, and the nearest railway station is the Kollam station.
Distance of Jatayu Earth’s Centre:
From Varkala town - 28 kilometres
From Kollam railway station - 37 kilometres
From Munroe Island - 46 kilometres
From Trivandrum airport - 52 kilometres
How to reach Jatayu Earth’s Centre, Kollam
You can hire a taxi from any of the places mentioned above and travel to Jatayu Earth’s Centre. The bird statue makes for a fantastic day-visit from these areas. You can also club visiting the Jatayu Nature Park along with Kilimanoor Palace (birth place of the renowned painter Raja Ravi Verma). The Palace is located very close to the Jatayu statue and houses some magnificent original paintings.
We rented a two-wheeler scooter from a rental agent near the Trivandrum airport and rode to Jatayu Nature Park on our own. The roads are end-to-end highway and are pretty smooth, making an excellent ride. There’s a vast paid parking area below the hill housing the sculpture.
Mythological story behind the Jatayu statue at Jatayu Earth's Centre, Kollam
The Indian mythological scripture Ramayana, narrates the story of abduction of Sita (wife of Lord Rama of Ayodhya) by Ravana (Demon King of Lanka). As Ravana hastened to Lanka on his flying chariot with Sita, she cried out to Rama to save her. Hearing Sita’s helpless screams, the mighty old bird Jatayu (King of vultures) winged up towards the sky to Ravana’s chariot. It resolved to save Sita from the clutches of the demon God. Attacking Ravana with its sharp claws, it tore flesh from his body by using its beak.
Vexed, Ravana took out his arrow and fired at Jatayu’s wings. One of its wings tore off and fell. Jatayu knew that it could not win over Ravana, but the brave old bird continued fighting, only to be hit again by Ravana’s arrow. Soon, Jatayu was bruised, battered and bleeding from the wounds all over its body. It fell on the ground and slowly started dying. Sita granted it a boon to be alive till it meets Lord Rama to convey the entire story.
While searching for his wife, eventually Lord Rama chanced upon dying Jatayu, who informed him of its battle with Ravana and how he had abducted Sita and journeyed down south. From Jatayu, Lord Rama learnt all the details of Sita's abduction and granted it salvation.
Best time to go to Jatayu Earth’s Centre, Kollam
The winter months (November to February) are the best time to visit Jatayu Earth’s Centre. Summers (March to May) are scorching and humid. Light monsoon (August and September) can also be an excellent time to visit the sculpture. Just make sure the forecast doesn’t show heavy rains and thunderstorms.
As for the time of the day, early mornings and evenings are the best time to visit Jatayu Earth’s Centre. However, evenings are preferred as the tourism centre opens only at 9:30 AM in the morning, which is quite bright and hot owing to South Kerala’s weather. If you plan to spend the entire day at Jatayu Nature Park, plan a visit in the morning and stay till the evening. There are several activities that you can indulge in to spend the day. Read on to know more about it.
Is online booking required to visit Jatayu Earth’s Centre in Kollam?
We visited Jatayu Earth’s Centre during COVID times. We did visit their website, which is very well-designed, but weren’t able to clearly understand the time-slot system. We were sure that our mobile networks will be working fine at the tourist centre. Hence, we reached the Jatayu Nature Park a bit early, keeping some buffer time if we have to immediately book the slot online. On inquiry at the ticket counter, we found out that the online booking is not working at all and all payments had to be made there and then (in cash; cards weren’t accepted).
We are not sure if this was because of COVID restrictions or if there is a permanent closure of online booking. You can try out our idea of reaching the Jatayu Earth’s Centre a bit early if you have time in hand or just call them and inquire on the contact number stated on Google (which did not work in our case, to be honest). Reading recent reviews from the people who have visited might also help. Another way to source out the latest information would be through your hotel/ resort’s helpdesk or enquiring with the car driver who is supposed to drive you there.
How to reach the top of the hill at Jatayu Earth’s Centre, Kollam
As mentioned earlier, all the vehicles have to be parked at the vast parking lot at Jatayu Earth’s Centre, below the hill where Jatayu’s sculpture is built. There are two ways to reach the top of the hill. You could climb the odd 800 stairs to reach the top of the hill. The steps are cemented, but there are very few to no shades (for those planning to climb in the afternoon, please don’t). Carry plenty of water and some snacks for this climb. The other way is through the world-class glass-covered cable car. Though costing more, a ride in this cable car to the top of the hill is an experience in itself.
The stairway to the top of the hill at Jatayu Earth’s Centre was closed due to COVID restrictions on our visit. Of course, because the authorities cannot ensure social distancing on the stairs. So, we had to ride the cable car (not that we were planning to take the stairs!). Social distancing and COVID protocols were followed at all times at the tourist centre. One family or one group were allowed in a single cabin of the cable car, ensuring safety.
Jadayupara entry fee/ ticket rate:
Whether you decide to take the stairs or the cable car, you will have to pay an entrance fee of INR 240 per person at the entrance point to the Jatayu Earth’s Centre.
The cable car ride costs INR 300 per person for both ways. We are not sure if you can ride the cable car one way and come down via stairs or vice-versa, but you could definitely ask!
You can even opt for a helicopter ride to the hill of the Jatayu Earth’s Centre for INR 2400 per person. This ride will offer you an aerial view of the bird sculpture.
