Forget pricey hotels, say hello to backpacker hostels

Almost everyone has seen the Kangana Ranaut starrer movie, “Queen” (if you haven’t, let us know the address of the rock you’re living under!) In the movie, a heart-broken Kangana traverses Europe and finds love in adventure, stories, wanderlust and most importantly – herself! While she is in Amsterdam, Kangana finds happiness in the unlikeliest of places – the hostel she’s living in. Yes, you read right – hostel!

And no, not the one you went to at boarding school, but one strung with fairy-lights and made of walls plastered with memories and people with a million stories to tell. Weird? 

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Not so much! When you hear the word hostel, the first thing which comes to our mind is discipline, smelly loose, terrible mess food and maybe the Amitabh Bachchan ruled Gurukul from Mohabattein (SRK fans, amirite?). But we couldn’t be more off. Across the world, hostels are synonymous to unique hip n hop budget accommodation for backpackers and wanderlust-full souls much like yourself.

The word ‘Hostel’ in English comes from a Greek word, which means a ‘place of peace’ or rest, basically translating to the perfect place of solitude for the soul that’s tired from the hustles and bustles of everyday city life. The world’s first hostel was established in the year 1912 in Germany. Since then, travellers across the world have sought short term and long term affordable accommodation in such hostels to find everything from friends, peace, solitude and maybe even themselves.

So, what differentiates a hostel from a hotel? Quite a few things, actually. And one should really change the way they look at travel plans now? It is much more than seeing a monument or having the local food. It is about staying in the “coolest hostel of the place”, too.

  1. Hostels are budget oriented and are priced at amazingly low rates. So, their primary purpose is to provide accommodation and to create a space where you can meet and connect with so many different kinds of people from all walks of life.
  2. Hostels are informal and friendly. There are very little or almost no formalities and courtesies by the people who run the hostels, making for a great environment for the wandering soul. 
  3. Hostels provide shared accommodations in dormitories. While you may have little private space, you get to share so much with the people around you! Who knows the kind of stories you might chance upon – not something you’ll get holed up in your hotel room, is it? After all, everyone and everything is just an adventure waiting to happen. Embrace the detours!
  4. Hostels provide for common areas with fun things to do which give every kind of soul the space to find their kind of people. Even the shy-hearts get plenty of time to break out of their shells. From picnics, treks to amazing bonfire sessions, we kid you not – this is where you want to be.
  5. Super chill experiences: If you’re the introverted type like so many of us and get jittery at the thought of so much social interaction, fear not. Hostels usually are equipped with so many solo adventures that you can embark upon yourself. Some hostels even have private spaces, so you get the best of all worlds. 
  6. Hostels are self-catering which means you can eat whatever you want, and not pay through your nose for hotel-like prices. You get to try out the local cuisines and taste the culture first-hand. Could there be a better way of exploring a place? (Friends fans, yes, we hope you read that in Chandler Bing’s voice!)
  7. Every kind of person lives at hostels: from the young, excited students, to the spiritual nomads, to the weary, old souls looking for some time off. Literally, everybody can find their place in a hostel.
  8. Safety: There will always be people around, so the probability of being unsafe is minimal. There’s always someone to have your back. All you solo women traveller, do not miss this.
  9. Secrets: There are so many secrets waiting to be spilt through the walls of hostels, secrets that you may never know from under the ceilings of your hotel rooms. And who isn’t up for some great secrets?

Now, you know, what we are talking. We at The Hosteller are looking forward to seeing you on your next big Indian adventure. Be assured to get the best of our services and the time of your lives when you visit us. Chao.

Book: Stay | Food | Transfers | Local Activities | Trekking | Camping | Adventure | Jungle Walks | Us

Visit us in our super cool hostels in Delhi & Kasol and sleep under a million stars.

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India : Where chaos seems beautiful

Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi

India Gate, New Delhi

Welcome to the Jungle.

