“It’s not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.” Nothing stands more true for writing. There is something about the mountains that attracts creative people. Makes them do better, more. With a 100% track record for providing creative inspiration, the Himalayas are the ultimate muse. The Himalayan Writing Retreat is a writer’s home for that creative inspiration. This residential facility sits in a pretty orchard in a small Himalayan village in Nainital district. It is the first of its kind in India – or even Asia. It was founded in 2016 by two published authors – Chetan Mahajan & Vandita Dubey.
The Story Till The Himalayas
Chetan, a Penguin-published author, quit the corporate world and moved to a village in the Himalayas to be a full-time author and blogger over 4 years ago. His story is a little more intense… he was jailed for a month as the fall guy for his employer. After his release, he published his diary from jail as “The Bad Boys Of Bokaro Jail” (Penguin, 2014). It received excellent reviews. His name was cleared and he went back to the beaten corporate path but something had changed. “The corporate world, and that definition of success felt hollow and meaningless. It was like someone had thrown a switch inside me.” Chetan says.
Two years later, he got laid off. “Not Surprising” he says, with a shrug. Instead of looking for another job, he left the city to live in a small Himalayan village. He started writing full-time and his blog won the Indiblogger award for Humour in 2017. He also spoke about getting laid off in a TEDx talk which has 30k views.
He wasn’t alone. His wife Dr. Vandita Dubey is his partner and strength. Author of “Parenting in the age of sexposure: Raising the precocious generation” (Rupa, 2016), Vandita earned her Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the US in 2006 and her Psychologist License from the State of Indiana soon after. She trained and worked in private practice, community mental health centers, and schools in the US. She leads a unique program on writing as therapy at the retreat.
So What Is The Himalayan Writing Retreat?
The retreat is a learning centre – and a getaway – for writers. Some come to learn, other to stay and write. In addition to being Vandita and Chetan’s home, it has six guest rooms and a full staff. It is a hideaway from urban madness which offers inner peace, inspiration & guidance.
Non-writers come here to connect with themselves and find emotional well-being through writing. Aspiring writers come to learn new skills at the Bootcamp courses. Advanced writers come to learn nuances of writing in the various masterclasses. Some writers come to stay and write. They stay for days – sometime weeks – working long hours without any distraction. Seven books have been completed by Retreat participants over the last three years and many more are in the works.
Being an orchard, the retreat is covered in fruit-laden trees in the summer. Winter brings India’s tallest frozen-white peaks into view. The food seems to be fabulous, as does the service. At the time of going to press, the retreat had 98 reviews on Google of which 96 were 5 star and two were 4 star.
They take only ten participants in any program. “Ten or less is a small, cohesive group. We do a lot of sharing , discussion and review of our participants writing. More than ten? That’s a classroom.” Chetan declares flatly.
The Himalayan Workshop
The courses at the Himalayan Writing Retreat come in two formats : Workshops and Masterclasses. Both are intense 4-day learning events popular with writers from around the world. The workshops range from emotional well-being to story telling, writing, blogging etc. All workshops are led by experts in their respective areas.
Below is their list of upcoming workshops.
- Emotional well-being through writing.
Writing is therapeutic. Even more so when a psychologist takes you through a structured program to look within. The icing is having a quiet Himalayan getaway as a venue. Dr. Vandita Dubey created this workshop, and leads it herself. She is famous for her empathy and sensitive expertise.
- Himalayan Writing Bootcamp
If you’ve been toying with the idea of writing a book, this one is for you. This is the flagship workshop on its 16th run. The feedback is fabulous, and participants can’t seem to praise the bootcamp enough. Chetan Mahajan leads the bootcamp. He also works with authors worldwide as a writing coach.
- Himalayan Blogging Workshop
Can you make money online through writing? Yes, with the right guidance and tools. Bloggers use the internet to find niches which can offer real money – not the content writing for someone else variety. Many bloggers live the “passive income” dream. Sumit Bansal leads this workshop. He quit his full-time job at IBM because it paid too little compared to his blog.
- Himalayan Storytelling Workshop
They have two of these upcoming. One workshop helps you build a personal brand through storytelling (https://www.himalayanwritingretreat.com/personal-branding-through-storytelling/ ) . Katrina Sanyal leads that.
The other is the beginner’s course in storytelling from Kathalaya. The renowned Geeta Ramanujam leads this workshop. The Himalayas add an amazing new dimension to both courses.
- Kids writing workshops: The Himalayan Writing Retreat has been hosting kids writing workshops for three years. They have separate workshops for kids (9-12 year olds) (https://www.himalayanwritingretreat.com/the-himalayan-kids-writing-workshop/) & Teens (https://www.himalayanwritingretreat.com/himalayan-teen-writing-workshop/) . Chetan leads these family getaways over the summer months of May and June.
The Himalayan Masterclass
The masterclass is for Poets & Writers. The retreat brings in renowned writers and poets to who can teach the minute nuances. The upcoming masterclasses are :
- The Himalayan Poetry Masterclass : Are you keen to master Poetry as an art form? Do the rhythms and lyric of poetry touch your soul? Do you want to create that music yourself? Then this is for you. Arundhathi Subramaniam leads this Masterclass. She is widely published, and considered “One of the finest poets writing in India today”. (https://www.himalayanwritingretreat.com/poetrymasterclass/ )
- The Himalayan Masterclass with Manjula Padmanabhan is an established program where Manjula helps writers in their particular genre of writing. Manjula is an award-winning playwright, cartoonist, novelist, kids books and short-story writer.
In all their events, it is as much about hanging out with your favourite author as it is about learning from her. Of course, participants make lifelong friendships with fellow participants in the process, too.
Bonfires, stargazing, and forest walks fuel your creativity. Nature and the majesty of the Himalayas heighten it. Are you inspired yet?
Where: The Himalayan Writing Retreat, Satkhol Village, Distt. Nainital, Uttarakhand
Website : https://www.himalayanwritingretreat.com/