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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Delhiwale: A journey to Tihar

A visit to Tihar is hardly the stuff dreams are made of, but if it’s on your bucket list we have a simple solution.

delhi Updated: Aug 29, 2017 14:03 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
The prison derives its name from Tihar village.
The prison derives its name from Tihar village. (Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Tihar Jail hardly needs any introduction. It is, after all, the largest prison complex in Asia, tending to thousands of inmates in various stages of “correction”.

Behind its concrete walls in west Delhi you find the grim gamut of the incarcerated — from murderers and rapists to perhaps a few unhappy souls who shouldn’t be there at all.

The huge prison has only been around since 1958. Meantime, we’re checking out something far older, wandering the rutty lanes of Tihar Village — from which the prison derives its name.


It’s like any of the other 247 villages in Delhi. The lanes are lined with tiny grocery shops while the barber at the salon is fast asleep. And yet, it is a thrilling experience to be in the heart of a place named, well, Tihar.


Midafternoon in Tihar (village) is best described as ho-hum. Scarcely a soul stirs, except for a lone bull slowly rumbling past. Languid locals are chatting outside their homes: The Valmiki Temple won’t reopen until evening.

Further along, members of a wedding band are getting their act together, minus any dhols (drums). There’s a sweatshop where shoemaker Muhammed Nafees is sewing a sole onto a well-trod shoe. Behind him, the blue wall is decked with dozens of leather footwear awaiting his ministrations.


His radio doles out old Hindi film songs which somehow seems perfectly natural. We pause to take in a Kishore Kumar number while reflecting upon this village: A far gentler version of the other Tihar.


First Published: Aug 29, 2017 14:02 IST

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