Cultural immersion

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SWATI SHARMA
Published Sep 21, 2019, 12:01 am IST
Updated Sep 21, 2019, 12:01 am IST
Inspired by their own travel experiences, friends Pradeep Reddy Vundyala and Saawan Kabalavai have set up a cultural hostel in the city.
The sitting area and the staircase with ‘welcome’ written in multiple languages at Shepherd Stories.
 The sitting area and the staircase with ‘welcome’ written in multiple languages at Shepherd Stories.

When friends Pradeep Reddy Vundyala and Saawan Kabalavai went backpacking to Himachal Pradesh, they ended up sharing rooms with complete strangers in hostels. This sparked off the idea of starting a similar set-up in Hyderabad, so in 2017, they quit their high-paying jobs in the corporate sector and launched Shepherd Stories, a cultural hostel located in Jubilee Hills.

“Our travels have put us in many challenging situations, but we realise that planning is the most important aspect. Staying at backpackers’ hostels is not only a great solution budget-wise, but it is also a platform to meet so many interesting people, something which we would never find in any other accommodation option,” says founder Pradeep.

 

Pradeep Reddy Vundyala and Saawan KabalavaiPradeep Reddy Vundyala and Saawan Kabalavai

Co-founder Saawan adds, “While luxury hotels will never go out of business, the increasing demand for hostels among the backpacker community has led to a number of individuals setting up these types of accommodations for those who want to see new places, and are open to interacting with fellow travellers. That’s the beauty of hostels.”

Given that art residency is a closely held project at Shepherd Stories, the dormitory is partly open to artists from around the world to come and stay free for a period of time while exploring new possibilities in art and finding inspiration.

“We promote regional arts and crafts and have used Pochampally, Cheriyal and Nirmal arts and crafts for doing up most of our interiors,” says Pradeep, adding, “For now, we are promoting Telangana Arts & Crafts as we are in Hyderabad, but in the future, we are planning to expand to six different states. We will promote their respective state arts too.” Interestingly, the cultural hostel has stairs, with the word ‘welcome’ written in different languages on each of the steps. This eco-friendly hostel is also striving for sustainability by reducing its carbon footprint. The hostel uses steel buckets and mugs in the bathrooms while mud pots, commonly known as matkas, are used to store drinking water. They also have an open cultural space for debates, theatre, literature, music and arts of the region.

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