Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI)
The idea of youth hostels formulated in Germany at the start of the 20th century. The first youth Hostel was set up in 1912 by Mr. Richard Schirrmann. The Youth Hostel Movement found its way to India before partition with the first hostel of its kind being set up in Shimla in 1945. In 1949, several people interested in the whole concept of youth hostels established a committee for the promotion of this movement in Mysore. This led to the formation of the Youth Hostels Association of India or YHAI in 1952, and was established on a National Scale in 1956. It’s mission is as follows;
” Our Mission is to enable and promote travel, tourism, adventure spirit, national integration and Education & health by providing hostels of good standards to millions of youth of limited means during their travel at affordable rates on a sustainable basis and by organizing adventure and educational events and to develop understanding among youth about social & developmental issues.“
In recent times, the Indian backpacker hostel scene has seen quite some frantic activity. Vedanta Wake Up! in Kerala and Zostel in multiple locations have brought hostelling into the consideration set of us Indian travellers. The oldest horse in the stable, though, is the Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI) – a network of budget hostels and alternative accommodations for travellers on a light pocket and backpackers. YHAI is an associate member of the Hostelling International, which is situated in England and is kind of like YHAI’s parent body. It’s an organization which aims at providing comfortable and hygienic accommodations and stay facilities to interested travellers and backpackers, irrespective of backgrounds, class, religion, age groups and sex. It offers a really good opportunity for fellow travellers to bond with each other and share knowledge and information related to travelling.
While Youth Hostels Association of India has saved me a lot of money (and time that I might have wasted in pre planning), they also have loads to offer for the adventurer kinds, the Frodo Baggins kinds! Treks, cycling competitions, summer camps, guided tours and a lot more options are offered through the calendar year.
“Oh Bugger, where are these hostels in India?”
Almost everywhere. Every major tourist and cultural destination in India can boast of having one YHAI hostel. For example:-
- Agra: Definitely!
- Delhi: No doubt!
- Shimla: Yessir!
- Varanasi: Yup!
- Leh: Yawp!
- Madurai: YAWP!
- Darjeeling: Guess what? YES.
Need I say more? The YHAI website has a brilliant listing of all the Youth Hostels across the nation and also very smartly provides the tariff and the contact persons for each one of them. Check them out here!
“You Said Something ’bout Treks?”
Youth Hostels Association of India organizes treks and camps throughout the year. They include family camps as well. And while the Kung-Fu Panda’s of the world might not be excited at the sound of a “trek”, YHAI rates for these treks could give your local gyms a run for their money.They organize a wide range of national and state level programmes all over India and can be booked from their website itself. Their programmes fall into 4 categories:-
1. Adventure and trekking
2. Nature Study
3. Family Camps
4. Environmental Awareness
Their slogan being “Back to Nature”, their main aim is to inculcate a feeling of awareness, knowledge and understanding towards the importance of nature in our lives and how we can work towards trying to protect it.
One of the most famous trekking programmes is the Sar Pass Trek, which is an annual event for the YHAI and happens in May. Another extremely useful listing on their website mentions their 2015 calendar for treks and events here! They also hold a trek known as the Saurkundi Pass Trek, which is also popular amongst people interested in trekking and adventure activities.
You could join a bunch of other trekking enthusiasts and YHAI patrons on one of these treks. A brilliant deal – burn substantial calories, a few scratches to show off back at home, make a few new friends, a million mesmerizing memories and a longing to come back! Most of the YHAI programmes are very popular amongst the youth. They aid in promoting leadership skills among the youth also help in but in building and developing in them a sense of togetherness, national integration and concern about social. environmental and developmental issues.
“Do I Have to be a YHAI Member?
“ Yes. Well, I mean, it’s better if you are. It’s a paltry INR 250 for a year-long membership, INR 350 for a 2-years membership and INR 2700 for lifelong membership. This enables you to discounts at some accommodations in India and at much more across the world. You can apply for membership online. All you need to provide are a few details and upload a passport photo. And you’re ready-set-go to explore the country on a budget! There are several advantages of having a YHAI membership. Such as:-
1. Avail discounts and concessions at about 90 YHAI hostels all over India.
2. The membership card is also valid Internationally.
3. Participate in any Youth Hostels Association of India activity through your local State or Regional branch and get a chance of being a Camp leader in their Adventure programs.
Of course, there are a few concerns that YHAI accommodations are institutionalized and old fashioned. Some may call them boring and drab. But to answer to this query, there have been successful attempts at trying to renovate and reform the YHAI hostels all over India. Most of the hostels provide meals and self service facilities to the YHAI members. Drying room and cycle storage place is available at all of the places. They have an environmental friendly outlook towards everything and this is reflected in several facilities provided by them.
So, Happy Travelling Folks!