Shepherd Stories| Cultural hostel in Hyderabad

Oh Finally! Regarding my impromptu Hyderabad trip and my stay with Shepherd Stories 

I have worked in Hyderabad for three months in the year 2017. I had a moment of my life in Hyderabad, fell in love with biryani without aloo, and Irani chai. As I worked for a production house I travelled all around Telangana and Andhra Pradesh during my short stay. My colleagues turned out to be family to me and I couldn’t wait to revisit them. It was an impromptu plan when I hopped onto the train and left from Mumbai to Hyderabad. My train was reaching at 6 am to Begumpet. I searched for a place to stay. As I am a budget traveller, I love the travel hostel culture. It has always been my favourite part of travelling.

Apart from the usual places that I already knew,  there was this new place that had recently opened up.

The name – Shepherd Stories, caught my attention and I booked my stay with them during my visit to Hyderabad. I was a bit concerned about reaching the hostel by 7:00 a.m, but they were more than happy to welcome me at any time. Flexible check-in time just makes life so much easier!

Budget travellers like me always search for the cheapest mode of transport and the fastest way to reach, and these two combinations usually have us reaching our destination at odd hours. As I already knew Hyderabad, it wasn’t very difficult for me to reach the place. But even if you are visiting for the first time,  you should not have any problem in visiting Jubilee Hills as it is one of the prime locations in Hyderabad.  Hyderabad is easily accessible via various modes of transportation such as Ola and Uber apart from AC buses and autos. I got off the auto and I looked at the brightly coloured ‘Shepherd Stories’ signboard that caught my attention. I am always excited about exploring new places. As I walked up to the stairs, I saw that the word ‘Welcome’ is written in different languages on the footsteps.

They have a small cafe and a seating area on either side. The hostel is a beautiful bungalow on the side of the hills.  This place is very pretty and colourful, laden with artistic value and a cultural essence to it.

I checked into the girls’ dormitory – they have 6 beds and an attached bathroom in the girls’ dorm. I liked the idea of an attached bathroom in the girls’ dorm because it is a real necessity. In total, they have accommodation for approximately 20 people. Apart from the dorm, they have two separate rooms, an open kitchen and the common sitting area.

The interesting fact about this hostel that, even when they are in the midst of a modern city, they are trying to bring a change in society. They do not sell plastic water bottles; they hardly use anything plastic. Steel buckets and mugs are used in the bathrooms.  Mud pots, which are commonly known as Matkas, are used to store drinking water. That’s not all, this place is decorated with handcrafted items. They are trying to hold onto Telangana’s and Andhra Pradesh’s different types of art and craft.

They organise sessions and classes to educate and spread knowledge on the different types of art and craft the state has, and some of which are dying.

They also organise a unique trip from Hyderabad where they take you to one of the remote villages in the Telangana district and you spend the entire day with the artisans and learn how to paint or print. It’s one of the most interesting trips that I have come across and I would like to to be a part of it the next time.  I was really impressed with everyone. All the staff at this hostel has been generously nice as they have been imbibed with strong values.

One can also cook their own food in the hostel. I really enjoyed my stay and I wished that I could stay a little longer. But I was on a tight schedule and had to say goodbye.

On my way out of this place after the crazy two-day Hyderabad revisit, I was given a postcard and a little note to carry back with me.  I was really surprised and thrilled to receive the postcard. It’s these small gestures that make travel stories much more than just a story. Much more than just a stay. Building memories of a lifetime taking one step at a time.

About Pradeep Reddy Vundyala: I’m Pradeep Reddy Vundyala with more than 10 years of experience in Academic research, Business Consulting, Volunteering and Entrepreneurship. I call myself a flexible person as I see myself learning through connecting the dots by gaining the experiences by not limiting myself to some projects but exploring Automobile Industry, Hospitality Industry, Academics, Social Enterprises, NGOs, Social venture capitalists. To name some – Indian School of Business, Columbia Global centres, Centre for innovations in public systems, Acumen, Pollinate Energy, Honda gave great learning cycles. As an entrepreneur, I realised my interest lies more in impact than just the economic models, Hence I would call myself a Social Entrepreneur.

