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Urban Legends - The Chronicle of Old KB

December 26, 2019
- Shachi SIngh, Murtaza Bookwala, Kushagra Agarwal, Shreya Agarwal

Located across the street from the Ravindra Bhawan Mess, Old KB paints the perfect picture of a haunted house—big, rambling, dusty, cobwebbed rooms with the wall’s plastering breaking apart like dead skin; broken furniture, doors battered down, windows boarded up; the air musty with the damp; the very atmosphere, suppressed with tense mystery; creaking, whistling windows—cold swishing winds howling a requiem – a sort of setting that you would pick up straight from a Daphne De Maurer novel. A place you would visit to seek out a glimpse of thrill in your otherwise dreary, hamster-on-a- wheel of a life. It silently escapes attention in the grand tour of campus discovery that most of us take as brow-beaten freshers to convince ourselves that our campus is at least half as interesting as we thought it was, being overshadowed by subsidized coffee and random loitering around Main Building by midnight, as soon as the hostel restrictions are lifted.

According to common folklore, the place witnessed a gory triple suicide, a tragic event causing the hostel to be closed down, never to be renovated. Others say that a large-scale inferno burnt the place down, leaving it in its present state of desolation. Both of these theories have been passed down by generations and generations of students at R land verbally as if it’s a legacy to be cherished and passed on till Judgement Day. These musings set the stage for horror aficionados, enabling them to speak of ghosts and spectres that apparently still float around the rooms of the building, waiting ravenously for naive freshmen. Efforts to dispel these stories as fiction are not helped by the apparent urgency with which Roorkee’s guards chase out those who attempt to enter the building.

The blanket of green foliage that stretches over the decaying building seems rife with the rustle of life - or maybe it is the deathly silence that amplifies the sound that every movement leaves in its wake. The rational say that’s just naughty little snakes darting around the emerald metropolis. Others feel a cold chill crawl up their spine in a reaction that they believe cannot be of corporeal origins. Our reporters carried on in pursuit of the truth, unperturbed by the spookiness that had surrounded them from all sides.


However, on digging around a little they unearthed a “shocking” discovery. The structure in question actually housed the mess workers of the Ravindra Mess and their families, some 15 years back. After the campus was rechristened an IIT, most of the staff was transferred outside the campus, including these workers. Thus, the place was abandoned. Currently, the structure is being used as a storehouse for various waste materials of the institute, like mattresses, planks, tables, chairs and almirahs. In short, it’s that last drawer of your cabinet where you put the things you can’t find a place for, the drawer that is evocative of warped wood.

While it is true that the current Kasturba is relatively new, and a Kasturba existed prior to its inauguration, erstwhile KB was never this structure. It was the building which is now known as the Old Teachers Hostel. Once this Bhawan became insufficient to accommodate all girls across the campus, it was allotted to teachers and PhDs, and a new Kasturba was constructed.

Thus, the place behind Georgia never had any connection with any Kasturba Bhawan, or with any otherworldly phenomena. This piece of information, though not documented well, has been confirmed by various fruit sellers and security guards of the campus, along with mess workers who used to live there, and also by the supervisor of Ravindra Bhawan. However, even after establishing the fact that this place was never Kasturba, questions persist. Why are there no urinals, when it housed staff workers? Why has the structure never been demolished, restructured or renovated even after abandonment for such a long time? Why is its entrance a purposeless hole in the wall? And most importantly, why is it called, and that too rather ominously, The Old KB? These questions remain unanswered, lost in the bottomless pit of IITR history, living on to spin a confusing tale of a bygone era, and continue to attract those brave of heart, and seeking a quick dose of adrenaline. The crumbling stone walls, the abandoned quarters and the wilderness, all combine to present a heady concoction of mystery and drama - that’s Old KB for you.