Gwalior gharana

The Gwalior Gharana (Gwalior school of classical music) is the oldest Khyal Gharana in Indian classical music. The rise of the Gwalior Gharana started with the reign of the great Mughal emperor Akbar (1542–1605).

The favourite singers of this patron of the arts, such as Miyan Tansen, who was the most famous vocalist at the court, came from the town of Gwalior.


The Gwalior Gharana evolved during the time of the Mughal Empire (1526CE – 1857 CE). Among the early masters (ustad) were Naththan Khan, Naththan Pir Bakhsh and his grandsons Haddu, Hassu and Natthu Khan.[1] The head musician in the imperial court was Bade Mohammad Khan, who was famous for his taan bazi style.[citation needed] Both Bade Mohammad Khan and Naththan Pir Bakhsh belonged to the same tradition of Shahi Sadarang (also known as Nemat Khan, dhrupad singer and veena player in the court of Mohammad Shah (1702 CE – 1748 CE).[2]

Hassu Khan (died 1859 CE) and Haddu Khan (died 1875 CE) continued to develop the Gwalior style of singing.[3] Haddu Khan's son Ustad Bade Inayat Hussain Khan (1852 – 1922) was also a singer but his style departed from the methodical Gwalior style.

Among the brothers' students were Vasudeva Buwa Joshi (died 1890), who became a teacher; and Ramkrishna Deva, who became a musician in Dhar.[4] It was Ramkrishna Deva's student, Balakrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar (1849 – 1926) who brought the Gwaliori gaeki (singing style) to Maharashtra state.[5]

Another of the brothers' students was a Muslim dhrupad and dhamar singer from Amritsar, Banne Khan (1835 – 1910). He teaches for a time in Punjab and Sindh and then takes a musical position at the court of Nizam of Hyderabad.[6] Banne Khan's pupils included his cousin, Amir Khan (also known as "Meeran Bukhsh Khan"), Gamman Khan, Bhai Atta, Ali Bukhsh (also known as "Kale Khan"), Mian Qadir (sarangi), and Bhai Wadhava (also known as Bhai Wasawa).

On 19 August 1922, Amir Khan performed at the second annual celebration of the independence of India. He became a mentor to a singer from Afghanistan, also performing at the celebration. This was the singer, Qasim Afghan ("Qasimju") (born 1878, Kabul).[7] Amir Khan was appointed as a musician at the court of Maharajadhiraj Maharawal (Sir Jawahir Singh) of Jaisalmer (1914 – 1949). Amir Khan was also a teacher of Seth Vishandas of Hyderabad in Sindh near Karachi and Mahant Girdharidas of Bhuman Shah, Punjab.

Amir Khan became a teacher and trained his four sons. One of the sons, Pyare Khan, became a professional musician.[8] Another son, Baba Sindhe Khan (1885 – 18 June 1950) became a music teacher and trained pupils such as the educator B. R. Deodhar (1901 – 1990); the singer Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902 – 1968),[9] and Farida Khanam (born 1935).

Pyare Khan's sons were Umeed Ali Khan (1910 – 1979) and Ghulam Rasool Khan. They became respected classical vocalists of their time.[10] Ghulam Rasool Khan had two sons, Hameed Ali Khan and Fateh Ali Khan.[11]

Krishnarao Shankar Pandit (1893 – 1989) was a musician of the Gwalior gharana heritage. His father, Shankarrao Pandit was a student of Haddu Khan, Nathu Khan and Nissar Hussain Khan, Nathu Khan's son. Krishnarao Shankar Pandit practiced Khayal, Tappa and Tarana singing as well as layakari.

In 1914, Krishnarao Shankar Pandit opened a school in Gwalior, the Shankar Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. In 1921, he was awarded the title Gayak Shiromani at the All India Congress. Pandit became the court musician to Madhavrao Scindia of Gwalior; the State Musician of Maharashtra, an emeritus professor at Madhav Music College, Gwalior and an emeritus producer at All India Radio and Doordarshan. For his contribution to the world of classical music, he received awards including the Padma Bhushan in 1973 and the Tansen Award in 1980.

The students of Krishnarao Shankar Pandit included his son, Laxman Krishnarao Pandit, Sharadchandra Arolkar, Balasaheb Poochwale, and his granddaughter Meeta Pandit.

