Ulli’s bucket list of the 10 things you have to do / see in Bhutan

By Ulrike Čokl

Ulli has lived in Bhutan on and off for many years. She has
conducted ethnographic research on traditional hospitality practices,
travelling & gift-exchange in rural communities. Thus she is very
familiar with village livelihoods all over the little kingdom. She loves
developing unique itineraries that offer a glimpse into the rich
cultural traditions and practices of Bhutanese society.

It is truly difficult for me to think of only 10 must-see places and attractions in Bhutan where I have spent so much time over the past 18 years. However, I will try and choose from my long list of things, places and activities that I love, keeping in mind that it is for people who have not been to the Himalayan Kingdom before.

 

1 Taktsang Gonpa

Tigernest monastery

There is no way around it, Tigernest monastery is undoubtedly one of the best known attractions in the Himalayan kingdom and for many first time visitors impossible to skip. I was lucky enough to hike up to Taktsang several times before it became a highly frequented tourist spot during high season. Nevertheless, the first close up glimpse of Taktsang monastery, perched on a steep cliff, never ceases to enchant me. One recommendation though: Try to hike up as early as possible, maybe start around 6 o’clock in the morning or even earlier! That way you will more likely be able to enjoy the place for what it was intended to be: a remote recluse for peaceful and quiet contemplation and meditation.


 

2 Dzongs – Fortresses with ancient history

Punakha Dzong

I love Bhutanese Dzongs, they are great architectural masterpieces, embellishing the landscape. They were built in ancient times without the use of metal nails mainly from wood, stone and mud. Dzongs tower over every one of the 20 districts, some very historic, some rather recent. Landing in Paro and spotting Rinpung Dzong from the plane always makes me feel sentimental. Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, one of my favorites, unfortunately burned down a few years ago. It was a very authentic example of these fortresses and is now under restoration. Visiting Punakha Dzong is also impressive and offers wonderful opportunities for walks in the surrounding areas, such as to the longest suspension bridge and even further to an idyllic homestay amidst the fields and near the river. Jakar Dzong in Bumthang, as well as Lhuentse Dzong and Trashigang Dzong in the East are equally stunning and worth visiting.


 

3 Hike to a mountain pass

Photo: Marina Beck Photography

If you don’t have time to go on a serious trek, there are still plenty of opportunities to hike up to mountain passes from where you can spot the Himalayan snow giants. Most Bhutanese believe that the peaks are the dwelling places of birth and protector deities, the kyelha. Hiking to such passes can take from a few hours to a full day. The passes are often marked by a chorten (Buddhist shrine) decorated with prayer flags, and a latshe (stone pile) where you can offer a twig, flower or leaf to the local deity. When Bhutanese travelers reach a mountain pass, they will shout “lha gyelo” (“the victorious gods” or “may good win over evil”), and offer a cup of ara (local moonshine) to the local deity before drinking some themselves. Along the way you might come across cow herders, mostly the grandparents of village householders whose job it is to look after the cattle. If you are lucky you will be invited for butter tea and snacks in one of their makeshift huts!


 

4 Spending time in a local home

A Bhutanese saying goes: “The guest of one night is like a god.” I am convinced that you have not truly experienced Bhutan without having spent some time in a non-commercialized farmhouse. Enjoying local hospitality in a Bhutanese home is simply fantastic! Furthermore, food in homestays is much better than in the hotels and guesthouses.  You can observe the nangi aum (woman of the house) going about her chores and even join in yourself and learn how to prepare local dishes. Or you can meditate in the choesham (altar room) and have a look around the house and surroundings. Make sure to find a real farmstay and not one that has been meddled with and commercialized for tourists. There are plenty of genuine village homes who occasionally host foreign guests from far away, keeping in line with ancient Bhutanese hospitality traditions.


