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Old 20th November 2019, 17:13   #1
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Default Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

A Rendezvous with Jatayu - A trip to Heaven!!

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Prelude:

We were looking out for a place to travel during one of the long weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and wanted it to be an enjoyable road trip. I started searching for un-explored places that were within the range of 250-300 km from Bangalore and something that was achievable in 3 days considering the fact that I would be the only driver throughout the trip and upon return, will have to again drive back to office the next day on jam packed Outer Ring road, Bangalore. Driving is something that I enjoy the most but definitely not in frustrating traffic and grid lock conditions. My inner being was craving for Peace and rejuvenation, so this had to be a place where I also do get to take some rest and shut down myself completely to the outside world apart from just driving and travelling as always.

The Plan:

My wife and I started browsing for the weekend getaways. A google search listed out the places and nearby resorts within Karnataka that we had already been to. The next question was, “Was I willing to extend the number of days and take the extra burden and upon return be ready to get back to office”? My initial response to this was a "BIG NO". That is because I stay about 22 km away from office and drive close to 45 km (two way) in day which literally kills me.
Distance is measured in hours in Bangalore and seeing the distance I mentioned, one can imagine the time I have to spend on road for daily office commute. People driving on outer ring road, Bangalore, will definitely agree with me on this. My response also meant that we had to just somehow spend time at home, either by watching TV or sleeping to which we are totally against.

I wanted go to a place to get away from all the stress and strain that my mind and body had been going through on a daily basis and not to be over stressed and worked out, all over again.

So I decided to unwind myself completely and take some time off from the office work and extend our plan. We took out our travel diary and scanned our wish list.
The first thing that popped out was Kerala - Alleppey. We had been to Kerala earlier but not to Alleppey.I will cover the other places of Kerala we visited in the past in a separate post. We had been planning to visit Alleppey for a long time and somehow it remained in our bucket list and never had materialized. We had just about 7 days off (including the weekend) and it was just about the right time to visit the place as the most famous Nehru Trophy boat race was round the corner. So we decided to go to Alleppey. My parents also decided to join us and we were excited and all set for a family trip.

The Unprecedented Discovery:

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I was just causally watching TV and changing channels. I accidentally stumbled upon Travel XP channel and suddenly something caught my attention there. The host there was doing an episode on Alleppey, Kerala. I decided to watch as that was our next travel destination and get some travel tips. Curiosity increased, as the host announced a short commercial break and flashed an excellent 360 degree video clip revolving around a big bird statue with its wings spread wide on the hill top and which I guess was shot on a drone and said that she would be back soon.
That kept me glued to the TV and I watched the program till the end and discovered this amazing place called "Jatayu Earth Center". The program, the footage, the narration was excellent and it infused super excitement in me especially when they showed the cable car rides to the top of the hill. Yes, that was it. With no hesitation, I added it to my travel itinerary. I turned on my desktop PC and googled more on it and found that it was actually in Kollam, which was about 110 km from Alleppy and close to Kanyakumari ( just about 100 km away )and also very close to Shabri malai.

I also found that online bookings could be made for an additional fee to avoid huge crowds and last minute hiccups. The website also displayed discounts for senior citizens. More can be found here. http://www.jatayuearthscenter.com/

There are lot of other adventure games, camping activities, trekking and other sport activities like rock climbing. All of that can booked at an additional cost.

There are also helicopter tours around the hills for a few minutes. (Available only and Saturday and Sunday with advance booking only)

The Destination:

Jatayu Earth Center and Alleppey, Kerala
we had never been here and so we finalized this place as it sounded to be a perfect setup to enjoy in the serene backwaters of Alleppey along with a drive down south to Kollam to witness the great Jatayu.

The booking Process:

Since we had to travel to two different destinations a proper planning was needed.I started looking out on the internet to book a house-boat.
I came across a website -> https://www.alleppeyhouseboatclub.com/ and went through it. It had all the information I needed. I sent an email and called them up. They responded back in a few hours. They co-ordinated well and assisted me in booking a private 2 bedroom house-boat for a day, entirely to our family.
They sent me a secure payment link via email and asked me to make the advance payment and reserve it. I paid the advance and reserved it. They sent the confirmation and boarding location point (jetty) to my email address.