Pedagogical genealogyEdit

The following map is based on accounts that Makkan Khan and Shakkar Khan were not related.[12] These accounts are supported by research indicating that Makkan Khan's descendants were dhrupadiyas and Shakkar Khan's descendants were khayaliyas, thus reflecting different genealogies.[13]

Nathan Peer Baksh
Ghagge Khuda
Natthe KhanHaddu Khan
Hassu Khan
Agra Gharana
Ramkrishna Deva
Chote Mohammed
Faiz Mohammed
Bade Nissar
Hussain Khan
Rehmat Khan
"Bhu Gandharva"
Bade Inayat
Hussain Khan
Inayat Hussain
Meeran Baksh
"Amir" Khan
Ali Baksh &
Fateh Ali Khan
Gharana Parampara
Ghagge Nazir
Eknath "Mao"
Patiala Gharana
Mewati Gharana
Qurban Hussain
Vishnu Digambar
Anant Manohar
Raja Bhaiya
Yashwant Sadashiv
Krishnarao Shankar

Recent pedagogyEdit

Singing styleEdit

A distinguishing feature of the gharana is its simplicity: well known ragas (melodic modes) rather than obscure ones are selected and sapaat (straight) taans (fast melodic sequences) is emphasized. While there is some limited raga vistar (melodic expansion) and alankar (melodic ornamentation) to enhance the beauty and meaning of the raga, there is no slow-tempo alap as in Kirana and there is no attempt to include tirobhava or melodic phrases to obscure the identity of the raga or add complexity. When the gharana is performed, the bandish (composition) is key as it provides the melody of the raga and indications on its performance. While doing bol-baant (rhythmic play using the words of the bandish) the Gwalior style uses all the words of sthayi or antara in proper sequence, without disturbing their meaning.

The behlava is a medium tempo rendition of the notes which follows the pattern of the aroha (ascent) and the avaroha (descent) of the raga. The behlava is divided into the asthayi (notes from "Ma" to "Sa") and the antara (noted from "Ma", "Pa", or "Dha" to "Pa" of the higher register). The asthayi section is sung twice before the antara. Then follows a swar-vistar in a medium tempo using heavy meends (glides) and taans. The dugun-ka-alap follows in which groups of two or four note combinations are sung in quicker succession while the basic tempo remains the same. The bol-alap is the next part where the words of the text are sung in different ways. Then there is in faster tempo the murki where notes are sung with ornamentation. The bol-taans have melodic sequences set to the words of the bandish. The other taans, including the gamak, follow.

The sapat taan is important to the Gwalior style. It is the singing of notes in a straight sequence and at a vilambit pace. Both Dhrupad and Khyal singing evolved in Gwalior and there are many overlaps. In the khyal style there is one form, Mundi Dhrupad, that incorporates all the features of dhrupad singing but without the Mukhda.

Common ragas include Alhaiya Bilawal, Yaman, Bhairav, Sarang, Shree, Hameer, Gaud Malhar, and Miya Ki Malhar.

Notable musiciansEdit

19th century and earlierEdit

20th centuryEdit

Contemporary artistsEdit

Upcoming artistsEdit

Disciple of Ulhas Kashalkar


  1. ^ Mukherji, Kumar Prasad (2006). The Lost World of Hindustani Music (2006 ed.). Delhi: Penguin Books. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-14-306199-1.
  2. ^ Kumar, Kuldeep. "Exploring the syntax of syncretism". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Hassu Khan Haddu Khan". Oxford Index. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  4. ^ Wade, B. C. (1984). Khyal: Creativity Within North India's Classical Music Tradition. CUP Archive. p. 47. ISBN 0521256593. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  5. ^ The Gazetteer of India vol 2. Publications Division Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. ISBN 9788123022659.
  6. ^ Wade, Bonnie C. (1 January 1984). Khyal: Creativity Within North India's Classical Music Tradition. CUP Archive. ISBN 9780521256599.
  7. ^ "Afghanistan Ustad Qasim Afghan". Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  8. ^ Ranade, A. D. (2006). Hindi Film Song: Music Beyond Boundaries. Bibliophile South Asia. p. 207. ISBN 9788185002644.
  9. ^ "ITC SRA's Tribute to the Great Maestros of Hindustani Classical Music". Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Ummeed Ali Khan". Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Oriental Traditional Music from LPs & Cassettes: Hameed Ali Khan & Fateh Ali Khan (Gwalior Gharana) - Vol. 2 - Lok Virsa CL-0023 (1987)". Oriental Traditional Music from LPs & Cassettes. 12 June 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  12. ^ Te Nijenhuis, Emmie (1974). Indian Music: History and Structure. Belgium: E. J. Brill. ISBN 90-04-03978-3.
  13. ^ Nadkarni, Mohan (1999). The Great Masters: profiles in Hindustani classical vocal music. India: HarperCollins Publishers India. p. 38.
  14. ^ Kumr, Ranee (29 March 2013). "Music from the 'school'". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  15. ^ "Krishnarao Shankar Pandit". ITC Sangeet Research Academy. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  16. ^ Sarvamangala, C.S (5 October 2012). "The eternal note". The Hindu. Retrieved 7 October 2014.