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You might have already heard of JNU for its academic excellence or its political presence. However, in this blog, I present to you another lens through which to view the campus. From awesome spots you can hang out at to things you can enjoy, here’s a glimpse of what makes the JNU experience worth remembering for one and all:
From the evening tea to the never-ending political discussions, the dhabas of JNU witness it all. Each place has its speciality and that too at minimal cost! Here’s a look at a few of the popular dhabas of JNU:
The 37-year-old Dhaba is almost synonymous with the name of the university itself. Open till the early hours of the morning, the shop is often abuzz with hot political discussions. At a distance of approximately 200m from the main gate, it is also the starting point of most protest demonstrations. Bharat Bhaiya, the proud owner reminisces about how the Dhaba shifted three times before settling in the present location in the year 1984. The joint is famous for its rolls and assortment of teas. Also present is a juice counter where you can enjoy shakes, cold coffee and of course the beloved Banta!
Must-Try: Anda Paratha
The dhaba has been popular among students ever since its inception in the year 2004. Popularly known just by the owner’s name, Raju bhaiya ka dhaba is well known for its Litti-Chokha. It is one of the very few dhabas open inside the hostel premises, giving the residents of Lohit quite an enviable advantage. The shop offers a variety of snacks including momos, Maggi, burgers and even pizza. The piping hot tea served here gives the students relief from the chilly Delhi winters.
The little shop that opened in the year 1992 is popular for its mouthwatering Pakodas. The shop does excellent business on days when political talks are held in the Sabarmati lawns – so basically every second day! The appetizing Samosas are the best companions to a hot cup of tea. Too savoury for your taste? Well then try one of the many varieties of cookies or the delightful Jalebi and Gaja.
Must-Try: Chilli Pakodas
Special Mention: Bittu Bhaiya
Evocative of Hermione’s magic bag, Bittu bhaiya’s little shop miraculously seems to produce whatever you ask for. From chocolates to dish soap, the place has it all. The establishment which first opened as a mobile recharge shop has had to make quite a few adjustments over time. The kiosk has also added ice creams and sandwiches to its assortment recently. Make sure to try a flavoursome grilled cheese sandwich on your next visit!
Famed as the highest natural point of South Delhi, the Parthasarthy Rocks are one of the most popular hangout spots in JNU. An extension of the Aravalli range, the rocky outcrop comprises deceptive pits and slippery rocks. The place is great for stargazing as well as watching sunsets. The moods here range from pensive to jubilant as it is also a popular spot for birthday celebrations. Many summer nights are spent here waiting for a cool breeze while the cold winter nights are made easy with blankets and bonfires.
Now here’s a little something most outsiders might be perplexed about – the seasons in JNU! JNU paints the various shades of the weather in its own hues. From the pink springs to the yellow summers, nature’s colour palette is visible in its completeness here. Springs are coloured a refreshing pink and red with Bougainvillea vines creeping and climbing all around. The yellow sprinkles of Amaltas in the rains are yet another resplendent sight. Winters are a mix of reds and oranges with sunrises and sunsets while summers are adorned with bright blue skies. If you’re an appreciator of the beauty of nature, you’re in the perfect place.
The nine-storey tall Dr B.R. Ambedkar Central Library is an imposing structure in itself. Situated in the centre of the academic complex, the building is abuzz till the late hours of the night with scholars burning the midnight oil. Established in the year 1969, the library has a huge repository of rare books, journals as well as press clippings. Also much loved is the Library Canteen which provides refreshment after the hours spent slogging in the library.
Yet another unexpected treat to the eyes is the huge diversity of plants and animals that abound on the campus. Neelgais roaming the street like a common pedestrian seem overimaginative for you? Well come to the campus and even you’ll get used to this extraordinary spectacle. Among the shier residents are the peacocks, porcupines and the mongooses who scurry across the path whenever they see crowds. But tread carefully because there’s an abundance of scorpions and snakes too! Cobras and Pythons aren’t just something they once saw in a zoo for the students of JNU who have to cross paths with them on the regular. Adding to the biodiversity is the rich flora with trees of Neem, Acacia and the Sacred Fig thriving in every corner. A myriad of birds from parrots to woodpeckers is the natural alarm clock that wakes you up even before the sun can try.
Specialising in different cuisines, the food courts are a favourite for something filling and also a little fancy. Here’s a glimpse of the popular restaurants inside the campus:
North-East Dhaba and 24×7
Open since the year 2004, this is one of the few spaces providing open-seating. While one dishes out authentic North-Eastern flavours, the other is famed for scrumptious yet affordable North Indian and Chinese delights. The shwarma place next door is another favourite for authentic Lebanese food. Although the place closes at 11, the tables are crowded till late in the night.
Must-Try: Chicken Lollipop, Chicken Afghani and Shwarma Roll (respectively)
Craving home-cooked meals? No need to book your tickets just yet because you can get it all right here at Teflas. Indistinguishable from the Students’ Activity Center, the diner has its special fan following. Run by an old couple since ’83, Teflas offers you the warmth and nostalgia of homemade meals, all under a hundred bucks.
As the name suggests, the restaurant is famous for its flavourful Mughlai dishes. The place has grown quite a lot since its establishment in the year 2001. It is also an ideal place to give your friends long-overdue birthday treats. A filling meal at an affordable price makes this place worth trying.
Must-Try: Tandoori Chicken
Kamal Complex, popularly known by the acronym KC, is the biggest shopping complex inside the campus. One can find almost everything of daily use here. From groceries to fresh fruits and vegetables, the complex caters to everyone’s needs. the market has a dedicated tailor, electrician and even a watch repair shop, to suffice everyone’s demands.
If you’re a campus resident, your calendar is sure to be jam-packed all year long. From celebrations of festivals like Dussehra and Holi to the innumerable Freshers’ Partys and of course the Hostel Nights – JNU has it all! The highly anticipated elections of JNU are like no other student body election across the nation. Celebrated almost like a festival, they inspire in all a deep sense of regard for the nuances of democracy. Moving on to the Festivals – The Holi celebrations in Jhelum Lawns are a sight to behold. With crowds shaking a leg to the latest Bollywood tracks and colours flying all around, they leave an imprint on everyone’s memories. The Freshers’ Partys, different for each centre, start in early September and last till late October. Food and music abound as students get a chance to interact with their seniors and teachers. The most awaited of all events are the Hostel Nights. As the academic year draws to an end, the celebrations begin. It’s an opportunity to showcase your talents while also gorging on mouth-watering dishes. These events are surely something all alumni reminisce about once they bid farewell to campus life.
In a nutshell, I’ll only remark that JNU is not just an institute, it’s an experience. An experience unique to each one of its unique members. It’s something that you carry within yourself long after your student life is over. If you do get the chance to visit the campus, make sure to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience to its fullest!
Photo Courtesy: Yash Sinha