Significance of mesmerizing mask dances in Bhutan


Bhutan is long been known as the mysterious country, which has intentionally secluded itself from the rest of the world in order to protect its unique cultures and sacred traditions. The country is well known for mesmerizing the pilgrims and explorers from worldwide. Apart from the enchanting landscapes, Dzongs, hot springs, and monasteries, Bhutan has long treasured traditions that feature dazzling and vibrant religious dances and festivals. Tshechu or annual festivals are regarded as un-miss-able and top attractions in Bhutan. Amongst all the activities mask dances are considered most anticipated activities during Tshechus. So, while on your trip to Bhutan make sure you attend one that is presented to invoke their deities and ward off the evils. So, here are some facts and significance of the magical and mysterious mask dances in Bhutan.

1. History or origin of mask dance in Bhutan

Bhutanese mask dances have been evolved in 3 periods.

  • 1st introduced by Guru Padmasambhava
  • 2nd by Saint Pema Lingpa
  • 3rd by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of Bhutan

In the second period, in Pema Lingpa’s tenure, a path to paradise was created by various sets of attendant and acrobats. In the third stage, mask dances were inducted as crucial activities on annual festivities in Thimphu. Mask dances are greatly associated with the spiritual affair and each celebration features mask dances.

2. Mask dances are the epitome of spirituality, victory, prosperity, and joy

Mask dances are performed in order to invoke male and female deities, sages and saints and all the mythical and legendary personalities. It is performed with devotion with drums, cymbals, conch shells, drums, horns, and bells that rips the air. It may appear very entertaining externally, but when seen with better insight, symbolizes victory, wealth, joy, spirituality, and various stages of life.

3. Significance of the mask dances in Bhutan

Dance and music are culturally significant to the Bhutanese people. Mask dance or Chhams are usually performed during Tshechus celebrations. Mask dance personify communal occasions, passing seasons, and shared feelings and experiences. Mask dances that are performed in the Dzongs are crucial for unifying people and help them know more about their place, culture, and history. Besides, mask dances also deliver religious messages to people. It is believed that they ward off evils and misfortunes by invoking to their deities during the performance.

3. The performance of mask dance in Bhutan

The significance of mask dance performance is immense. These dance steps are not created but regarded as the representation of divinities and celestial dances that have been felt by the spiritual leaders when they were in intense meditative trances. It is believed that a dancer is purified of the sins while he performs, but women are exempted from performing the mask dance. Bhutanese believe that their souls and sins will be purified, and prosperity and good luck will be bestowed upon their lives by witnessing the mask dances. So, don’t you dare miss the mask dance performances during your Bhutan tour!

4. Different types of mask dances in Bhutan

Chhams or religious mask dances have been classified into 3 groups.

i. Dramatic dances that push morality

ii. Dances that protect people from harmful spirits

iii. One that celebrates victories

5. Mask dances performed today

Mask dances are basically performed during Tshechus in every important Dzongs, monasteries, and temple. The celebrations usually last from 3 days to a week. Tshechus are most anticipated events of Bhutan that is celebrated every 10th day of the months and attracts massive crowds from across the kingdom. People attend the festivals to attend the mask dances in their best of traditional attires and anticipate blessings and spiritual well being.

6. Major places where Tshechus and mask dances are performed:

Paro during spring, Thimphu and Bumthang in autumn, Punakha, and Trongsa in winter

So, prepare to get blessed with these mask dance performances in Bhutan. You can avail Bhutan culture trip and measure your journey to Bhutan at the best holiday in Bhutan cost at best deals and discounts.

Interesting facts about untold history of Dzongs in Bhutan

Interesting facts about untold history of Dzongs in Bhutan

Bhutan is the realm of mystery, mountains, monasteries, and Dzongs.  Dzong is a typical kind of architectural fortress style utilized mainly in Bhutan and the ancient Tibet. The architecture is tremendous in style with lofty surface walls including a network of temples, courtyards, administrative offices, and priests’ dwelling place. Dzongs or Bhutanese fortresses are architectural gems established in the era gone by to attend many requirements. They served as governmental centers and as residences for the priests. They were also utilized as blockhouses by the soldiers and people assembled in the Dzong yards during Tshechus and celebrations. Presently, it has charmed the travel fanatics and history enthusiasts from worldwide. It has never failed to awe-struck the spectators with its mysterious and intricate designs. The craftsmanship, devotion, and the brilliance of the Bhutanese rulers and architectures is clearly detected in these Dzongs. So, here are some interesting facts about these historical relics and the reason behind its emergence and establishment across the Dragon Kingdom.

1.  Classification of Dzongs: Dzongs are of 3 types –

Classification of Dzongs

  • Pre-Zhabdrung Dzongs,
  • Zhabdrung-era Dzongs, and
  • Post-Zhabdrung Dzongs.