Fifth attempt to try & write something hoping it would work this time. I will not talk about AIESEC or my application process, neither will I talk about what I learned nor I will leave a moral of a fable. I will just tell you what I saw, felt, heard, touched and smelled during the time I was in India, perhaps it will be easier for you to understand what I experienced to give you a flavour of what India is all about.
I’ll be totally honest here and the first thing you will see in India won’t be neither elephants nor cows, nor people dancing like in Bollywood movies, for real. The first thing you see will be thousands of people in a very small place, you will feel unbearably hot and hear car honks everywhere and smell a particular scent originally from India. I spent my first two weeks in New Delhi and everything you know as “traffic rules”, “be kind to others” and “privacy” is going to hell when you get to Delhi. And the thing I am sure about Delhi is that this is the real human jungle. And I absolutely love this amazing city. It has got in my nerves. There is something in particular that I like about Delhi and most of the people who have been to Delhi will think I’m crazy, but here it goes. I love the sound of the honks (I feel connected to them), a particular sound that will make you feel like your eardrum will explode anytime. Everything in Delhi is Intense. After I wasn’t able to breath in the Delhi Metro, I had profound understanding of what “personal space” is. It is crazy. I come from a place where the only public transportation is the bus and when I came to India the metro network was a shock for me, with more than 3 lines with different stops and hundreds of people. If you really want to experience Delhi, you got to move around the city by metro.
In India everything is chaotic, specially food, with every meal being a bomb of flavours. Paneer Masala, Butter Naan, Aloo Tikki, Mix Veg, Dosa and Mango Lassi are my favourites. I love the way Indians use spices, adding them to any cuisine there is. If you are a person who loves to see new things and experience innumerable cultures at once, India is the perfect place to be. Stalk people live, eat without giving a second thought to what the person next to you will think, follow anyone on the road who seems interesting, I’m not kidding, you can stare at a person for more than 5 minutes and everything will be all right.
Let’s change the topic and talk about what I really want to tell you about India. When you get to a place where there are children who do not know what his/her name is or where they come from and you look at a women without clothes outside a shopping mall, that is when reality hits you hard and you start to be grateful for things that you didn’t think were important. What struck me the most (besides the Taj Mahal) is the devotion of people to their religion. During the time I was in Varanasi (the holy city in India) I asked the tour guide: “How can you believe in something you can’t see?” and he said: “It is not about seeing, it is a matter of choosing to believe in something, that way you’ll have something to hold on to.” And that’s where I started to realise what I was doing wrong with myself. It is incredible how a simple sentence can change your perspective of life.
There is no favourite place but favourite moments. It is difficult to choose a moment, but if I have to choose one right now, it would be my first visit to Taj Mahal. It’s undeniably overwhelming. It is not most people imagine it to be: clean, peaceful and calm. It’s a total madness when you try to get in but when you see the Taj Mahal, everything that is around you doesn’t bother you anymore, it is impossible to believe that for the love of a woman such a thing was built. Apart from the Taj Mahal, you’ll see cultural diversity, different religions, beautiful customs and little girls with eye liner. It’s eye catching.
Delhi, Dharamshala, Varanasi, Rishikesh, Jaipur and Jodhpur, every city has something specific that makes them different. I can not describe at this time what it is but each of them is going to teach you something, it shows you something, it makes you feel something. The question is not “Why India?” the real question is “What is India?” and my answer for that question is: “India is the perfect, beautiful, colourful big ball of chaos.”

The ecstasy of life : My first solo trip

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TRRRIIINGGG! A sudden sensation of warmth emanated from my chest and found its way to pull up my cheeks. Running through the corridors, finding my way through the slow moving crowd, bashing into someone at every turn taken with constant unworried apologies, crossing the 100 meter long football field, I finally found my way into my house. Everything was kept just the way I had left it; the backpack, cap, snacks and my wallet. In 10 mins, I switched from my school uniform to some casual, seemingly “hip” clothes. Packing everything into the backpack, I set out and walked down the stairs to give the key to my mom. My mind was rushing with constantly inpouring thoughts of the train station, me sitting in the train enjoying the view, the “Will I get a window-side seat?” but most of all, “Did I forget something?”! Meeting mom at the front gate, I got into the rikshaw and as we rode outside of the campus, a sensation of freedom and boundlessness radiated all around. After reaching the train station, I got the tickets and stood on the platform waiting for the arrival of the train. Somewhere underneath all this ecstasy was a feeling of non-belief which said, “Is this really happening?”. As the train arrived at the platform, I rushed into the boogie to stop at the first empty window-side seat I can find. And gosh, I did! Sitting there inside, I received my first ever travel cautioning talk, “Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Call once you reach. Take care. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. And don’t forget to call!” Voicing a continuous “hum” to my mom, I settled in. In a few minutes, the train started moving and I looked outside with a wide glee on my face as we passed the “Nilambur Junction” signboard. For the next 3 hours I just sat there staring outside the whole while; different stations while the train stopped – some busy some not, the loud monotonous calls for chai and coffee, the peanut man, people getting in and out. The ecstasy was still present in the same magnitude. As the train slowed down along the platform at “Palakkad Junction”, I stood next to the door inhaling a long deep breath. Aah, home!

