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About Shillim Institute

The Shillim Institute is a private, not-for-profit organization located in the Western Ghats of India. Situated within 2000
acres of mountain ridges, plateaus, regrown forest areas and local farms, the Institute aims to conserve and nurture
local ecological systems while tending to civilizationary needs.

Dedicated to natural conservation, regenerative development, and nature-based healing practices, Shillim Institute
aims to provide a wide array of programs designed to promote research at the confluence of art, ecological thinking,
and nature based healing, nestled within the 300 acre property of Shillim Retreat.

Purchased over the course of 15 years, the land surrounding Shillim Retreat was acquired by brothers , William and
Denzil DeSouza, who spent a large amount of time traversing the forested area understanding Adivasi agricultural
traditions and local farming concerns. Witnessing techniques of ‘scorched earth farming’ pursued by locals, the
DeSouza brothers grew concerned for the forested valley being at risk, gradually acquiring over 2000 acres of land
with the intent to conserve and nurture its ecosystems while providing opportunities for local communities.

The Shillim Collective

Bringing together researchers from a wide range of disciplines, the Shillim Institute works closely with ONE LANDSCAPE to cultivate Shillim Collective. Committed to sustaining new forms of artistic practice and scholarship, Shillim Collective aims to host artists, architects, and designers, alongside policymakers, scholars, writers, and scientists from all around the world to create spaces for transdisciplinary research, enabling them to work collaboratively on ecological investigations affecting the region at large. Co-creating new pathways to address systemic issues, these collaborations are locally addressed while remaining globally specific, as the Institute aims to find shared concerns between communities, internationally.

What our artists have to say about Shillim Collective Workshop!

Karen De Souza

Karen De Souza is the Director of Shillim Institute since 2015. Completing her Masters in International Business and Economics at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Karen’s passion for the environment and improving the quality of life of local communities has led her to spearhead Shillim Collective, in collaboration with ONE LANDSCAPE.

Margie Ruddick

Margie Ruddick is a pioneer in the field of landscape architecture, with over two decades of experience. Winner of the 2013 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in landscape architecture, Margie has forged a design language at Shillim that assimilates local ecologies and cultures. Her practice in ecological mapping guides Shillim Collective in envisioning new, multilayered ways of understanding landscape analysis.

Martin Brody

Martin Brody is the Catherine Mills Davis Professor of Music (Emeritus) at Wellesley College. He has served as the Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome from 2007-10, and as a Fromm Resident in Musical Composition at the Academy in 2001. Martin brings extensive experience in working collaboratively with artists and scholars in varied disciplines to theShillim Collective’s projects.

Pia Singh

Pia Singh is an arts writer and independent curator based in Chicago, IL. Born in Mumbai, her experience in the field of self-organized collectives and research investigating community-engaged arts practices at the intersection of contemporary art and design thinking, guides Shillim Collective in understanding intersectional artistic practices.

Nicole Mody

Nicole Mody is an author, curator, and wildlife enthusiast. With a background in event curation and over 15 years of marketing and brand building experience, Nicole values the intersection of art, structure, and community. As the former curatorial director of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival and a contributor to an eco-wildlife lodge in Central India, she champions unique experiential events emphasizing conservation and community.

Aniket Kalaskar

Aniket is a program management professional with experience in Education and Higher Education sector. 

He has experience in developing and delivering social development projects in B2B and B2G sector across multiple geographies in India, executing successful social media campaigns and developing marketing strategies.

Manasi Wadekar

Manasi is a fresher and has completed her MSc in Botany from Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College in Plant Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, and Cytogenetics

Additionally, she has also completed a certificate course in Perfumery and Permanent Slide Making and a 2 months internship with IATRIS TDM Labs.

The Residency

Situated in the valley of the Western Ghats, the Shillim Collective Residency aspires to provide a serene, highly collaborative environment for up to 10 artists, architects, scholars and ecologically-minded practitioners, to live and work for up to 3 weeks in a UNESCO protected heritage site. Each cycle, artists and scholars working in sustainable landscape design, historic and ecological conservation, architectural design, and visual communication, are interviewed by the Board through a peer-based nomination process. Invited practitioners and their research is fully funded for the period of the residency, including travel, ticketing, visa support, fresh and local homestyle meals, and lodging. 4 residents, selected bi-annually, will be invited to immerse themselves in local traditions, craft communities, wildlife, and wilderness protection programs. Each resident has the opportunity to engage with programs within Shillim Institute , with the potential of being paired with selected mentors in a field of their choosing, for the duration of the residency. The Collective invites participants to enjoy uninterrupted time for their research, while interacting with guests of Shillim Retreat through workshops, public talks, and community prepared meals, giving rise to the communal atmosphere of Arts & Life.

