In Hindustani music (North Indian classical music), a gharānā is a system of social organisation in the Indian subcontinent, linking musicians or dancers by lineage or apprenticeship, and more importantly by adherence to a particular musical style.

The word gharana comes from the Hindi word 'ghar' which means 'house'. It typically refers to the place where the musical ideology originated; for example, some of the gharanas well known for singing khyals are: Delhi, Agra, Gwalior, Indore, Atrauli-Jaipur, Kirana and Patiala. Four famous kathak gharanas are: Lucknow, Atrauli-Jaipur, Benares and Raigarh.

Vocal gharanas

See also: Category:Vocal gharanas

Khyal gharanas

The gharana system in khyal was rooted in the guru–shishya tradition and was similar to the Dhrupad Bani system. The gharana system was greatly influenced by the gradual fall of the Mughal Empire, which forced musicians to move from Delhi to princely states such as Gwalior, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Patiala and Rampur.

The gharanas have distinct styles of presenting the khyal — how much to emphasize and how to enunciate the words of the composition, when to sing the sthayi and antara, whether to sing an unmetered alap in the beginning, what kinds of improvisations to use, how much importance to give to the rhythmic aspect, and so on. However, an individual performer from a gharana may choose to borrow appealing stylistic aspects of another gharana in his or her gayaki (singing style). There are ten prominent khyal gharanas, and they are:[1][2]

Gharana Founding Artists Approximate founding date Famous Exponents Features
Qawwal Bacchon ka gharana Abu'l Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn Khusrau

& His 12 Students

13th Century Amir Khusrau Mir Bula Kalawant, Mir Hassan Sawant, Mir Gunwant, Shah Shah Sadarang, Shah Adarang, SheikhFiroz

(Shah Bhikan) Taj Khan

(Rang Rus) Sheikh Ajmal (Miyan Achpal) Mir Qutub Baksh (Miyan Tanras) Haji Muhammed Siddiq Khan, Muzaffar Khan

The Qawwal Bacchon Ka Gharana is the oldest khayal gharana of the Hindustani Classical music tradition.[3]

Members of this gharana approach raagdari with more freedom than the dhrupad-informed gharanas, like Gwalior, Jaipur, and Agra.[4]

Emphasis on bhav and exposition are the hallmarks of this style.[1]


In addition to extensive khayal compositions, the gharana is known for its qawwals.[5]

Dilli gharana Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Miyan Samti 13th century Sadarang, Adarang, Miyan Achpal, Tanras Khan, Mamman Khan, Chand Khan, Nasir Ahmed Khan, Krishna Bisht, Iqbal Ahmad Khan Oldest Khayal gharana, wide range of taans,bol baant,bol taan,fast taan pattern, gamak taan, emphasis on melody and laykari, structured badhat of raga
Gwalior gharana Nathan Pir Baksh, Hassu Khan, Haddu Khan, Nathu Khan Mid 16th Century Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Omkarnath Thakur, Ghulam Hassan Shaggan, D. V. Paluskar, Pt Raja Bhaiya Poochwale, Pt. Balasaheb Poochwale, Sunanda Patnaik, Malini Rajurkar, Veena Sahasrabuddhe, N Rajam The most noticeable trait of this gharana is strong emphasis on gamaks in taans, as well as use of Bol-baant, bol-taan, no use of sargam, wide range in taans, alankarik taans, descending sapaat taans, roughly similar emphasis on melody and rhythm, preference for simple (as opposed to compound) ragas, repertoire of bandishes, variety of taans
Agra gharana Ghagge Khudabaksh Mid-19th century Faiyaz Khan, Vilayat Hussain Khan, Sharafat Hussain Khan, Jitendra Abhisheki Closer to dhrupad with nom-tom type alap and other elements, rhythmic play, frequent use of tisra jati in teentaal, emphasis on voice culture to achieve wide range and powerful throw of voice, bol-baant, bol-taan, rare use of sargam, slower taans, use of jabda taan, repertoire of traditional and self-composed bandishes
Kirana gharana Abdul Karim Khan, Abdul Wahid Khan Late 17th century "Proudh Gandharva" Pandit Vishwanathbuwa Jadhav, Pandit B. V. Jadhav, Pandit R. V. Jadhav, Shakuntlaraje R. Jadhav, Pandit P. V. Jadhav

Sawai Gandharva, Bhimsen Joshi, Prabha Atre, Hirabai Barodekar, Gangubai Hangal

Amir Khan (Highly Influenced from Kirana Gharana)

Kirana is often considered to be the flag-bearer of Hindustani Classical vocal music.

