Photo Essay: Mandakini Reformed

Edited by: Sajusha Ashok | Design by: Vignesh

A subject of many news stories, a point of bragging for the freshman boys of the 2021 batch, and a source of jealousy for everyone else residing in the hostels of IIT-Madras – no, I’m not referring to the newfound freedom possessed by all these souls, blissfully ignorant of the treacherous trek of college life –  but rather the gorgeously refurbished Mandakini hostel.

Wait – did I say refurbished? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

A rather unknown fact is that the Mandakini we see, is a replacement for the original, which was inaugurated on August 18, 1968.

Much like now, it was occupied by freshmen boys, up until 1987, when the last freshie batch stayed.

The new Mandakini is undoubtedly a feat of architecture. But the old hostel was a structural feat in its own sense. 

The sprawling garden participated in annually held garden competitions every year – let’s just go right ahead and call it the Garden of Eden lost to the poisonous apple of luxury, or even Eden Garden (hello cricket fans).

(Needless to say: The competitiveness of IIT doesn’t just end at the students…)

It was finally in 2018 that the hostel was taken down, to be refurbished into the Mandakini hostel we now know.

The construction took place during the online tenure – perhaps the single good thing to come out of a time we’d all love to forget.

Standing at ten stories tall, this behemoth is nothing to scoff at. Traveling down the main road to the Taramani gate, this building stands starkly above its contenders, a homing signal for its residents.

But of course, size isn’t everything. Stay with me here, as we take a walk through the halls of this building.

Equipped with previously unseen amenities such as reading rooms, and numerous sporting facilities, it well earns its 4-star rating on GRIHA. 

Considering the rest of the institute shares the four badminton courts at SAC (and if you’re looking for a chill weekend to play a match with your friends, you’re sorely out of luck, for the courts are never empty) the luxury of a hostel badminton court is truly not to be taken for granted. 

But it isn’t just these facilities that makes non-Mandak hostellers burn with envy – unless you’re a day scholar, you’re no stranger to the experience of trying to move your things across the room while trying in vain to not bump into every single cramped corner along the way, only to end up shoving your poor roommate over. 

Despite the triple sharing, the rooms of Mandakini are well-designed, with wide flooring and capacious cupboard space. 

A tiny nook for a desk and a chair is perhaps the best study spot when you’re cramming the night before an exam.

Walking outside into the corridors and up into the terrace lends itself to breathtaking views.

The city of Chennai, sprawled out at the feet of bright young minds, itching to make a change. Poetic justice, perhaps?

Outside the white and yellow walls stands an army, loyally guarding its fortress.

And what a fortress it is!

Surely one for the history books. 

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