 

5 A village festival

Masked dances are grand, especially in the Dzongs where they are performed annually at auspicious dates to celebrate the victory of good over evil. They re-enact the story of how the Buddhist dharma was introduced by famous lamas and saints in previous times, leading to the subduing of demons and evil beings. I personally prefer small village festivals where you can get an idea of how such events involve the entire community and shape the relationships of humans in daily life. I know this can be tricky as the village folks often keep festival dates tentative till last minute. However, if you manage to participate in one of the smaller local festivals, you will get insights into how such community festivals reinforce community cohesion and cooperation, a sense of belonging and communal identity. Such important local socio-cultural aspects are vulnerable to a fast changing society where rural-urban migration is a huge issue.

An insider’s tip: Travel to East Bhutan in the winter months (December, January and February) and you will most likely stumble into festivals every now and then. You might also be the first foreigner to ever have witnessed one!


 

6 Trekking in Bhutan

Photo: Marina Beck Photography

It goes without saying that trekking in Bhutan is a stunning experience. The trekking routes are unique and you will not meet many fellow travellers. On ancient footpaths, you will hike through rhododendron and conifer forests, juniper shrubs and bamboo bushes, passing by chortens, mani walls and beautiful gonpas. On some treks you will encounter yak herders whose yaks graze on pastures covered with medicinal plants. Meet with villagers of distant valleys such as the Layaps during Lingshi-Laya-Gasa or Jomolhari treks, and share a cup of tea or ara with them. The flora and fauna are amazing and you will most certainly also come across wild deer and blue sheep. On a final note, in Bhutan, your luggage will be carried by mules, not humans, and overnights will be in tents.


 

7 A Crafts workshop

Photo: Marina Beck Photography

If you have time and visit the right places, take part in a crafts workshop such as bamboo or textile weaving in Central and East Bhutan, and thangka painting in the West, to mention just a few. It is a wonderful way of getting closer to local Bhutanese and you will learn more about the role of handicrafts within communities in the past and present. You will develop an appreciation for the hard work that goes into such crafts. The harvest and collection of the wild or cultivated raw materials and the further processing of the latter are tedious and labor intensive. Imagine for example the raw material for nettle weaving, a thread made of stinging nettle, difficult to harvest and peel. Similarly it takes a while to collect and process bamboo into the raw material needed to weave the beautiful bangchung (woven bowls), famous in Bhutan and available in every souvenir shop in Thimphu.

By participating in such local workshops you benefit the artisans directly. No better way to support them and at the same time immerse in local culture!


 

8 Zhemgang

Photo: Marina Beck Photography

I simply love Zhemgang. It is remote, hardly visited and sub-tropical in the lower parts with opportunities to visit the jungle of the Royal Manas National Park. There is an abundance of birds, which even I can take good pictures of by simply using my cell phone camera – the great hornbill just being one of many! The locals are lovely, reserved but very hospitable, and jolly when the ice has broken. Many houses are still in traditional style, made of bamboo and sitting on stilts. If you are adventurous at heart and not picky when it comes to accommodation, Zhemgang is the perfect place to explore! Visit some of the farmer cooperatives, venture into the jungle for bird watching or enjoy the rafting opportunities. Try the delicious local food, some ingredients come directly from the forest, and visit the bamboo basket weaving community in Bjoka.


 

9 East Bhutan

Photo: Marina Beck Photography

The East is great for those who want to enjoy less touristy places and experience more immersion in local culture and tradition. The valleys are steep and cliffy in some places and the slopes are terraced for rice cultivation. The climate is mild due to the lower altitude. Banana trees and plenty of fruits grow all over the place and throughout the year. In winter the orange tangerines dotting the trees look beautiful among the brownish dry landscape. The East has many local crafts to show, mostly located in remote areas such as Trashiyangtse, Trashigang and Lhuentse. You can use Lingkhar lodge as your “base camp” and periodically venture out to the surrounding villages. Or stay at some of the lovely homes in the region and enjoy local hospitality. In spring and autumn, visit the Brokpa communities in Merak and Sakteng, and in winter observe the Black Necked Cranes in Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary.  There are many places in Bhutan that are still rather unexplored. If you have the mind of a pioneer, you might even enjoy being our “guniea pig”, a pioneer exploring new routes, places and homes!