Foremost intention of this gharana is perfect intonation of notes and emphasis on melody, Also, Slow-tempo raga development, long and sustained pitches, usually traditional ragas, use of sargam, very little bol-baant, clarity of text pronunciation, use of some Carnatic ragas and raga features, emphasis on vocal as opposed to instrumental form. Highly decorative and complex taans.

Bhendibazaar gharana Chhajju Khan, Nazeer Khan, Khadim Hussain Khan Late 19th century Aman Ali Khan, Anjanibai Malpekar

Amir Khan (Highly Influenced from Bhendibazar Gharana)

Emphasis on breath control to be able to sing long passages in a single breath, use of merukhand for extended alaps, use of gamak taan and sargam, use of some Carnatic ragas
Jaipur-Atrauli gharana Alladiya Khan Late 19th century Kesarbai Kerkar, Mogubai Kurdikar, Mallikarjun Mansur, Kishori Amonkar, Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande Repertoire of rare and complex ragas, based on Agra gharana, use of aakaar for badhat, heavy use of teentaal, rupak, jhaptaal and ada-chautaal, rhythmic play, use of bol-baant and bol-taan, rippling taans, heavy emphasis on taans
Patiala gharana Bade Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Baksh Khan Late 19th century Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Fateh Ali-Amanat Ali Khan, Vasantrao Deshpande, Jagdish Prasad, Sandhya Mukherjee, Prasun Banerjee, Meera Banerjee, Ajoy Chakrabarty Patiala is often considered to be the amalgamate of few pre-existing gharanas and has claimed to combine the musical traditions of Delhi gharana, Gwalior gharana and Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana and is known for borrowing elements from other gharanas.

This Gharana is also known for its versatility, not only known for its Khayal singing but also for venturing into other forms of classical music and placing a strong foothold there as well. Emphasis on voice development, roughly similar emphasis on melody and rhythm, bol-baant-like sargam with occasional tonic transpositions, occasional use of bol-taan, variety of taans, fast sargam and taan patterns, may or may not include antara, influence of tappa style

Rampur-Sahaswan gharana Inayat Hussain Khan Mid 19th century Mushtaq Hussain Khan, Shanno Khurana, Rashid Khan (musician), Nissar Hussain Khan, Ghulam Mustafa Khan (singer), Ghulam Sadiq Khan, Ghulam Abbas Khan Emphasis on melody, bol-taans, sargam taans, highly varied aakar taans and good hold over laykari, along with strong command over Tarana
Indore gharana Amir Khan Mid 20th century Slow-tempo and leisurely raga development, improvisation mostly in lower and middle octaves, tendency towards serious and expansive ragas, emphasis on melody, judicious use of pause between improvisations, bol alap and sargam using merukhand patterns, sparing application of murki, use of kan swaras in all parts of performance, controlled use of embellishments to preserve introspective quality, rare use of tihai, careful enunciation of text, may or may not include antara, multiple laya jatis in a single taan, mixture of taan types in a single taan, known for ruba'idar Tarana (considered similar to chhota khyal)
Mewati gharana Ghagge Nazir Khan Mid 19th century Jasraj, Kala Ramnath, Sanjeev Abhyankar Emphasis on melody, known for bhajans, sapaat taans and gamak taans, use of sargam
Sham Chaurasia gharana Miyan Chand Khan, Miyan Suraj Khan Late 16th century Salamat Ali and Nazakat Ali Khan Emphasis on layakari using bol-taan and tihai, fast sargam and taan patterns
Kunwar Shyam gharana Goswami Lalji Maharaj ("Kunwar Shyam")[6] Late 19th century Laxman Prasad Jaipurwale, Govind Prasad Jaipurwale, Bhavdeep Jaipurwale, Amit Chaudhuri[7] Meend-based alap, intracate taan patterns and laykari[8]

Dhrupad gharanas

The dhrupad tradition includes four original styles:[9]

Today's surviving dhrupad traditions are descendants of the aforementioned four styles.

