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When the children where home for Christmas last year we went on a day trip to the Jatayu Earth’s Center, a park and tourism center at Chadayamangalam in Kollam district of Kerala. Frankly I have no clue why it is called ‘Earth’s Center’. Thouhg I looked, I could not find any explanation anywhere. So if you know the reason, now is the time to speak up and let me know via the comments.

Jatayu is the name of the legendary bird from the epic Ramayana who tried saving Sita from Ravana who abducted her, and was flying off to his kingdom Lanka in Pushpak Vimaan. Jatayu was injured during the fight that ensued and supposedly fell down in Chadayamangalam (a name which derives from the original Jatayu-mangalam). The rocky hill where he fell is the one called Jatayu Paara or Jatayu Rock.

That was the spot chosen to showcase the sculpture of Jatayu (by Rajiv Anchal), in his fallen state, claws up in the sky. It catches your attention much before you reach the place. After all it is the world’s biggest bird sculpture. It is supposed to symbolize protection of women. Or rather it is the statue of women’s safety and honor. Now I have a problem with that.

Much as I am grateful to the bird for coming to the help of a woman in distress, I don’t buy the argument that women’s safety comes from ‘brothers’ rushing in to help when she is in distress. A woman’s safety is when men teach each other to keep their hands and other body parts to themselves. Also understanding that a ‘no’ is always a ‘no’.

As for the ‘honor’ part of it, don’t even get me started on it. For centuries it has been palmed off on women for safe-keeping. Like hell! Honor is not something that a woman has to hold on to at all costs and can be taken away using force by unscrupulous men. Honor is how a man conducts himself or rather how humans, both men and woman conduct themselves, with integrity. So I sort of am not comfortable with the sculpture being called statue of women’s safety and honor. But I digress.

We left home around 7 a.m., had breakfast enroute and reached the place on time. Having booked the tickets in advance, we just had to wait for the cable car service to start. We were one of the firsts to get in the cars that would take us up the Jatayu Rock. It was awesome seeing the head and claws of the bird sculpture come into view as we climbed steadily.

I’ll let the pictures rather than my words speak of the sculpture itself.

The funny looking emaciated Santa Claus in the foyer
The cars that took us up
Jatayu, world’s biggest bird sculpture by Rajiv Anchal
With humans in the picture, for perspective

Having seen the bird from all sides, plus gazed at the countryside below, and taken lots of pictures, we had nothing left to do. The museum beneath the huge bird was still getting ready and was not open to the public as yet. We were all tired and thirsty from the relentless sun, and to think it was only December! The air-conditioned stall selling ice-creams and cool drinks seemed like a slice of heaven when we stepped off the sun into its cool interior. A cold pineapple juice later we decided to drive back, and be home in time for lunch.

© Shail Mohan 2020