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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.

A much - awaited golu

He is a person, who, when he travels, looks, not just at sights, but at houses, temples, roads, pavements, streetlights, roofs, walls... you get the idea! He notices details which escape most of us, and, also unlike most of us, he remembers, and uses, most of what he notices. He comes back from a trip filled with ideas, which he then proceeds to re-create, in his own special way - for the year's Golu. 

He is Mr. P.E.P. Swamy, of Garodia Nagar. We happen to be distantly related, and it was a mutual relative who first introduced me to his creations. Since then, our mutual interest in Golus has taken us to his home each year, eager to see his new creations. His is one house to which Samhith comes along, happily, without the least bit of argument. His is also probably the one house where Samhith stands quietly and notices details, without running around, touching everything in sight. The reason is of, course, Mr.Swamy's meticulous work and his attention to detail, which make his Golu such an interesting sight. 

This year, the focus of his golu is on a Sabha in our locality. He has created a replica of their building, among other things.

The building is deceptively simple. It is only when you look in that you realize how perfectly he has replicated it! That is something I can not show you with my camera. You have to see it for yourself! 

Also on display are a couple of other buildings - his masterpieces, I should say! 

This see through house is so perfect in every detail. He made it some years back, but we never tire of looking at it. Whether it is the bathrooms or the wall paper, or the bookshelf or the puja section; whether it is the lights or the fans, he has taken every detail into account. It makes us wish we had a house like that to live in! 

And then there is this.... at the risk of repeating myself, I cant find a better word than 'masterpiece'!

While it is Mr. Swamy who makes these beautiful works of art, his wife is an equal and enthusiastic participant. She is in charge of the lower section of the golu, which is the more traditional kind. Here is the main golu - the steps. 

And here is the side-arrangement

The central set up here is of Jala-Krida, or Ras Leela in the water with Krishna and the gopis. 

Surrounding it is a typical Indian village.... and village scenes......

One of the reasons which draws Samhith again and again to their house are the conversations he has with Mrs. Swamy. She is able to explain in a manner he understands, the methods used to create these beautiful works of art, which makes her one of a kind! He enthusiasm is infectious, and we come back, bursting with ideas! 

I usually visit their house later during the festival, since that is when I am free. However, each year, after I write about it, I get loads of mails from readers asking me for their contact details, and if I can take them along to see this golu for themselves. Usually, it doesn't work out, mostly due to lack of time, which is the reason I am writing this post earlier this year. If you want to visit, please drop me a line, either on email, Facebook, or Twitter, and I will send you their contact details. For obvious reasons, I cannot post the details here. 

I have posted photos of Mr.Swamy's golus earlier.... in 2012, 2011 and 2010. Click on the years to see the individual posts. 


  1. Amazing. Will share this with Varun today. He is getting hooked on to golus and Varsha guides me and Varun with information that she pickes up from everywhere and then we start work on it. The tradition of keeping golu at home is a university by itself, It kindles curiosity, enhances observation power, engages your creativity and builds a team spirit.
    Wow Anu, People like Mr.Swamy deserve more recognition. Hats off to him and thanks to you for giving cyber visibility to such people.

    1. Thanks, Aparna!!! You have hit the nail on the head, as usual! there are so many advantages to keeping a golu... and most of all, it makes the festival so much more fun! would love to hear Varun's thoughts on this golu.... thats another thing he and samhith have in common, i guess... i can so imagine varsha picking up info! so like her!

  2. This is amazing, I would love to visit this golu too. Wil send you a request mail for the contact detail..

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  4. Yeah give me the details and the price i mean if anyone wants to plan budget for diwali vacation so please share the details of this place.

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  5. wow this week will be a feast in ur blog :) i been waiting to read all the posts :)

    I loved his details, reminds me of amsterdam, miniature town. I feel the park is bit crowded. Some of the dolls were intersting from the village scene but there is just too much happening at the same place.

    Otherwise I find the golu very intersting and well done :)

  6. Thanks Sri. Unfortunately, thanks to Samhiths exams, there isnt really going to be a feast everyday :( only as often as i actually go out and see some golus :D as to this one, yes, the village scene is cluttered, because the aunty had less space this time to make her stuff :( space crunch, as usual!

  7. OMG...hats off to his passion. How meticulously these are created. I'm stunned! Thanks for sharing.Loved that see through house.

  8. Amazing! Would be nice to learn how he makes them!!


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