Testimonials by the residents of retreats hosted by us:

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What does it mean to come for a writing retreat? As a woman, as a single mother? It really is a question about what does it mean to be a writer as a woman, as a single mother. The layers of guilt and self-doubt run so deep, that often it is hard to delineate the two – do I legitimise my identity as a writer (that evolves and is questioned every day) by going on a legitimate retreat (the Himalayas, no less), or do I legitimise this need for a retreat by virtue of being a writer, a woman, a single mother? Every morning as I woke up to the mountains and slept with the stars, it made me think about the pressures, the clichés, the conditioning, the privilege, the rigours of truth and beauty that we must balance as writers. And then think about which of these are mine and which of these aren’t, and the ones that simply don’t exist outside the reality of my life. Did a retreat mean I read, eat and sleep undisturbed, shedding my skin of a mother? Or did it mean I write furiously, create breathlessly, into the time presented to me, in complete odds with the unhurried nature of the mountains? Because surely, after all the complaining I do about working in borrowed time, here was time only for me. Except, does the idea, however tantalising and tempting, of just me even exist? I don’t know. What I do know is that the past six days have been like a precious gift of words – the purity of its form and its shape-shifting qualities – filling me up like spring. There is a freshness to how I perceive the world because the mountains tell you so much, but most of all, there is a deepening of experience that cannot be boxed into insta stories or reels. It can only happen when you are actually here, in this space called Alekhya, nurtured with tenderness by the people here. So, then, what does it mean to come for a writing retreat? It is that, for the first time in 17 years of writing, I felt truly held as a writer, a woman, a single mother. Where all that mattered was I was here. Breathing. Being. And, sometimes, writing.


“It’s been a month since I left Alekhya, and it still remains at the top of my mind. When anyone asks me where do you want to travel, I say that quiet apple orchard above the village Shilla. I miss the place and the people I met there. The conversations, the hot parathas, petting Sirius the lazy dog, standing before Mahima’s library and thinking which book to read, Uncle’s stories, trying to guess if it rains by looking at the clouds, finding the ideal sunny spot in the morning to read and warm yourself after the cold nights and the house. The house, that balcony has come to mean home more than any other place. We’ve had Janice’s workshops there and sitting under the sun, I’ve written and I’ve written and I’ve written. It’s one of those places where you may leave, but you don’t really, you carry a little bit of that place around with you wherever you go. I can only thank Mahima and her father for giving my dream an edge of reality, my dream to sit amongst the Himalayan mountains and write.” – Akshay Gajria, Editor and Entrepreneur
“Everything I have written since the time I stepped into Shilla for the retreat, is a reflection of everything that I learnt there. As a person, this retreat gave me the kind of perspective that I did not even know I needed. As a writer, it was an immense morale booster for me, to be in the company of other brilliant writers who actually took the time and went through my work. All the constructive criticism, the mentorships, the writing exercises, the prompts, the workshops, the fresh mountain air, the freshly churned butter and the smell of hot paranthas wafting into the little wooden cabins – all this and more has shaped me as a writer today. All the people I met, the friends I made and the things I learnt about life outside my comfort zone, made my world a little bigger and much happier. If you think there is a writer within you, give yourself unto the mountains, right here.” – Kalgi Patel, Entrepreneur and Columnist

“When I write, I still think of Shilla. I think of Mahima, my new friends, and the amazing food and views there. I smell the apples, the fresh air, the fires lit at dawn and dusk. I hear Janice’s fairy laughter and the horses’ daily whinnies. My experience there actually inspired me to write a short story that got me into my masters program of choice. I hope to come back every year.” – Shalvi Shah, Columbia University, MFA Creative Writing student
“I am stewing in the sweltering heat of Delhi, post Alekhya. Whenever things heat up, I let my mind wander to my Alekhya week. A cool soft breeze brushes past and I feel a deep sense of calm. Alekhya is an intimate space that I share only with myself. It taught me how to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to writing, with a loving nudge, not a shove. It built my confidence that I can write if I try. It was exactly the non-judgmental, comforting embrace I needed to dissolve my barriers to writing. I carry back new friendships with Akshay, Shreya, Alisha and Mahima that I hope will last a lifetime, and sage advice and support of Radhika, Priya and Gurveen.” – Rashi Goel, Director Marketing at Amazon India
“If I’m not wrong, this was my first ever trip with strangers and god knows why I haven’t done this before. Honestly, you end up learning so much about the other parts of you, that you probably hide from everyone you know. I took this trip right after I quit my job and the timing couldn’t have been better. I don’t think I’ve been this content, happy and at peace in a long time. Thank you so much Alekhya for the insightful workshops, amazing set of strangers, best doggos and brilliant food. This retreat is one of the best things that’s happened to me in a while.” – Shreya Sikka, Copywriter
“Writing in Shilla is like all those events in life that tend to decide where you end up as a human being and a writer. In being lost in the mountain air and talking to some of the warmest and brightest minds I have met, it taught me not to be a better writer, but also to enjoy writing so much more. It’s an essential experience” – Somanna Muthanna, Marketing Head – Chumbak
“Shilla is not just a place in the Himalayas or a retreat. It’s an idea that sometimes when your life is chaotic and not the rosy dream you envisioned it to be, there is a place you could come to and do what you love the most – Write. It’s a great ensemble with the trek, the mountains, the people, and a Thoreau like longing for nature that clings onto your back and never leaves. With a great set of mentors and the ever charismatic Mahima, I wonder sometimes if all this is even real.” – Siddhartha Singh, Lawyer
“Shilla – when I text or utter the word there’s that instant smile and a sparkle in my eyes –  I’ll tell you why. From the moment you start the ascend to Shilla, the place,its people,and the play, unfolds in layers taking you to a new and heightened experience. I just love the experiential aspect of the writing workshop and that lends so much to a non-writer like me feeling like I could write for life. Also, it’s the ‘peopleness’ in the humans of Shilla from Julekha to Mahima and each one in the chain that makes it so memorable. So cheers Mahima to many more retreats!” – Medha Oka, Independent Consultant
“When I signed up for the writing retreat at Shilla, I had no idea that I actually signed up for an experience that would end up making me believe again in people and their inherent goodness. When you’re high up on a mountain top, with nothing to surround you but more mountains and the clouds and apple trees in abundance, you have no choice but to surrender. I have always believed that you cannot lie to yourself in the mountains. And so Shilla had me be my most authentic self, put me in close proximity with the stories that each one of us carried within, and showed me the souls of people pour out on paper. It was an experience that gave me friendships for a lifetime, ones that developed over a collective love for words, bonfires, ghar ka khana, arachnophobia, and Sirius the beautiful mountain dog. Shilla enabled me to view my writing from an entirely new perspective, to develop a new respect for my own thoughts, and most of all, it gave me the guts to share my writing. I cannot think of a better place or a better way to indulge in your love for writing. It’s the best thing to gift yourself.” – Natasha Sarin, Senior Account Director – Blue Vector