(8th-18th January, 2024)

Tanya Marcuse

Tanya began making photographs as an early college student at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She went on to study Art History and Studio Art at Oberlin and earned her MFA from Yale. Her photographs are in many collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the George Eastman Museum. In 2002, she received a Guggenheim fellowship to pursue her project Undergarments and Armor.

(3rd-18th February, 2024)

Ann De Forrest

Ann de Forest is a writer whose work, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, centers on themes of place. She is a contributing writer for Hidden City Philadelphia, co-editor of Extant Magazine, and author of Healing on the Homefront, profiles and portraits of home health care patients and their caregivers. Most recently, she is editor of Ways of Walking, an anthology of essays published by New Door Books in 2022. Her short stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in Noctua Review, Cleaver Magazine, Found Poetry Review, The Journal, Hotel Amerika, Timber Creek Review, Open City, and PIF. She has taught poetry to the elderly at Mercy-LIFE West Philadelphia for more than a decade. A Swim Pony Cross Pollination artist-in-residence in 2016, Ann walked the entire perimeter of Philadelphia with three other artists, initiating an ongoing collaboration to open up new conversations about civic space.

(1st-7th February, 2024)

Rohan Chakravarty

Rohan Chakravarty is an Indian artist, cartoonist, illustrator and naturalist. His "Green Humour" series was picked up by GoComics in 2013 making Rohan the first Indian cartoonist to be picked by a global comics distributor. Green Humour has been published as a book and as a series in two national newspapers. Art from Green Humour has been used for several conservation campaigns and publications by organizations such as WWF, The Wildlife Trust of India, the Nature Conservation Foundation, BNHS, The Humane Society International, The Arunachal Pradesh State Forest Department, The Karnataka State Forest Department, Birdlife International, Save our Seas Foundation, and the International Crane Foundation. Rohan grew up in Nagpur where he studied to be a dentist. It was here that he was introduced to the world of wildlife through a nature based outreach program conducted by Sanctuary Asia. He has been a fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers, since November 2015.

(6th-24th February, 2024)

Kushala Vora

Kushala Vora is a dreamer, community organizer and an interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture and drawing. In and through her practice she focuses on loosening the exertion of power on oneself, another and the landscape that we reside with. She does this by exploring materiality, dissemination of information in educational spaces, and the cultivation of habit.

Thought Leadership Workshops

Engaging in an enriching exploration of the Shillim landscape, workshops emerge as vital forums, prompting thoughtful evaluation, strategic intervention, and subsequent impactful actions. These initiatives are meticulously crafted to cultivate a spectrum of benefits—ecological, social, and cultural—for a diverse array of stakeholders, with a dedicated focus on the thriving well-being of local communities and ecosystems.

Noteworthy Outcomes from Past Workshops

Defining Iconic Attributes : Animated conversations delved into the essential features of the Greater Shillim Landscape, contributing to a nuanced understanding of its distinctive characteristics.

Boundary Clarity : A clear delineation of boundaries was achieved, enhancing the visual lucidity of the Land Stewardship Program and ensuring its effective implementation.

Initiating In-Depth Studies : These workshops served as catalysts, igniting Anthropological, Socio-Economic, and Ecological studies. This foundational research now forms a robust basis for informed and strategic actions, underlining our commitment to the sustainable development of the Shillim landscape.


The Mapping Project unfolds as a comprehensive exploration, intertwining graphic depictions with compelling narratives of the routes. Within its canvas, individual works of art and research will unfold, revealing the distinctive attributes of the landscapes lining these paths and encapsulating the very essence of journeying through these terrains. This initiative is a tapestry that weaves together both the visual and the intellectual, inviting observers to immerse themselves in the richness of the surroundings.

The Mapping Project unfolds as a comprehensive exploration, intertwining graphic depictions with compelling narratives of the routes. Within its canvas, individual works of art and research will unfold, revealing the distinctive attributes of the landscapes lining these paths and encapsulating the very essence of journeying through these terrains. This initiative is a tapestry that weaves together both the visual and the intellectual, inviting observers to immerse themselves in the richness of the surroundings.

Beyond artistic expressions, the project extends its scope to include meticulous mappings of significant sites. These encompass meticulously restored historic landmarks, captivating exhibits, landscape features resonating with cultural importance for indigenous groups, ancient burial grounds, and other historical and archaeological gems. The project’s ultimate aim is to not only present a visual narrative but also to conduct a thoughtful evaluation. This assessment will delve into the feasibility and desirability of establishing an accessible path or network, inspired by the spirit of the Paumanok Path. Through this initiative, we aspire to craft a meaningful and accessible exploration of the paths less traveled, ensuring the preservation and celebration of their cultural and historical significance.

The Shillim Institute has planted more than 110,000 native trees and conserved over a million in the Shillim area since 1999.


Shillim Institute —
The Shillim Estate
Village Shillimb, Pawana Nagar
Taluka Maval, Pune
Maharashtra – 410 406, India

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