An oasis of tranquility, ‘Andretta’ may sound as an unusual name for a village in Himachal Pradesh, but it’s a perfect place to head to whenever you are looking for a truly rustic vacation amid a pure artistic setting.
If mud-houses and tea plantations with beautiful mountain peaks as a backdrop, attract you then you need to visit ‘Andretta’ in Himachal Pradesh, a unique village lying at the Dhauladhar ranges and offering a surreal landscape.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Andretta is its western ‘Name’ – the reason being that it was actually conceptualised by a Western (Irish) woman, Norah Richards, who had always desired to live in India.
She converted this small Himachali village into an artists’ colony way back in the 1920s.
Just about 13 kilometres from Palampur, Andretta enjoys the reputation of being one of the most sought-after places i18n North India for the lovers of art and pottery.
The place is dotted with small mud houses – each one of them were set up by some of the most renowned artists of India like Sobha Singh and BC Sanyal – and are made using material like bamboo, slate and mud.
Not only this, Andretta also plays host to several theatre performances, and artists, musicians and thespians from allover the country throng here to attend them.
One of the pioneers of ‘studio pottery’ in India – Gurcharan Singh’s son moved here in 1980s and established Andretta Pottery and Craft Society. The society runs three-month-long residential courses for potters. The Andretta pottery is sold at outlets across India.
Major Attractions in Andretta
- Andretta Pottery and Craft Society
- Norah Richard’s House (Chameli Niwas)
- Norah Richard’s Centre for the Arts
- Sobha Singh Art Gallery
- Nearby is Bir-Billing, a paragliding destination.
There are some homestays catering to the tourists – The Mirage being one of the most popular of them.
About Norah Richards
Norah, an actress originally from Ireland, married Philip Richards, who was a professor at Government College, Lahore. She arrived in Lahore, an important cultural centre, in 1908.
In the following years, she played a pivotal role in establishing modern Punjabi theatre, staging plays with Punjabi themes. After the death of her husband, she went back briefly, only to return in 1924, when she made Andretta.