Hazel Manuel

Writing Retreats

'Sunsets and Spices'

An Unforgettable Ten Day Writing and Cultural Retreat in Southern India.

13th - 23nd February 2019

As featured in The Hindu newspaper and The Write Life.

"It was a privilege to share this experience with such a diverse group."

Imagine working on your novel or short story collection atop an isolated Indian hillside amid the fragrance of flowers and spices, nothing to disturb you but the calling of hawks and cuckoos, the flash of kingfishers, the barking of deer and the occasional visit from a monkey. Watch the sun go down and the stars peek out as the sounds of chanting from a nearby temple mingle with the scent of incense... Come to India and breathe the life of all this beauty into your work.

Immerse yourself and your writing in the sensuality of India

Take your writing to the next level and immerse yourself in the ethereal beauty of Southern India with our ten day writing and cultural retreat. Join Hazel Manuel and Anjana Chowdhury - both award-winning novelists and India aficionados - for an unforgettable experience that is sure to change you and your writing.

At our all-inclusive retreat you will have the luxury of time to work on your writing project- or even begin a new one - as well as the opportunity to participate in a range of exciting writing activities, cultural trips and experiences.

A stunning location

Our Southern Indian writing retreat takes place at Tranquil Nest - a family-run eco-resort high up in the stunning Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu. Tucked far away from the bustling cities and crowded tourist hot spots, the resort sits amid a luscious coffee-plantation surrounded by silver birch and silk-cotton trees, orange, pepper, banana, avocado and pomegranate groves. Located at an altitude of 1200m above sea level, the temperature is a pleasant 23 degrees all year round and surrounded by panoramic views of forest and hills, this magnificent retreat venue is the perfect place to inspire your writing.

Eco-friendly accommodation and facilities

Tranquil Nest is run by its owners to ensure you experience South India at its best. The entire resort has been designed and is managed in such a way that the surrounding countryside, wildlife and communities, all benefit. The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed and retain the traditionally Indian character of the resort. All rooms have been tastefully furnished and have modern bathrooms. Some of the rooms have outdoor seating areas, offering views of the valley.

Retreat guests are welcome to use the lounge area where they can socialise, relax and read from a selection of books about the local area. You may also wish to use the gym - modern, well ventilated and with everything you need for a good workout. To learn more about Tranquil Nest click here.

Workshops designed to inspire

"You kept the tone of the retreat open, searching but safe, and constructively challenging."

The retreat includes four workshops designed to stimulate and motivate novelists and short-story writers. Both of your workshop leaders are award-winning novelists and experienced teachers who will guide you through exercises and discussions inspired by the sensuality of India. The workshops take place in a covered outdoor conference area amid panoramic views of the surrounding hills. Your writing can't fail to be inspired by such a setting!

The workshop leaders

Hazel Manuel is a UK born novelist whose writing follows a career in education, first as a teacher and after as a business leader. Hazel now lives and writes in France where she runs 'Paris Scriptorium' - a popular salon for aspiring writers. Hazel has years of experience running writing retreats at beautiful locations around the world. She has travelled extensively throughout India - her first novel 'Kanyakumari' was written over several of her trips and was the winner of the 2013 Cinnamon Press Debut Novel award. Another of her novels 'The Geranium Woman' (published by Cinnamon Press) is also partly set in India. Last year Hazel was commissioned to write 'Ashram' - a glimpse into life in an isolated southern Indian spiritual retreat where she spent a month as writer-in-residence. Hazel's latest novel, Undressing Stone, will be published in june 2018 - that one is not set in India!

Anjana Chowdhury was born in Kolkata in the north of India where she lived until she was 21 years old. Since then she has lived in the UK, France and Holland where she has worked as a teacher and a charity worker. Anjana now writes full time and her novel 'Under the Pipal Tree' recently won the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Award. It is set in India and explores issues of social inequalities, identity and mental health. As well as being an award-winning author, as a native-born Indian, Anjana brings with her a wealth of first-hand knowledge of India's customs and traditions.

