Due to the illegal Chinese occupation of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and about 80,000 Tibetans escaped Tibet.

The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) is a premier institute that is entrusted with the responsibility of preserving and promoting Tibet’s ancient and unique culture including its rich musical heritage and arts. The institute was founded by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on reaching Kalimpong in August 1959. It was later shifted to McLoed Ganj in 1961. Earlier named as the Tibetan Music, Dance, and Drama Society, it was one of the first institutes established by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. According to the vision of His Holiness, protecting the ancient Tibetan art culture is the responsibility not only of the concerned nation but also of the world community as a whole.

TIPA has been registered as a Society under The Societies Registration Act, 1860 of the Government of India. The institute is a part of the Department of Religion and Culture of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and functions as a semi-autonomous body.

Tibet has been celebrated as the Ocean of Songs and Dances (Glu gar gyi rgya mtsho) for hundreds of years. Dance and music have always been integral to the Tibetan culture and are considered to be one of the key components of the traditional “five minor sciences” (Rik ne Chungwa Nga).
By keeping the Tibetan artistic traditions alive and sharing them with the world, TIPA aims to preserve the cultural identity of Tibetans. Students who are interested in the performing arts are trained in the fundamentals of Tibetan music and dance, including an undiluted and comprehensive transmission of traditional folk dance from the three Tibetan provinces of U-Tsang (Central Tibet), Dotoe (Kham), and Domed (Amdo).

Members of this creative and vibrant institute, which is based on the foothills of the Himalayas in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala of Himachal Pradesh, include instructors, artists, administrative staff, craftsmen, and students who live on the premises of the institute. More than 450 professionals graduated from TIPA and have scattered across the world and many of them work as dance & music teachers in various Tibetan schools and settlements in India, Nepal, Bhutan, and across the world including Europe and North America.

Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts - About Us

TIPA also carries forward the tradition of Ache Lhamo or Tibetan Opera, which was started by Yogi Thangtong Gyalpo in the 14th Century in mid-southern Tibet. The institute, under the tutelage of various masters, has maintained an undiluted tradition of Kyormulung (Sukyi Nyima, Pema Woebar, and Drowa Sangmo), Chungpa (Prince Norsang), and Monru Ponsang (Dhepa Tenpa). It is mandatory for all professional artists recruited by TIPA to take mandatory lessons on various traditions of Ache Lhamo. These highly trained and polished students serve as cultural ambassadors of the Tibetan diaspora after becoming fluent in various folk music traditions from different regions of Tibet. The annual 10-day Shoton Festival organized by TIPA attracts people from all over the world. TIPA holds an annual folk opera festival preferably in March or April where almost 11 Opera troops across India and Nepal would participate in the festival which attracts major tourists who are introduced to the core of Tibetan culture.

The performances at the Shoton Festival include singing and dancing by artists in elaborate costumes which are designed in-house at the Handicrafts Centre of the institute.


  • The spacious dining hall is another attractive facility of TIPA. Moreover, special emphasis has been given to the cleanliness and maintenance of hygiene. The food served here is vegetarian. However, on some days, students get meat and eggs.
  • The newly built auditorium is the perfect place to practice music and dance. Students use the open and indoor stage to practice the art.
  • TIPA organizes different shows, festivals, and cultural performances in its auditorium. Government and private organizations, along with individuals, can book it based on per hour or day.
  • Rented on a 3-hour basis, individuals, as well as organizations and schools, can book the sound and lighting system. The open courtyard is used to showcase cultural performances and other events. The recording studio is often rented to different organizations and schools. Individuals can also book.
  • The institution has a museum showcasing the Tibetan heritage and has an archive with both digital and old-school audio and video recordings.
  • There is absolutely no charge for visiting the folk museum. However, there is a donation box that generates high revenue. The TIPA Project Officer regulates the management of the museum. You can buy masks, books, pen drives, DVDs, costumes, musical instruments, etc., from the souvenir shops.
    The handicraft department is responsible for creating traditional costumes and designs, and they handle orders from cultural organizations as well.
  • Similarly, the carpentry section deals with the construction of traditional Tibetan musical instruments for performances and other schools and individuals.
    There is a Research Department as well that documents the artistic theatre performances of the old Tibetan period.