 

10 Food – picnics and cooking classes

I really like chili and cheese (=ema datshi) but there is so much more to Bhutanese food. Forget about ema datshi; if you travel to remote places at the right time of the year you will get to taste greeneries from the forest and fields, mushrooms and tasty herbs, homemade bread made from buckwheat, wheat rolls stuffed with a mix of garlic leaves, cheese and chili; home grown vegetables and potatoes and very traditional dishes such as “rice-pizza” (only prepared on special occasions), red rice and fried wild fern, the list goes on. Bhutanese cuisine also includes plenty of meat items such as sikam (dried pork), dried yak-meat and beef; beef bone soup and porridge as well as fried chicken, vegetarian sausages and homemade buckwheat noodles. Not to forget the popular momos with a variety of stuffings! Bumthang is a particular culinary hot spot but there are also places in Zhemgang and East Bhutan and wherever you move a bit off the beaten track or where plenty of produce is supplied from the forests.


 

Some final words for Bhutan travelers

My bucket list of highlights in Bhutan can never be complete.  Some aspects are worth mentioning in addition: Gesar Travel can arrange specialized tours where you can choose a particular focus during your travels. This can be anything from remote village visits and farmstays to textiles, pilgrimages, bird watching or traditional medicine, Sowa Rigpa. Let us know what interests you most and lectures and guided tours with experts can be arranged. Admittedly, additional activities may incur extra fees, but you will support local specialists and communities directly and non-bureaucratically.

 

Travelling off the beaten track

In Bhutan there is still a lot to be discovered. Hence it is always good to keep an open mind and remain flexible during your journey. It can be tedious to travel along unpaved roads to reach often times very remote villages. But at the end you encounter interesting activities such as cotton cultivation and cotton weaving in Chimoong, Pemagatshel. Sometimes ad-hoc changes might be necessary due to unforeseeable circumstances but you can consider that to be part of your authentic Bhutanese experience!

 

My insider’s tip:

Last but not least, I will share an insider’s tip with you:  the Monpa communities in Trongsa, along the Nabji-Korphu trek, have incredibly rich local knowledge on medicinal plants and edibles from the forest! From leafs to roots, the selection is vast and very tasty. While normally guests stay in designated camp grounds, we put you up in the homes of the Monpa communities! They are considered the aboriginal people of Bhutan with their own language and customs. Together with a Monpa guide, you will gain insights into the rich ethnobotanical knowledge of these interesting people and at the same time support them in their endeavor to preserve their local knowledge and culture.




Foreign countries, foreign customs. Whenever you travel, always try to research in advance about the local customs at your destination. This will help you avoid awkward or unpleasant situations, and make friends quickly. Kyrgyzstan is no exception, and it has a few rules worth knowing. Of course, small faux pas and unintentional mistakes can happen, but the hospitable Kyrgyz are quick to forgive them. So don’t worry too much.

1o Rules for Kyrgyzstan

1 Gifts make friends

If you are invited to a Kyrgyz house, it is a nice touch to bring a small gift. Fruits and/or sweets from your home country are always well received.

2 Proper handling of bread

Bread is the most important food for the nomads. Never put it upside down on the table; that is especially disliked. Bread is preferably hand-torn, not cut with a knife, and it is usually put on the center of the table so it can be shared among all diners. Above all, do not throw bread away! If you are satisfied or consider it no longer edible, at least give it to the animals. There is an ominous saying whenever bread is thrown away: “kesir bolot”, which means “famine comes”.

3 Accepting and tasting

If you are invited to dinner with a Kyrgyz family, try tasting a little bit of everything. This shows that you appreciate their hospitality. Besides the bread, the butter is especially important. So try them (if you can). Often, a family member will offer you something from his or her own plate. Take it. It would be rude to refuse. This is especially true when coming from the elders, because it is a sign of affection.

4 Eating with the right hand

Even though nowadays cutlery is widely used, many Kyrgyz still eat with their hands. It is important to eat only with the right one!

