Boy from Bengaluru sets up hostel in old house

The footloose too need a place to recoup and resume their journey. While stakeholders in tourist destinations have always seen in overnight stays only an opportunity to mint money, a backpackers’ hostel is coming up in Mysuru with a minimalist mission: keep that spark in wanderers alive.

The backpackers’ hostel is the brainchild of Bengalurean Hiren Sreenivasan, and is set for a November 1 launch. After graduating in mechanical engineering, Hiren decided he needed a break, packed his bags and moved to Goa to help a friend with his real estate business in 2013.

“A lot of my foreign backpacker friends had a hard time finding a hotel that would fit their tight budget. It made me think how tough it must be in my own state!” says Hiren, 25.

After working for two years with setting up backpackers’ hostels in Vagator, Panaji and Anjuna, Hiren returned to Bengaluru in 2015. “The traffic and fast life got to me so I travelled to Mysuru in July, looking for some solace. The hostel idea was at the back of my mind, but I had to find a place to start,” he recalls.

And he did. Walking around Mysuru, he stumbled into a massive abandoned house about 2km from Mysuru Palace, and built around the same time as its magnificent neighbour. “I stood outside and stared at it for a few minutes. It was perfect. The 16,000 sqft property amid greenery was going to be my backpackers’ haven.”

The excited young man found out from neighbours that the property belonged to Sahukar Siddanna Memorial Trust. “I managed to get in touch with the house owner, who was intrigued by my idea. He told me the house was lying vacant and I could do something worthwhile with it.”

The bungalow, though, was in bad condition, and needed to be completely restored. The sewage line had to be redone and toilets built. Hiren worked tirelessly on the house for four months, doing everything from buying furniture to adorning the walls with paintings.

Virtually from scratch, he’s come up with a backpacker hostel with 20 bunk beds that can accommodate 40 people. There are also four private rooms upstairs. Hiren tied up with Zostel, a chain of backpacker hostels across India who will launch the property for him.

“I’ve already had thousands of visitors calling up, excited about staying here. From their stories, I know this place will benefit many backpackers who absolutely love travelling and don’t want to spend too much hard saved money on expensive hotels,” Hiren asserts.