Mango Meadows: A Unique Man-Made Green Paradise

Mango MeadowsNEW

Kochi: For more than 20 years, Destination Kerala has been featuring successful entrepreneurs who have made substantial fortunes out of their businesses. For a change, this time we are introducing a different entrepreneur who has spent almost double the amount he earned in his lifetime on something he holds dear to his heart, and yet became successful.

NRI businessman N K Kurian has turned a barren piece of land with only a pond into Mango Meadows, the world’s first agricultural theme park

N K Kurian has been pumping all his money into a 30-acre land he possesses at Ayamkudy near Vaikom just to grow trees, and no wonder he was considered by the local people as an ‘eccentric’ rich man in the early days. But in 2017, the Government of Telangana invited Kurian to pursue his passion for planting trees there. And, this NRI businessman is now creating waves across the country and winning accolades for what he has created at Mango Meadows, the world’s first agricultural theme park. “Yes, I have spent almost Rs. 130 crore here. But the initial days were really chaotic,” says a candid Kurian.

Fourteen years ago, it was just a barren piece of land with only a pond in it. Every summer when he flew in from Dubai, Kurian went fishing, and one day he felt that the juvenile fish which were thrown out when paddy fields were being dried, need to be saved.

“It is this sight which made me think of raising fish in the pond. And, when I tried to sell them in the market afterwards, I realised how the market ‘ill-treated’ a farmer,” Kurian says, narrating an incident which prompted him to decide on dumping all of them back in the farm.

What awaits you inside the huge gates of Mango Meadows is a world of trees, birds, animals, fruits, vegetables, fish, cottages, Chinese finishing nets and what not. The farm has around 4800 species of plants sourced from different parts of the world. “I have even brought plants from Lebanon, which was very risky those days,” Kurian says about his journey to find rare species of trees. The park is a storehouse of almost 700 varieties of trees from all over Kerala and around 1900 medicinal plants. One of the main attractions is the zodiac junction called ‘Nakshathra Vanam’ where one can find trees associated with one’s star sign. The visitors can water those trees associated with their star sign. Kurian also engages the visitors by arranging a flute concert at ‘Nakshathra Vanam.’

A virtual ‘Eden Garden’ about which we have found mention in textbooks and religious texts can also be found at Mango Meadows. One can discover a wide variety of fruit-bearing trees from across the world here and take a stroll in the middle of exotic and rare fruit-bearing trees. Another feature is an animal farm where you will get to see foreign and local breeds of different varieties of cows, rabbits, cats, dogs, horses, bullocks etc. The farm also has four ponds, with a total area of about four-and-a-half acres. The main pond has facilities for activities such as pedal boating, water cycling, e-boats and rowing, and contains 39 varieties of fish, crabs and clams. Pearlspots, red snappers and shrimps are also raised in the pond. “There is a belief that you will get rid of all your sins by feeding the fish,” says Arya, who is one of the trained guides at the farm. ‘Sarppakkavu’ is another major attraction of Mango Meadows. “Sarppakavu is preserved here with the intention of conveying its importance to the future generations. ‘Sarppakkavu’ is actually a gift of Kerala to the world to help protect us from the miseries of global warming and climate change. Forgetting our roots is like digging our own grave,” says Kurian.

Ropeway, bullock cart, tonga, e-rickshaw, golf cart and cycles are available to move around the park. You can also enjoy a ride in one of the houseboats or speed boats, parked near the Valentine’s Corner of the park, through the canals that connect the farm with the nearby lake.

The farm is open to public and Rs. 350 is charged per head for a day’s picnic. There is also a separate pool for the day picnickers. The evening breeze, chirping of birds and the cool weather are something which everyone will relish. Mango Meadows offers floating cottages, deluxe, premium and honeymoon cottages. The farm also houses a cave cottage, which offers a unique experience. These facilities are priced between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 45,000 per day. It also has a dormitory which can house around 100-200 people.

The ‘Koottukudumbam’ is another concept which took shape in Kurian’s mind and is under construction now. In this concept, an entire joint family can hire a mansion modelled on a traditional Kerala ‘Tharavadu’, comprising a spacious hall and several rooms, for their stay. A convention centre is also being constructed at the site. The farm also has an Ayurveda hospital, spa & massage centre and a gymnasium. Facilities for horse riding, boating, fishing, swimming, ropeway, archery, shooting and badminton are available. An exclusive toddy shop and restaurant are the other attractions.

Kurian is helping the farmers of the nearby three panchayats by procuring the produces required for the facility from them. He has formed a Mango Meadows cluster for the purpose which is sourcing the produces from the farmers at market rate. The excess produces is being made available at the organic shop arranged in front of the farm. “I’m not just trying to make my life comfortable with the business. I want the society to grow along with the farm,’’ sums up Kurian.