5 Empty plates are refilled

If you eat everything on your plate, your Kyrgyz host will give you more food. So, if you’re satisfied and don’t want anything else to eat, it’s good to leave something on your plate.

6 Shoes off!

In Kyrgyzstan you take off your shoes before entering a house. Take them off, put them nicely next to each other and never with the soles up! Superstitious Kyrgyz assume that upside down shoes bring bad luck into the house.

7 Spit

Sometimes an elderly woman will greet you with a bowl of water and ask you to spit in it. Then she’ll move the bowl over your head and empty it or put it in front of the house. Water has a purifying effect and when you spit into it, evil spirits and their negative aura are chased away and dissipated. This is a custom in Kyrgyzstan with people who come from a long journey.

8 Alcohol

The Kyrgyz people like to drink. A lot. As a guest, this is also expected of you. The most common drinks served are vodka and Kymyz (fermented mare’s milk). If you don’t want to drink, it’s better to say so from the beginning and not accept a single glass. As soon as you accept a shot, it will become harder to refuse the following. A “no” coming from a woman will be easier to accept than the denial of a man. And if you are the one serving, always fill the others’ glasses first, before pouring yourself something.

9 Toasts

When Kyrgyz people sit together to drink, they also toast. The longer the toast, the more respected the speaker. It signals the desire to express big, deep wishes. So try to come up with a long speech!

10 Offer and insist

If you offer food to Kyrgyz people, they will usually politely refuse at first, even if they really feel like tasting what you have to offer. If so, insist. Only then will they accept it and enjoy it.




Top 10 Places and activities in Delhi

Delhi is huge, noisy, and for many people also a bit scary. But Delhi is more than just the ever-growing and always busy capital of India, constantly threatening with bursting from its seams. Indeed, there are countless charming and exciting facets to discover here: monuments and forts that tell sad and adventurous stories, and speak of the tragic fate of many heroes and heroines; vibrant places full of joy and color, where the old and the modern go hand in hand; and people (so many people!) from all the corners of India and the whole world. Delhi is and offers so much, that it can be overwhelming in its complexity.

We chose 10 of our most favorite places and activities to make it easier for you to chose which place is right for you.

1. Humayun’s Tomb

The Humayun’s tomb is one of the most interesting sites of the Mogul’s time. The construction of Delhi’s first Mogul’s grave was begun in 1564 after the death of the second Mughal ruler. Haji Begum, Humayun’s widow and mother of Akbar (1542-1605), kept a watchful eye on the works and even moved to its vicinity to better manage its construction. It served as a refuge for the last emperor, Bahadur Shah II (1775-1862), whom the British captured here in 1857. Due to its elegant Persian style, the grave is considered one of the most magnificent historical buildings in Delhi.


2. Qutab Minar

The first buildings of Muslim India are known today as the Qutb Complex. They were built on the ruins of Lal Kot, a fortress built in the 8th century by the Tomara Rajputs and expanded further in the 12th century by the Chauhans. Today one of Delhi’s most famous landmarks is found here: the pointed red sandstone tower of the Qutb Minar. A dominating presence amidst the ruins, the over-70-meters-high Qutb Minar is decorated with beautiful ornaments and verses of the Quran. The minaret was built in 1199 as a siege tower in conjunction with the ancient mosque of Qutb-ud-Din Aibak (1150-1210), founder of the Sultanate of Delhi. This marked the beginning of the Muslim supremacy over Delhi and a large part of the Indian subcontinent.


3. Hauz Khas Complex

The Hauz Khas complex in the south of Delhi encompassed a water reservoir, a mosque, a mausoleum and several pavilions around an urbanized medieval village with a story dating back to the 13th century of the Sultanate of Delhi. It was part of Siri, the second medieval city of India in the Sultanate of the Allauddin Dhilji Dynasty. The name Hauz Khas is Farsi in origin and means “royal water tank” or “royal lake”. The reservoir was built by Khilji to supply the inhabitants of Siri with water. In the time of Firuz Shah Tughlaq, the tank was decontaminated. Various religious buildings surround and guard the lake. Today’s Hauz Khas complex also includes a modern area with galleries, boutiques and restaurants.


