The Himalayan Writing Retreat

Exploratory residency

Residency brief

Founded in 2016 by 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 retreat also offers domestic and international programs. The domestic courses include poetry, writing, translation and storytelling, which the resident may be able to attend if happening during their stay.

In 2024, the Himalayan Writing Retreat launched the Himalayan Emerging Writers Residency to provide an opportunity for writers from South Asia to live, learn and write with the Himalayas as their muse. The residency aims to help writers finish their writing projects and make their debut, providing an escape from the everyday monotony to focus on their craft. This residency will provide the Villa Swagatam resident an opportunity to interact with ten fellow writers from the region.

The retreat is part of a vibrant community of thoughtful and ecologically conscious organizations. A few kilometers down the road is Aarohi, an NGO with a strong focus on healthcare. Chirag is another NGO which runs a School and does much work for greening the place and maintaining the limited water resources and much more. Old Hill Cheese is a social enterprise where local women have been trained in making artisanal cheese. This, together with the beauty of the landscape and architecture of the place, makes for a perfect environment to think, interact and write.

  • Thematic focus Literature
  • Location Village Satkhol, District Nainital (Uttarakhand)
  • Dates May / June / July 2025
  • Length of stay 4 weeks

Our Space

Located in the Indian Himalayas, at an altitude of 2171 meters, the retreat is cool in the summers and cold in the winters. The local area has many walks, both on the road and through forested land. There is a forest reserve about a mile away. The village of Mukteshwar town, easily accessible by foot, has a temple and is a popular tourist destination. Other noteworthy places nearby include the Dhokaney waterfall and the touristy gateway of Bhimtal, Nainital and Binsar.

While most basic amenities are within walking distance from the retreat, other places can be reached by taxi or public transport, although that is very limited. The staff can help arrange taxis for the resident if informed in advance.

The Himalayan Writing Retreat has been conceived in an ecological spirit, following the principles of traditional architecture and water-saving systems. It is run with the vision that it should have minimal impact on the planet, therefore harvesting rainwater, recycling and composting all the waste.

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. Jan/Feb is cold, and there is no central heating. July is pleasant but can be rainy. Weather chart here ( )
  • The resident will be provided by the Residency with three meals a day. There will be arrangements for tea/coffee in the room itself.
  • The residents’ travel costs to and from their home address will be covered by the French Institute in India.
  • The resident will receive a fixed stipend of INR 30,000 per month to cover his/her food and living expenses.
  • The resident will receive a fixed residency grant of INR 50,000 per month.
  • The resident should be willing to give up to 20% of his/her residency time to participate in lectures, co-host a workshop, and give conferences organized by the Himalayan Writers Retreat or the French Institute in India.
  • This is an exploratory residence, which means that there is no obligation of results at the end of the residency. However, the residency program needs to be acknowledged in any artistic production resulting from the residency.
  • The French Institute in India expects the selected resident to send them a short text (1000 - 2000 words) testifying of their experience within 3 months of completion of the residency.

Eligibility criteria

  • Proficiency in English is required for the applicant.
  • The resident must have one book (minimum) published by a French publishing house or several texts published in literary magazines.