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India's first Rock Theme Park in Kerala

A 1000-feet high rocky hill cluster at Chadayamangalam in south Kerala, believed to be connected with mythical character 'Jatayu' in epic Ramayana, will woo tourists as the country's first 'Rock Theme Park'.

According to local tradition, the rock, 'Jatayupara' in Kollam district, is the place where the mythical bird 'Jatayu' fell after its wings were slain by the ten-headed Ravana by his lethal sword 'Chandrahasam'.

As per the epic, Ravana, who ruled Lankapuri (Sri Lanka), chopped off one of the wings of the bird when it tried to block his airship 'Pushpaka Vimanam' in which he was forcibly taking away Rama's consort Sita.

The project is a blend of ecological and epic tourism and the state government, through this public-private partnership venture, is building a high-tech theme park on the rocky terrain with a mammoth statue of 'Jatayu' as its core.

A host of facilities such as 4D theatre complex, cable van, ayurveda resorts and massage parlours, ethnic cottages and a mural painting gallery are also taking shape at the spot, located about 50 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The whole site is conceived as a resort where holidayers can relax and have a peep into the culture, heritage and tradition of India through films, paintings in a fitting ambience of panoramic settings, said Rajiv Anchal, noted film maker and sculptor, who is the art-director of the project.

"The huge statue of Jatayu, laying on its back with wings spread out with raised head, will be the heart of the park. The statue, 65 feet in height, 200 feet length and 150 feet width, is designed as a functional structure within which a 50-seat 4D theatre complex will be built," Rajiv said.

Once completed, the Jatayu sculpture would be the biggest functional sculpture in Asia. It can be termed as the tallest as well, he said.

"The 'Rock Theme Park' will strengthen Kerala's position in the global tourism map. It will open a fresh destination for foreign as well as global tourists," Rajiv said.

A total of Rs 100 crore was expected for this venture. Fifty per cent of the construction of the bird statue has been completed. "We think we can complete the first phase within one year," state Tourism Secretary V Venu said.

The bird structure will have three-tiers with a total of 20,000 sq ft utility space. The visitors who enter the sculpture can literally have a bird's eye view as Jatayu's eyes are designed to be around windows opening to the world.

"A telescope will also be installed there to have a closer view of the panoramic scenes of the surroundings," Rajiv, whose film 'Guru' got the official Indian entry at the Oscars in 1997, said.

Visitors can view a 4D film on the 'Jatayu' episode of Ramayana in the theatre, designed on Hollywood standards.
The inside walls of the structure would be decorated with traditional mural paintings, which would be based on the poems on 'Jatayu' penned by Jnanpith laureate ONV Kurup.

Local tradition has it that the village with the imposing rock as its backdrop, got the name 'Chandayamangalam' because of its association with Jatayu. The area has remained obscure for long before its tourism potential was discovered.

Only devotees visiting a temple of Lord Rama in the area used to have a glance at the panoramic view of the surrounding area in the past.

A never-drying pond, believed to have sprung when the rock suffered a deep cut from Jayatyu's beak, and the markings on the rock held in high reverence by local people as foot prints of Rama, are other highlights of the spot.

"As the name itself suggests, rock will be the theme of the park. As part of the project, many artificial rocks, rock-like structures and cottages will be built around without harming the natural rock. It will be built in such a way that nobody could easily understand which is original rock and which are created by artists," Anchal said.

There would be a winding foot path leading up to the top stretching to several kilometers. Places for rest and a host of kiosks of coffee and ethnic snacks like baked tapioca, 'chiratta puttu' and 'dry-ginger coffee' will also be set up throughout the path.

Rock-carved honeymoon cottages and herbal gardens to grow a variety of shrubs and plants will be other features of the theme park. Pure water, collected and preserved through rain water harvesting, will be supplied to the visitors round the year. Electricity will also be generated within the park tapping the in-house sources.

"We are planning to build a tiny reservoir to collect and preserve rain water on the rock cluster. Solar panels will be installed and electricity will be produced from solar energy for the park. We have already signed MoUs with private investors for this," Rajiv said.

The Tourism Department has entered into a pact with a Dubai based company to install a 'cable car' facility in the 'Jatayu Rock Theme Park', he said.

It would be the first time cable cars were introduced in any tourist centre in Kerala, he said.

"The Rock Theme Park will strengthen Keralas position in the global tourism map. It will open a fresh destination for foreign as well as global tourists," Venu said.

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