Rajasthan’s Hindustani Music: A Look Into The Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana and Alladiya Khan

If you have also binge-watched the Amazon Prime show Bandish Bandits, I’m sure you must be in love with the music. The show introduced me to Hindustani classical music and being the music-nerd I am, I did complete background research on it. That’s when I got to know Rajasthan's real gem in Hindustani music; the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana, and its founder Ustaad Alladiya Khan.

We’ve often heard the word, but what is a ‘Gharana’? It is, in fact, a lineage of Hindustani classical music, that is passed down from generations, having its unique set of rules regarding the musical notes & rhythm. The same song sounds extremely different when sung in different Gharanas of music.

Talking specifically about the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana, it’s the brainchild of well-known singer Ahmed Khan’s son, Alladiya Khan. He was born in 1855 in Uniyara near Jaipur and went through most of his training under his uncle Jehangir Khan, after the death of his father. Ustaad Ji’s training was extremely rigorous- in his childhood, he would sit all night practicing his compositions. This training made him a rare gem of music because of which he would receive numerous invitations to sing in royal courts of many princely states. In one such royal court, the king made Ustaad Ji sing for almost a whole week- morning and evening- without a break. At the age of 31, this obviously affected his voice adversely and it took years of practice to bring it back to anything close to normal. Although the strain had altered his voice permanently.

Ustaad Ji could no longer use his earlier ways of singing and had to come up with a new style, giving birth to the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. This new style was more mid-tempo as compared to slow-tempo features previously. The Taan patterns (fast melodic passage), oblique and spiral, sung at twice-thrice or four times the basic tempo of the composition became the main attribute of this Gharana.

Ahead in life, Ustaad Ji shifted to Kolhapur in Maharashtra, as the Raj-Gayak to the Maratha King Shahu Maharaj. Over there he spread the roots of his Gharana far-wide, training many disciples who would further his lineage. He passed away at the age of 91, but not before being honored with the title of Gaan-Samart, or Emperor of Music.