The next step was to book an accommodation. Since we had to travel to two different destinations, we had to make a choice. I checked the google map to make and take proper decisions. Alleppey showed up as 600 km from my home (around 12 hrs of driving) and kollam was another 110 km from there which totalled to about 15 hrs of driving. That didn’t look so feasible. Either we had to stay in Kollam area for a day and get back to Allepey or Stay in Alleppey, visit the bird and get back to Allepey again as the Jatayu earth center is about 2 hour drive from Alleppey.

Since Alleppey is before Kollam, we thought of staying (@Alleppey) and rest after a daylong driving activity and use the next day to visit the bird.That sounded perfect. So we decided to make Alleppey as our primary destination. (Base Camp)We were particular about a good resort as we wanted to relax and rest and do nothing for at least 2 days and be digitally cut off. Our plan was to spend a day on a house boat, a day to visit the bird and use the remaining two days to unwind in a resort and do nothing.

Here were our choices. I also found out that these resorts have a tie up with the house boats or have their own house-boats and can be booked through them.

1) Ramada, Alleppey -> since it was close to the boat race point and house boat jetty. One can also see the race from the resort itself.

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2) Lake Palace Backwater Resort, Alleppey

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3) Lemon Tree Vembanad Lake Resort, Kerala.

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We chose Lake Palace Backwater Resort as it looked too good and the reviews were great. We also booked a Tree boo hotel to stay on the first and the second day.That is because, Alleppy is about 600 kms from Bangalore and would take about 12 hours of drive time. So we didn't want to spend on resort for a night's sleep over as they were all very premium and expensive.

The show stopper:

As we were all set to go, suddenly the news of heavy rains and floods broke in Maharashtra and Karnataka and nature spread its fury to Kerala and divested that entire stretch. We kept fingers crossed and kept tabs on all news channels and weather reports. Soon the hotel and resort people called us up and asked us to cancel the bookings as things were going out of control at some places and was getting unpredictable. Though Alleppy was not harmed much, the path to it was and some major roads and bridges were closed.Initially, we had thought of driving through Wayanad as it is more scenic and green. But due to heavy rains and landslides the doors were closed for us.We thought of taking the Salem route. Again, Ernakulam and the other connecting districts around Alleppey was badly hit and the connecting bridges were closed due to increasing and dangerous water levels gushing over the bridges.Nature played a big spoil port and we had to cancel all our bookings and get the refund.


The Change of Destination:

I was as much devastated as the places that were in the path of nature's fury. All the meticulous planning had gone waste and flown down the drain.
We cancelled all the bookings we had made and chose to drive to Pondicherry instead for a short 4 day trip.I will post the Pondy trip details separately.

An opportunity to fulfil the unsatisfied desire:

A lot of unfulfilled desires and thoughts about Alleppey was still lingering in my mind.Diwali holidays came to our rescue and gave us an opportunity to rekindle that.This time, the same plan was on. The only change to it was the resort, because the earlier one I had booked was unavailable. I found Punnamada resort to be good after some research and made the reservations there. They also had their own house boat and we were happy to reserve our spots. The whole property was on the banks of Vembanad Lake.

Disaster stuck again:

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Exactly as planned earlier, we were enthusiastic about the trip. But there came another big blow. My Ego was beaten black and blue. Heavy rains and floods again due to depression in Arabian Sea along with a cyclone. Further adding to this, the meteorological department announced and declared a red alert in several districts in Kerala. I did not know what to do. My parents were still hesitant and insisted and forced me to cancel the trip again.

Where there is a will there is a way:

This time, I refused to budge and decided to stick to my plan no matter what. Something in me kept telling to hold on to it. What happened next was an experience of a life time to be cherished and remembered forever.

The Drive:

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A misty drive to Alleppey,Kerela.