4. Akshardam Temple Complex

The Akshardam Temple, also called Swamirayan Temple, is the world’s largest Hindu temple complex. It is one of the most recent temples of Delhi – the opening took place in 2005 – and in many ways it reminds of a religious theme park. A visit to this contemporary architectural wonder is undoubtedly recommended, but you have to remember to save enough time for it. One can spend easily a whole day in the complex.


5. Lotus Temple

The Lotus Temple is the newest of the world’s seven Bahá’í temples. The name derives from the shape of the building, which is reminiscent of a lotus flower. The building was opened on December 24, 1986, and since then has won numerous architectural awards and has been pictured in countless magazines and newspapers. The sacred building is one of the most famous of the Bahá’í faith and is visited annually by about three million people. The building is an outstanding example of modern architecture in India.


6. Chhatarpur Temple

The Chhatarpur Temple – or Shri Aadya Katyayani Shakti Peetham – is also located in South Delhi. It is considered the second largest temple in India, and third in the world, and is dedicated to the goddess Katyayani. The temple was founded in 1974 by Baba Sant Nagpal Ji, who died in 1998. This temple is totally constructed with marble in what is classified as a Vessara style of architecture.


7. Dilli Haat

Dilli Haat is THE market by definition: an open-air food-and-handicrafts market in southern Delhi. Merchants from all over India sell their products here: wood carvings, textiles, jewelry, pearls, metalwork, silk, clay works, paintings… in short, everything that makes the heart of a souvenir hunter beat faster. The dealers change every 15 days, so it is important to try and seize as much of Dilli Haat’s diversity as possible. If you get hungry while shopping here, there is no need to leave the area: there are many excellent restaurants and food stands next to the selling booths and huts.


8. Janpath Markt

The Janpath Market has a long history. It takes its name from the street that connects Connaught Place to Lodhi Road, and along which the market extends from beginning to end. The Janpath market is particularly popular with those who like to buy cheap – and this doesn’t only apply to tourists, but it’s true especially among the inhabitants of the big city. From the trendy to the modern to the classic and exotic, everything can be found here, making this market a frantic paradise for bargain hunters of all sorts.


9. Fab India

Fab India is an Indian shopping chain focused on textiles, furniture and fair trade products. All goods are made by craftsmen and artists from rural India. The first shop was opened in 1976 in Delhi. Today, there are more than 250 branches throughout India and abroad. The products of Fab India are especially great, because a part of the earnings are destined to improve the village infrastructures and support the development of the countryside. A total of more than 40,000 artists and craftsmen distribute their goods through Fab India.


10. Eat like a Mughal Emporer

Sightseeing can be as interesting as exhausting, so either between visits or at the end of the tour we will need to recover our energies with a meal in a restaurant. In this case, one that serves typical Mughlai-Food. The cuisine of the Moguls has strongly influenced the North Indian cuisine. It includes both very mild and spicy dishes, with a distinctive aroma and the taste of grated and whole spices. Debashree will take you to a Mughlai restaurant and enjoy lunch (or early dinner) with you.


 

If you want to discover Delhi in a special way, you can do this with our great Debashree.

Debashree is actually a journalist, but she’s grateful for every chance to leave the desk and show her city with fervent enthusiasm.

The tours with Debashree may be slightly more expensive than regular sightseeing tours in Delhi, but they are absolutely worth it because you get to see the city through her eyes. Nothing could be more personal and authentic!

