The Mask of Bhutan

Thimpu, Bhutan

A riot of color and festivity with an element of teaching, Bhutan’s masked dance festivals, called tsechus in the local language of Dzongka, is rich in ancient tradition. These dances date back to about three and a half centuries – to the times when monks were considered the civil and religious authorities, and dance and music were the preferred method of communication to the masses. These dances remain virtually unchanged from their original form and are steeped in history and culture of the Dragon Kingdom.
 
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Each district in Bhutan hosts the festival once a year, usually on the tenth day of the lunar calendar which last for three to five days, and are attended by a large number of locals and tourists who come specially to enjoy the festivities.

Local lore says that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once every year to receive blessings and wash away their sins.
 
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An amazing country and with even more amazing people – Bhutan comes alive around the time of festivals and special celebrations. Apart from during the festivals, Buddhist culture is omnipresent all through the country with serene monasteries, monks, and their surrounding paraphernalia.

Bhutan – green, mysterious and elusive – is small and sparsely populated, but this small country packs a punch when it comes to sights, sounds, culture and its people. A multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic society – the people of Bhutan are warm, friendly, ever-smiling and an absolute delight.

The mask dance is a very colorful and vivid festival with intense activities that surround the main dance. Expect massive crowds, in their latest finery out for a great time with their families and friends. A festive atmosphere prevails and the entire area rings with laughter, buzzing conversations and loads of food and drink!
 
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Route Your Trip:

Fly:
Druk Air flies directly into Bhutan from Delhi and Kolkata.

Drive:

We have driven to Bhutan as well. This is not an option that tourist normally take – but you can drive into Bhutan, The first drive in point into Bhutan is via Phuntsholing in southwest Bhutan, from West Bengal in Northern India. The adjacent Indian town is Jaigaon.

The second entry/exit point is at Samdrup Jongkhar in the far southeast of Bhutan. This option, bordering Assam, is comfortable one with a number of 2 to 3-star hotels available for an overnight stay. Buses run regularly from here into Bhutan.

Stay:

In Bhutan one has to pay a minimum travel fee or a package cost, which includes standard two to three star hotel with all meals, guide, transport, and Monument entry fee.
One can always upgrade the hotel by paying an extra supplement. Bhutan offers standard budget hotels to a 4 star properties like Shivalinga and others and then towards the upper end of the spectrum are 5 star hotels like the Taj in Thimpu or the ultra luxurious Aman chain, which has 4 resorts in Bhutan.

Essentials:

  • Try and cover the opening ceremony of the festival
  • Carry a zoom lens like the 300mm.
  • Reach early to the festival venue to grab the front seat / stand for the best view
  • Do sample the amazing and spicy local food like Ema-Dhatshi (Chilly with cheese), Buckwheat noodles and pork.

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