Such was the experience of my first ‘solo trip’; a 3 hour train ride when I was 13. There was something special about solo traveling that I had never experienced before. A sensation of boundlessness or perhaps an ecstasy that enables one to feel every breath with infinite joy for living. This made an impression on me and I wish the same for you. Take a break, get that backpack, break the routine and lose yourself to find your true self!

 
“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive” – Jack London

– Sid Ramesh

Monsoons in Parvati Valley

As the summers bid goodbye, the arrival of monsoons is eminent with silver dark clouds lining up over the blue sky in the horizon. The snow clad peaks of the Himalayas that stands tall on the gushing Parvati River like sentinel are now veiled most of the times by the clouds. The green has turned to emerald in the forest all around as the frequent drizzles are pouring more life into the vegetation as if adding soul to the ever beautiful body.

Kasol

The much better part is the decrease in rush for the public coming into the valley. As the months of May and June have now passed, the huge inflow of tourists now have changed into genuine backpackers who seek to explore the beauty of the Parvati Valley.

So if you are and hopeless romantic, love the rains, love the mountains, love the smell of wet soil, love the dampness of a emerald green forest, blooming of apples and many other exotic fruits and want to live such memories that eludes time then visit the Parvati Valley this monsoon because i know how the heat still irritates the cities, but here in the land of Shiva and Parvati, everything is reborn with the onset of drizzling drops from the heaven.All the stress, demanding tensions, futile worries and any negative thoughts or emotions would be washed away once you drench in the heavenly monsoon of the valley.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your backs and book your tickets because the lustful combination of Monsoons and Himalayas are waiting, and I await your presence to come experience this feeling with me.

Visit Kasol and look for The Hosteller to stay. For online booking go to http://www.thehosteller.com/

– Deep

 

10 Things to explore in Delhi

Delhi is a fast moving city with an overwhelming dose of culture, traditions, religions, languages and everything one could possibly think of.Also called Mini India, The National Capital is divided into 2 sections known as Purani (Old) Delhi and Nai (New) Delhi. The city was designed by British architect Sir Edward Lutyens.

Exploring Delhi is not everyone’s cup of tea because things always don’t turn out how you want them to be and there will always arise some frustrations from touring around.

But don’t let the backdrops pull you down, Keep a positive attitude!

Where to Stay?

For people who have seen the movie ‘Queen”, the idea of staying in a hostel, sharing experiences, life stories and adding new people to the journey called life will seem more welcoming and exciting . A regular vacation can turn into a life changing experience and all one needs is the right kind of place to stay in.

The Hosteller, Saket is one of the best backpackers hostels in India, travelers visiting North India seem to swear by it and rightly so. The hostel also provides WI-FI, books, games, etc. The hostel is located nearby the Saket Metro station which offers good connectivity of the guests to all the parts of the city.This hostel helps bring tourists closer as they have many fun activities such as movie and karaoke nights,etc

How to Move around in Delhi?

Local DTC Bus System provides both AC and Non-AC transportation within the Delhi and NCR region at minimal fares.

