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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.

An Incredibly Detailed Golu

One of the Golus we look forward to seeing every year is the one at an uncle's place in Garodia Nagar, Ghatkopar. A retired engineer, we admire him for his patience and attention for detail which make his golu among the best we have ever seen.

Before we take a look at his amazing creations, here is their main Golu - with three steps..

Let's take a closer look at each step...

I have posted about his Golus earlier... in 2011 and 2010, and each year, he has managed to create something that is beautiful, and incredibly detailed, no matter what his theme. This year, he has replicated an un-named village in Kerala, complete with temple and all. Most villages with temples revolve around the temple, which is usually the most beautiful and detailed structure in the area. And so it is here, in his village too. The temple is a perfect scaled-down version of a Kerala style temple...

Peeping through the door, we can see the tiny idol of Lord Krishna in the sanctum

And looking from above, you can see how each and every detail of the temple has been shown.. such as the small shrines to Lord Ganesha on the left and Lord Hanuman on the right!

If the temple is the most detailed and beautiful structure, the houses are no less. There are so many types of houses in a village, and he has tried to show us some of the best...

A replica of an actual house..

You can even look inside...
the typical courtyard and you can also get a glimpse of the rooms!

Another pretty house..

And more...

The village also has a central square with an Ashoka pillar and a garden!

The village also has electricity... lamp posts all over.. with lamps working!
 And not a wire in sight!

Even the small huts amidst banana and palm trees have not been ignored!
Under the table is another village....

A temple with a marriage procession in progress

And a typical rural scene

I loved these little details..

And these palm leaf birds hovering around!

This is an additional set up - Ganeshas being taken for immersion in all kinds of vehicles!
Lately, I had been receiving a number of comments suggesting that such elaborate decorations and arrangements are not in sync with the actual idea of a Golu. Which is why I thought of adding a postscript to this post. This kind of creativity and details takes up a huge amount of time and energy... not to mention creativity and talent. It is not something which every one can do. However, isn't the whole idea of a Golu meant to celebrate the concept of creation? And what better way to express it than using our creativity? Besides, the idea of a Golu and its decoration probably originated with the idea of involving family members in what was a female centric ritual. From my personal experience, I can vouch for this. I have heard stories of my uncles visiting others' houses to get an idea of their creations so that they could use the ideas for future golus... and the prasadam, of course! I can see the same with Samhith, who comes along with me solely for seeing these. He has intelligent questions about how these are made, and how he can do the same.... and he manages to replicate things.. in his own way. That is, after all, for me, the whole idea of the festival for me.. getting my son interested in our culture and celebrations, and what he  can learn from it. Along the way, he learns so much, about our stories, about prayers, about detail, and above all, he learns to socialize too! I do not mean to say that everyone should make such detailed Golus. That is not just impossible, it also means nothing. However, what we can certainly do is appreciate the effort people put in, and put our own efforts to making the festival memorable, in our own way! 


  1. oh i loved it.....veer and i are coming to c this...tell me when

  2. Looking toi the photographs, I admire your uncle's patience.

  3. Absolutely mind blowing, such precision work commands respect. Your post script says it all. Add appreciation on my behalf to your uncle. will show them to my children.

  4. Beautiful!!

    Lucky that you get to see such creativity along with Samhith

    Precious memories and times

    Thanks for sharing

  5. This is just awesome! Your Uncle is truely artistic!

  6. when we are bending so many traditions to suit modern lifestyles, what is wrong in creating such wonderful kolus? I agree with your thoughts about kolu celebrating creativity.

    We used to have a garden and other details too, but nothing on the scale of your uncle's. My brothers helped make them. Does your uncle make the models himself? I mean, he should be an engineer to be so precise in the construction of the temple and the houses and the details make them nothing short of spectacular. He could easily sell them as doll's houses :)

  7. OMG amazingg Golu i have ever seen.

  8. Super.......eye for details in every aspect......our respects to him....

  9. Wow.. its just like another world.

    Liked your blog.. added in my blogroll list.

  10. You know what this golu reminded me of? The ideal village reproduction at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, only much better.

    What a fantastic golu and I must confess that I have never seen anything like this before. Will you take me there next year? Please, pretty please :-)

    1. Yes, Sudha... this is the reason samhith wasnt so impressed by the Bhau Daji Lad work... we see such painstaking work year after year... you should see the time he spends there and the questions he has!!! sure, will take you next year.. if the uncle is still up to making all that :D

  11. Hi,
    How does he make these dolls. Are there building materials available? Are they readymade? Please message me in twitter (anand2000v) or FB .

  12. Really very creative. The amount of hard work is really unimaginable. Hats off to your uncle for such a great creative work.

  13. Very artistic, so creative. Would love to see some steps on how to create some of the features in this golu. Thanks


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