Youth hostelling is a movement that was first initiated in Germany by Richard Shirrmann in 1912, who built the first youth hostel. The Youth Hostel Movement came to India in the early 1940s. It was in 1945 that the first youth hostel was opened in Tara Devi near Shimla by His Excellency Sir Bertrand Glancy, chief scout and Governor of Punjab.
In 1956, The Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI) was set up in Delhi, which marked the start of the movement on a national level. The YHAI is a non-profit making organization, which is registered under the Societies Registration Act (1860). The main aim of forming this association was to promote harmony among different castes and creeds, and provide the youth with affordable accommodation when traveling.
The YHAI helps young people with limited means, by providing good quality hostels during their travel. It encourages friendly relations between the rural and the urban youth, and promotes inter-state and international contact without any distinction of class.
Membership To The Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI)
Apart from this, the YHAI also organizes adventure sports activities and environmental preservation programmes. Preparing the youth for the defense of the country through higher physical fitness gained through participation in adventure sports, is another task of the Youth Hostel Movement in India. YHAI provides hostels to youths at very reasonable rates, in keeping with their motto of 'We Promote Youth Hostelling for Peace and International Understanding'.
Dr. Harish K. Saxena was once the chairman of YHAI. The chairman of the Youth Hostels Association of India is supported by four vice-chairmen. To be a member of this youth association, one needs to be an Indian citizen who understands and appreciates culture, language and heritage of people.
Even recognized educational institutions can become members, with concessions provided to their students. On enrolling as an YHAI member, a membership card will be issued to the applicant, which entitles the holder to avail hostel accommodation facilities, worldwide, at concessional rates. Membership forms are available at the Youth Hostels Association of India website.