Delhi Metro has its branches spread all over the city providing fast Air Conditioned transport at meagre costs

Local Cabs and Autos – One can easily find a Green\Yellow tuk tuk anywhere in Delhi or people can even book a cab for themselves using the Ola or Uber Mobile App

10 things to explore in Delhi

  1. India Gate – Designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, India Gate sits at the centre of New Delhi at the arc end of the Raj Path. Built in 1931, the arc type gate has more than a lakh names engraved on it of the British Indian Army soldiers killed during the World War ISwaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi
  2. Old Delhi – The walled city was founded as Shahjahanabad by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Old Delhi is known for its vibrant and diverse cuisines and the hustle bustle of the market place.The Old Delhi market is a spreader from Red Fort to the Jama Masjid where one can buy traditional items to Modern Gadgets. Dont miss the Paranthe Walli GalliSwaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi
  3. Humayun Tomb – Having the graves of humayun and many other acclaimed Mughal warriors, the tomb was built in the mid 1500’s to house the Mughal Emperor Humayun.You can walk around the surrounding gardens and then proceed to climb a flight of stairs to the main deck. Then you can walk around the inside of the building and see the many marble tombstones.Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi 
  4. Nizamuddin DargahCaste no bar. The place makes your heart worthy, love for Almighty Allah, love for brothers n sisterhood makes your soul peace.You jostle with people and more people in the narrow alleyways – the crowds are everywhere, and when you reach the open square of the Dargah- there is a sudden calm- the qawwalis on Thursday evenings are a treat. Listen to centuries old songs sung in praise of this famous Sufi Saint Nizamuddin . The environs belong to the times he lived there be transported to him. Sufism promotes a culture of kindness to all mankind.Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi 
  5. Sacred Heart Cathedral – The Cathedral Of The Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic cathedral belonging to the LAtin Rite and one of the oldest church buildings in New Delhi. The cathedral organises functions on certain days of the year. Prayers are held in the morning and evening every day. The major ceremonies held at the Cathedral are Easter and Christmas. The most important of the festivities during Christmas is the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Christmas Vigil Service an hour before midnight Christmas EveSwaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi 
  6. Bangla Sahib Gurudwara – It is one of the most prominent Sikh gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship in Delhi and known for its association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, as well as the pool inside its complex, known as the “Sarovar.”The place offers you eternal calm. One can sit in the main hall or next to the pond and can feel immense delight and relief.Seeing people doing selfless services and the free meals are something to relish.Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi 
  7. Qutub Minar – Qutub Minar, at 120 meters, is the tallest brick minaret in the world. Qutub Minar, along with the ancient and medieval monuments surrounding it, form the Qutub Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The tower is located in the Mehrauli area of Delhi. An amazing historical and archaeological site, it remains a mystery and the main structure (Qutab Minar) remains standing firm and beautiful as if it’s not aging.Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi 
  8. Lotus Temple – Among the numerous recognizable landmarks which are scattered all around Delhi is the remarkable Lotus Temple. Designed in the shape of a sacred lotus flower, there are 27 flower petals which are constructed of marble and make up the structure.Though it’s dedicated to the Bahá’í faith, it’s a religious worshipping grounds for people of all religions (as such is the philosophy of the Bahá’í faith).Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi 
  9. Akshardham – Akshardham’ means the divine abode of God. It is hailed as an eternal place of devotion, purity and peace. Swaminarayan Akshardham at New Delhi is a Mandir – an abode of God, a Hindu house of worship, and a spiritual and cultural campus dedicated to devotion, learning and harmony. Timeless Hindu spiritual  messages, vibrant devotional traditions and ancient architecture all are echoed in its art and architecture.The mandir is a humble tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781- 1830), the avatars, devas and great sages of Hinduism.Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi 
  10. Hauz Khas Village – Hauz Khas village in Hauz Khas, South Delhi houses a water tank, an Islamic seminary, a mosque, a tomb and pavilions built around an urbanized village with medieval history traced to the 13th century of Delhi Sultanate reign.Lakes and buildings take you back to the old period of Indian civilisation.Now it is famous for cafes,restaurants,eateries,shops,art and entertainment hub of New Delhi.It is an excellent place for someone looking to hangout with friends and for those who enjoy the nightlife.Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi 

    Come visit Delhi and look for The Hosteller to stay. For online booking go to http://www.thehosteller.com/

– Rusin

5 Things to do in Kasol

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Nestled in the Laps of the Himalayas, The beautiful town of Kasol is the most happening and important part of the Parvati Valley. Cradled amongst the tall pine and cedar trees, surrounded by the forest and lofty snow clad peaks, Kasol holds its own charm and magic to enchant every soul which shall step out here. From beyond the high horizons of the mountains to the banks of the ever flowing Parvati river, calmness and surreality surround the valley. Plus if you have a hippie heart and want to experience some good party, Kasol will never disappoint you.

