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UNESCO’s Recognition of Gwalior

Why is it in the news?

  • UNESCO added Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, to its Creative Cities Network (UCCN) for its commitment to culture and creativity.
  • Kozikode from Kerala was also among the new cities to join the network.


Gwalior’s Musical Legacy

  • Gwalior has a rich musical heritage, with a notable contribution to Indian classical music.
  • The Gwalior gharana, the oldest musical gharana in India, flourished under Raja Man Singh Tomar in the 15th century.
  • Dungarendra Singh Tomar, a musician, played a significant role in the revival of Indian classical music.
  • Man Singh Tomar, known for inventing ‘dhrupad’, also contributed to the popularization of Indian music in Hindi.


Gwalior Gharana’s Significance

  • Gwalior gharana is considered the first proper gharana of music, evolving under Mughal rule.
  • It played a pivotal role in the development of khayal singing, incorporating elements of qawwali.
  • Ustad Naththan Pir Baksh was instrumental in creating khayal, a structured system of presenting ragas.
  • Persian words were integrated into musical compositions, and concepts like “bandish ki thumri” were introduced.
  • Gwalior gharana’s techniques and nuances continue to influence students of Hindustani classical music today.


Mian Tansen, Gwalior’s Crown Musician

  • Mian Tansen, born as Ramatanu, trained under Swami Haridas and was influenced by Sufi saint Mohommad Ghous.
  • He was the court musician for King Ram Chandra Singh of Rewa and later joined Akbar’s court.
  • Akbar’s admiration for Tansen is well-documented, and Tansen’s contributions are celebrated in Indian culture.


Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan and the Bangash Gharana

  • Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan, a prominent musician from Gwalior, trained under Ustad Wazir Khan of Rampur, a descendant of Mian Tansen.
  • He was a court musician in Gwalior and became a sought-after artist during music conferences in the early 20th century.
  • Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan trained several significant musicians, including his son Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.



·       A Gharana serves as a crucial component in the guru-shishya parampara, where disciples learn under the guidance of a specific guru, inheriting not only musical knowledge but also a distinctive musical style.

·       This lineage-based system fosters a deep connection between the guru and shishya, ensuring the preservation and transmission of intricate musical traditions and techniques.

·       It functions as a living legacy, with each generation of disciples adding their own nuances while staying true to the core principles of the gharana, thereby enriching and evolving the musical heritage over time.


Hindustani Music

·       Hindustani Music is one of the two distinct schools of Indian Classical Music practiced mainly in North India. The other school of Indian Classical Music is Carnatic music which is practiced mainly in Southern India.

·       Major Styles of Hindustani Music: Dhrupad, Khayal, Tarana, Thumri, Tappa, and Ghazal.

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