The sculpture of the mythical bird is a crowd puller

An outcrop of primordial rock soars high from otherwise sylvan settings alongside the Main Central Road, 50 km from Thiruvananthapuram, in Kerala. This is Jatayupara, a cluster of huge rock formations named after Jatayu, the big bird from the Ramayana lore which is said to have fought till the last to save Sita from her abductor Ravana.

According to lore, Jatayu tried to stop Ravana aboard flying chariot Pushpakaviman with Sita in tow. But when Ravana cut down Jatayu’s wing, the bird collapsed beak down firston top of what is now called Jatayupara . The impact created a small crater on top of the sun-battered and wind-swept rock from which water sprang. Jatayupara also bears the markings of what are believed to be the feet of Lord Ram, who is said to have come here looking for Sita.

Ecotourism project

Rajiv Anchal – artist, sculptor and filmmaker – is seeking to recreate the engaging tale of brotherhood and sacrifice, right up there. An enormous cluster of rocky heights rising 305 metre above ground, the Jatayupara Tourism Project is unfolding now as an exotic destination. Along with friends and invited entrepreneurs, Rajiv’s Guruchandrika Builders is piloting a ₹100-crore ecotourism project in Build-Operate-Transfer mode on 65 acres of land leased by Kerala Tourism.

6D theatre

He is erecting a massive memorial project, highlighted best in the huge sculpture of Jatayu on the pinnacle of the rock cluster. The 61-metre-long, 46-metre wide and 15-metre tall ‘functional’ sculpture depicts the bird lying on its back with a broken wing and raised head. One side opens into a built-up area across three levels featuring a museum, a 6-D theatre and observation balconies, among others. Inside, visitors can have a world view from the perch provided by the massive eyes of the sculpture which open out to the horizons.

One eye will feature a telescopic camera that pans to provide 360 degree-angle visuals projected in turn onto a screen. The museum will greet visitors with a stud earphone and a handset. The handset activates sensors on walls to show tales from the Ramayana in shadow puppetry medium as the visitor walks the course.

The 6D theatre will run animated film projections of the epic fight between Jatayu and Ravan. The modern projection techniques will be supported by matching acoustics and motion control movie chairs.

Other facilities

When complete, Jatayu would be the biggest ‘functional’ sculpture in Asia, says Rajiv Anchal. Other components of the project include a heli-taxi service for which two helipads have already been carved in at vantage points in the rocks. Ayurvedic wellness centres have been designed to fit the crevasses while an adventure park in a forested area flanks the western side.

An aerial passenger ropeway connects the base of the rocks with the pinnacle featuring pulsed gondola technology (varying in speeds to allow passenger convenient views). The adventure park will open first over the next few months, with the rest to follow in due course, Rajiv says.

(This article was published on February 24, 2014)
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