Majnu Ka Tila


One of the most popular hangout spots that DU students as well as Delhites love is Majnu Ka Tilla. This piece is an attempt to trace the lesser known history of such a place. 

Majnu Ka Tila has been loved for it’s delicious Tibetan food, some of the specialties being Laphing and Thukpa. The colony has numerous Buddhist monasteries and in a way is a photogenic place. Posing with the prayer wheels is one of the many loved ways one likes to be clicked. Every knows about it for its beautiful Tibetan vibe along with narrow lanes that actually does feel like only a home away from home.

As a street photographer, Majnu Ka Tila is one of the most interesting places to shoot your heart out. Dogs, old ladies, children, everything that exists in the place is something that creates a core memory once you go and capture it.

But this article isn’t a description about Majnu Ka Tila, it’s about the very sanctity that this place has developed over the years– it’s origins. Most of us haven’t even heard of the Majnu Ka Tila Gurudwara. We just go to Majnu Ka Tilla to rewind and relax in the Tibetan Culture that creates a whole different vibe. I personally, am on a look out for hidden or lesser known places, especially since I have come to Delhi and I couldn’t have been happier to find out that traces of Sikhism can be found at this place.

Majnu Ka Tilla literally translates to hillock of Majnu. The name comes after a local Iranian Sufi mystic Abdulla, nick named Majnu met Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first of the ten Sikh Gurus in 1505 during the reign of Sikander Lodhi. The Iranian sufi had come to this mound and made a small hut to spread the word of
God. Impressed by the devotional praise of Shri Guru Nanak, the Sufi followed in the same footsteps and it has been recorded that on 20th July 1505 AD, Guru Nanak Dev ji gave darshan (appeared in a vision) to the Faquir at Amrit Vela. Guru Nanak stayed at this place and on the last day of his stay, he granted a boon to Majnu, the faquir that the place will be famous with his name and his name will remain till the living world.

But the story doesn’t end here. In 1621 AD, Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib ji, the sixth Sikh Guru of the Sikh order, had placed his sacred feet at the same place during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. Jahangir had ordered the imprisonment of the Guru in Gwalior fort but when he saw the amount of love and devotion the Sangat of Delhi had for the Guru, and on the advice of Sai Miya Mir and other scholars, the Guru and 52 other kings were released. Majnu Ka Tilla was the place where the kings got their rightful kingdoms back.

In later history, Sikh military leader  Baghel Singh Dhaliwal  built the Majnu ka Tila  Gurudwara  to commemorate the stay of both Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Har Gobind in 1783. Today it is one of oldest existing Sikh shrines in Delhi and the surrounding estate was donated by early 19th-century Sikh emperor,  Ranjit Singh .

Isn’t it powerful? To realize that one place, that is famous for its present day cafes and picturesque aura, has actually a deep rooted history? The kind of history that should be known to people but we as youngsters often forget to ignite that curiosity. The curiosity to know about a place that holds a strong and a divine aura. Well, Majnu Ka Tilla is the all in one place that has observed so many historic events allowing us to understand the collectivistic cultural and religious identities one place carries. And therefore, this celebrated place has left an imprint on our minds when we speak about a subject like secularism. The place has revered different religions together and becomes a vision for the citizens of India.

Image Credits: tripadvisor.in
Read Also: DUB Travels: Majnu Ka Tilla

Aanya Mehta
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A 10 minute drive away from North Campus lies an organic little haven of Tibetan culture, good food and great shopping. An absolutely perfect spot for DU kids!

Right off the bat I must tell you, reader, if you are the kind of person who prefers clean, polished and especially, open places – Majnu ka Tilla is probably not for you. However, if you’re an explorer, aren’t claustrophobic and are enthusiastic to try new food (or buy great first copy sneakers or clothes), you’ll fall in love with this maze of dimly lit and culturally rich alleys. 

The place, located on the banks of the river Yamuna, gets its name from the tilla or mound where a local Iranian Sufi mystic called Majnu met Guru Nanak Dev back in 1505. In the 1900s, the British built residential settlements in the area to house the labourers working on the construction of New Delhi. Then in 1959, after the Tibetan uprising, the area saw refugee camps come up consisting of people from Tibet. More than 60 years later today, the area has blossomed into a home for second generation Tibetan refugees, earning it the name “Little Tibet”.

That Tibetan heritage is evident from the moment you set foot in the place after a brief e-rickshaw ride from the nearest metro station (Vidhan Sabha or Vishwavidyalaya on the yellow line). Once you’re in, the place can be intimidating – and charming – in the way it seems to consist entirely of narrow paths and buildings that sprout from each other as if they are parts of the same, giant, living creature.

