18 November 2016| 10:00 PM: Last Friday evening, JNU Mountaineering Club organized the much awaited and hyped Moonlight Trek to Qutub Minar. The call for gathering was displayed in the form of small posters on every hostel wall.
Luckily, I happened to have some free time on my hands that e nabled me to attend or rather undertake the small trek. The call by the mountaineering group was to assemble at the ‘Pink Palace’ aka Administration Block aka ‘Freedom Square’ at 9 PM sharp. The general instruction displayed in the small posters by the JNU Mountaineering Club was to wear proper shoes, and carry a water bottle and torch.
I reached the ‘Pink Palace’ 10 minutes before the actual time of assembly. I wasn’t the only one arriving early. As the clock ticked to 9 PM, the crowd swelled up. The number grew in a linear manner, and at around 10pm, the final announcements were made. These announcements were in fact certain precautions and instructions that had to be followed by the eager trekkers. The most important one was to “Not outstrip the leaders of the JNU Mountaineering Club during the trek”. The volunteers of the JNUMC also gave their phone numbers in case of medical emergency. The announcements were well received by the crowd.
The path that was covered by the group originated from the tall tower resting on a mobile truck at PSR Rocks which brought us to the main road leading to the East Gate. From there, our path was intersected by the main road Aruna Asaf Ali Marg.
The crowd that you encounter during the moonlight trek is complete antithesis to the ones that you would find at the protest marches and demonstrations from JNU. The urge for sloganeering and cheering on remains and so does the enthusiasm and mirthfulness but here you also find that extra dash of lampooning, parodying and boorishness which makes it even more fun. Hence, as the crowd was being taken into the main road of Delhi, random and isolated slogans like “JNUMC Down Down” emerged! The group was then led into Sanjay Van via the Qutub Institutional Area. The crowd of some 180-250 strong people when entering the dark stillness of Sanjay Van would at times burst into popular Hindi and Bhogpuri songs!
I wondered what the reposeful birds, animals and those others taking refuge at the precincts of the Sanjay van thought about the odd group of youngsters bellowing at the top of their voices in the forest that late at night.
There were several pit-stops during the entire journey, where time was given for the crowd to catch up. The entire journey was long, slow yet fun and exciting. One of the highlights of the trek is the ruins of the Lal Kot at the Mehrauli end of the Sanjay van. On moonlit nights, the bastions of the Fort half decrepit and covered by deep dark forests on all sides with the city lights twinkling far away transport you into many centuries back when this place was one of the first inhabited cities of Delhi during the Rajput rule.
The entire group reached the main gate of Qutub Minar at around 1AM. At this moment, the crowd fell into a frenzy to take selfies, welfies and pictures! It gradually started dispersing and people chose to either catch an auto or call Uber to get back to JNU. All in all, the entire event was managed deftly by JNUMC, and it is recommended that each and every student of JNU should undertake this odyssey at least once during his JNU stay.
Chaitanya Haram is an MA student at School of Biotechnology, JNU and works for The Informer.