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Books and Awards

Books and Awards

This is a reminder for all of us to celebrate victories – big and small.

In our community of creative souls, each writer chases different goals. Some win contests, others become debut authors and others still publish poetry and short stories. We celebrate every single one.

We’ve shared on this page some of these triumphs with joy, gratitude & a little pride. Our participants & community members have done the work, and we are grateful they chose the Himalayan Writing Retreat to be part of their journey.

Books and Awards of HWR Alumni


Contests

Hemanya Vashishtha (Teens Writing Workshop, Jun’ 20 and Poetry Workshop with Jonaki Ray, Jul’20)

Published in Inkspire Magazine and won INR 7000 for an essay contest

“I’ve come quite some distance from where I was during the retreat- I’ve started blogging on a website, will soon make my own blog, working on it, won a 7000 cash prize for an essay contest, and been published in Inkspire, one of the magazines here. Tell me if you’d like the links to it, that is, the average writing of a thirteen-year-old.  The blog posts are absolutely wonderful and I really want to thank you for organizing such a beautiful retreat. It changed me.

Vishwajeet Deshmukh (Creative Writing Workshop, Oct ’20)

Vishwajeet has won the Tata Trust and 1947 Partition Archive Grant 2021 for his research on Partition.

“My experience with Chetan Mahajan and Himalayan Writing Retreat was absolutely inspiring and knowledgeable. The Boot Camp involved exercises that made me realize my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The program massively helped me to understand the view of an editor and publisher. By the end of the Camp, I could noticeably view the change and clarity in my ideas and thoughts.”


Subi Taba (Short Story Writing Workshop , Oct ’20)

Her short story “A Night with the Tiger” is one of the winners of the New Asian Writing Short Story Competition 2020

She has also won the South Asia Literary Mentorship-2020 where she will be working with acclaimed author Aruni Kashyap on her collection of short stories set in Arunachal Pradesh.

I wrote this story during NaNoWriMo just after attending a short story workshop by HWR in Oct 2020. So lots of thanks to Chetan and Kritika for the wonderful workshop and each of the participants for your constant inspiration!


Lahari Mahalanabish (Short Story Writing Workshop , Oct ’20)

Her short story Newly Weds was Long-listed for the Short Story Prize by the Grindstone Literary

I have been writing for a long time, but it was in the Himalayan Writing Retreat that I was introduced to the technicalities of writing like structural unity and degrees of dialogue. It was also an opportunity to connect with like-minded people who are passionate about writing. Himalayan Writing Retreat is a must for those who take their writing seriously, especially those like me who have not studied literature as a subject in college.


Janani Janarthanan (Online Bootcamp, July 2020)

Winner of the September 2020 – Muse of the Month, Women’s Web

“I attended HWR late July this pandemic year and it has been one of the most revelatory creative experiences. There’s something alluring about sharing a virtual space with a small community of writers who are locked in on a mission to get the creative juices flowing. It brings out the writing vigour from its dormant corner which is exactly what the workshop did for me. Chetan’s warmth and the meticulous structure of the workshop helps break down the daunting task of writing a novel/short story into simple bites, all the while maintaining the individual’s writing goals in focus. I wholeheartedly encourage people to experience HWR and take away the renewed sense of direction I did. I would also like to thank the team for giving me an opportunity with the scholarship.


Matangi Jayaram (Bootcamp, Nov ’19)

1st runner up, eShe Poetry Contest


Mohana Talapatra (Bootcamp, Nov ’17)

Published one chapter in “Write with Chitra” contest by Harper Collins

In April 2020, Harper Collins India hosted a contest called #WritewithChitra – a crowdsourced novel where best-selling author Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee wrote the first chapter taking which as a prompt, participants were supposed to write the subsequent chapter. The winning chapter will be a part of a book that will be published by Harper Collins India. In total there will be 16 chapters, one from Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee and one from another guest writer (unannounced as of now). The rest 14 chapters will be selected from this contest and Mohana’s winning entry will be Chapter 6 of that novel.


