I have been in and around Delhi-NCR for good 22 years now and yet I had never had a chance to visit Majnu ka Tilla. Therefore, I was very curious to find out what is it like and why everyone keeps talking about the food there. Thanks to my friends who agreed to explore with me. Here is my personal account.
How to reach Majnu Ka Tilla?
I alighted at Vidhan Sabha Metro station to find my way to Majnu ka Tilla. A 5 mins auto ride enabled me to reach the foot-over bridge that steps down to the gate of Aruna Nagar colony (on the other side of the road). The dirty stairs of the bridge and the dingy, narrow alleys inside the gate, did make me uncomfortable initially but I am glad I did not judge the place too soon. A little further into the lanes, the view of one of the oldest monastery and a thriving courtyard not only uplifted my mood but also attested the fact that I was at the right place, Majnu-ka-tilla, an old Tibetan colony in Delhi, officially called New Aruna Nagar Colony.
I am sure you have concluded that MKT is easily accessible via metro network. Wherever you are, just reach for Kashmere Gate or Vidhan Sabha Metro Station.
MKT- Little Tibet in Delhi
I am not sure what Tibet looks like because I am yet to travel there but the little things that I had read or known about its tumultuous history, the capital city of Lhasa, the narrow streets of Barkhor, Buddhist monks and the famous Dalai Lama started to play in my mind when I walked through the tapered lanes in-between the closely-packed multi-storied buildings of Aruna Nagar colony. While the clothing and footwear collection (that I had heard of) dint really appeal to me but I was really amused to discover this ethnic neighborhood in the capital that has clung on to its past for many decades and is evolving for the better with trendy cafes and fancy handicraft shops.
Like I mentioned earlier, initially it was not easy for me to find my foot between the narrow lanes but the moment I surrendered to its vibes and walked into every alternate shop, I was transported to a different world. The prayer flags, the Tibetan jewelry, Buddhist artifacts, fascinating crockery, colorful knick knacks, hand-crafted handicrafts, ceremonial tea cups, mannequins dressed in Tibetan style and cute monk miniatures gave a beautiful peek into the Tibetan way of life. If I could have my way, I would have loved to fill my shopping bag.
What is the story behind its name- Majnu ka Tilla?
For the uninitiated or first-timers like me, I must tell you that Majnu ka Tilla or MKT is a Tibetan refugee colony in North Delhi, located on the banks of Yamuna river. It is also known by the names like Chungtown and Samyeling.
Why the name? Well the story goes like that a sufi saint, Abdulla ‘Majnu’ had met Guru Nanak Sahib and he had become his ardent follower. He would fetch other devotees and followers in his boat for free of cost and thus when the Gurudwara was made, it was named as Majnu ka Tilla Gurudwara for his selfless love for the saint. This also celebrates Muslim-Sikh brotherhood. The Gurudwara is close to the market and can be reached on foot.
Majnu ka Tilla is a food haven
The foodies should not miss this place. If you have not visited it yet, go for it soon for the authentic Tibetan delicacies. To make you more curious, I would like to mention that little neighborhood is the melting pot of international cuisines. You will find North Indian, South Indian, Nepalese, Korean, Thai and Chinese food options as well.
I was very keen to try the spicy Laphing and I began my foodie adventure with that. I am not sure if you know what it is. Laphing is a spicy cold mung bean and corn-flour noodle dish, spiced up with chilli-garlic and soya nuggets. Honestly, this was my first time and I really enjoyed it. Majnu ka Tilla is also the place for the best momos and Thupkas.
There is lots from the far away land of Tibet. You just need to look for it and discover for yourself. After eating spicy laphing, I went to Dolma House with my friends. We ordered some vegetarian soup (gyathuk ) and fried noodles made in Tibetan style. I had heard a lot about Ama cafe too but I was already full. Hopefully, next time I will go for some more. Until then you can always recommend some places from there, if you have been there already.
Its a popular place among students and backpackers.