Listen to and share ideas with your favourite author under the shade of the Himalayas at these three literary festivals in October
Khushwant Singh Litfest (October 9-11, 2015)
Eminent Indian journalist and author Khushwant Singh (who passed away in March 2014 at 99 years) used to call Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh his second home. Encircled by mountains and forests of oak, pine and horse chestnut trees, the town lives a quiet existence for most of the year. Hence the town is the preferred venue for the annual Khushwant Singh Literary Festival (KSLF); the 2015 festival has been earmarked as the centenary edition. There is no registration fee for the festival, which is open to all. But the Kasauli Club, where the event is held, charges a temporary membership fee. This not-for-profit festival is dedicated to the education of the girl child, ecology of Kasauli, and the Indian soldier. Hence they are open to donations. Many side events, including competitions for school children and cultural programmes, are held during the festival.
How to go: The nearest airport for Kasauli is Chandigarh, about 60km away, less than 2 hours’ drive. The nearest railhead is Kalka, 40km away. There is a Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi Express. From Chandigarh and Kalka, you can get bus/taxi upto Kasauli. From Delhi, you can drive to Kasauli in about 6 hours (about 300km by road).
Where to stay: Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) runs a deluxe heritage hotel, the Ros Common. There are many private luxury hotels and resorts in and around Kasauli.
Mussoorie Writers’ Mountain Festival (October 22-25, 2015)
Mussoorie, the popular hill station of Uttarakhand, has a rich literary heritage and home to several famous writers of India. The Mussoorie Writers was founded in 2005 to celebrate this heritage and encourage an interest in books and authors. As an outreach affiliate of Woodstock School, Mussoorie Writers organizes literary festivals and other programs, including artists-in-residence. The Mussoorie Writers’ Mountain Festival focuses on literature, climbing, mountaineering and environmental conservation. Leading authors, artists, filmmakers, mountaineers, and conservationists from India and abroad participate in this festival; the theme for the 2015 edition is Women and Mountains. The Outdoor Mela at the Hanifl Centre will have food stalls, exhibitions, mountain craft display, book signings, etc. The last day of the 2015 festival, October 25, will coincide with the Mussoorie Half Marathon (now a qualifier race for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon and Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon).
How to go: Jolly Grant, about 60km from Mussoorie, is the nearest airport. Dehra Dun, about 35 km away, is the nearest railway station. A popular tourist getaway, Mussoorie is well connected by road with Delhi (about 250km and 6-7hours), and other important towns in the Garhwal regions, such as Dehra Dun, Haridwar, and Rishikesh by bus and taxi.
Where to stay: Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam runs a tourist lodge, Hotel Garhwal Terrace. There are plenty of hotels in Mussoorie, from 5-star to budget category.
The Kumaon Literary Festival (October 23-27, 2015)
The Kumaon hills of Uttarakhand will host the first edition of India’s annual retreat literary festival. The five-day Kumaon Literary Festival (KLF) will start off in Dhanachuli—where it will be hosted by the boutique hotel Te Aroha—and conclude in Nainital—at the Abbotsford, a boutique homestay. A not for profit initiative, KLF will bring together top authors, thought leaders and opinion makers of the country. A number of side events will be held in alliance with partners and associates, such as storytelling and performances by artists from Kumaon and other hilly regions, walks in the woods, picnic lunches, interactions with local community, etc. Donations received from registration will be used for constructing the library building in Dhanachuli village.
How to go: The nearest railway station for Nainital is Kathgodam, about 40km by road. You can also travel by road from Delhi, Haldwani and many tourist spots in the Kumaon region. You can drive to Dhanachuli directly from Delhi (takes around 6-7hours), or from Kathgodam (takes less than 2hours). Dhanachuli is near the well-known hill town of Mukteswar.
Where to stay: Nainital is a city of hotels but book in advance as it is the holiday season. Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam runs three tourists lodges in Nainital. There are many hotels and homestays in and around Dhanachuli; you can also stay in Mukteswar and Sargakhet (about 15-20minutes’ drive away; KLF will provide shuttle service to and from Te Aroha)