Eat, Pray, Learn

A handcrafted ceramic plate, printed scarf, miniature or rhymes, learning holidays help you bring back more than just a bag full of souvenirs. Forget breakneck sightseeing this holiday season, pick up a skill for life as you unwind.




Learn the art of working with terracotta and stoneware clays while you holiday at the idyllic Clayfingers Pottery art cottages in Thrissur, Kerala. The studio-cum-art residency, which is about 45 minutes’ drive from Cochin International Airport, has courses lined up all summer. Want to play with clay up in the hills? Head north to Himachal Pradesh. Overlooking the Dhauladhar range, Andretta Pottery and Craft Society in picturesque Palampur is an institution of sorts. In Andretta, your days will revolve around wet clay, music and the pottery wheel. The society offers one-day courses as well as intensive three-month courses for those who want to take a serious shot at learning the art of pottery.


Dhokra dreams

Photo courtesy: Devrai Art Village

At Devrai Art Village in Panchgani, Maharashtra, Adivasi craftsmen and artists from the Naxal-dominated areas of Gadchiroli and Chhattisgarh practise their art and train those who want to pick up their skills. Marrying the ancient art form of dhokra with stone, the non-profit offers courses for those who want to learn the intricacies of this lost wax technique, dating back to the Indus Valley civilisation


Mood for food


What better way to know a place than to learn its cuisine? The Bangala in Karaikudi opens the door to Chettinad cuisine with family recipes handed down over generations. Enrol for their three day or week-long masterclass to learn about spices, history and ingredients. To uncover the secrets of the Bangla ranna, head to The Rajbari in Kolkata. Learn the secret of making mishti doi, master the intricacies of cooking with mustard and poppy seeds and find out about the influences that have left their mark on Bengali culinary tradition at this majestic heritage property near Kolkata. For a taste of the royal cuisine of Mewar, head to Bedla House in Udaipur — another heritage property where you can chill out in style and bring out your inner chef.




Textiles tales


Untangle Jaipur’s rich heritage of woodblock printing at the Anokhi Museum, which holds demonstrations of block carving or printing. Then head to Chippa mohalla in Bagru, a small town 35 km west of Jaipur. Jai Texart and Studio Bagru offer day courses in block printing and natural dyeing. Neighbouring Gujarat, too, has a raft of learning holidays. Khamir, in Kukma village in Kutch, teaches a range of traditional printing techniques, such as Ajrakh, Batik and Bandhani. Somaiya Kala Vidya, in Adipur, also in Kutch, is another place where you can bone up on traditional crafts.


High on wine

Photo courtesy: Grover Zampa

Take a peek into the wine making process  — from fermentation to filtration to the storage of wine in oak barrels — at Sula Vineyards in Nashik, Maharashtra. The Tasting Cellar at Sula is where you will learn about the art of wine tasting. You could also visit Chateau D’Ori and York Winery — both close to Nashik. If you want the unique experience of stomping on grapes head to the Grover Zampa vineyards in Nandi Hills, which is about 40 km from Bengaluru. Book in advance and make sure you have a group of at least 10 people.


Paint and brush


Add an extra dimension to a holiday in spiritual Dharamsala by immersing yourself in Tibetan art. The Norbulingka Institute holds workshops in traditional Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting (on cotton or silk), wood painting, wood carving, and appliqué. How about a holiday spent mastering the art of painting vibrant patachitras (painting on cloth)? If the idea appeals, your destination of choice could be Raghurajpur in Odisha. Adopted by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) to revive the traditional arts of Odisha, it is home to 120-odd families who nurture the art of the patachitra. Raghurajpur International Art and Culture Exchange (RIA/CE) also runs an artists’ residency in the latter part of every year.


Residency retreats

Photo courtesy: Sangam House

Sometimes you need longer breaks to reconnect with your muse and find inspiration. Sangam House, located 40 km outside Bengaluru, brings upcoming writers together and gives them a peaceful environment to work in. Art Ichol in Maihar, Madhya Pradesh, is one more place where writers and artists can work in tranquillity. Each has an application process and only bona fide artists and writers get to stay at these places. Pepper House in Fort Kochi, part of the Kochi Muziris Biennale, also offers a two-month residency to artists across the spectrum.


This article was published on Business Standard




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