Gumption gets this Amritsar boy to build India’s first Eco-hostel

From organic mattresses to bamboo wiring panels, Sanjay Sodhi is going all out to get backpacking to meet sustainability at Rs.400/- a night.

Every now and then we hear stories of people with distinguished careers, who just throw it all away to follow their heart. Usually they open up their own company or hit the road with their rock band or just make their favourite hobby their occupation. Sanjay Sodhi is one such fun loving, adventurous Punjabi. He left a promising career in a multinational to open India’s first Eco-Hostel, inspired by his elaborate travels. He calls it the ‘Jugaadu’ hostel, which means he uses clever life hacks to make the hostel as sustainable as possible.

After an adventurous trip backpacking all over Europe, Sodhi felt that helping travellers and living minimally were his true calling. And that was the inception of Jugaadu that opens next week in Amritsar and offers travellers to the pilgrim town sustainable B&B starting at Rs. 400 per bed! We at The Alternative had a chance to interview him and here’s what we got.

A map of Sanjay's travels across Europe.

A map of Sanjay’s travels across Europe.

What inspired you to drop everything and go on a backpacking tour to Europe? 

Well, I was a typical Party Boy who used to flashpack (backpacking with a bigger budget) on extended weekends to Europe party cities and party hostels. I picked up the idea of opening a hostel from there and then I started travelling to pick up ideas for the hostel. I was working on a project in Cisco Netherlands for a year and a half before leaving my job.


A view of the hostel building from the outside.

Did any particular hostel set up or establishment in Europe inspire you?

Well, I worked in a party hostel in Kosovo for a month. Some hostels like this village hostel in Albania were inspiring:  Tirana Backpacker Hostel is the first hostel in Albania, located in a beautiful small village called Vuno and is open only in summers in a village school. All the earnings from the hostel go to the school and it was a great experience staying there, especially because no one except the café owner and some staff members spoke English!

What makes your hostel sustainable?

Making a hostel environment-friendly in present age India is in itself a big ‘jugaad’. It took me 2-3 months and hundreds of emails to find a genuine guy (Aura Herbals) who sells proper organic fabrics, for our mattresses. I had to go through a contact in Punjab which led me to a Gujarat based firm and finally I could procure organic cotton. Some other interesting features in our hostel include use of wiring panels made of bamboo instead of PVC. There is a bottle pick/drop and Polythene Pick/Drop box in the hostel so people can reuse bottles/polythene. We also use tyres to make coffee tables, set up in the common room and other rooms in general too. We also plan to set up a solar cooker, reusing paint boxes for kitchen and a rooftop vegetable garden.

Coffee table made from a n old tyre.

Coffee table made from an old Tyre.

How do you plan to make a margin on your investment in this venture?

Well I have invested quite a bit of money in the hostel, having leased a house with 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, 4 bathrooms and 2 rooftops.The hostel has a total of 24 beds. While I hope to break even soon, my aim isn’t to make huge profits anyway. I just want to help out travellers and give my guests a pocket-friendly experience of living minimally.

Are you planning to give some part back to society like the Albanian hostel?

Yes, I plan to give 10% of the profit to Kheti Virasat Mission, an organic farming movement in Punjab. I would love to make it more useful for the betterment of society, if its successful and can increase this percentage age as well. This is not for making money anyways.


The beds in the hostel

Is the eco-hostel then your current backpacking journey?

During my travels in Europe, I hitchhiked a lot and ended up travelling over 8,500 kms for free. I was in Ozora Hippy Festival with almost no friends and my bank account wasn’t working well. Strangers helped me while I was with no money for 4-5 days and I had to starve for a few days too. I realised that I don’t really need a lot of money to survive and was extremely grateful for all the help I received from strangers. I had a laptop and some clothes. They trusted a stranger and then, so did I.

So that’s Sanjay Sodhi for you. His is a truly inspiring story of party-boy-turned-social-worker. Not that it’s a thing, but it certainly is a fascinating story.

Jugaadu is all set to open its gates in about a week and rooms are available at a ridiculously cheap Rs.400/- per bed per night.

3rd Year Undergraduate from BITS Pilani Goa Campus Always looking to have a good time :) more


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3rd Year Undergraduate from BITS Pilani Goa Campus Always looking to have a good time :) more

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  • Really unique information right here because I search this type of hostels in India, after I got this article my all the requirement is done about ECO-Hostels in Amritsar. Thanks a lot for sharing latest hostels information about Amritsar.