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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Sandcastle for a cause - Last two days!

Hello everybody, I am back at last! We had a wonderful time at Sringeri and Samhith’s thread ceremony went off very well. However, its been even more hectic since I got back, so I haven’t been able to write at all L This post is almost a week overdue, but as they say, better late than never! I hope with this post, I will be able to shake off the jinx and begin writing regularly once more!

Mumbai might be an island, with its share of beaches, but its not often that you get to see sandcastles . in fact, samhith has yet to go to the beach here and make them! Hence, when I heard about the huge sandcastle being made at Phoenix mills as part of World Cancer day, I jumped at the chance and rushed to take a look. We had just returned from Sringeri and with guests at home, it wasn’t easy to plan the trip, but thanks to an enthusiastic friend who agreed to bring her kids, it finally materialised and we headed out to High Street Phoenix for an evening full of fun, kids in tow!

The 10X10 ft sandcastle is the work of UK based Sand Wizard – Simon Smith. The World Masters People’s champion completed this incredible sand sculpture in less than 10 days. The castle was completed on Feb 4th, to coincide with World Cancer Day. Mr. Smith is himself a cancer survivor, and he has taken this initiative in association with Sand Cult – Sand Sculpting company and Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) to show the importance of this crucial cause.

Here are some more shots, to show you the intricate details of his work....

See the partly open doors?

And the chains?

The detail is amazing!!

Can you see the wealth of detail - in the cracks as well as the patches where the plaster seems to have fallen off? 

A side view

And a top view from the Hamleys store...

Finally, last but not the least, the artist's signature!

Samhith and his friends were impressed, and he rushed to take Mr. Smith’s autograph! And they were so thrilled to be able to pose with him, right next to the castle! While we adults were worried about letting the kids so near, Mr. Smith himself was cool, and allowed the kids to come inside the cordon slowly, saying he knew kids liked to get near, and that they would be careful! 

He spoke to the children for quite a while, patiently answering their many queries, explaining how he started the sculpture with a huge mound of sand, starting from the top. I wish we had been there to see him make it. If we get another chance, we will surely love to go and see him make such a masterpiece!

The sandcastle will be open for viewing for a couple more days – till Feb 12th, so those of you who haven’t seen it yet, please do go and see it. Your kids, as well as the kid in you, will love it!!


  1. Awesome pics of the castle. Such intricate detailing - Simon is such a creative genius.
     For a moment I thought the display was in Phoenix, Arizona but I had my doubts when I saw Simon with a bunch of Indian kids. When I checked the website I realized the High Street Phoenix is a Mall in Mumbai :))

  2. I sheepishly admit, this is extraordinary. I have been a witness to such sand arts at the Puri beach and was quite impressed by the manner in which Mr. Patnaik handles sand but I find Mr. Simon equally talented. Thanks.

  3. Hey! I forgot to compliment you for bringing the art for our  viewing pleasure with such great details. I envy  you and your Camera.

  4. Trust you to find the most amazing events and sights to see and share! how does the castle retain its shape? does he use something to keep it place? I have seen sand art, but not sculpture like this. 

  5. This is quite incredible! It was good to get to see the details in your close-up pictures...

  6. Welcome back Anu and the pics are so beautiful.

  7. The sandcastle looks fantastic. Noble cause too.

    Congrats on Samhith's Punal!

  8. Thanks a lot! and well, i guess I should have clarified... i simply took it for granted, since i write only about mumbai events as of now!

  9. you are indeed lucky to see the sand art at Puri... i have yet to go there !!

  10. Thanks Zephyr!!! they just wet the sand a little... and once it dries it stays the same way it seems!

  11. beautiful gesture and work of art...

  12. great art work .. i like it ..thanks

  13. You have a great sense of writing I must say. Your post has those facts which are not accessible from anywhere else. I request you humbly please keep writing such remarkable articles

  14. height of creativity......awesome...

  15. Wonderful Anu, You have captured it very well. What amazing sand art!!

  16. What a wonderful sand art!! Nice capture, Anu.


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