Travel + Leisure India introduces #TLFinds—either new or uniquely interesting places and experiences across India and abroad—for travellers to discover every week. The second in the series is Andretta Pottery Studio tucked away in the town of Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. By Rashima Nagpal
What is it?
Andretta Pottery Studio—one of India’s oldest working pottery studio situated in the lesser-known town of Palampur in Himachal Pradesh.
Art, pottery, and ceramic enthusiasts.
While on a work assignment in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh recently, I finally got the chance to visit a place that my colleagues have often described as a hidden gem—Andretta Pottery Studio. Andretta is a small village near Palampur in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Those who know know that it was established as an artist’s colony back in the 1920s, with the arrival of late Irish theatre artiste Norah Richards; her old home is minutes away from the pottery studio. One of her contemporaries and closest friends was Sardar Gurcharan Singh, a Srinagar-born geologist who went on the become the father of studio pottery in India. His work led to the beginning of Andretta Pottery, established and developed by his son Mansimran Singh and his wife Mary 1983 onwards. A close friend of Mansimran Singh and a local, Jugal Kishore Sankhyan joined hands and dedicated his life to the art of pottery until his unfortunate demise over five years ago. Ever since, Andretta Pottery is taken care of by his son, a young Shubham Sankhyan, who left aeronautical engineering to carry on his father’s legacy. In that sense, Andretta Pottery is historic, and yet many who stumble upon it are taken by surprise.
In a humble, rustic setting that includes a handful of small rooms and a shed for potters and their wheels, Andretta Pottery takes pride in each piece it makes. What makes it unique from other pottery studios in India is a special 1000-year-old technique called slip designing, where diluted clay is used to create unique patterns. But that’s not all that this potter’s haven in the hills makes. I find myself spoilt for choice, browsing through bowls and plates and mugs and dervishes (Sankhyan loves making those). With a touch of modern glaze—rusty red, cobalt blue, pepper grey, lavender, and more—Andretta’s clay now travels the world.
Visitors can sign up for a guided tour, a 15-minute hands-on experience, or a three-month residential course to learn the art form.
Call 098163 14481