Most of the times when I crave a vacation, I don’t just intend to get lost someplace far away from my daily life, but a place where I can get an enriching experience, a sense of purpose or simply some quiet time to meditate. Very few places provide such a perfect retreat. But I came across one such place which not only allows you to go on a soul-searching journey during your break but being situated high up in the mountains, it also allows you to experience the best of mother nature – ‘The Shilaroo Project’.
Whether you are a budding artist, experimenting with art, or someone who has always wanted to explore and experience different art forms, this place is a perfect retreat for you, nestled in the mountains, which will blend your travel and art needs together.
The Shilaroo Project is India’s first Yoga and Pottery retreat which is situated in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. It offers you a unique retreat experience with a blend of different practices – yoga farming and pottery, wherein you dive into the yogic practices which help you connect with your soul, while you also immerse into an old tradition of pottery, where you explore your creativity through clay.
Moreover, at Shilaroo you can also opt for a short term course, where without altering your life schedule, you can, during a short break or vacation, explore an art form which you’ve always wanted to explore, and then know for yourself how you feel about that art form and if you want to take it forward.
They aim to provide anyone who participates in their workshops, a comprehensive experience, not just with the overall concepts and elements of the retreat but with every aspect of the retreat – the meals that are cooked for you, spaces where you live, your surroundings and so much more. Here is everything you should know about the Shilaroo Project:
A Space Promoting Sustainability
The Shilaroo Project is nestled in an apple orchard, which is a wholesome residence, with a panoramic view of Churdhar Range, allowing you to connect with yourself and nature.
To facilitate the same while ensuring sustainability, the design of their property has been articulated carefully, like the extensive use of glass in the building which allows the building to remain heated and hence does not require active heating during peak winter months.
Apart from this, the building has been constructed with materials like exposed brick, terracotta and wood, which ensures that the building remains warm. Moreover, Shilaroo also aims to promote sustainability through practices of rain-water harvesting, waste-water management, and solar energy backup.
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Fresh Farm to Table Meals
They also have a farm on their property, which operates on the sustainable and natural principles of farming. It all started with the objective of reviving the land which otherwise had been obstructed of its natural element due to mainly neglect and the use of pesticides.
The meals of the participants are included in the cost of the workshop and these meals are cooked with home-grown ingredients, which means you consume nutritious farm-fresh meals, when at Shilaroo.
Living Spaces for you to connect internally as well as externally
If you’re someone who is craving an exploratory journey as a part of your next travel endeavour, then we suggest you give Shilaroo Project a try. They host various workshops, from weekend classes, summer projects to other retreats. By participating in workshops at Shilaroo, you will give your body and mind a different experience, of not only living in the natural habitat amidst the scenic mountains but also by the way of living that you will experience while participating in the workshops.
Shilaroo comprises of two main spaces, Yogavstha, the yoga studio, and Gaara, the pottery studio, both of which provide panoramic views of the Churdhar range.
They also offer Living Spaces for their participants. You can choose between dormitories and private rooms, along with access to the common areas. Their dormitories can accommodate up to 10 people, and has 8 attached bathrooms, with each dorm connected to a private garden for those who seek the nature closely. It is a perfect space for the groups, to bond together as well as gain some lone time, whenever needed.
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The private rooms, on the other hand, are for individuals or couples, who like to be on their own, seeking private time. Both these living spaces, offer the best of views and are connected to the common areas, which is a perfect space for you to connect with other participants, converse and enjoy your time at Shilaroo by diving into the various board games.
The spaces at Shilaroo are well equipped with a desk, chairs, comfortable beds and everything you need to enjoy your break, when at Shilaroo.
Curated Workshops and Retreats
They have hosted various workshops in the past, comprising of Yoga, Pottery and Writing. Some workshops offer a blend of all of these learning, with a certain number of hours dedicated to different forms.
But, if you’re looking at exploring one of these skills, then they also host a number of collaborative workshops, the modules of which are specially curated, like in the past, they hosted – Pots and Pens, a week-long workshop which explores writing, pottery and yoga; Muddy Mountain Workshop, which is for those who want to explore the art of pottery along with yoga and meditation; and Sculpture Workshop, which provided an advanced learning into the making of figurines.
Developing with the community
A very beautiful element of the Shilaroo Project is their involvement with the community. Since Shilaroo is located at a far-off location, centred in a village away from the hustle of Shimla, it has a close-knit community of around a hundred people.
The Shilaroo Project has devised and led certain community-based projects in the past, the first one being a simple beginning which revolved around basic yoga practices, eating meals together and informal conversations about sustainable agricultural practices to ensure sustainability for the people in Shilaroo.
Thereafter, they have also partnered with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and hosted small scale projects of imparting yoga techniques to the villages, and helped the women in the community to create and run Self Help Groups to promote local produce and handicrafts.
A Space Encouraging Collaboration
Like we listed above all the collaborative projects at Shilaroo in the past, they are more than open to explore and welcome pottery artists and yoga teachers, to use Shilaroo as a space where they could share their practice as well as delve more deeply into it as well while they live at Shilaroo, with a close connection with nature and the community.
They also offer an Artist Residency in wide disciplines like visual arts, literature, photography, performance art, etc. for anyone who is exploring an art project either individually or in a collaborative space. You need to send them a proposal stating the nature of your work if you are interested in the residency. You could read about their Artist in Residence program here.
How to Participate
If you are intrigued by the Shilaroo Project, then you can read all about their upcoming workshops – for Ceramics as well as Yoga on their website. They offer diverse module options, from weekends, weekdays, customized to two-weeks and four week-long courses among others. You can have a look at their weekend calendar for 2019 here along with a detailed itinerary of the same.
You could also inquire about group bookings if you want to use the experience at Shilaroo for your team, to provide your co-workers with some self-awareness as well as connecting time.
An experience with Shilaroo would allow you to connect with yourself as well as the surroundings, and we suggest you give it a try for a unique travel experience. To inquire about the participation fee or other queries, you could reach out to them on firstname.lastname@example.org. To know more about their upcoming events, workshops or other updates, you can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.