For the first few minutes of venturing in, it is quite hard to imagine this area is anything but your regular residential areas. However, you soon find yourself face to face with the monastery at the heart of this place and with it, possibly the only open space you will find in the entire maze. This is also when you first start to come across the most famous cuisine this place has to offer: laphing. There are numerous stalls throughout the area offering the dish along with other Tibetan cuisine and a lot of bubble tea.

Further in, you soon get to the stretch of Majnu ka Tilla that starts to look like the tourist spot you hear about. On your left you find numerous stalls selling accessories and jewellery, followed by numerous more stalls selling clothes, from Demon Slayer shirts to Zara jackets. If you happen to be a fan of K-pop or anime, this is a wonderful place to find cheap merchandise. If you’re a sneakerhead but do not have quite the budget required to buy Yeezys or Jordans, there are a large number of stores ready to sell you cheap copies that look almost exactly like the real thing. If you’re interested in exploring something different but good quality then stores like Akama Handicrafts and MAPCHA Designs offer beautiful tote bags, purses and Tibetan clothing as well.

However, dear reader, none of this is quite the reason I insist on introducing all my friends to Majnu ka Tilla. The reason behind that happens to be the wonderful eateries scattered around the area. The two most famous of these are AMA Café and Dolma House, both of which are incredibly old. Both are also almost always packed and on a busy day the wait to get a table can last for over an hour. However, if you do get in, the experience and food is worth the waiting time and more. AMA reminds one of a living creature again, with its organic architecture and warmly lit atmosphere. The food is, of course, the real reason it’s frequented by tourists. The menu is not on the pricey side and the pancakes and cheesecake are in my humble opinion, the stuff dreams are made of. 

Like I said above, Little Tibet isn’t for everyone and many people find it claustrophobic, intimidating or overrated. It is for those looking for new things, new cultures, good food and a good deal. In that, it is absolutely perfect for the students of DU.

Feature image credits: Jagran

Read Also: DUBTravels: The Chandni Lanes of Chandni Chowk

Siddharth Kumar

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Majnu ka Tila, or MKT as it is fondly called, is a Tibetan colony located near Vidhan Sabha Metro station.

A rickshaw ride to Majnu ka Tila is the most feasible and hastle free. A beautiful overhead walking bridge welcomes you with colourful flags, building the expectation of a ‘miny Tibet’ within Delhi. Don’t let the narrow austere alley confuse you. One must be patient and soldier through this lane because the most exciting network of rich alleys awaits!

Majnu ka Tila is a remedy from the often exhausting energy of Delhi and replaces it with the monastic spirit of Tibet. Here are some of my favourite things about MKT, now yours to explore:

1. Laphing, the prettier sibling of momos: It is about time that we stop feeling so patriotic about the momos at North Campus. The beautifully made and spiced Tibetan Laphing is a very strong competitor of our beloved staple food. This is probably the main reason why I shun every plan and head towards my favourite Laphing point opposite Rigo House at Majnu ka Tila instead! It’s very hard to go back to the plain old momos once you’ve had a taste of this beauty.

2. Shopping for all that’s ‘in’: If you’re in awe of the collection of clothes at Kamla Nagar, say hello to your new paradise. Even on your 57th visit to Majnu ka Tila, you will still be as excited as you were the first time.

From shoe stores, to souvenir shops everything is dangerous for your pocket money, because at Majnu ka Tila, you will just want to add everything to your wardrobe.

3. Restaurants galore: If you are looking for an alternative to Hudson Lane and Kamla Nagar, Majnu ka Tila is the answer. If you are not looking for an alternative, you must definitely bless your delusional heart with a visit.


The comfortably beautiful Ama’s Cafe and Restaurant, The Asian Kitchen House, and Dolma House, to name a few are places to fulfill your “food-porn” goals. Tibetan cuisine is undoubtedly one of the best that I have ever had.

(Do not forget to try the Mud Cake at Ama’s cafe, especially after the Laphing.)

4. The colony and the people: I have always felt safe and at peace in Majnu ka Tila. After a year of experience, I think I can explain why. Since the place is resided in by Tibetans of all ages, the place feels like a big family. You can’t help but feel at home here. It feels wonderful to greet the elders and have a playful conversation with the kids.

I am not a Tibetan, and their culture is not very similar to mine, but I feel a sense of attachment and belonging to this place. It seems like a home away from home for some reason. If you are fed up with the fast paced and monotonous life too, give yourself an opportunity to refill your drained spirits with the simplicity and warmth of this place.

Image credits: Haidam Zeme and budgettraveller.org

Tooba Towfiq
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