Dilli da munda, Nishant Dahiya loves to spend time with his family in the Capital but only after he has had his fill of laphing, laughing, and shopping in Majnu Ka Tila aka MKT! Belonging to a family where his father and brother are Army officers, this actor who is known for his roles in Bollywood films such as Akelli, Kedarnath (2018), and ’83 (2021) relives his teen years as HT City takes him to this popular market in north Delhi, which is replete with Tibetan and Nepali cultural influences.

Actor Nishant Dahiya's brother, an Army man, was posted near MKT, which made him frequent the place during his college days.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)
Actor Nishant Dahiya’s brother, an Army man, was posted near MKT, which made him frequent the place during his college days.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)

MKT’s evergreen charm

“Majnu Ka Tila (MKT) is exactly the same today as it used to be in those days when I would come here with my college friends,” recalls the 36-year-old, adding, “Of course, there are new cafes that have come up. Earlier it was all about momos, but now you see laphing and boba tea at almost every turn in the market. But the monastery, the market, and its entire feel, vibe, and look are exactly the same as how it used to be. I love laughing and laphing in MKT!”

A plate of momos makes Nishant Dahiya fawn over MKT's street food.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)
A plate of momos makes Nishant Dahiya fawn over MKT’s street food.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)

Street food FTW

“I’m not a foodie. I just love the memories associated with food,” shares Dahiya, who is always up for trying new cuisines and exploring new places. With good food often comes good memories, and the actor adds, “I’ve grown up eating Northeast cuisine — momos, thukpa, and laphing — because I used to roam around this place since my father was posted here… So, discovering MKT during my college years is a connection I have from my childhood… Delhi to me is all about food and love. I remember the late night trips to Connaught Place for milkshakes and the dosa centre in RK Puram. Till today, whenever my brother and I are coming from Dhaula Kuan to Vasant Kunj (my parent’s house), we stop by at the same spot where we used tohave paan years ago… You know how music connects you to certain memories? For me, food does that with good times and good vibes. In fact, my mother loves to not just cook but also relish food… I think that’s where I get my habit from (laughs). Like, she always tells me ki momos le aa ya ram laddoo le aa. When I’m in Mumbai, she’ll call me up to say please order me some food, and I’ll get on the delivery apps to order food for her in Delhi!”

Boba tea is a fav of the actor, who makes an exception to his no sugar-rule to relish the drink when in MKT.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)
Boba tea is a fav of the actor, who makes an exception to his no sugar-rule to relish the drink when in MKT.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)

Urge to splurge in shopping

“Street shopping in Delhi never lets you down,” he states, adding, “I’d frequently visit MKT and Sarojini Nagar market when I was in college in Kurukshetra (Haryana) to eat and shop here. My brother, who is in the Army, always accompanied me and we used to buy numerous pairs of sneakers, tees and pyjamas! A lot of times branded lowers would be really short for me, but it’s in the street markets of Delhi that I’d always find lowers that wouldn’t fall short.”

A Delhiite in Mumbai

“I’ve always been like a buddy for everyone,” says Dahiya sharing how he’s a Delhiite at heart even while living in Mumbai. “This one time, I was hanging out with a friend of mine, who is also from west Delhi, and he told me about his friend who was visiting him from Dehradun. We went to meet my friend’s friend and the Dehradun-based boy told us that he was going to Pune that very night. Being a very Delhi person, I told him ‘Arrey go in the morning, kal jaana! Abhi it’s 6am, tu mere ghar chal.’ Can you imagine when he left? After four months! He stayed at my house for four months! Mere bhai ka bhai mera bhai ban gaya hai… Mumbai mein aisi Dilli wali bhaigiri shayad hi kisi ne dikhayi hogi.”

An animal lover at heart, Nishant Dahiya could not resist the urge to pet Pushee, a cat he came across at MKT.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)
An animal lover at heart, Nishant Dahiya could not resist the urge to pet Pushee, a cat he came across at MKT.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)

Pushee, the cat

The moment Dahiya saw a cat in MKT, he took it in his arms and shared: “I’m a huge animal lover! At my parent’s home in Vasant Kunj, we have seven pets (cats and dogs). I just love them so much… Delhi cats are friendlier though (laughs). I have 20 cats that I feed in Mumbai, since I don’t have a pet there to avoid making it feel lonely because I’m busy at work. But, the stray cats, every single one of them responds to the names I’ve given them… This one I’ve met here in MKT is Pushee, and now I’ll come back soon to meet her.”

The vibe and feel of the monastery at MKT compels Nishant Dahiya to take a nostalgia-filled ride to his teenage days that were spent in Delhi.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)
The vibe and feel of the monastery at MKT compels Nishant Dahiya to take a nostalgia-filled ride to his teenage days that were spent in Delhi.(Photo: Gokul VS/HT)

Nostalgia of Delhi

Having lived in four different locations in the city — Kidwai Nagar, SP Marg, Dhaula Kuan, and Vasant Kunj — Dahiya has a fair share of nostalgia etched in his memories. “I’m a true Delhi boy,” he says, adding, “On my last trip to the city, I just felt the urge and revisited the first house (where we lived) in East Kidwai Nagar since I had spent my childhood there. Upon reaching I was shocked to see that the two-storey quarters had been razed to build a 20-storey building! Compared with that, at least the nostalgia of MKT is intact, and that’s why I love coming back here.”

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