The Himalayan Writing Retreat

Residency brief

Started in 2016, The Himalayan Writing Retreat is amongst India’s favoured destinations for writers and poets. Some go there to learn, whilst others to seek solitude to write. Co-founded by published authors Chetan Mahajan and Vandita Dubey, The Himalayan Writing Retreat is a residential facility dedicated to the literary arts.

Many writers go to The Himalayan Writing Retreat to simply stay and write in serenity - inspired by the majesty of the Himalayas. The Himalayan Writing Retreat also offers domestic programs (3-4 days in duration) and international events (usually 10 days long). The domestic courses include poetry, writing, translation and storytelling, which the resident may be able to attend if happening during their stay. These workshops would provide an occasion to interact with fellow Indian writers.

The Himalayan Writing Retreat has been conceived in an ecological spirit, following principles of traditional architecture and water saving systems. The Himalayan Writing retreat is run with the vision that it should have minimal impact on the planet. They harvest rainwater with a harvesting capacity of 110,000 litres. They recycle all inorganic waste, and compost all their organic waste. They also keep the campus green and have planted many trees on the retreat.

The retreat is part of a vibrant community of thoughtful companies and NGOs. 5 km down the road from the retreat is Aarohi, an NGO with a strong focus on healthcare. Chirag is another NGO which runs the Chirag School, and does much work for greening the place, maintaining our limited water resources and much more. Old Hill Cheese is a social enterprise where local women have been trained on making artisanal cheese.

  • Thematic focus Literature
  • Location Village Satkhol, District Nainital (Uttarakhand)
  • Dates October, 2023 / 1 April – 15 May, 2024 / 1 July – 30 Sep 2024
  • Length of stay 4 weeks

Our Space

Village Satkhol, District Nainital (Uttarakhand)

Located in the Indian Himalayas, the facility is at an altitude of 2171 meters, making it cool in the summers, and cold in winters. The retreat is 380 km from Delhi, and can be reached by train, flight or road. In any scenario, the last leg of the journey is always covered by road as flights and trains operate only till the foothills. The local area has many walks, both on the road and through forested land. There is a forest reserve about a mile away. Mukteshwar town (5 km on foot / 12 km by road) has a temple, and is a popular tourist destination. In addition there are places like the Dhokaney waterfall, Bhimtal, Nainital and Binsar.

Most basic amenities are readily accessible on foot from the retreat. A well-stocked store is 300 metres away. To visit other places further afield, one can consider public transport, although that is very limited. The staff will also help arrange taxis for the resident if informed in advance.

Residency conditions

  • The resident will be given accommodation in an individual room equipped with writing desks and wi-fi. The common spaces include the Book Lounge, the common room, the verandah, and many other writing spaces. The residence has 6 rooms which may or may not be occupied by other writers at the time.
  • The resident’ travel costs to and from his home address will be covered by the French Institute in India.
  • The residency will provide the resident three meals a day. There will be arrangements for tea/coffee in the room itself.
  • In addition, the resident will receive a fixed stipend of INR. 30 000 to cover other living or commuting expenses.
  • The resident should be willing to devote up to 20% of his residency time to participating in lectures, co-hosting a workshop, giving talks in local schools/universities, and/or other cultural activities organised by the Himalayan Writers Retreat or by IFI.
  • The resident is expected to produce a short written piece about his experience, in a free format, that could be published in France or India and that will testify of his experience of the Residency.

Eligibility criteria

  • The resident must have a working knowledge of English.
  • The resident must have one book (minimum) published by a French publishing house, or several texts published in literary magazines.