However, the Dzongs established during the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel beginning from the Simtokha Dzong in 1629 are most significant in Bhutanese history.

2.  The origin and the purpose of the Bhutanese Dzongs: 

 The origin and the purpose of the Bhutanese Dzongs

Bhutanese fortresses or Dzongs emerged in the 12th century and its main purpose was to repel enemy’s invasions and to serve as the quarters of central authority. Thus, Dzongs were mostly built on the top of mountains, facing a valley or conflux of two rivers, the most unprotected regions from where the invaders are likely to enter into Bhutanese dominion.

3. Dzongs are the personification of victory:

Dzongs are the personification of victory

Dzongs in Bhutan speaks of the battles fought between Bhutanese and the Tibetans from the north, Bhutanese, and British-Indians from the south. Dzongs are the logo and the epitome of victory over the invasions that Bhutanese achieved during ancient times.

4. Dzongs are the treasure chest and museums:

Dzongs are the treasure chest and museums

Dzongs are also museums containing religious, cultural, and historical evidence that is beyond the worth. Besides, Dzongs or fortresses are where the answer to the complex queries about myths and legends lay in.

5. Dzongs are the governing center, spiritual center, and habitation for the priests:

Dzongs are the governing center, spiritual center, and habitation for the priests

Dzongs have always served both as the centers of power and also as centers of culture and religion. Maximum Dzongs have monasteries that serve as a home for monks and provide them a spiritual education. Despite, official section of a Dzong and the religious sector are clearly separated.

6.  Physical features of Bhutanese Dzongs:

Physical features of Bhutanese Dzongs

Dzongs were normally built of stone and hammered clay. It owns only one entrance and it is commonly made of wood. The governmental offices, armories, apartments for the priests and the storerooms are constructed in the outward walls of the Dzong. The pillars holding the gallery are lavishly embellished with themes such as lotus flowers, clouds, and the head of a sea-beast called Makara. A broad red band called the ‘khemar’ just under the roof of the structure indicates the spiritual nature of the Dzong. The rooftops of the Dzong have a moderate slope and are built one or two meters high above the last gallery and create large overhanging eaves. Bhutanese fortresses or Dzongs are architecturally brilliant and treasures some of the exceptional paintings, carvings, sculptures, antique hand calligraphed texts, rare artifacts, and textiles. The stone walls of fortresses are magnificent, coated in white, and with raised windows that are entirely unreachable from outside. The windows are coated in black. Lowest windows are extremely narrow and allow-in just a little light, while the higher ones are broader and open into the living areas. The large stone flags known as ‘dochen’ cover the lawn. In Tibet, ‘Dzongs’ indicate barrack-like erections used by local authority and soldiers. When Dzongs were first established in Bhutan, noble and influential families used them as their ‘royal castles’ for centuries.

7. The oldest Dzong of Bhutan:

The oldest Dzong of Bhutan

The oldest Dzong of Bhutan is the Simtokha Dzong, which was constructed in 1629. Most of the Dzongs are built in the identical pattern but there are provincial variations due to the landscape and ambiance of the place.

8. The most majestic Dzong:

The most majestic Dzong

Trongsa Dzong is the most imposing Dzong of Bhutan with its 20 temples that are remarkable illustrations of Bhutanese architecture. It is constructed into the hillside in many stages and faces the stream underneath.

9. Dzongs are not just historically priceless but, also crucial in a democratic society of Bhutan:

Dzongs are not just historically priceless but, also crucial in a democratic society of Bhutan

Bhutanese Dzong is magnificent in terms of structure, planning than the Tibetan counterparts. Dzongs are historically compelling and also essential part of Bhutan’s independent society.

10. Important Dzongs of Bhutan:

Important Dzongs of Bhutan:

Druk Dechen Yangtse Dzong- Built in the 17th century

Drukgyel Dzong- Located in Paro District- Built in 1649

Punakha Dzong- Located in Punakha- Built-in 1637-1638- Second oldest and the second largest

Simtokha Dzong- Located in Thimphu- Built in 1629

Tashichho Dzong- Located in Thimphu- Built in 1641

Trashiyangtse Dzong-Trashiyangtse District, Yangtse Gewog- Built in the 15th century

Trongsa Dzong- Located in Trongsa District- Built in 1543

Zhongar Dzong-Located in Thimphu- Built in the 17th century

So, venture on your quest to find out more of the magnificent Dzongs. These fortresses not only stand as relics but also speak beyond the folklore and legends. They vividly define the architectural craftsmanship of the Bhutanese people and their way of life.



If you’re a lover of landscapes, who has always ditched the airplane and hopped inside a car to admire nature from a closer proximity, then we reckon that it’s time for you to head towards the Last Shangri La – Bhutan. This Buddhist kingdom that sits majestically amidst the undulating folds of the Himalayas, is an explorer’s haven. From blue-hued valleys that reverberate with seasonal thunders, to the calm, white-peaked mountains that decorate the Bhutanese skyline, Bhutan’s appeal is unfailingly grand. The moment you step within its premises, the sheer magnitude of its beauty is bound to leave you tongue-tied. And what best way to admire a thing of beauty, than an endless car-ride?

