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A Little bit of Tibet in Delhi

Rigzin posted on 11 December

By Rigzin Wangmo

The world is full of clichés and stereotypes, and like in every city, in Delhi some are more stark than others. As a Tibetan, I find myself at the receiving end of a particularly prevalent stereotype. It is quite common for me to get asked "so where are you really from?" Maybe it's ignorance, or maybe just a lack of exposure.

I know it all sounds a little dramatic, but identity is a serious issue, and I have this need to make others re-evaluate their perception of Tibetans, because we are much more than our protests at Jantar Mantar and momos. Having said that, how do I do it? By offering you an insight and places where you can, for yourself, find a bit of Tibet in Delhi.

But, your first homework - locate Tibet on the world map.

Done? Here goes!

Majnu Ka Tilla | Momo, Thukpa, Shapta, Tingmo & Shabaley 

majnu-ka-tilla-new-aruna-nagar Don’t be intimidated by the location of New Aruna Nagar aka Majnu Ka Tilla - those of you who have not been there yet. Sure it is on the outskirts of the city, but the nearest metro station, Vidhan Sabha, is only 20 bucks away. Take the metro; don’t drive there, seriously. I make occasional visits for the food and to get my chupa stitched. The tailors there are phenomenally fast. Where to go | Choose restaurants where they do everything on their menu well. In MT, Ama Rabsel and Wangden are great. My family prefers Tee Dee, another excellent choice. These restaurants are not hard to find, but do ask for directions if it's your first time there.

What to order | Order the predictable momo, thukpa and shapta, but also ask what lowa, gyuma, cheley and droepa are, or just order them with your eyes shut. Not the choicest cuts of meat, but delicious none the less. I'd allot imaginary brownie points to anyone who tries cheley - nobody makes a trip to MT and misses out on cheley. Tsampa {roasted barley flour} is a fully Tibetan dish, but can be a bit of an acquired taste. Expect to pay between INR 50 to 150, per dish.

I must disclose that I am not unconditionally sure if the aforementioned food items are particularly Tibetan. That said, these are what Tibetans love to eat and what Tibetan restaurants serve. You can also have a look at this for more on MT.

Tibetan Food Blogs | There are couple of Tibetan food blogs out there, but none like Simply Tibetan Simply Delicious. The go-to blog for Tibetan recipes, I recently learnt how to make son labu {radish pickle} and I can’t wait to trade my son labu jar for some gajar kanji in the coming month. If you are a momo fan, get online now to learn how to make an authentic momo!


Tibet House | Library, Museum and Teachings tibet-house-delhi-lodi-road

"Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form, form is not other than emptiness." 

Excerpt from Heart Sutra {Sherab Nyinpo}

Tibet House, Culture Centre of H.H the Dalai Lama, is conveniently located on Lodi Road, next to Air Force Bal Bharti school. Yes, it does not look Tibetan, but nonetheless, it is a very interesting looking building.

The Tibet House has a powerhouse of a library for anyone who is interested in Tibetan Studies and Buddhist teachings. There is also a museum with valuable Tibetan art and artifacts, and a bookstore. If you prefer to listen and engage in dialogues for answers, The Tibet House offers Weekly Buddhist Philosophy teachings in Tibetan and English. It's open from Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm for everyone.

For more information, have a look at their website here.


Tibetan Art | Thangka, Art Collectives & Contemporary Artists

tibetan-art-delhi{Diamond Series; Gade}

While personally I can't tell one Thangka {paintings on silk with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity or scene of some sort} from another based on the method of painting, the Tibetan House has a collection of over 200 Thangka's on display. What intrigues me most is Tibetan Contemporary Art.

­Here in Delhi though, we have a little something called Tibetan Art Collective. Delhi is home to TAC because it was started here, but it has members across the diasporic Tibetan communities from Asia, to Europe and North America. For news and events related to Tibetan Contemporary Art, follow TAC on their Facebook page.

Though contemporary Tibetan art is nascent, and unfortunately can't be experienced in Delhi, there's plenty of fantastic work that's available online for those interested. I can’t help but be blown away by the works of Gade and Tsering Nyendak, both artists inside Tibet. And Gonkar Gyatso is just marvellous!

Finally, while you are at it, go on and Google Gendun Chomphel. He is the original rebel monk and one of the most important Tibetan intellectuals; Possibly my favourite Tibetan of all time.

  Although I can go on and on on matters concerning Tibet, I will conclude here with the hope that this opens up a culture{s} that will encourage you to learn more about it, and appreciate its myriad aspects, just like I do.