From Pottery to Surfing: 5 Fun Things to Do in India

Whether you plan to take up surfing or pottery-making, India offers a wealth of hands-on experiences to give your holiday an educational edge. Here are five worth planning a trip around. 

The artists’ village of Andretta in the Himalayan foothills of Himachal Pradesh is a magnet for traveling potters.

1. Rise to the occasion 

In his riverside home outside Goa’s state capital Panjim, self-taught baker Sujit Sumitran makes artisanal sourdough using wild yeast, kneading and shaping the loaves over an eight-hour period before heating them to perfection in a coconut husk–fired oven. Sumitran’s daylong workshops are punctuated with breaks to devour his wife Sudha’s fabulous home cooking, and it’s likely you will wipe up the last traces of prawn curry or Kerala-inspired vegetable stew with some freshly baked bread.

More information here.

2. Spin the wheel 

Flanked by the snow-capped Dhauladhars and the thickly forested Sivalik Hills, the artists’ village of Andretta in the Himalayan foothills of Himachal Pradesh is a magnet for traveling potters. At Andretta Pottery, learn the basics of working with clay or hone your skills to the next level under the watchful gaze of Mansimran Singh and his wife Mary. Weeklong stints are the bare minimum, while serious pottery aficionados can opt for one- to three-month residential courses, which balance full-day studio sessions with mountain hikes, walks into nearby villages, and evenings around a bonfire complete with whiskey sours.

More information here.

3. Cook up a storm 

Once a working rubber plantation, Haritha Farms in Kerala has been turned into a culinary retreat, with owner Jacob Mathew replanting indigenous flora and sustainably growing ingredients for his multi-day vegetarian cooking courses on South Indian fare. Outside the kitchen, Mathew also organizes visits to an elephant rescue center, a lorry decorating workshop, and boat trips down the Muvattupuzha River.

More information here.

A malabar pied hornbill at Gumbe Rainforest Research Station. Photo: Dhiraj Bhaisare

4. Ride the waves 

India’s 7,500-kilometer-long coastline and ideal wave conditions ensure that there’s plenty of good spots to learn to surf like a pro. Basque brothers Juan and Samai Reboul turned their passion into a profession when they opened the Kallialay Surf School in the erstwhile French colony of Pondicherry in 2009. Learn the fundamentals through one-time sessions that last over an hour or get the hang of it on a 15-day course.

More information here.

5. Go off-grid 

Aspiring naturalists can live out their dream of studying animals in the wild by signing up for a course with the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in the mountains of southern Karnataka. Set up in 2005 by renowned herpetologist Romulus Whitaker, the conservation center welcomes volunteers to its team of 10 members as they carry out their fieldwork. From 15-day assignments to projects stretching over several months, the level of involvement required varies. 

More information here.

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2019 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“India Inspiration”).

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