We decided to go via Salem and we drove through very heavy rains. The roads were in excellent condition up to Kerala. There was just one rough patch as a tunnel construction was going on and we had to take a detour which slowed down the speed and eventually connected us back to the main highway. Gradually the weather improved with intermittent showers. As we neared towards Alleppey, the rain had completely stopped. I drove super-fast and reached there in 10.5 hrs flat. Wipers did an excellent job.

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The restaurant and dining Area

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Later in the evening, we decided to hit the beach to avoid heat and sun tans.The tides were high and rough as they came dashing against us. So we did not venture out there much in the night.

A brand new Jeep Wrangler in the parking lot !

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The stay @ Treeboo hotel.

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Comfortable and Spacious Bedroom !!

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We retuned back to our hotel after a short visit to the beach and had our dinner. The food was very tasty and delicious. I was totally exhausted after a 12 hour drive and hit the bed. The rains started lashing again and I could hear it till I completely dozed off with uncomfortable, unsettled thoughts running in my mind about the next days plan. The chances of us visiting the bird the next day was very grim because of the heavy rains. I hoped for the best and dozed off. As I woke up in the morning, I was greeted by sunshine.

A visit to Jatayu Earth Center:

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The morning sunshine didn’t last long and the weather turned gloomy again. The drive to Kollam from Alleppey is alongside a water canal and at some points, we could see the water over flowing out from canals on to the road. We drove through very heavy rains and thunderstorms and reached the place. It was so heavy that we had to sit and wait in the car till the skies became clear.

The entire facility had stopped the operations due to overcast and bad weather.They said that the rope way and cable cars were capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions. However they were a bit worried about the heavy winds at high altitudes as they can cause the cable cars to sway over the rope when they hit against them at high speeds and cause real damage.

We had to wait till noon for the rains to subside and operation to resume.
I had made the online booking for the morning slot and hence we had preference over others waiting in the queue to buy tickets. They let us in after a few security checks and we reached inside and showed them the scan code which I had received through online booking. It was scanned and they issued the encrypted wrist band and guided us to walk to towards the turnstile. We swiped them and gates to board the cable car opened.
Our ride to the top began but it was still raining but no so heavily. At one point the winds were so strong that the cable cars started swinging on the rope. The authorities stopped the movement and we were just sitting inside with the cars that were dangling over the rope. It was kind of scary but with god's grace it started moving again we reached to the summit.

Finally we thoroughly enjoyed it. We had carried umbrellas and it helped us a lot and also tuned out to be a colourful prop that added spice to all the photos.Being a photographer, I did not take out my DSLR though they are weather sealed as it was difficult to hold both the umbrella and the camera.

Overall it was a great experience and we headed back to hotel again in the rain.

Below are the pictures that were shot using my phone.

The Entrance:

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My wife posing at the Entrance!

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The Helipad !

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Old 20th November 2019, 17:21   #2
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

Here are some of the pics from my Phone

The ride to the top:

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The Panoramic View:

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Amphitheatre - Was not operating due to rains!

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Sri Ram's Feet covered by a glass casing!

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Sri Ram's Temple under construction !

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The cable cars !

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The Ride back !

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Gaming Zone !

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Old 20th November 2019, 17:25   #3
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Romance in the Rain

The umbrellas we carried turned out be colorful props and added a lot of bling to the photos!

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Old 20th November 2019, 17:37   #4
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The Stay @ Resort: Welcome to God's Own Country!!

The next day we headed straight to our resort in the morning and we were welcomed with great hospitality. The resort is completely in an isolated location with narrow paths leading to it and on the banks of Vembanand Lake. We hung around in the resort and spent a gala time, playing and taking photos of each other. We were engulfed by the ambience, the wet weather and the greenery with occasional showers. The restaurant prepared mouth-watering and lip smacking food and the food was very tasty and delicious. There are artificially created canal pathways with water flowing in from the lake and it runs throughout the resort amidst the lush green gardens. There were a lot of kittens running around too.

