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The Himalayan Happiness Project

The Himalayan Writing Retreat,
Village Satkhol, Uttarakhand


May 2 May 7

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees.”

– John Muir

Come, join us for a walk among the pines, oaks and the beautiful Himalayan Cedars. Breathe in deeply the fresh, clean mountain air and breathe out upsets and fears. Take inspiration from the snow clad Himalayas standing steady and tall, and re-discover the resilience within to weather life’s storms. Experience the joy that birdsong brings and re-discover your connection with everything that exists. Awed by the countless stars in the sky you may find that unbounded, your creativity flows.

The pandemic has been a difficult time for many of us. The long hibernation of the past years has left many of us feeling lethargic and depleted. But nature shows us that many life forms hibernate in winter only to emerge renewed and refreshed in spring. Let’s come together and with thoughtful, deliberate actions recreate spring in our lives right now.

Nature and writing can instill in us a sense of peace and joy. At the Himalayan Writing Retreat, we have experienced this first hand. Our co-founder, Dr. Vandita Dubey (Clinical psychologist and published author) works on emotional wellbeing. This led her to dig further into psychology research to understand how and why that happens.

Studies show that sustainable happiness or inner joy helps people have richer lives. They stay physically healthy, have better relationships, do better professionally, be more helpful to others and be more resilient in the face of life’s challenges or difficulties. We’ve built this program to enhance and build that inner joy.

Your Expert Facilitator

Detailed Program


We’ll mail you a short exercise before the program that you need to complete and bring. We’ll also send another email with instructions and things you may need to carry with you for the workshop.

Day 1: 

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us,

kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.”

– John Muir
  • Nature Meditation in the outdoors.
  • Focusing our energies.
  • Group poem – a bonding exercise under the open sky.
  • The tree of our lives – a creative exercise where we create a picture of our evolving personal histories.
  • Reclaiming our mindspace and energy – 2 writing exercises 
  • Transforming energies – Planting a seed
  • Experiencing the awe of nature

Day 2:

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”

― Sir Edmund Hillary

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Working with our roots
  • Cognitive strategies for managing our most primal instinct – fear and how it manifests. Discussion and writing exercises.
  • Making the unclear, clear: Working with our thoughts – conscious and subconscious through two writing exercises.
  • Putting self compassion in practice – A writing exercise 
  • Making friends with the internal critic – A dialogue 
  • Nurturing self and other – An experiential exercise
  • A Mindful visualisation 
Dr. Vandita Dubey with participants, April 2019

Day 3:

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storms,

but to add color to my sunset sky.”

Rabindranath Tagore
  • Nature Meditation with eyes open
  • Growing new leaves with compassion towards others – 2 writing exercises focusing on relationships
  • Nature Meditation Walk
  • Leaves, stones and talisman – what they tell us – a writing and sharing exercise
  • Leaves & branches that we lose – processing loss in the context of continuity – a writing exercise
  • Expressing Gratitude for the fruits in our lives – gifts we have received
  • Empty Box Exercise
Emotional Wellbeing Workshop, Feb 2019.

Day 4:

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”

― Vincent Willem van Gogh
  • Mountain Meditation
  • Creativity – the water of life: A fun filled exercise to help experience Flow
  • Helping creativity Flow unhindered through all aspects of our lives
  • Growth unbounded – Taking stock of the branches we have and those we want to grow
  • In what direction do you want to grow?
  • Planning for course corrections where needed
  • Through meaning and purpose, the contributions we can make – our flowers and seeds
  • A Closing Meditation
Emotional Well-being
Dr. Dubey with Participants, Feb 2022

Post Program:

A one hour Zoom session will be held a month after the workshop to discuss the post-workshop experience and also talk about the practices that participants may have adopted – what’s working, what’s not. Some ideas will be shared for continuing with the Happiness Project.

More about this Program

  • This program is based on psychology research and practices. It is not based on any religious practices or new age beliefs (such as, “past life regression,” etc.).
  • This is not an intensive psychotherapy program nor a mental illness treatment program. People suffering from mental health issues can attend but this is not a substitute for individual therapy.
  • This is not a writing program. Fiction or non-fiction writing will not be taught in this program.
  • Anyone who has attended the Himalayan Emotional Wellbeing/Self Growth Workshops is also welcome to attend. There are a few exercises from that workshop that are retained in this program. However, the structure of this program is different with a new focus and a variety of new exercises.
  • Anyone above the age of 18 years is welcome to attend. You do not need to have any prior experience in writing, meditation, etc.

Participation in this workshop is limited to 10 only and we enroll approved participants on a first-come first-served basis. To enroll, please fill out the form below. It helps us get to know you better as a writer, and also as a fit for this workshop.

Travel and Stay

The Himalayan Writing Retreat is built for inspiration and learning. We are rated 5-star on google and facebook.