 

Our tours in Delhi with Debashree


The historic Delhi
Meet the Moguls
The Moguls have influenced Delhi in many ways. Discover their history with Debashree and visit the Lodhi Gardens, the Tomb of Humayun, the Qutab Minar, the Hauz Khas Village and Purana Qila. Lunch is served in a Mogul restaurant.
Best Time: October-April (but can be taken all year-round)

from 58 EUR


The religious Delhi
The Temple Path
This tour focuses on the spiritual side of Delhi and includes visits to a selection of the following temples: Iskcon, Lotus, Jagannath, Chhatarpur and Askhardham. Lunch is served in a vegetarian restaurant.
Best Time: Oktober-April (but can be taken all year-round)

from 38 EUR


Shopping in Delhi
Trading and Bargaining
Wanna go on a hunt for souvenirs? Debashree takes you to the best markets and helps you deal with the (in)famous and persistent Indian haggling culture: Janpath Market, Lajpat Market, Dilli Haat and / or Paharganj Market. No commission!
Best Time: October-April (but can be taken all year-round)

from 35 EUR


Shopping without Sweating
Shopping with Air Conditioning
During the (pre) monsoon season, especially between May and September, shopping is considerably more pleasant in AC-equipped shops and malls. Debashree takes you to the shops at the Khan Market, the Hauz Khas Village, the Greater Kailash Market and the Janpath Emporium.
Best Time: all year long

from 32 EUR


 




spacer

Hinduism is the most important religion in India and the third-largest religion in the world, with around 1 billion adherents. Since Hinduism, with its many traditions and interpretations, countless deities and grandiose philosophies can be overwhelming for both believers and non-Hindus, we have tried to sum up here the most important aspects of the religion.

 

spacer

man-1245666_1920

spacer

What Hindus believe

spacer

Hinduism is not an organized religion nor does it have a rigid systematic approach to its doctrine and core values. Unlike the 10 commandments of the Christian Old Testament, Hindus do not have a simple set of rules that they must all follow. Local, regional and caste-related practices also create a myriad of interpretations within the Hindu faith.

Nevertheless, all Hindus are connected by their shared belief in a Supreme Being and the principles of truth, dharma and karma. In all Hindu schools of thought the Vedas – the sacred writings – are the foundation upon which the religion is built, although the scriptures are interpreted in many different ways.

spacer

6 universal principles of Hinduism

prayer-1324071_1280

spacer

spacer

om

Truth is eternal

Hindus assume that there is such a thing as an eternally valid truth to be followed. According to the Vedas (the Holy Scriptures), there is a universal, eternal truth; however, this one truth can be expressed in different ways.

spaceromBrahman is real and the truth

Hinduism’s Supreme Being is called Brahman and is formless, endless, all-embracing and eternal. Nevertheless, Brahman is not an abstract concept but a real unity of all that exists in the universe (both visible and invisible). So actually Hinduism is not a polytheist religion as believed in the west: Brahman stands above all other Hindu gods!

spacerom

The Vedas are the ultimate authority

The Vedas are the scriptures on which Hinduism is based, and contain the revelations of great saints and wise men. Hindus believe that the Vedas have no beginning nor end: even though everything else in the universe will be destroyed in time, the Vedas will remain.

spacer

omEveryone should strive to achieve Dharma

The concept of Dharma is indispensable to understand Hinduism. However, there is no simple word in English to explain it succinctly. Dharma can be described as correct behavior, justice, moral law, and duty.

spacer

om

The individual sould is immortal

A Hindu believes that the soul of an individual (atman) is neither created nor destroyed: it was, is and will always be. The actions of a soul, while inhabiting a body, will affect their next lives in new bodies. The process by which one individual soul transitions from one body to the next is called transmigration. The new body that a soul receives depends on karma (i.e. their actions during previous lives).

spacer

om

The goal of an individual soul is Moksha

Moksha is the liberation and the declared goal of an individual soul: the freeing of the soul from the cycle of death and rebirth (aka samsara) by understanding its true nature, and the reunion with Brahman. There are different paths leading to the discovery of truth and thus to the merging with Brahman: the path of duty, the path of knowledge and the path of unconditional devotion.

hindu-1588337_1920

spacer




spacer

Anyone who speaks a few words in the language of the traveler’s destination, will be warmly welcomed. Of course this is also true for Bhutan. It will take some time to learn a few words in Dzongkha – the national language of Bhutan – and maybe some pronounciations will be difficult for foreign tongues but we guarantee it is worth it. And at the end we “torment” you with only 20 phrases 😉

IMG_3443 (002)

spacer

The 20 most important phrases in Dzongkha

Kuzuzangpola.
Hello!