Books by HWR Alumni

Deepak M R (Custom Writing Workshop for Indic Academy, May’20)

Swetha Prakash (Creative Writing Workshop, Apr’20)

Himali Kothari (Creative Writing Workshop – Apr’ 21)

Desiree Punwani (Creative Writing Workshop- Feb-21)

I was pushed into the HWR Writers Workshop (February 2021) by my writer/editor daughter Kanika. She insisted that after my second draft, I should join a writers workshop. I am glad she did. The finesse I could bring to my book, In High Spirits, From Hopeless to Shining  Self, would not have been possible without the learnings I got from the workshop. 

My most important take-aways:

  • I struggle with giving characters a voice. I didn’t even know what it meant. In my book, I have been able to bring my mother alive in the book, thanks to the workshop.
  • I also learnt two vital tips: 20% is writing. 80% is editing. The best way to edit is to read aloud. I read my book aloud 4 times, alone and with a buddy.    

Chetan is meticulous. He is gentle yet honest

The book was released in June 2021. I liked the workshop so much that in July 2021, I did a short blog and content writing workshop with them.”


Janani Janarthanan (Online Bootcamp, July 2020)


Ra Ma Palaniappan(Creative Writing Workshop’19)

“Until late 2019, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would publish a book. Only in the workshop by Chetan, the idea of writing my first book ‘Zero EMI’ was born.

With a lot of content being developed already for my speeches, the workshop helped me to convert them into a useful book.

The workshop provided the required resources to hone my writing skills. I learnt the nuances of publishing a book through this workshop. Moreover, It gave me the much-needed belief that I can also be an author.

Thank you, Chetan. Your insights throughout the workshop were immensely useful to publish my book.”


Mitra Desai (Online Creative Writing Workshop, June ’20)

“There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you, said Maya Angelou. I have many inside of me, so you can imagine the agony of not being able to draw them out. That was until I came to Himayalan Writing Retreat of course.

A chance application and a scholarship from the Indic Academy brought me to a 2-day power-packed workshop with Chetan Mahajan. I got an end-to-end view of what is involved in the process of telling your stories through a book. The workshop also gave me tools to get started on that pathway, resources to explore for further development, and a bunch of like-minded people to bounce ideas with.

I came away from the workshop, energized and ready to put it to good use. The end result has been the first book in the #IndiaInspires series titled Shitala: How India Enabled Vaccination. A topical book that connects the dots between India’s knowledge traditions, its colonial appropriation, subsequent erasure, and its current applications. The story unfolds as a conversation that can take place in any household across Bharat. It has been extremely well-received from readers 7 to 70+ age range.

Thank you, dear Chetan and Himalayan Writing Retreat team for giving me just the nudge I needed to get started on this journey.


Punish Jain (Bootcamp, May ‘ 18)


Ramanjaneya Sharaph (Online Creative Writing Workshop, October’20)


Tapan Patel (Online Creative Writing Workshop, September’20)

When I enrolled for Online Himalayan Writing Retreat in September’ 20, I was already in the advanced stage of editing my manuscript. However, attending the workshop gave me valuable insights on writing better and editing efficiently. This helped me finding weak points and amending it in final rounds of editing. On many occasions while reviewing my manuscript, I thought, it would have been much better if I had attended the workshop earlier. 

Now that my book (The Vulnerables: Chronicle of Lives amidst Disasters) is published, I would like to thank Chetan and co-participants for being such a supportive team. Chetan facilitated the workshop with ease and warmth, and there was always a friendly interaction with other participants.

During the workshop, I was able to share my writings from other projects and got valuable inputs from Chetan as well as participants. Surely, the learning is going to reflect more prominently in my next book. I wish to be part of HWR at Satkhol sometime.


Salini Vineeth (Short Story Writing Workshop, October’20)

Salini Vineeth’s short story Varayan has been published in Zia – Stories from India by Ukiyoto Publishing. Varayan is a mystery short story set in a village in Kottayam, Kerala. The villagers are plagued by intricate lines in their sandy front yard. They called the mysterious creature behind the lines, ‘Varayan’ (“The one who draws”). 