Where to Stay?

The Hosteller, Kasol is a backpacking hostel located in Old Kasol near the German Bakery. The hostel emits divinity due to the melodious music made by the waters of Parvati River flowing nearby and the chirping of birds and insects in the forests. The hostel gives a good view of trees with Apple, Peach, Pear and Plum fruits blooming at a hand’s distance.

One can book a deluxe room or a dorm bed at the hostel. Adventurous people can go for tents to sleep in the lap of the Himalayas under the protection of the stars.

How to go around in Kasol?

Kasol is well connected by road to all the major cities of North India. In Kasol people can opt for local government owned cheap buses or Cab services to move around in Kasol. But walking,hiking and trekking is more recommended in Kasol to experience the majestic beauty of the Valley.

5 Things to Do in Kasol

  1. Chill and Relax sitting by the Parvati River – Time is an illusion in Kasol, Hence, it is mandatory that you sit by the gushing waters of the river Parvati and let the time fly and introspect into life or just enjoy laziness.
  2. Be a Foodie and do Cafe Hopping – From the famous Evergreen cafe to the Jim Morrison Cafe, Kasol has its own taste and rich cafe culture. You must not leave this place without trying the cafes out. From delicate Israelis cuisines to the subtle momos or thupkas, Kasol will satisfy every taste bud of yours
  3.  Attend the Trance Party – Kasol is a party hotspot and a hippie paradise. World renowned DJ’s perform at the psychedelic parties and it is a one of a kind experience.The experience will be incomplete if you don’t jump to the beat drops of the EDM Tracks.
  4. Hiking, Trekking, Camping – Kasol is the base camp of so many breathtaking Himalayan trekking trails. From beginners trek of Kheerganga to the the all time grand Pin Parvati Trek or Sar Pass Trek, Kasol serves as the throat to all the high altitude adventures.Don’t leave without camping in the woods and having a bonfire party with the forest. Kasol has its soul in it.
  5. Boom, Shankar – The myth, magic and mystery of Kasol is in its herbs and leaves which grow around. From hippies to backpackers, every soul takes a drag of the famous and world renowned “ Stuff or Maal” of Kasol. Don’t go without experiencing the world’s best gift from Kasol to the world.

 

Visit Kasol and look for The Hosteller to stay. For online booking go to http://www.thehosteller.com/

 

– Deep and Rusin

3 ways to Hack Ease in India

 

Useful Mobile Applications

Rent Set Go

If you are searching bicycle, camera, lens, motorbikes, musical instruments, tents and camping products do check out this platform to solve your problem.

 

Ola Cabs

Ola Cabs is a mobile application that helps people to avail local taxi services in almost all major cities in India.

 

Captiva Tour

Captiva Tour goes beyond the dry facts and tells you authentic, engaging stories of places and monuments.

 

Temporary Bank Account in India

 

Foreign tourists during their short visit to India can open a Non-Resident (Ordinary) Rupee (NRO) account (Current / Savings) with any Authorised Dealer bank dealing in foreign exchange. Such account can be opened up to a maximum period of 6 months.

 

Passports and other valid identification proofs are required for opening the accounts. Authorised Dealer banks are also required to follow the Know Your Customer norms while opening of the accounts.

 

Tourists can freely make local payments through the NRO account. All payments to residents exceeding INR 50,000 can be made only by means of cheques / pay orders / demand drafts.

 

This could help travellers eliminate travel agents and commission they pay, thus allowing them to use online platforms such as bookmyshow.com , redbus.com, irctc.co.in etc to book tickets.

 

Tourist Quota in Indian Railways

 

International Tourist Bureaus issue reserved tickets to the Foreign Tourists and NRIs holding valid passport against payment in US dollars, Pounds, Sterling,Euros and indian Rupees. These Bureaus also sell Indrail passes which are issued to foreign tourists / NRIs on production of valid passport and valid visa.Indrail pass entitles the pass holder to travel as he likes over the entire Indian Railways with out any route restriction within the period of validity of IRP. Indrail pass however, does not guaranty reserved accommodation.

