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Gap year student learning traditional Indian dances
Gap year students learning block printing in India

One of the world's oldest and most enduring civilizations, India has been shaped by complex influences over thousands of years, with myriad layers of landscape, history, art, religion, culture and craft to discover.

Our 7-week artistic journey starts in Kochi and travels through South India for a month. Along the way we will explore arts including Music, Dance, Drawing, Painting, Film, Photography, Textiles and Ceramics—immersive cultural experiences that will foster meaningful connections to India’s vibrant communities.

Delve into illuminating discussions on the influence of religion and politics on Indian art—powerful forces that have molded creative expression for generations. Connect with artists dedicated to preserving traditions, and others redefining identity in post-colonial India.

Our journey culminates in a 3-week artist residency in Dharamshala, the spiritual home of Tibetan Buddhism nestled in the dramatic landscape of the Himalayas. Here, you’ll immerse yourself in your chosen focus of Writing, Studio Art, Film, or Photography, guided by practicing artists. Hands-on classes and projects create the opportunity to push the boundaries of your artistic practice and explore what it means to be an artist in India.


Gap year student learning traditional Indian painting styles

Winter 2025: Feb 1 - March 25th, 2025

Cost: $17,500 USD

Inclusive of all room, board, airport transfers, tours and entrance fees.

Not included: round trip airfare into Kochi and out of Delhi. Some meals.

Concentrations Offered: Film, Photography, Studio Art (Painting and Drawing) and Writing.

Workshops Offered: Dance, Ceramics, Music, Textiles and Theatre

Language Requirement: None

Eligibility: Open to students between the ages 18 - 22.  Requires an online application and interview.


Map of India showing where gap year students will visit


Rishikesh, a city in northern India's Himalayan foothills
  • Mumbai, including the Gateway of India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Colaba Causeway.

  •  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum, Mumbai’s most famous art and history museum.

  • Ahmedabad, with a focus on the Gandhi Ashram and Ahmedabad Ni Gufa, a unique underground artistic space.

  •  Jaipur, known as the Pink City for its stunning pink sandstone palaces including the Hawa Mahal.

  •  The Taj Mahal in Agra, the white marble masterpiece of Islamic architecture and symbol of eternal love.

  •  DakshinaChitra Museum, a cross cultural living museum of art, architecture, lifestyle, crafts and performing arts.

  •  Dharamshala in the Himalayan foothills, home of the Dali Lama and our 3-week artist residency.

  • Pondicherry, with its fusion of Indian and European flavors in charming cafes and restaurants.

  • Chennai, renowned for its Kanchipuram silk sarees and traditional Tanjore paintings.

  • The experimental township of Auroville, an oasis of arts,  sustainability and spiritual exploration.

  • Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community where you can learn yoga and meditation.


The program unfolds in two parts: Foundation (4 weeks on the move) and Focus (3 weeks artist residency).

The Foundation weeks unite the entire group in creative exploration through guided tours, studio visits and hands-on workshops that ignite inspiration and orient you to the people, places, and movements that shape creative practices in India. We'll travel through South India including Mumbai, Kochi, Mysore, Bangalore, Chennai and Pondicherry.

Along the way you'll be immersed in our Keystone Course, The Art of Being Indian, where we explore facets of contemporary Indian life—both timeless traditions and latest trends in art, culture, language, customs, and cuisine. The course includes conversational Hindi language lessons to help you foster a more personal connection with Indian people.

During our journey, we'll ask big questions, examining the purpose of art and its capacity for shaping culture and cross-cultural understanding. We'll ponder the ways art can break barriers, address injustice, and promote healing, seeking to uncover the essence of art and the motivations that drive artists.

The Focus weeks allow for deep-diving a chosen artistic concentration—Studio Art, Film, Writing or Performance—developing skill through hands-on classes and personalized projects. Inspiring local excursions and cultural experiences, from Hindu temples and pilgrimage sites to hiking in the Himalayan foothills, provide additional insight into Indian culture and fuel creativity. Whether you want to direct a documentary film, create a photo essay, or paint a series of landscapes, our practicing artists will help you challenge and guide yourself from concept to completion.

You'll also complete our Keystone Project: Carnet du Voyage (Travel Journal) designed to capture your experience and explore your personal style. Through the fusion of drawing, painting, photography, writing, collage and keepsake, you'll reflect on your journey, gather inspiration, and produce a unique portfolio piece that is a tangible expression of both you and your creative evolution.

The final week brings it all together with a showcase of work and time to reflect on the insights and connections made during this transformative journey.


Photography student capturing images of India
  • Discover the Kochi Muziris Biennale, a contemporary art exhibition of more than 90 Indian artists.

  • Learn Kathakali Dance and discover the history behind the art form including the colorful makeup and costumes.

  • Hands-on pottery classes using various techniques including hand building and wheel throwing.

  • An experimental theatre workshop at Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Art Research.

  • Begin your morning with yoga and meditation.

  • Work with textiles in block printing and resist dye workshops.

  • Make a documentary film in vibrant Jaipur, connecting with the local people and customs of the famous Pink City.

  • Take your photography to the next level capturing the bustling, colorful markets of Kochi and Chennai.

  • Spend the day on a live Bollywood film set, learning hands-on about the production of large budget films.

  • Attend the Film and Television Institute of India learning about filmmaking from screenwriting to post-production.

  • Build skills in paint, pencil, charcoal and watercolor through workshops with professional artists.

  • Learn from professional artists, performers, filmmakers, artisans and craftspeople.

  • Develop your personal artistic practice and complete a portfolio of work in Film, Dance, Writing, Studio Art, Theatre or Photography on our 3-week artist residency.


Kathakali, an ancient Indian performance

This program is for any student interested exploring Indian culture through the creative lens and developing their personal artistic practice along the way. 

Consider this program if you would like to:

  • travel through South and North India exploring art, culture, history and food.

  • enjoy organized travel with people who value art, creativity, culture and community.

  • enjoy navigating interesting, vibrant and sometimes challenging cultural places.

  • connect with Indian people through their art, craft, cuisine, language and traditions.

  • ask big questions and explore how art can illuminate fresh perspectives and build meaningful connections.

  • live in a variety of Indian cities and have an experience of Indian life.

  • develop your skills in Painting, Drawing, Film, Photography, Writing, Theatre, Dance and Craft.

  • learn from professional artists, meet craftspeople and learn from them about the artists life in India.

  • build practical life skills in a supportive environment.


The exterior of Adishakti, a residence and theater school in southern India
The bedrooms of Adishakti, a residence and theater school in southern India

The India program is hosted at a range of hotels, guest houses and unique artists residencies offering comfortable, modern and secure accommodations. Rooms are shared doubles or triple with ensuite bathrooms and include conveniences such as hot showers, air conditioning, laundry service and Wi-Fi.

Take a look at some of our residences here:

Chiramel Residency

Adishakti Theatre School

Gordon House Hotel

Meals are fully catered in residence or arranged out in town at a variety of restaurants. Some meals will be arranged as a group and others will be your own choice in small groups with suggestions for all tastes. 

In some smaller cities, students will be allowed to leave the residence in small groups to explore on their own. In larger cities, students will be asked to stay with the trip leaders.

A full orientation is provided in each city to help you get your bearings, outline safety protocols and get you familiar with the surrounds and customs of the local area. 


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