Yeshwant Marathe (Bootcamp, January’20)

I have been writing my blog since March 2018. When I decided to attend the Himalayan Writing Retreat in January 2020, I was skeptical as to whether it was really possible to learn “how to write”. But I must confess that my writing really improved after that workshop. Thanks to Chetan.

The title of the book is छपाई ते लेखणी which means from Printing to Writing (Pen). 

I come from a business family and we were pioneer manufactures of Offset Printing Machines in India. The cover may be little confusing for people not familiar with Printing process. CMYK are primary colours of multicolour printing. They stand for Cyan (Blue), Magenta (Red), Yellow and Black (Key). Just for your information, our computer screens are in RGB format (Red, Green & Blue). 

Since writing was like my second innings, the title indicates my travel from Printing to Pen. However the book is not about my life journey. 

The designer, using his creativity, turned the letter Y, which also happens to be first letter of my name, into a pen. The book was published at the hands of Jairaj Salgaokar, Mg Director of Kalanirnay (कालनिर्णय) Almanac. The Publishers are Granthali, who run their business more as a Writers Movement and they encourage new writers like me for last more than 45 years.” 


Aruna Singh (Creative Writing Workshop, Dec’18)

The seed for writing was sown when I decided to go to Himalayan writing Retreat in December 2018. The place was so serene with such beautiful people as companions it really made me think to write as my belief says this is only what you are going to leave behind. The festivities of Christmas with lovely food and new friends let me forget the tragedy which I had gone through in the recent past. Thank you !


Renjith Jacob (Online Creative Writing Workshop, May’20)

The HWR learning sessions were immaculately tailor-made to bring out the writer within myself. Special thanks to Mr. Chetan Mahajan for the kind words he granted for encouraging and empowering me.


Rani Iyer (Online Writing Workshop , July ’20)

The Himalayan Writing Retreat (online) course was an outstanding experience. We had a global classroom of twelve earnest students with remarkable talents and focus. The staff and instructors were responsive and communicated with all the requirements clearly and supported us well. Our instructor, Chetan Mahajan, covered many fundamental and advanced writing fiction topics and effortlessly led us through the curriculum. The activities were designed to provide a high degree of student engagement and the opportunity to workshop some of the learning using our work in progress. Thanks to the team for providing me with a scholarship for attending this retreat. I had an enriching experience learning to write fiction writing. Looking at the list of several fabulous classes announced for the future, I plan to sign up for opportunities to learn from the experts.


Manish Grampurohit (Poetry Workshop with Jonaki Ray, May ’20)

Mr. Chetan Mahajan’s Himalayan Writing Retreat is a great place to hone your writing skills. I attended their online workshop on Poetry Writing mentored by award winning poet, Jonaki Ray.

In spite of being online training, it was conducted extremely professionally, with absolutely no disturbances. The course was comprehensive and I am so happy that I could improve my skills. One of the poems that I created during the workshop is getting featured in The Alcove Publisher’s upcoming Anthology: Autumn Gales.

I look forward to attending more sessions from HWR in near future, and I can’t wait to visit their retreat.


Ten short story writers (Custom Creative Writing Workshop, May ’20)

Unsung Valour: Forgotten Warriors of the Kurukshetra War (Bloomsbury, 2020) is an anthology by ten writers to celebrate the lesser-known warriors of the Mahabharata. All the ten writers participants were a part of a workshop with HWR conducted for the Indic Academy.

“To tell a story is a wonderful thing, to tell it well is magical. We learnt a little bit of the alchemy that gives a story it’s snap, it’s lure to dip your toes, it’s ballast to keep you afloat as you ride the current and it’s tug to keep you engrossed. 

Chetan Mahajan had us ruing the end of a session and eagerly anticipating the next one during the HWR online workshop in May 2020.

