Have you realised how your creativity reaches its peak every time you travel Whether you choose to express it through words or create stunning images, travelling is an assured way to unleash the genius in you. There's no way the dense cedar forests and the grey mist-covered peaks won't inspire you. Even some of the most celebrated artists and literary greats have been known to take recourse to nature and their favourite secluded spots when they were forced to confront their creative block. For example, Picasso often took to the South of France's sunny shores to refuel himself with creative juices. At the same time, Ian Fleming preferred his oceanside villa in Jamaica while writing his acclaimed James Bond series. Whether you write, paint, or find peace in practising asanas, like these greats, you too can catch a break from the hectic life and escape to these hillside retreats.
If you want to kickstart the creative in you, then there's no better place than the Mirage. Set up by stalwarts Jay Dyal (notably late actor Prithviraj Kapoor's drama teacher) and revered Irish actress and theatre practitioner Norah Richards more than 75 years ago, the Mirage is an institution among many renowned artists.
The old-world charm and comfort come through in every corner of the retreat, for Richards and Dyal themselves thoughtfully put it together. However, the artist colony was turned into a retreat when filmmaker Dennis Harp (most famously known for directing Michael Jackson's Beat It and Billie Jean videos) visited, fell in love, and took it in his hands to mould it into a cosy abode for practising artists. The black and white portraits, the sturdy wooden furniture, and the inherent warmth are certain to induce deep nostalgia in anybody who sets foot here. And we all know how nostalgia has often resulted in the most memorable works.
The expansive property houses a White House, a garden cottage, and the main house (where it all started). Each room comes decorated with prized pieces from the past and beautiful views of the Dhauladhar range. The entire area, surrounded by unfiltered nature, is surrounded by solitude and serenity, making it easy for you to submit yourself to your creative pursuit. While you can choose to write or practice yoga or even paint, the retreat is famed as one of the oldest pottery studios in India, set up by none other than the celebrated Gurcharan Singh. You can learn how to deftly mould clay and create wonderful ceramics from the best in the field. Moreover, you can also experience stunning art from local artists and savour authentic dishes made with fresh produce. Book here.
The Dharamkot Studio
A mere 9 km from McLeodGanj, the tiny village of Dharamkot has earned itself the title "Tel Aviv of the hills." With quaint cafes serving Israeli specials and locals perfecting Hebrew, Tel Aviv it is. However, if you want to explore this part of the town without missing a beat on your creative journey, plan a stay at the Dharmkot Studio. The sprawling art studio is a community space where you can enjoy the serenity of the hamlet and get your hands dirty as you master the workings of a pottery wheel.
Although it has not been long since it opened its doors in 2019, the studio has become a lively space among art lovers, enthusiasts and passionate potters. If you have always wondered what it takes to make a beautiful ceramic, then the studio is a great place to learn, all while soaking in the beautiful views. The retreat has shared and single occupancy rooms where you can relax in the cosy settings when away from the wheel. Additionally, you don't need to worry about making your way here if you have never tried your hand at pottery before. The retreat offers guided courses for every level, from beginners to moderate, lasting up to almost a week. For more information, visit here.
Alekhya&ndashWriting Retreat In The Himalayas
Peter Pan may have been your favourite story growing up, but do you know where it was written Author J.M. Barrie found solace in the mountainous scapes of the Scottish island Eilean Shona. Now, if you have been struggling with conjuring up compelling prose, Alekhya's picturesque surroundings will definitely inspire you. Set in the lap of Parvati Valley near Kasol, the retreat has many cottages and dorms overlooking the snowcapped peaks, where finding inspiration for your next novel gets easier. Moreover, the retreat employs members from the local community, so you will always have a knowledgeable guide to show you around.
At Alekhya, craft demands serious consideration. Therefore, the retreat often calls upon renowned authors like Janice Pariat and publishing professionals from Penguin India and Harper Collins to help you learn and evolve. To apply, click here.