Thumri gharanas

In the Benares gharana, the words in the text of a song are musically embellished to bring out their meaning, while the Lucknow gharana presents intricately embellished and delicate thumris that are explicit in their eroticism. The principal feature of the thumri of the Patiala gharana is its incorporation of the tappa from the Punjab region. It is with this tappa element that the Patiala gharana makes its impact, departing from the khyal-dominated Benares thumris and the dance-oriented Lucknow thumris.[11] The Benares gharana was founded by Kirtankars in the 13th century and revived by Siddheshwari Devi, Rasoolan Bai, Badi Moti Bai, Mahadev Mishra, Girija Devi (mid-20th century) and Savita Devi.[citation needed]

Instrumental gharanas

See also: Category:Instrumental gharanas

Tabla gharanas

The following are the six widely accepted gharanas (ordered based on chronology of founding):[2]

Gharana Founding artists Approximate founding date Founding location Famous exponents
Delhi gharana Siddhar Khan Early 18th century Delhi Ghami Khan, Imam Ali Khan, Munnu Khan, Latif Ahmed Khan, Shafaat Ahmed Khan
Ajrara gharana Kallu Khan, Miru Khan Early 19th century Ajrara Habibuddin Khan, Mehboob Hussain Khan, Sudhirkumar Saxena, Manju Khan, Yusuf Khan, Ramjan Khan, Sarwar Sabri, Akram Khan
Lucknow gharana Miyan Bakshu 19th century Lucknow Ilmas Hussain Khan, Timir Roy Chowdhury, Achchan Maharaj, Anil Bhattacharjee, Biswajit Bhattacharjee, Santosh Biswas, Swapan Chaudhuri, Faiyaz Khan
Benares gharana Ram Sahai Late 18th century Benares Ram Sahai, Kanthe Maharaj, Anokhelal Mishra, Shamta Prasad, Kishen Maharaj, Mahapurush Mishra, Kumar Bose, Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay, Samar Saha, Sandeep Das
Farrukhabad gharana Haji Vilayat Ali Khan 19th century Farrukhabad Ustad Amir Hussain Khan,Masit Khan, Ahmedjan Thirakwa, Jnan Prakash Ghosh, Keramatullah Khan, Kanai Dutta, Shyamal Bose, Shankar Ghosh, Anindo Chatterjee, Bickram Ghosh
Punjab gharana Miyan Qader Baksh 19th century Punjab Qadeer Buksh, Shaukat Hussein Khan, Alla Rakha Khan, Zakir Hussain, Yogesh Samsi, Abdul Sattar Tari Khan

Wind and string instruments

Sitar gharanas

Sarod gharanas

Dance gharanas

Main article: Kathak § Gharanas

In Kathak performers today generally draw their lineage from four major schools of Kathak: the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, the Lucknow gharana, the Benares gharana (born in the courts of the Kachwaha Rajput kings, the Nawab of Oudh, and Varanasi respectively.) and the Raigarh gharana (born in the court of Maharaja Chakradhar Singh of Raigarh.)

The Lucknow gharana remains the most popular throughout the country. However, in recent time the Atrauli-Jaipur gharana has caught up and today most performers throughout India perform techniques belonging to both styles. With amalgamation of the techniques and poses from other dance forms, the purity of the movements and gestures may be diluted or modified along with the contemporary trends. Raigarh gharana is famous for its own distinctive composition and thousands of followers.


  1. ^ a b "Gharanas Of Hindustani Music - Hindustani Classical Gharanas - Hindustani Music Gharanas". website.
  2. ^ a b Gharanas at ITC Sangeet Research Academy.
  3. ^ "Dilli Gharana - rare old pictures of Ustads". Google Arts & Culture website.
  4. ^ Te Nijenhuis, Emmie (1974). Indian Music: History and Structure. Belgium. p. 90.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  5. ^ Imani, Alifiyah (20 August 2015). "Qawwal Gali: The street that never sleeps". Herald Magazine.
  6. ^ "Jaipurwales – The Lost Link". Rajan Parrikar Music Archive. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  7. ^ Chaudhuri, Amit (30 March 2021). Finding the Raga: An Improvisation on Indian Music. New York Review of Books. pp. 170–172. ISBN 978-1-68137-479-6.
  8. ^ "Music". Amit Chaudhuri. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  9. ^ Khāna, Mobāraka Hosena (1988). Music and Its Study. Sterling Publishers. p. 49. ISBN 9788120707641.
  10. ^ Misra, Susheela (1981). Great Masters of Hindustani Music. Hem Publishers via Google Books website. p. 118.
  11. ^ Modern history of Hindustani classical music at ITC Sangeet Research Academy.