Punnamada Resort on the banks of Vembanad Lake, Alleppey,Kerala

Our Stay at this water front villa, overlooking the Vembanand Lake along with a cyclone hit weather with continuous drizzles and showers was a soul refreshing experience !!

The spa and the early morning Yoga sessions was extremely Rejuvenating !!

Absolutely Blissful,Serene and secluded and no one to disturb us !!

Here are the Pics of the Punnamada resort !

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The path to Heaven!

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Old 20th November 2019, 17:43   #5
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More Pics!!

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Old 20th November 2019, 17:54   #6
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The Boat house cruise in the Venice of the East:

Since it was raining even on this day, we opted for a day tour package and avoided staying overnight. The day tour was from 11 to 6 PM. We were given an ultra-luxury premium house boat with a single bedroom and an upper deck. The in house cook and the steward were very courteous and prepared and served very delicious food.
With heavy rains lashing we sailed on the Vembanand Lake. The weather settled down after some time. But there were mild drizzles. As we sailed, we came across several picture perfect green landscapes giving us an opportunity to click photo after photo.

It was not just raining cats and dogs but lions and tigers with hail storms and a red alter in Alleppey.

Thanks to our captain and the resort for making this happen despite unfavorable weather. Loved the Hospitality!

Below are some interior pics of the house boat !

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Old 20th November 2019, 17:58   #7
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

Pics continued !

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Old 20th November 2019, 18:06   #8
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

The Complementary Canal Cruise

After our lunch, the house boat was docked and we were asked to shift to a small long open boat. With umbrellas on, we jumped in and waded through the interior canals of Alleppey, experiencing it like never before. The boat ride was very enjoyable and was a treat to eyes.
We got back from the ride and boarded our house boat and began our journey back to the resort. Overall it was totally a soul refreshing experience. We spent the evening in the resort, had dinner and dozed off.
We had booked the heritage villas and the stay was very comfortable. We spent the remaining time in the resort. We had nothing to do and had all the time to laze around. I was totally recharged and mesmerised by the surroundings and wished to stay there forever. My entire body and mind felt light and completely relaxed. All the agitation had vanished and has a soothing feeling flowed all over my being.

Rain or Shine,Come what may,Nothing can stop us and dampen our spirits !!
Every time,the boat went underneath those narrow bridges, we had to duck and sleep in that boat to save our heads from hitting the metal.
One of the best ways to experience the real Kerala and its intricate water way maze and scintillating greeneries and monsoon showers !!

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Old 20th November 2019, 18:12   #9
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

I have always heard beautiful places in Kerala but got first hand taste from your excellent travelogue and pictures. Truly a sign of the remarkable time one can spend there including the facilities and scenery. What is the typical per night spend range for the houseboats?
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Old 20th November 2019, 18:13   #10
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

A few pics I shot in the night @ the Resort

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Old 20th November 2019, 18:20   #11
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

The drive back:

We packed our stuff and started our journey back to Bangalore. On the way back we also visited the Alleppey beach.

A few pics at Alleppey Beach:

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Old 20th November 2019, 18:35   #12
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

The Conclusion:

The entire trip was adventurous and revitalising and went well amidst the chaos and put a big smile on our faces. Another feather is the cap and the satisfaction of fulfilling our desires.

Thanks to the bad weather, it added a lot of dramatic effect to the sky and during our visit at most places and made it absolutely surreal !! I just loved taking pics in such a natural set up could not stop posting it here. I am a crazy photographer ! Extremely Sorry if the post is overloaded with photos !

There was lot of sunshine and the weather was beautiful ,splendid and crystal clear to drive with straight roads.

Here are some of the pics of Race Track!

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A stop over for refreshments and a bit of rest for our horses!

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The RACE with an Audi A8 L !! Driving neck and neck with an Audi. You
can imagine the 3 digit speed i was driving at !

