Delhi is famous for all sorts of art, music, literature, history, monuments and tourism. While mainstream go-to places have always been Connaught Place, Humanyun’s Tomb and National Art Gallery, traveller often prefer the off-beat path.
Majnu Ka Tila is a small Tibetan colony nestled in North Delhi. Residing right in the heart yet hidden, this place is a different world itself. Lanes are narrower than cycle paths, and seems like a zic-zac way where every turn will have its own maze. Small shops selling souvenirs from Tibet and of Buddhism, ladies dressed in typical Tibetan robe and jolly monks walk around and can be seen in cafes. Every other outlet is either named after Potala House, Lhasa or Tibet itself and carvings of Tibetan script all over the place!
This is one of the lesser known markets where one can find authentic Tibetan food right from Thukpa to Mutton Momo. Majnu Ka Tila is more famous among backpackers than tourists. It has various cheap hotels and stays and those who come from north-eastern part of the country find much comfort here.
Like tunnels open up to the lights, somewhere in the middle of the colony, these lanes open upto a small monastery and a Budhhist temple which is more like a courtyard to the house. Two giant prayer wheels located diagonally, sweet old monk managing the temple, people selling special noodles at the sides, kids play around and bringing the entire room into life! Of course, Majnu Ka Tila is different from all the said places of Delhi.
It may seem strange to find a typical Tibetan colony in a proper North Delhi but this settlement too has a history. In 1959-60, when the 14th Dalai Lama went into exile in Dharamshala after China broke a war with Tibet, then tiny tibetan population was given refugee in this area. People residing here are the second generation of refugees and because of its ethnic concentration, it is also known as Samyelling, meaning Little Tibet.
If you are a Delhi University student you might know this and if not let me tell you about an amazing café in Majnu Ka Tila – Ama Café. This little eatery is famous for its pancakes which are served only till 11am and cheese egg toast which is served through out. There’s a long list of desserts, pastries, shakes and coffee and is a paradise for those who yearn for an amiable ambiance where they can grab a book and weave world of words. There is much more to this place than I can ever explain.