India is famous for many beautiful attractions that bring throngs of visitors to its shores every year and eagles. Whether it’s the culture, the spirituality, the architecture, or sights like the Taj Mahal, people flock to India each year, making tourism one of its most thriving and vibrant industries.
Now, a project that has taken 10 years to come to fruition has begun dazzling viewers: a 200-foot statue of a fallen eagle by filmmaker and sculptor Rajiv Anchal. It is located atop the Jatayupara towers at the Jatayu Earth’s Centre in Kerala.
The sculpture is of a fallen eagle and is the tallest bird sculpture anywhere in the world. Its majestic head and splayed-out wings depict Jatayu, a principal character from the Hindu legend of Ramayana.
— DNA (@dna) November 30, 2017
In the legend, Jatayu is a demigod who takes on the visage of an eagle in order to do battle for the goddess Sita, who has been captured by Ravana. The story goes that when Jatayu sees Sita has been captured by the evil Ravana, he wants to help free her. But he is struck down and slain by her captor, and the statue now sits precisely where, according to myth, the eagle fell.
Anchal had been planning the sculpture for decades, and when he first approached government officials in the 1980s, they were keen on the concept. However, it wasn’t until the Department of Tourism approached him years later that the project began to take shape. His ambition was making the sculpture a symbol of Indian culture as the eagle has its roots in a Hindu legend.
Anchal did not want religion to enter into it. He told Indian newspaper The Hindu in 2017 that, “Jatayu died protecting a woman’s honor, and that is what this sculpture stands for. People of all faiths have invested in this project, and people of all faiths will be coming to see it. For those looking for religion, there is the old temple just outside the compound.”
In a YouTube video about the project, the narrator quotes Anchal, saying the sculpture is a “towering tribute to women’s safety and honor. Jatayu also represents a bygone era, when humans, animals, birds, and other living forms cared for each other and lived peacefully on this Earth.”
The eagle is an awe-inspiring sight, with magnificent detailing to the head and wings. It sits atop a hill, 200 feet high and 150 feet wide, with its talons rising 70 feet into the air.
It is the region’s first build-operate-transfer (BOT) project but likely not its last. Visitors ascend to the top via a cable car or hike up a path to reach it. The park has other adventures on offer too, such as rock climbing, zip lining, and many other activities for people of all skills and abilities.
Construction of the eagle began in 2008, but it wasn’t accessible to the public until early 2017. It is made of pressed concrete, although the talons are stainless steel. The bird contains surprises within it: an observation deck sits in its eyes, and there are rooms inside that hold exhibitions.
Anchal is also a filmmaker of some renown. In the late 1990s, his film Guru was the first ever Indian entry in the Oscars in the category of best foreign film.
India has long held allure for tourists and travelers of every stripe. Now, thanks to the vision of a sculptor and filmmaker firmly rooted in Indian myths and legends, people have one more reason to flock to this nation of adventures.
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A magnificent sculpture in a park that reveals much about India’s history, its people, and its determination to preserve and display those proud traditions for the world to enjoy.