Experience India

"On a cultural level I was very moved - changed even - by the whole experience."

In addition to our writing activities, our retreat guests will have an unforgettable Indian experience. We will explore the famous Meenakshi Temple in the nearby town of Madurai - a two hour drive away through beautiful farmland and countryside dotted with small villages. The Meenakshi Temple is the biggest and arguably the most beautiful temple in Southern India and is a fascinating example of Southern Indian religious architecture. We will visit the nearby tailors market where you can watch the tailors make bespoke clothes - and buy some too if you like.

On another day we will explore the sights and sounds of a bustling local market where we will buy vegetables and spices which you will later use to cook an authentic Indian meal - under the guidance of our resident expert.

Tranquil Nest has miles of trekking routes which lead to breathtaking view points. We will take a gentle hike with an expert guide who will tell us about the local fauna and flora - a truly a rewarding experience.

You will also, during the retreat have the opportunity to hear and learn about Indian poetry and fiction; how to wear a sari or a dhoti; plus we will experience a Puja - a traditional Hindu ceremony performed by a local priest, which will include a talk about Hindu religion and philosophy.

Ten days of pure inspiration

Our program includes writing workshops, time to spend on your own writing, one-to-one sessions with one of our resident novelists, feedback sessions, plus cultural day trips and evening activities. Click here for our full program.

Delicious traditional dining

All meals are included on our retreat and are taken at the elegant outdoor dining area at Tranquil Nest, which has a view of the surrounding forest. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are healthy, vegetarian and freshly prepared using high quality local ingredients, offering our retreat guests the opportunity to sample delicious and gently spiced South Indian cuisine.

First time in India?

If you've never been to India before you may feel a little daunted by the idea of making such a trip - especially if you are coming alone. We completely understand. We will provide you with all you need to know before you set off - how to apply for a visa, what to do about health advice, what to bring with you, what clothes to pack, advice about travel options. We will meet you at the airport or train station when you arrive to take you to the resort. After a refreshing drink and snack plus time to rest and unpack, you will be shown around your new home for the next ten days.

Anjana and Hazel will a provide a full welcome orientation designed to ensure that you feel at ease in your new setting. As a native Indian, Anjana will explain to you what you need to know about the customs - the do's and don't's, what to wear, how to behave. Hazel has travelled in India several times, often alone and she will provide information and advice about travelling as a foreigner - perhaps as a foreign woman - in India. We'll cover issues of health, safety and culture so that your India adventure gets off to the best possible start. And we'll be there throughout the retreat to help with any questions or queries you may have.

Getting there

Tranquil Nest is close to Mangalankombu village in Dindugul district, Tamil Nadu. The nearest city is Madurai which has excellent transport links.

Retreat guests organise their own transport to and from India. For those arriving by air we are able to meet you at Madurai Airport. If arriving by train we can meet you at Madurai Junction Train Station. We can also take you back to the airport or station at the end of the retreat. We can give advice about travel but are unable to book it for you. Airport and station transfers must be agreed beforehand. Click here for information about arriving at the retreat independently.


- Ten night's accommodation
- All meals, snacks and drinks throughout the retreat
- Four Writing workshops
- A one hour one-to-one session with one of our novelists
- Free time at the resort to work on your own writing
- Three cultural daytrips
- Evening activities
- Use of gym facilities
- Transfers to and from Madurai Airport or station plus all transport for organised trips

Transport to and from India, visas, vaccinations, Spa treatments, spending money, entry to sights other than on the program, tips, additional food and drinks and other personal spending are not included in the price.

This retreat has limited availability to 12 guests so please book early to avoid disappointment.

If you have any further queries about the retreat please see our FAQ'S page.

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Booking this retreat indicates your agreement to our terms and conditions. Click here for details.


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Last Update:2018/06/25 20:38