Once here, you will be sharing a room with a fellow participant (unless we’ve confirmed a single). All essentials like food, hot water, towels etc. are provided. No hidden costs.

Book lounge snow winter
The Book Lounge on a Snowy day.

It can snow in winter. Weather can vary and the weather chart of Mukteshwar (12 km from the retreat) is here. A pair of sturdy walking shoes, some rain protection and an extra layer or two are always a good idea.

Our rooms are built to let nature in and inspire you. To see pictures of the rooms click here . To see pictures of the writing spaces click here

Depending upon where you travel in from, you can reach us by road, train or air. Even if flying or taking a train, the final stretch is a drive, and the last 150 metres is a walk.

By Road

The retreat is a 370 km/9 hours drive from Delhi. If driving, we recommend you leave early. Note that parking at the retreat is on the road – we do not have any private parking. We have limited driver accommodation, so please check in advance.

Overnight Volvo buses ply between Haldwani and Delhi, the more reliable of which are government operated. You con book those here. Private Volvos and Sleeper buses also ply between Delhi and Haldwani, which you can book on redbus. Make sure you pick a bus with a high (4+) rating.

By Train

There are three trains a day from Delhi to Kathgodam, the nearest train station. Some others also come in from Kolkata, Lucknow and Dehradun. From Delhi, Ranikhet Express is a convenient overnight train both ways, but finding tickets can be difficult. 

Most people prefer to take the Kathgodam Shatabdi (Delhi dep: 6.20 AM, Kathgodam Arr: 11.40 AM). A cab from Kathgodam to Satkhol takes about 2.5 hrs / Rs. 2200 (more for a big car). Cabs are often shared by participants. 

By Air

There are daily flights from Delhi to Pantnagar. A cab from Pantnagar to Satkhol takes about 3.5 hr / Approx INR 4K.

There are direct flights from Mumbai and Bangalore to Bareilly 3-4 days a week. Satkhol is a 5hr / INR 5.5k cab ride from Bareilly. (More for a big car). Cabs are often shared by participants.

One of our past attendees – Radhika, has beautifully captured her experience of this retreat in her words. You can read her post Here.

  1. Why should I choose HWR Workshops?   
  • Personal Attention: We don’t take more than 10 students in a class. You get a lot of personal attention and feedback. No classrooms of 20-30 people or one-way pre-recorded videos here.
  • Class Quality: For most courses, we filter our participants. You can’t just pay and sign up. We need to see a writing sample (in our application form) to ensure the class is of a uniform standard.
  • Cost per hour: Our courses are long and intense. As an example, the Creative Writing course is 18000 for 24 contact hours (3 days, 8 hours each day). The cost per hour = 750 / hour. That is comparable to many of the “cheaper” courses.
  • Quality of faculty: No lightweights here. Many of our faculty are award-winners. All are experts and great teachers. We don’t settle for average.
  • Feedback scores: Across courses, we are rated 4.5/5, or higher. You can read our reviews HERE.
  1. Do I get a certificate of participation?

Yes, certificates are available on request.

  1. Any discounts for students / other categories?

At the Himalayan Writing Retreat, we follow a strict No-Discount policy.

  1. Is the workshop fee refundable?

Our cancellation policy is as follows:

  • Online Writing Workshop: 100% refund if cancellation 2 weeks before the event start date, 50% if cancellation one week before the start date, 0% if less than one week before the start date.
  • Creative Writing Workshop at the Himalayas: 100% refund if cancellation 4 weeks before the event start date, 50% if cancellation two weeks before the start date, 0% if less than two weeks before the start date.
  1. Is the Himalayan Writing Retreat a business or an NGO?

The Himalayan Writing Retreat is a social enterprise. It works closely and actively with two local NGOs in its community work initiatives: Chirag and Alaap. In 2020, HWR raised INR 6.1 Lakhs to support the Chirag School.

Have more questions? Feel free to write to us at info@himalayanwritingretreat.com or connect with us at +91 73035 16665 (Call/ WA/Signal).

Event Summary


May 2
May 7
Event Category:

** 34000 is the early bird price. Regular price of INR 39000 applicable after April 18, 2023 **

Additional Guests, Single room and Cancellation Policy:

Additional non-participating guests may stay with participants, subject to availability. Their stay is charged at a rate of INR 4000 per night including meals and taxes for a shared room.

Single rooms can be requested but are subject to availability. The additional cost for a single room is 3000 per night including meals and taxes.

100% refund if cancellation 4 weeks before event start date, 50% if cancellation is done two weeks before start date, 0% if less than two weeks before start date.

If participants test positive for Covid-19 before travel (RTPCR Report Required), full credit will be held for six months for any future event, subject to availability.

Village Satkhol
District Nainital, Uttarakhand 263138 India
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+91 73035 16665