Community. Craft. Creativity.
Located on a picturesque hill on the left bank of the River Beas in Naggar, North is an alternative creative campus. It's a design institute that promotes traditional design practices of Himachal and is focused on bringing artistic micro-shifts towards a healthy and conscious way of living.
Here's my experience in a nutshell:
If you are looking for a place to connect with yourself, tap into your creative self, or live in a space where modern ways of living meet the traditional and conscious ways, North is your go-to place.
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Be it the window seat in the studio, the balcony in front of the kitchen, or the secret spot just above the property, the environment at North is conducive to unlocking creativity. Reading, writing, sketching, playing musical instruments, learning about traditional ways of living, and obviously brewing coffee are just a few things from the list of all possible things to do that I did here.
I am definitely returning to this campus of creativity and craft for a longer stay super soon.
What is there exactly to experience at the North?
North is a design institute that promotes traditional design practices of Himachal. They work towards a few motions and the primary ones include:
- Architecture-based research: Efforts geared towards practically showing the current generation how to strike a balance between traditional and modern infrastructure
- Education: Workshops on building practices, natural materials, wood carving, hand-looming, etc.
- Living and Lifestyle: Living space that connects you with the traditional ways of living and gives the home factor a new definition altogether and the collaborative space i.e the studio and its open-door policy which serve as a medium to unlock creativity.
- Products and Objects: Agri-produce products like honey and apricot-residue scrub.
They are building towards being a design hub/institute to give kaarigars (artisans) a platform to showcase their craft.
Why do they do what they do?
The industrial revolution overthrew the wisdom of living and growing communities.
Driven by the passion for research to preserve the essence of the Himachali way of living and striking a balance with the modern ways, North was founded. Instead of forcing people to understand and adopt the traditional building practices, they are igniting the minds of the people by showing them how it’s done practically. They are the torch bearers of this wave of change.
Their iconic Dhajji house is the epitome of that. North has brought about a change in the mindset of locals. They are beginning to understand why it is important to know the importance of what they already have - wood and stones and the art of building sustainable homes using them primarily.
I met some of the best people on this journey:
I was in awe of this place from the moment I walked in through those wooden gates. I was hosted by an incredible team of talented individuals - Ritu, Dwija, Aayush, Michael, and Atal. I would end up writing an essay if I were to describe the 3 days that I spent here so I am going to try to encapsulate them in bullet points.
- Learned about traditional Himachali food
- Tasted Siddu for the first time
- Had amazing Kadhi-chawal
- Brewed infinite cups of coffee
- Tasted organic honey, tea, and scrumptious cookies
- Had a jam session with Aayush on drums and me on guitar
- Screened a film on a lazy Sunday afternoon
- Hiked among tall deodar trees
- Ventured to secluded spots to get a birds-eye view of Naggar and do some reading
- Sketched in the oh-so-beautiful studio
- Story-boarded my next film on the wonderful desk in my room
- Read a book sitting on the grass, wind brushing my hair and clouds dancing in front of my eyes
- Discussed art and music and had 2 AM sessions with the folks there
- Visited the Roerich museum
- Made friends with Piggy (just look at her pose in the frame below)
- And obviously, learned about the history and the purpose of this campus
The entire team at North made me feel like I was home! It was nice to make the acquaintance of Rahul and Swara and hear from the founder himself about what motivated him to start working toward this.
They are super-creative individuals and I thoroughly enjoyed having discussions on a myriad of topics with them. I honestly couldn’t have had a better stay to end my solo trip with.
If you are planning to visit anywhere near Kullu or Manali, I would recommend you to check out Naggar and definitely spend a few days at North. You can book this Mindful Retreat with Tripoto - which offers an all-inclusive package, so that you can worry less and experience the best!G