About Saawan KabalavaiBelonging to the city of Pearls – Hyderabad, Saawan Kabalavai graduated from the Osmania University. His interest in community and causes have laid a great foundation for him in gaining experience with diverse sectors ranging from Automobile to Arts. With an ambitious interest, he set up Hyderabad’s first Backpackers’ Hostel with arts and culture as background known as -‘Shepherd Stories’.

Apart from this, he’s been actively engaging with the community through a Non-Profit Organisation – ‘Yuvatha’, focusing on education, environment and youth empowerment.

How it all Started:

We were looking for a break and it started with many ideas but finally decided to go on a budget trip. Our travel gave us many challenging situations and in the process, we realized planning is at the most important aspect of travelling. Understanding the challenges of our budget, our pre-research work gave us a unique solution for our accommodation called backpackers’ hostel. Our decision of staying in Backpackers Hostel made us realise that it’s just not a solution for budget travelling but also a platform for meeting many interesting people and a great experience which we never get in any other accommodation space. Coming back to Hyderabad back with those experiences, we gave a thought at starting one in Hyderabad. It took some time for us to understand the business aspects of it and the cycle of services. We both come to have one common interest i.e., Social Impact, and we made this interest be the concept of our Hostel. We made our regional arts and crafts as the concept of the hostel by promoting them and taking them to our guests (mainly to our global audience). When it came to branding, we understand its impact on the market. One day we were talking about the shepherds -their routine life of trading, travelling, stay and how a shepherd has new stories every day and how they end up at a new place every day. That’s what made us to see Shepherd as the craziest traveller with many stories and we wanted to build a place where we consider all travellers as shepherds. And we came up with our Brand name “Shepherd Stories”.

About – Shepherd Stories have been created as a quintessential place to blend in the ecstasy of exploring new stories with the enhancing passion towards arts and culture to create a unique atmosphere. The hierarchy of experiencing and learning about the arts and culture, which are the soul of any new place is understood here and drives the purpose of shepherd stories. Here at Shepherd Stories, every traveller who backpacks to explore a new place, with the passion to explore is considered a ‘shepherd’ following the path of curiosity, making interesting stories and sharing them all the way, living the life of an adventurer. At Shepherd Stories, we strive to build and make a unique space for a community of backpackers and artists to help and serve them with value for time and experience. The environment-friendly and go green atmosphere here stands with the principal interest of the place. Our spirits stand high in making the place feel like home creating a friendly aura along with an eco- friendly ambience. Shepherd Stories have been envisioned as a place which hosts the stage to enrich the essence of learning and teaching. It presents a well-equipped community interaction area, café, workshop space and dormitory to be served on the soul principles held by the unique character of the place.

Bed and Breakfast – The Shepherd Stories café hosts an appealing menu of a cluster of regional and international dishes for one’s short appetizing meals. It serves a menu of sandwiches, pasta, and eggs along with regional Indian dishes and stress releasing coffee ranges. Complimentary breakfast is served for guests and hostelers. The dormitory holds eleven cosy, comfortable and clean beds for the occupancy of travellers and guests based on pre-bookings. The community interaction spaces and living area are made accessible for the occupants.

Convention Space – The convention space comprises of an aesthetically built café and a community interaction lounge with a capacity to host twenty attendees each to host workshops, community gatherings and group meetings comfortably. The traditional ikat patterned textiles, decors and furniture along with a green environment adds to the aesthetics and brings in the mood for art workshops.

Art residency – Art residency is a project held close to the spirits of Shepherd Stories. The dormitory is partly open to the artists around the world to come and stay with shepherd stories for a period of time for free and explore the new possibilities of art, inspiring and getting inspired on the go. Applications from artists around the world to stay with us are accepted and open for three months in a year.

Vision – Our main aim is to nourish shepherd stories into a self-sustaining art space, exploring new talents and supporting the dying traditional tribal artwork and their communities. Going forward, Shepherd Stories would stand as a hosting stage to create a marketplace and support the fast-fading traditional tribal arts, spread them through conducting workshops and heritage/ arts and crafts tours. It would be shaped into an exclusive platform that provides an exploring space to up bring various talents and developing life skills through arts and crafts workshops.

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/shepherdstories/

facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Shepherdstories

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