To transform muggle-born hacks like us to aspiring wizards is, to put it mildly, a herculean task.

Indic Academy was our platform 9&3/4, Saiswaroopa Iyer our sorting hat, and HWR our Hogwarts.

Thank you and we hope to be in Satkhol one day. Alohomora!

Amrita, Abhyudaya, Bharati, Deepak, Pranshu, Renjith, Roopal, Raksha, Siddharth, Shivakumar.

(The Anthology was curated and compiled by Saiswaroopa Iyer.)


Amit Maheshwari

“When I enrolled for HWR, I had a fair idea of “Why and What” to write. At the Himalayan Writing Retreat I learnt the “How, When and Where”. I learnt about writing, finishing and publishing a book. In simple words, I had arrived with the soul of my book. The retreat helped me create it’s body.”


Anirudh Naveen

Mr. Chetan Mahajan, published author and founder of the Himalayan Writing Retreat held an online workshop in April 2020 that allowed me to introspect on my writings and sharpen the messages being conveyed through my novel. Also, it was the first forum where I got to discuss my project in detail.  the discussions that unfolded in the course of the workshop were insightful and I thank the institution and its founder for the wonderful experience. – From the acknowledgments in “The Tailender“.


Elizabeth Decker

Elizabeth Decker spent five weeks at our retreat – mostly locked away in her room working diligently. The outcome was “Wrap me up in an Indian Quilt” (Chaitown Creatives) – a unique, beautiful weave of words that connects deeply with India and its traditional arts.

Elizabeth gifted us a copy of her book inside which she wrote: “To the wonderful Mahajan family. Grateful to have shared your home. Your ears were the first to hear all these words. My love, Beth. “


Kamalini Natesan

The pressure eased off when I reached the mountains. As I ceased to force my creative gene, words flowed in the fresh mountain air. Nestled beneath towering peaks, Chetan and Vandita, founders and hosts, embrace invited folks with practiced ease. They let you be, yet don’t fail to prod those hibernating cells, whose time has come. Mine clearly had. 

Language erupted and stories morphed into living beings, icebergs, half-hidden from one’s vision.  This unleashing, as it were, stayed with me well after I returned to the plains. 

A marvelous experience, and am impatient to get back there. The quietude offered, willy nilly is that place, where I hear what I need to, and tune in to listen.

My first novel was completed soon thereafter and is about to go into publication this coming month. Thank you HWR!


Mehool Parekh

The HWR is the best possible place to write a book or get initiated into the craft of writing one. Unfortunately for me, I discovered the HWR after I had finished my book. Even then, attending the workshop opened my eyes to the various aspects of book writing that I wasn’t aware of. Also, I got valuable inputs from Chetan as well as some of the participants on my book that were incorporated in the book that is now released. I believe the book has become that much better from the inputs. I would wholeheartedly recommend HWR for all writers and aspiring writers. For those who are looking to write, it will come as the first major step towards becoming a good writer. For those who have written in the past, it is a wonderful finishing school. Chetan Mahajan, apart from being a great coach, is also a wonderful and gracious host. This combination makes HWR special.


Madhulika Mohta

I am really thankful that I attended this retreat. Not only for what it taught me or led me to uncover in myself but for the sheer determination to go and get my book published. It had been on the back burner for decades and it was the goals pledge at the end of our workshop which made me determined enough to honor the pledge made to Chetan, his team, and my fellow retreat mates. I found not only mentors but also friends at HWR.

Vaishali Gauba

I went in wanting to learn about the process of writing, in general. I still clearly remember writing my first ever fiction piece at the retreat when that’s not even my genre at all. Beyond that, I learned about motivation. As writers, we often wait for motivation to come to us but Chetan taught us that writing, no matter how good or bad, must happen every day. I took that lesson home with me. Today, I write pretty much every day, and the motivation just kicks in!

Online Publications

Priya Kalpesh Astik (Online Bootcamp, May ’20)

Namita Aavriti (Masterclass, Dec ’19)