The fares of Indrail Passes are in US dollars. The important rules are printed on the Indrail passes.

The foreign tourists can also purchase Indrail passes from the General Sales Agents appointed abroad and Rail Travel Agents appointed in India.

A separate foreign tourist quota has been provided in all classes and almost all the trains for the facility of the tourists.

A tourist can obtain reservations against Indrail passes from any reservation office over Indian Railways.

For getting any clarifications regarding use of Indrail passes and facilities to the foreign tourists, the passengers should contact at :

International Tourist Bureau, First Floor, Station Building,

New Delhi Railway Station, New Delhi- 110055

Phone : 91-11-42625156, Fax: 91-11-23343050

 

Nepali High to Delhi’s Chai

Traveling is mind blowing. It’s awe-inspiring, it’s breathtaking and surprising. It’s often stunning. It is so many good things I cannot even count but sometimes it really stinks. My example was when I came from Nepal to India. India can truly be a thorn in one’s side.  It took me 5 tries and over 8 hours just to fill in the “easy” E-visa online. That meant that I would not be able to make the land crossing as intended.  I’d have to fly in because only a certain airports would accept a walk in visa.

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The day before I was to fly a friend asked me to send a post card from Kathmandu. I got back from that errand with the intention to look up my housing address and how to get there and be on my way. I threw some lunch together only to hear that my taxi had come early. I hadn’t looked up the info and the internet was down. “There’s Wi-Fi at the Kathmandu airport, right?”  “Yeah, but I only hope for the planes to take off at the right time there. Everything else is extra.” I packed up and went. He was right.  I sat calmly next to strangers reading my book on my phone.  Surely the Wi-Fi at the much bigger Delhi airport would suffice.

I tore through my book, landed and collected myself, my bags, and some money from the ATM and headed toward the exit. I asked a few people where to find Wi-Fi.  They said there was none. I walked over to a desk where they were selling phone cards and struck up a conversation with a very interesting looking woman.  You could tell she belonged here. She was collecting a pension so she was free as a bird and she offered to help look up my address after hearing my troubles.

The only thing I knew about this place was it was a Tibetan settlement and that a friend had stayed there not long ago. I gave the name and she popped it up on her phone.  I took a pic of the name and address and finished my conversation with this woman who I secretly wished to offer to hang with her. But soon we were both on our way. I found the secure taxi station just outside the doors and made my reservation. Within 3 minutes I was in a taxi with a much cheaper fare than expected.  Things were starting to turn around now.

When taxi driver pulled over I saw no hotel in sight. Immediately I was suspicious. He pointed around the corner but I was thinking, “Noooooo way mister!”  To my surprise a man with a red vest sporting “The Golden Dragon” came out. I grabbed my bags, hopped out and followed the man. We went around the corner and up a ramp. This is when I knew there was trouble.  The Golden Dragon was a restaurant. I looked at the picture I saved of the place my friend had sent me. “Dragon House Hostel”. This man thought I needed food, not housing. I so cursed a little bit, apologized and asked if they had Wi-Fi before I sat down to enjoy my dinner.  The food was amazing.  The Wi-Fi was fast. The service was excellent. Everything happens for a reason, right?

I looked up a place to stay that said it was 1km away and booked and saw my phone would die soon. This place was so close I could walk there before my phone died.  Easy enough and the reviews were great too. Things were looking up. I polished off my drink and pulled up Google maps. Apparently it was 5km away instead and it was getting dark. I checked Google maps again and had an idea.

When I walked outside I did what I call, “Looking for someone who looks like they won’t kill me.”  Essentially, you’re looking for someone who won’t kill you.  Oh, and someone who might give you directions to where you’re looking to go without trying to trick you or ask for money or send you to their friend’s store or a friend who would steal you. I one and he gave me perfect directions.  I was just two stops away for 10 rupee. I was hesitant to think things were looking up just yet.

