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The institute has 17 hostels, quite noticeably, named after the major rivers of the country. Every hostel has nearly single occupancy. Each hostel has a TV room, a computer room, a Table-Tennis room, a tech-room, a music room, a SAC room and a common room with library run by annually elected secretaries by residents of each individual hostel!
Each hostel in addition has a playground or more specifically a quadrangle inside the hostel which is partly a mini football ground, partly volleyball court. They also have a basketball half-court each.
The vastness of the campus and the ban on usage of motor-powered vehicles by students (like other IITs) makes bicycles, the chief mode of transport inside the madras iit campus. Institute buses as mentioned earlier run on specific routes with a good frequency.
No student is allowed to change his/her hostel i.e., a hostel becomes a student's home for the entire duration of his stay in the Institute! This fuels inter-hostel rivalry to epic proportions with the fight for points attaining fever pitch in inter-hostel competitions under LitSOC (literary and cultural events), TechSOC (technical events) and Schroeter (Sports events), which are spread over the entire year. Cheering and jeering are a common sight during these events!!! The number of inter hostel events renders the entire calendar jam-packed, with something or the other happening almost everyday with timings crossing midnight almost always, irrespective of exams! Also, there are several active hobby clubs like Astronomy Club, Quiz Club, Music Club, Drams Club and Speaking Club etc which meet regularly for activities.
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There are no time restrictions on students, to be in the hostel or inside the iit campus. One is allowed to walk out/in of the hostel/institute freely at any point in day or even night. Students take full liberty to make use of these rare privileges for learning or just plain fun!
Students or junta are generally seen to hangout in places like Gurunath Patisserie, OAT (Open Air Theatre), Himalaya Lawns, eateries, hostel playgrounds or Taramani gate etc!! Outside the institute the popular hangout zones are Ascendas (an IT park with a food courtlocated near Taramani Gate), Spencer Plaza or other malls etc!!
The beaches in Chennai are also extremely popular!
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