The first thing that comes to mind after entering the colony (and that too every time) is “Hello Dharamshala!” An absolutely beautiful maze like place, which is the home to the sweetest people in the town, is always a delight to be at. It is decorated with vibrant prayer flags that have a different texture and a story of its own. Positive vibes, friendly people and comfort (and super cheap) food is all that this place has to offer and that is precisely why it is the most ultimate escapade for a day for any individual.
A Muslim hermit by the name of Abdulla, popularly known as the Majnu used to ferry people across the Yamuna river for free as a service to God during the reign of Sikander Lodhi on Delhi Sultanate. Legend has it that Majnu met the Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev ji during one of such ferry rides and was further blessed by him for his selfless devotion. The Sikh Guru prophesied that history forever shall immortalise Majnu’s name, who was crazily in love with God.
This actually came true in the 18th century when Sikh Military Leader Baghel Singh built the Majnu ka Tilla Gurudwara to commemorate the stay in 1783.
Majnu Ka Tilla has three main residential settlements. These are the Aruna Nagar, New Arun Nagar and the old Chandrawal Village. This settlement came about in the early 1900s when the British Government provided accommodation to the labourer who were involved in the construction of the buildings in the Central Secretariat of New Delhi. The next round of settlement came about after India’s Independence in 1958. During that time, the Land and Development wing of the Ministry of Urban Development for the settlement of the people from northern part of Delhi developed the rather famous area of Aruna Nagar.
During the period of development of Aruna Nagar, the 1959 Tibetan uprising took place after the Dalai Lama went into exile to Dharamshala, resulting in people from Tibet to leave their country and settle in small refugee camps near the riverbed of the Yamuna River. The Government of India allotted this land to the Tibetan refugees in 1960. Many of the other refugees settled near the Indo-Chinese border but they had to come to these camps near the Yamuna River after the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
Today, it is home to second generation of Tibetan Refugees and is famously known as the “Little Tibet” or “Mini Tibet”. There is a strong ethnic identification with almost every individual being a Tibetan in this very area.
HOW TO REACH?
Majnu-Ka-Tilla is located on Delhi’s outer Ring Road (NH-1), near Vidhan Sabha and ISBT Kashmiri Gate. It is only a rickshaw ride away from the Delhi University (North Campus). For those taking the metro, the nearest metro station is the yellow line metro station, Vidhan Sabha, which is just 10 minutes away from the destination.
ATTRACTIONS AND TOURISM
Over the year, the New Aruna Nagar has emerged as a popular destination. It houses a small monastery and Buddhist Temple. Another very prominent thing to be taken in consideration is the Gurudwara Majnu Ka Tilla Sahib, which is situated on Khyber Pass Road near the banks of Yamuna River.
The area is best known for its Tibetan restaurants and Tibetan market. The colony is laced with tiny kiosks selling Tibetan curios and silver trinkets, travel agencies offering Himalayan tours, hawkers offering dozens of Tibetan pop song and movie CDs, some shops with fake Chinese silk material and typical little pouches and bags, colourful “Free Tibet” t-shirts, shoe shops, salons, and street shops selling unusual food items such as dried fish and fermented bamboo shoot.
Monastery market is especially famous for its woolen products like shawls, stoles, sweaters and jackets, which are of genuine quality but at affordable prices. The market is also popular for its footwear and other leather products. Some traditional Tibetan products like the Thangka paintings; lanterns and statues are the favorite souvenirs for tourists.
Overall, the Majnu Ka Tila Tibetan Market is a great place to shop for souvenirs, apparels and accessories.
WHAT TO EAT?
If some one is looking for some authentic Tibetan cuisine, this is it! The colony has got with it the cultures and foods of its people and is a paradise for those looking to explore a new eats. Rigo, Ama, Dolma house and Asian kitchen are some popular restaurants here. One can see people digging into their plates of Momos, Thukpa, Thentuk, Tigmo and Shabalay at any time of the day.
Some of the must- visit places are as follows
- Ama Café
This café is for the people who crave sweet things at any given point of time. It is knows for its delicious pastries, enchanting ambience and quirky interiors.
Personal Favorite: Ama’s forte-tiramisu and Apple Pies for only 80 rupees!
- Dolma House
One of the oldest eateries in the colony, which gives a warm and friendly vibe. And it serves the best MOMOS in the town!
- Asian Kitchen
Hot Piping Thukpa laced with chili flakes along with Fruit Beer : that’s what Asian Kitchen is all about.
- Rigo Restaurant
This place is located in a hotel that gives the vibe of a fine dining restaurant but for a fraction of the price. They have free wifi and quite a generous portion of the food that one orders.
- Tee Dee Restaurant
One must try their Shabalay, Thentuk, Tingmo, Shapta, Honey Chilli Chicken and Apple Beer for a very basic price.
This was originally published on Food and Streets by Sadaf.