Kadrinchhey.
Thank you.


Me Zhu.
No thank you!


Zhey!
Please eat/drink.


Tashi Delek.
Good luck!


Zhimbay.
It is delicious.

Picture-161

For bhutanese it is especially “zhimbay” if the meal contains a lot of chillies.


Na gi tshen gachi mo?
What is your name?


Nge gi ming … ein.
My name is … .


Chhoe gatey ley mo?
From where are you?


Nga … ley ein.
I am from … .


Log jaygay!
Good bye!


Lam gatey jo mo?
Where is this way leading to?

hikingbhutan

Es ist immer gut zu wissen, wohin der Weg am Ende führt.


Tharingsa inna?
Is it far?


Gaday bay zhui?
How are you?


Legshom.
I am fine.


Nga nau mey.
I am sick.


Chhabsa gatey mo?
Where is the toilet?


Ani ga chi mo?
What is it?

13391619_1125848214121222_4603981214390290160_o

The people of Bhutan are extremely hospitable. And talking a few words in their mother tongue will make them happy.


Ani gadem chi mo?
How much is it?


Nga Druk gai.
I like Bhutan.


 

 

 




spacer

 

It is always good to speak a few words in the language of your host’s country. Ladakhi – the language of the people of Ladakh – isn’t that easy to learn, but on the other hand you do not have to know it perfectly. It is enough to speak a few words and you will quickly make friends. Also you show by speaking a few words in Ladakhi that you appreciate the host’s culture. 

 

The 20 most important words and phrases in Ladakhi

 

abi-happy

Especially Ladakhi, who do not know English, really appreciate if someone knows a few words in Ladakhi.

spacer

JULLEY  [dschu-leh]
The most powerful word of the ladakhi language. It is so much more than one word in english. It means:
HELLO, BYE, THANK YOU, PLEASE.  A simple, yet strong word to build friendships. 


KHAMSANG-IN-A-LEY? [or short: khamsang-ley?]
How are you? Note: The suffix “ley” at the end of a sentence makes everything sound a bit more polite. You can use it as often as you like! You can not do anything wrong with it!


KHAMSANG-LEY!
I am fine.


DON-LEY!
Please eat/take! Especially when invited by ladakhi families you will hear this term very often. It is part of the ladakhi etiquette to “force” their guests to eat/drink.

don-ley

The Ladakhi are great hosts and like to spoil their guests.


MAN-LEY.
No, thanks!


D(r)IK-LEY.
It is enough!


DANGS-LEY.
I am full.


O-LEY.
Yes, please.


TSAPIK-LEY.
A little bit, please.


SHIMPO RAK-LEY!
It is delicious.

shimpo

Many dishes in Ladakh are “ma shimpo” – very delicious. Photo: Preparing of Momos.


NYERANGI-MING CHI IN-LEY?
What is your name?


NGE-MING … IN-LEY.
My name is …


NYERANG KANE IN-LEY?
From where are you?


NGA Germany/Austria/Switzerland-NE IN-LEY.
I am from Germany/Austria/Switzerland.


KULE-KULE!
Slowly-slowly!

lam-weg

Especially during treks it is important to walk “kule-kule”.


NGA GO-A ZUMO RAK.
I have headache.


NGA TODPA-A ZUMO RAK.
I have tummy ache.


NGA TUTU-A ZUMO RAK.
I have throat pain.


LAM (place)-A KANE INOK-LEY?
Where is the way to (place)?


(LADAKH)MAA LDEMO DUK-LEY.
(Ladakh) it is beautiful.

demo-duk

It is not diffult to use the phrase “demo duk-ley”, as Ladakh is at many places very beautiful.