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By the way, I have almost driven close to a lakh and planning to switch over from Verna to Kia Seltos - Turbo Petrol - GTX plus 7 DCT

Last edited by Amyth Prabhakar : 20th November 2019 at 18:39. Reason: Added a description for the pic
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Old 20th November 2019, 18:47   #13
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

Quote:
Originally Posted by haisaikat View Post
I have always heard beautiful places in Kerala but got first hand taste from your excellent travelogue and pictures. Truly a sign of the remarkable time one can spend there including the facilities and scenery. What is the typical per night spend range for the houseboats?
That depends on the category of house boat you select. On an average,it ranges from 10k to 20k per night.It is on the higher side, if you opt for a private luxury house boat. There are also non premium house boats available and they cost a lot lesser if hired on a shared basis.
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Old 20th November 2019, 22:34   #14
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Default re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

A brilliant travelogue with some wonderful pictures as well. We'd visited the Jatayu Earth Center earlier this year. It was a relaxing and pleasant experience. We were quiet surprised with how neat and organised everything was.

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Here's some quick info for those who would like to visit this place -

  • It's the world’s largest bird sculpture measuring 200 ft x 150 ft x 70 ft with a floor area of 15,000 sq ft. It stands at an altitude of 350m (1200ft) above mean sea level.

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  • Chadayamangalam is 38 km away from the city of Kollam and 46 km away from Trivandrum. It is easily accessible from SH1 (MC Road).

(Google Maps)

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  • According to legend, it is believed that Jatayu fell on the rocks at Chadayamangalam after his wings were clipped off by Ravana. Formerly, the place was called Jatayumangalam. Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh is also attributed as the place where Jatayu fell (?).


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  • Jatayu is an embodiment of valor and chivalry. Risking his life, he tried his best to save Sita from her abductor. Hence, the Jatayu sculpture stands as a towering tribute to women’s safety and honour. Jatayu also represents a bygone era when humans, animals, birds and other living forms cared for each other and lived in total peace and harmony.

  • It is the first major BOT tourist project in Kerala and the first joint effort by the Tourism department of Kerala and the sculptor, film and art director Rajiv Anchal (known for the Malayalam film, "Guru").


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  • It took 10 years to design and complete this monumental project. Guruchandrika Builders and Property Pvt. Ltd. have leased the government-owned land for 30 years to build and operate Jatayu Earth’s Center.

  • Timing - 10am - 8pm
  • Online Booking - Link
  • Entry Fees per head (as of early 2019) -
  1. Parking - Rs 20 for 2 hrs
  2. Cable Car tickets (to & fro) - Rs 500
  3. Want to climb the 800 odd steps instead? - Rs 400
  4. Helicopter ride (on Saturdays & Sundays) - Rs 2400 for a group of 6
  5. Adventure Package (which includes rock climbing, a paintball station, rappelling, jummering, bouldering, valley crossing, chimney climbing, vertical ladder climbing, archery, ziplining, commando net climbing, rifle shooting and log walking) - an additional Rs 500
  6. 12D theatre ticket - Rs 150 (a 10 min show)

Points to note -

  • There is a discount for senior citizens and no tickets are required for children shorter than 90 cm.
  • Wheelchair facilities and stair lifts are available.
  • At the entry point, ask them to stop the cable car if necessary. They do not do this and urge you to hop into the car while it's still moving.
  • Their volunteers around the statue are very informative and helpful.
  • Cloak rooms for your belongings, clean restrooms and water stations are available. There's also a cafe at the top selling tea and snacks albeit a bit expensive.
  • Sport shoes are mandatory for all adventure activities.
  • If you're around the statue near closing time, there's a 'Lights & Magic' show worth watching.
  • Mind the weather! - it can get really hot on a sunny day. Also, rains and winds make them stop the cable car service indefinitely.
  • Yet to commence - A museum inside the Jatayu statue, a herbal garden, 10 day accomodation packages with traditional Siddha rejuvenation in natural caves and a 1 hour trekking tour through a private forest.
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Old 21st November 2019, 13:29   #15
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Default Re: Trip to heaven! A rendezvous with Jatayu Earth Center & Alleppey, Kerala

Great thread, thanks for sharing.
Added to my list to places to visit
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