14 Photos That Beautifully Capture Life Inside The Tibetan Refugee Colony In Delhi

Posted on April 29, 2014 in Lists, PhotoNama

By Sneha Roychoudhury:

Tiny shops displaying fascinating wares, ethnic restaurants, the whiff of oriental cuisine leading you down narrow by-lanes, flanked by fascinating spreads of beady bands and Tibetan charms, one street opening out into the other, walking in and out of darkness, bending at the edgy ends of run down houses- all the while being stared at by the flag of resistance, posted, proudly at every revolutionary corner of this world- all packed in a neat, efficiently veiled box: the label reads “Tibetan Refugee Colony, New Aruna Nagar.” Bricked walls leave gaps of tranquil spaces frequented by groups of austere monks, while ornate cafes embroider the uneven sides of this solitary fabric, appliquéd to the covers of the Indian capital city. Vivid images of colour set against the sepia tinge of time, beckoning smiles of children born into the legacy of “the other” and the charming clicks of an interesting afternoon: all the while pairs of curious eyes following you, while you absorb the signs of revolt and the symbols of struggle, evidently visible all over. This is the story of those eyes, some underlined with crow’s feet and some gleaming with young passion. But all, all these eyes hold a deeper, stronger light- the flickering lamp of their unheard cause, the passionate candles, lit for their wretched struggle for an identity and the land they have been exiled from.

This is the story of the eyes of people pained and subjugated, alienated by mankind and shunned by history. The Tibetan Movement for freedom and its many manifestations are realised all over Majnu-ka-tilla, the Tibetan settlements in Delhi, ardent posters, graffiti and nationalist posters filling the locality with an enthusiastic fervour. At the head of this movement, is an ideology of freedom and the aspiration of a lost identity. It is a struggle to be heard, to raise a much drowned voice against the aggressor that has clipped the wings of hope of many people. Various forms of art, literature and expression have been used to depict the uprising of these people, telling of their plight and their constant, undaunted courage in the face of adversity.


It is where the flag is held high, where you see my passion fly high; it is there that you shall know the fire of my soul and the tales of my people. The flags are hard to miss- they helped me spot the otherwise secluded colony of Tibetan refugees


From the gate a road winds down, and leads you into a story untold. Of lands far away and stories unnoticed.


The fire of suppressed passion has been lit, the lamp still burns… a cause emerges, Bridges are crossed, and all the while, lay entangled, the hopeful demand of a lost nation.



While exploring the walls that box this cause, I noticed the rendition of a voice that cannot go unheard.



Follow the white rabbit into its den and it opens to you secrets from now and then- fascinated as I was, life in this colony fills the veins of its darkest lanes.

An interesting walk, life emerges and slides into the roads and the lanes, the old and the young converge… all the while their eyes glint with the gleam of a singular dream- one they have dreamt together. The one they have passed on as legacy.


Here amongst the fiery love for their lost land, lay a world of colour- one that meant sustenance, sustenance of their hopes, all holding on to the singular idea of the hues of freedom.

Their bricked walls and their dingy lanes, a life forced upon their existence and yet so vivid, so lively so real, one they use for a survival. While I made my tour around this locality, I realised how Majnu-ka-tilla is certainly about a cause, but way more importantly it was about the faces behind this story.

While I traced my steps back, I caught a glimpse of an unmissable light, one that emerged from a heart and rose to the skies… and in a trickle my heart, felt the warmth; the warmth that rose from the candle of this fight.