Welcome to the unhinged, feral yet peaceful refuge of the Buddhist monastic community in the heart of the city. Majnu ka Tila is a home for vagabond souls; a hybrid of the bohemian, Tibetan and Korean cultural artifacts. At dawn, the napalm skies over the narrow lanes are transcendental, where one feels they can find power in the fire, the soft breeze or in the soft hum of the earth beneath their feet.
A few kms away from the Delhi University’s North Campus, we find this hidden gem – India’s own mini Tibet known as the Chop Chop Square. Just across the foot over bridge lies this oriental Narnia; when I first stepped into it felt like I had been teleported to another land, from music, the aroma of street food to people, all landscape changes with a few steps into this colony.
Majnu-ka-Tila has been a panacea to refugees for decades. The streets are flooded with monks- you can find them at the local bookstore or enjoying a delicious Tsampa(Barley) shake at the very famous Ama Cafe! Old grannies selling spices and homemade traditional recipes with big smiles on their faces are seen holding beautiful paper fans with cherry blossoms printed on it. The colony though finite in space is full of visual aesthetics in every nook and corner.
Moving further into the labyrinth of narrow lanes we discover the sacred Buddhist temple. The temple is open to all; always glistening with diyas and air filled with incense sticks rendering it at as a meditative space of harmonic oscillations between creative action and introspection. A few turns deeper we stumble upon a chain of quirky, quaint cafes serving authentic Korean and Tibetan delicacies song with local karaoke booths. The most interesting experience was finding a kettle of herbal green tea served along with the dish instead of water at these Korean cafes as a part of the tradition.
Interacting with the locals I delved deeper into their quest for a safe space for their community. They take great pride in their culture and heritage and try to inculcate it in the young generation.
Wanderlust makes us dive deep into the guanxi of the mind and the soul. The narrow streets encompass the journey of life through the transcendental medium of art, where the clandestine commerce of the words left unsaid echo on the walls as graffiti, encouraging the traveler to discover the world within.