I hopped on the metro. I came in, bought my token for the said 10 rupee and went my two stops. I came out to a hustle and bustle that was only a bit more than what I’d experienced in New York. My heart smiled while I concentrated on looking like I knew where I was going and this wasn’t my first time.  I walked a little bit and then found another guy who wouldn’t kill me. This man gave simple directions and I was on my way. My philosophy on asking directions when walking is ask a person, then ask a second person to be sure. If that person gives you directions you have to find a third person to figure out which one was right. I found a second person.

I looked up and the guy I asked the first time was coming after me. But I didn’t see anything but kindness in his eyes. “You missed the turn.” He walked me back and showed me the sign I missed. I went down a dark alley. After about 5 more minutes I found where I belonged. I signed in and went upstairs to an empty desk. There was no one there. I wondered why and why it was so dark. Two people came in and we hit it off immediately.

They told me that things were a little crazy right now.  There was a big storm that had knocked the power out. No wonder it was so dark down that alley and into the building!!  Finally, a really kind and funny character came in. His name was Ayush and he worked at the front desk.  He had been upstairs making sure everyone was safe.  He was superb in his public service and excellent at making me feel at home.  He had me laughing within minutes. I was overjoyed to have found a place as welcoming as this. I was shown to my room, in this hilarious darkness, and was informed that it was game night. WHAT?!?!??!  I love games! I went upstairs to join the crowd of about a dozen people where the most comic bout of Pictionary by flashlight happened. It was truly riotous. And before long we welcomed the lights turning back on with boisterous applause. That’s when we switched to charades.

That night I stayed up until 1:30 am playing charades and laughing until my sides hurt with 12 (and up to 16) of my new friends. We talked about our lives, where we were from and what it was like to live there. We shared food and beer and hugs.  We laughed until our energy ran out.  At 1:40 I climbed into bed utterly exhausted and happy to my core. It’s not always you find places filled with people like this. I considered this a stroke of luck that I would collect on for my entire stay in Delhi.  And it just goes to show you, everything happens for a reason.  Even a girl running around in the dark can find a great home.

– Kelley Roark

Delhi and Me

After three months travelling India, at the beginning of April I found myself heading to Thailand to continue my travel adventure in South East Asia.  It didn’t feel right to me from day one as I knew three months in India just wasn’t enough, and not a day in Thailand went by without me making constant comparisons to India. The same magic just wasn’t there. So within days I decided I just had to come back.  I researched volunteering opportunities at NGOs and eventually found the perfect one, with one big downside: it was based in Delhi – my least favorite place due to a few previous bad experiences.

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I am a solo female traveler from the UK, and on my first visit to Delhi which was only for one day I was scammed and harassed, and on my second visit I ended up staying in a dirty and unfriendly hotel in an even more dirty and unfriendly area – Paharganj.  And of course I got food poisoning. I had been told that Paharganj was the best place to stay to meet other travelers and absorb Delhi.  Maybe this is true if you are braver than me, in a group, or drunk.  I just found it to be a very intense experience, where I was stared at and hassled constantly in the burning heat looking for somewhere to stay fully loaded with my backpack.  The one hostel I could find there also seemed pretty dirty and inhospitable, and was inexplicably full, so I ended up in the aforementioned hotel where one filthy room for one night was 1000 rupees, and nothing was included except wi-fi that didn’t work, and rude staff who constantly looked at me disapprovingly.  Needless to say I wanted to get out as soon as possible.

As I write that, I can’t believe not only that I’m back in Delhi, but that I’ve grown to love the place, and it’s largely thanks to finding the perfect accommodation.  I checked into The Hosteller on the 26th April and quickly made up my mind it would be home for the next month.  It’s in a perfect location next to the metro station so it’s quick and easy to get into town, with extremely relaxing and comforting communal areas, and the value for money, cleanliness and location attract the best kinds of travellers too.  All of this, along with awesome staff who really go beyond the call of duty to help, combines to provide my favourite thing about the place, it’s atmosphere: I can never not feel relaxed or happy around this place. And I’ve (hopefully) made some friends for life.