There are no separate camera or DSLR charges. However, we were asked if we were carrying a drone, which weren't allowed).
It is also advisable to know the opening and closing timings of the Jatayu statue at Jatayu Nature Park. The official website mentions 10 AM as the opening time and 6 PM as closing time. However, the last cable car leaves back from the top of the hill at 5:30 PM and you would not want to miss it. As we were clicking photographs and since there were very few visitors when we travelled, they gave us a few more minutes at the top of the hill.
What to see at the Jatayu Earth’s Centre, Kollam
Jatayu Earth’s Centre is basically a collaboration between the Tourism department of Kerala and Mr. Rajiv Anchal, a film director. It focuses on environmental sustainability in its design and includes rainwater irrigation systems, solar-powered electricity, and planned organic farms.
1. Jatayu Statue
Jatayu Earth’s Centre or Jatayu Nature Park houses the largest bird sculpture in the world. The sculpture is 200 feet long, 150 feet wide and 70 feet high. It is built on a 1000 feet tall rock named Jadayupara and occupies a floor area of 15000 square feet. As Jatayu, the noble bird, died protecting a woman’s honour (Sita), the centre is dedicated to ‘Women’s honour and safety’.
Riding the cable car was a unique experience. As the cable car slowly climbed towards the top, we were able to get a glimpse of the magnificent statue of Jatayu. In a matter of a few minutes, we were at the top of the hill, and it took us a while to take in the beauty of the place. There’s a paved walkway surrounding the bird sculpture, and you can take an entire 360-degree tour admiring the sculpture from different angles.
Mr. Anchal, the brainchild of this project, has used concrete to construct Jatayu’s sculpture. The bird is lying flat on its back with its wings spread across and its curled claws facing the sky. If you focus properly, you will be able to appreciate the intricate carvings on the stylized feathers of the sculpture. Its nails, beak, claws, and eyes will make you reminisce the old folklore.
2. Lord Rama Temple or Jatayu Temple
When Lord Rama reached the Jadayupara rock searching for his wife, Sita, he found wounded Jatayu. He liberated the soul of dying Jatayu. Lord Rama left his footprint mark on the rock where a temple was built in those times. Today, the temple dedicated to Lord Rama has been renovated and reconsecrated. Lord Rama temple stands right beside Jatayu’s sculpture. The temple belongs to a private trust, and it is built to preserve India’s glorious past.
The sculpture of Jatayu at the Jatayu Earth’s Centre is hollow from within. There's about 15000 square feet of utilizable area inside the Jatayu statue. An entrance opens beneath one of its wings that will take you to an audio-visual museum as well as a 6D theatre. The museum exhibits animated visuals, and with light and sound, it showcases the story of the mythological bird.
4. 6D Theatre
A multi-dimensional theatre is being built under the wings of Jatayu at the Jatayu Earth’s Centre. The theatre screens an animated movie featuring the epic battle between Jatayu and Ravana.
Note: Both the museum and the 6D theatre were closed due to COVID on our visit.
5. Holy Pond
There is a pond near the Jadayupara rock, which is believed to be formed by the stroke of Jatayu’s beak when it fell flat on the ground after fighting Ravana. It is said that the pond never dries and has water throughout the year. Another folklore states that the bird Jatayu drank water from a pond to keep itself alive, and it is this pond that never goes dry. You can see the pond from afar while going around the Jatayu statue.
6. Adventure Zone
The rock surrounding the Jadayupara rock has been developed into an adventure zone. Adventure activities like rock climbing, rappelling, jummering, bouldering, valley crossing, chimney climbing, archery, zip-lining, rifle shooting and paintball can be enjoyed by the tourists visiting the Jatayu Earth’s Centre. The charges for the adventure activities are levied separately, and if you are interested in more than one activity, you could even buy a package. Trekking and camping can also be arranged on prior booking. The state-of-art adventure zone can be accessed from the base of Jadayupara hill. An indoor entertainment zone is also present which could be enjoyed by both kids and adults.
Note: The adventure zone was closed due to COVID on our visit.
It is said that after falling on the ground, wounded Jatayu took shelter in a cave near the Jadayupara rock. This natural cave is where the current helipad is. This cave is being developed in a vast Ayurvedic retreat with accommodation facilities. Once open, it will offer long term extended Ayurvedic treatments to its guests.
At the top of the hill at Jatayu Earth’s Centre, a small canteen serves beverages and light snacks. There were other eateries too, which were closed (probably due to pandemic). An amphitheatre has also been built surrounding the bird sculpture, from where you can get perfect sunset views. Various traditional shows are scheduled from time to time at this amphitheatre.
Jatayu Earth’s Centre represents a bygone era where humans, birds, and animals lived in harmony and cared for each other. This new tourist attraction (opened in 2018) should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list. It is a unique destination with an amalgamation of myth and modernity. If you do not have time to visit Jatayu Nature Park dedicatedly from the nearby towns, stop by for a couple of hours at the nature park while travelling from Alleppey to Trivandrum/ Varkala/ Kovalam.
We hope this guide on Jatayu Earth’s Centre helps you plan your trip to the giant bird sculpture. Let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below. Follow us on Instagram to look at some fantastic shots of the Jatayu bird sculpture and the other places that we visited in South Kerala.
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