But before you embark on a trip of a lifetime, go ahead & read the list of 7 absolutely astounding locations we suggest, that are sure to fulfill your thirst for wanderlust, and let you soak in the magnificence of Bhutan to the fullest with just 7 stops –

1. Soak in the visual grandeur of the Punakha Dzong –

Soak in the visual grandeur of the Punakha Dzong

Allegedly known as the “most beautiful” dzong (fortress) in the Shangri La, this huge establishment is visible from a good distance as you ride into the roads of Punakha & enter the premises that encompass the fort. Amidst the scenic backdrop of green & blue hills, stands the stark white structure of the dzong, toppled with golden roofs. Drive by this ancient beauty during Spring & watch this spectacular structure tower the purpling jacaranda trees. The view is spell-binding.

Before you set out to Punakha, it’s always better to get informed about the place beforehand. If you’re planning on touring through Punakha, make sure you know more about car hire charges in Bhutan. Read more at (link).

2. See how old traditions merge with new philosophies in Thimphu –

See how old traditions merge with new philosophies in Thimphu

Bhutan’s capital is perhaps some of those rare locations where you can witness the slow ingress of modernity in a nation that has remained close to the outside world since times immemorial. As the town makes its own improvisations, the most exquisite element you will run into in the streets of Thimphu is the “human traffic light” – a male traffic controller wearing white gloves who acts as a traffic light because the red light in the system caused discomfort to the Bhutanese locals.

Make sure you catch a glimpse of the best pieces of Thimphu by booking an exclusive Bhutan Car Rental with us.

3. Lay your hands on the exotic offerings of the Weekend Market –

Lay your hands on the exotic offerings of the Weekend Market

When you tear your eyes away from the quaint surroundings of Bhutan, walk into the Weekend Market to stock up on some extremely endearing collectibles. Browse for some fresh produce like Bhutan’s famous soft cheese, curly edible ferns, exotic fruits, meat cuts, dried pork strips, hand-rolled organic incenses, high-quality woolens, richly embroidered apparels, colorful accessories, cute prayer flags, prayer wheels, miniature Buddhas & much more.

4. Get amazed by the architectural wonder of the Tiger’s Nest –

Get amazed by the architectural wonder of the Tiger’s Nest

The Taktsang Monastery, globally known as the Tiger’s Nest, earned its name from a famous folklore that narrates the story of Saint Padmasambhava, who flew to meditate inside this monastery on the back of a shape-shifting flying tigress. The monastery is perched on an 8,000 feet tall granite cliff and radiates an aura of danger, challenge & extreme adventure. Drive to this destination & undertake a challenging trek to reach to the top. The view up there is inherently rewarding.

5. Cruise by the scenic Valley of Haa –

Cruise by the scenic Valley of Haa

The Haa Valley, which lies in the southern chunk of Bhutan, is a warmer, brighter suburb, decked with the most brilliant of shallow valleys & rice fields dotted by the exotic Black-Necked cranes of Bhutan. Drive past the orange skies and lush greenery that ensues as you run into the famous Black & White Temples. An ideal time to visit Haa is during the Summer Festival when the indigenous tribes come together to celebrate their culture.

We arrange reliable car hire services for you throughout the year in Bhutan at reasonable prices.

6. Watch the unfurling of the giant Buddhist Thangka –

Watch the unfurling of the giant Buddhist Thangka

Every year, the monasteries of Bhutan celebrate the birthday of their patron saint – Guru Padmasambhava. The premises of these religious locations come alight with merrymaking, epic performances by monks, elaborate mask dances and narrative recitals. It is a visual delight to watch the locals get dressed in their candid best, their costumes a work of oriental art & intricacy. During the ceremony, a larger-than-life scroll, hand-painted to every hurtful detail, is unfurled in front of the public. This spectacle is worth witnessing once in your lifetime.

Visit Bhutan in the time of Tsechu & avail our exclusive vehicle hire services in Bhutan.

7. Count the Chortens on the Dochu La Pass –

Count the Chortens on the Dochu La Pass

When you hop from Thimphu to Punakha, you will encounter one of the highest passes in the western topography, 23 kilometers ahead of the capital city. Riddled with thousands of colorful prayer flags that flutter through the flawless Bhutanese skyline, the Dochu La Pass is dotted with 108 stupas. These stupas, known as “Chortens”, were erected by the Queen Mother in memory of the fallen soldiers of Bhutan who sacrificed their lives for their motherland.

With this, we’re sure you will cover ample of Bhutan’s virginal beauty on four wheels!

Happy journey to you.