And as for Delhi, when you have such a perfect home to escape the city from it gives you more confidence and bravery to explore. It’s a city that is so extremely different to anywhere in the UK that it can be intimidating at times, but with The Hosteller in my heart, I’ve been able to explore Delhi and soak up the unique beauty and spirit of this fantastic place, knowing I have a second home and a second family to go back to should things get too much. There are so many varieties of interesting sights to see and things to do, but it’s so much more than just a sight seeing checklist.  Every street chai you drink and every local person you chat too strips off another layer of the real Delhi, which is a destination maybe no visitor can ever really know, but the journey is so worth the effort.

 

– Gill Walter

Invitation to Kasol

To all backpackers out there,

For every soul of our backpacking species , the term KASOL is equally exciting as a whole adventure itself. So by great fortune I came down upon the chance, to be offered the role of a manager, of this upcoming hostel in Kasol, by this super hospitality start-up called The Hosteller. Considering the fact that It was 3 years since my last job , this had to be something special that I agreed to join. And special it was, and is. 

Kasol Blog Photo

The Parvati valley and its hamlet of Kasol has for ages , held and captivated the minds of the travellers and wanderers from around the globe. From singers looking for inspiration , artists seeking motivation, to simple sages and people just wandering , everybody is a part of the crowd in Kasol. The young , the old and some who never age, are all here, with their diverse background and various interesting stories. The cosy cafes , the delicious German bakeries , the hanging bridges , the towering cedar trees , the blooming Himalayan flowers , the blue sky , the white clouds , the apple orchards , the wooden houses and the green grasses, all add to the myth and legend of Kasol which I am glad to explore and invite you all to do so along with me.  

As happens with inevitable flow of time, Kasol has commercialized too, it has grown in its reputation and attraction , that today it is not only visited by travellers , but typical tourists also. Sadly , that declines a little portion of the magic it once held as a backpacker’s paradise.  This is why we decided to open up our hostel here for the core wanderers , travellers and backpackers. We are also proud to claim us as the first backpackers hostel in the Parvati valley, and with it we hope to fertile Kasol again back to its true magic.

Fortunately enough our hostel is perched on a higher grounds , a little far from the hustle and bustle of the main commercial centre of Kasol , yet it is just a 5 minutes’ walk from there.  Glad shall I be , if you choose our hostel as your home to discover the valley , as we expect true core backpackers and travellers.

Our hostel is made of finest cedar wood and is a Himalayan architecture to gaze upon itself. Add to that , some creative vibrant artwork on the wall, by other backpackers and wandering souls making it lively and amazing.  And being perched on a higher level gives a view of the far extended valley , with horizons covered in cedar tree with its emrald leaves.  The busy town of old kasol , cradled in the valley by the rushing parvati river adjacent to it, is a beautiful view from our balcony of the private rooms we provide. Perfect for people who enjoys solitude , yet , enjoys mixing and knowing with other people too.

The front yard with open space has a cafeteria to serve your stomach with great tastes from both the western and Indian culture.  The backyard is a part of the apple orchard which continues far in step cultivations, is as beautiful a sight to wake up as one can imagine. We have also added tents to give the adventure feel to the people, whose soul yearns for camping and wants to sleep under billions of stars. I hope like me , a lot of you shall fall in love with our land.

We know the value for money , as we once too wandered with a penniless pocket. Our dorm bunk beds help backpackers , students with shoestring budget to fit himself in nice warm blankets and find a cosy bed in the cold chilly nights of the mountains, yet enjoy all the good basic facilities like hot water , laundry and great food , and most of all the charisma of Kasol.

We already have two hostels in Jaipur and Delhi , loved and adored by backpackers around the world , now with one here in the Himalayan valley, we have the icing on the cake , literally during the winter months!!

So are you not already planning your trip here??

From the 70’s , the crowd of Israelis made their home here, in the laps of Himalayas, and even now some of them choose never to return from here. So what is it that enchants their heart and mind? Why is the youth captivated and infused with the magic and mystery of this place , so much so , they never leave? Such question has always been around my mind and finally, I hope , along with you all, we shall discover this myths and secrets. So I hope together , we shall not only travel this valley but live the experience called KASOL.

Come with a smile , return with memories. Thanking You,

Yours sincerely and waiting,

– Deep

Manager , The Hosteller , KASOL