13 May A perfect place to rejuvenate in the valleys of Himalaya – The Shilaroo Project, Himachal Pradesh
Singing the closing notes to the trip while heading back to Jaipur from Chhitkul, we were looking for an overnight hault to break the monotone of driving.
While fumbling onto every single bit and byte present online, we had our fingers crossed to find a perfect ending for the trip.
Nature being supreme, showed us a land slide and made us stand in the long trail of vehicles on the curves of the mountain, we had to wait on the roads.
I looked up to Pulkit and said as I was recalling a place in my memory, “Yaar, I know a place but I am not sure on the availability and prices.”
Pulkit then uttered the golden words of suggestion which I wouldn’t have thought to do myself even in a bad dream! – “Call karke dekh lo number hai to, pata pad jayega.”
Luckily I had Virangana’s number on messenger and without a second’s delay I shot a call and it was ringing!
All thanks to her, we now had a decent hault on our plan.
After a deadly ride to Hatu peak, we reached “The Shilaroo Project” at around 8:30 PM and right on the entrance of the property, we were left awestruck by the beauty of it. Everything looked so perfect and smelled of the soulful inputs in its bricks.
By now, the curiousity to know the story behind the place was on its peak. How did it start? What was the vision? Who designed this beauty? What’s the..? How did…?
Here’s the little tale narrated by Virangana and Shubhangana (People behind The Shilaroo Project), I will try to replicate in her words as much as I can.
The Shilaroo Project is a dream child of Virangana and Shubhangana (real sisters) who have covered length and breadth of the country as a perk of being army kids. After spending some time in the corporate amidst the hustle of metro cities, one fine day they decided to come back to their calm and cold native place Shilaroo and build something for sustainable living.
Here’s the interesting flashback to the backgrounds of these sisters.
Shubhangna happens to be a trained Isha Hatha Yoga teacher where Virangana is a lady of fine arts.
From Krishnamachari Yoga, to Bihar School of Yoga and Iyengar Yoga, she traversed the whole spectrum. With each of these traditions, powerful and iconic in their rights, Shubhangna gained great insights into the world of yoga, but her heart and mind were still filled with curiousity.
She completed a 21-week teacher’s training program in 2012, under the direct guidance and grace of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, in Classical Hatha Yoga in its purest form, at the Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore. In the elaborate 1750 hours of the Classical Hatha Yoga program, she was trained to teach Upa Yoga, Angamardana, Surya Kriya, Yogasanas and Bhuta Shuddhi.
Virangna was altogether in a different horizon of imagination as she was giving shape to clay and coloring the canvas with her imagination. Virangna is a hobby painter and a professional potter.
After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Stella Maris College, Chennai, Virangna moved on to get trained at Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts, Chennai and Julius Macwan Institute, Mumbai. She then studied pottery under the tutelage of the legendary Mini Singh and Late Jugal Kishore at Andretta Pottery, Himachal as well as Keshari Nandan, ceramic artist at Studio Drishtivaak, Rajasthan.
And of course the Shilaroo project could not have been possible without the faith, belief and continuous support of their parents.
It was about 2011, when The Shilaroo Project (TSP) first sprung up as an exciting idea and with time they nurtured it over many conversations. An year later, in 2012 they first stepped foot in Shilaroo, armed with some ideas, a few dreams, and very little knowledge. With woolens that were not warm enough and knowledge that wasn’t deep enough, their first season at Shilaroo turned out a little challenging.
After accommodating and acclimatizing to the terrain and weather, they began the construction of TSP, following a blueprint, that was tailored keeping in mind their interest in nature and its elements.
The next step was deepening the knowledge of farming and adventure activities scheduled to be an integral part of TSP. The universe showed its cooperation when the Horticulture University in Solan, Himachal Pradesh organized a 3-day workshop on natural farming by the illustrious Subhash Palekar, the Indian agriculturist who practices Zero Budget Natural Farming and they jumped at the opportunity, and thus very soon they switched to the natural farming methods at Shilaroo. The results were unbelievable.
Both the sisters explored, interrogated, intervened, experienced, struggled, learnt together, and individually, till The Shilaroo Project became a tangible reality.
Image Source – Facebook Page
In the end, Shilaroo wasn’t a choice they fought hard to win, it was a calling they followed on a journey homewards, to resuscitate the land left by their ancestors. A journey towards a keen sense of awareness of self and the surroundings.
The requisite skills of Shubhangna in Yoga and Virangna in Ceramics turned an exciting idea into The Shilaroo Project. Going from seed to sprout, however, they relied on a team of competent and skilled people without whom The Shilaroo Project wouldn’t ever have been possible.
The complete state-of-art has been build very carefully. Efforts of the two sisters show up just like a jeweller’s to make a precious diamond jewellery. The walls have been constructed using extruded, wire-cut bricks and the stone for the floor has especially been imported from Jaisalmer.
Along with two private rooms, an eight bed dormitory and a four bed dormitory, they have a beautiful kitchen where the chef cooks real fancy delicacies. If you want to try your hands at cooking, they don’t mind that as well. 🙂
Right outside the kitchen,a beautiful studio setup with a mesmerising view can be spotted. Sit for hours in this space, read, have a cup of coffee and let the mountain vibe sync in. The earthly musical instruments add to your friends in leisure, if you know how to play them.
To my personal favourite liking was their paint studio which a book wall and the majestic scenic view through the glass panes.
They have a beautiful yoga centre where Shubhangna conducts yoga workshops. I didn’t see such a beautiful yoga centre before!
Another beautiful part of the property is Virangna’s pottery studio which didn’t look an easy setup at all. The art pieces in the studio are marvellous and the way she demonstrates pottery cannot be explained into words. You only have to experience it by visiting the place.
If you are looking for peace of mind, a place where you want to spend days relaxing into the lap of nature, a place to rejuvenate, then The Shilaroo Project is calling for your healing.
How to reach –
– Nearest town to Shilaroo is Narkanda which is 12 kms away from “The Shilaroo Project.
– Nearest airport is Shimla and Chandigarh. From Chandigarh, the distance is 163 Kms and from Delhi, 412 Kms.
– It is on the main highway NH5, i.e. Hindustan- Tibet Road
– You can either take a bus from Delhi to Shimla and then Shimla to Shilaroo or Narkanda to Shilaroo or you can also visit the place by your private vehicle.
Website Link – http://theshilarooproject.com/