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Published on  |  Last Updated on January 19, 2024

Classical music has a standing heritage that dates back centuries making it an ancient art form. Within this tapestry we come across the concept of “Gharanas.” These Gharanas, often likened to schools have played a role, in preserving and evolving the traditions of classical music. In this blog post we will explore the captivating world of Gharanas delving into their roots, significance and enduring influence on music.

What Are Gharanas?

In the realm of music Gharana refers to a lineage or tradition of musicians who have their distinct style of performance. These traditions are not limited to regions. Are passed down through generations within families to ensure the transfer of knowledge and expertise. Gharanas encompass aspects of music such as renditions, instrumental melodies and even dance forms. Each Gharana has its set of customs, principles and techniques that contribute to the richness and diversity found within classical music.


Like branches of a tree rooted in tradition, Gharanas in music are the diverse yet interconnected expressions that enrich the canopy of a shared heritage.

The Origins of Gharanas

The origins of Gharanas can be traced back to the flourishing period of classical music during the Mughal era. It was, during this time that different musical traditions emerged and evolved into Gharanas.

There are schools of thought, in music, such as the famous Gwalior Gharana, which is widely recognized for its significant impact on classical vocal music. Additionally we have the Senia Gharana, which has a heritage, in music, specifically sitar and sarod.

Types of Gharanas

Hindustani Classical Music Gharanas


Gwalior Gharana: Recognized for its focus on traditional renditions, this Gharana has given birth to some of the celebrated vocalists in the history of Indian classical music. Dhrupad, a form characterized by its meditative style, has greatly influenced the musicians from the Gwalior tradition.

Kirana Gharana: The Kirana Gharana is famed for its soulful singing. It gave rise to the Kirana gayaki style characterized by sargams (notes) and meend (gliding between notes). Pandit Bhimsen Joshi stands as one of the exponents of this tradition.

Patiala Gharana: The Patiala Gharana is well known for its energetic style. Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan is one of the artists associated with this tradition.

Carnatic Music Gharanas


Palghat Mani Iyer Gharana: This gharana specializes in mridangam playing. Has had an impact on Carnatic percussion. It places emphasis on intricacy and mastery.

Lalgudi Gharana: The Lalgudi Gharana is renowned for its approach to violin playing with Lalgudi Jayaraman being one of its most esteemed representatives. The gharanas’ music features bowing techniques and melodious intricacies.

Tabla Gharanas


Delhi Gharana: The Delhi Gharana is highly regarded for its tabla playing characterized by quality and subtlety. Many tabla players have been influenced by this tradition’s emphasis on precision.

Benaras Gharana: The Benaras Gharana, renowned for its music, like the tabla and sitar has produced legendary figures such as Pt. Ravi Shankar and Ustad Zakir Hussain. It is recognized for its rhythms and expressive improvisations.

Sarod Gharanas

Maihar Gharana: Allauddin Khan founded the Maihar Gharana, which played a role in popularizing the sarod as an instrument. It blends elements from music traditions and is known for its improvisational approach.

Senia Gharana: The Senia Gharana stands out for its tone and skillful use of meends (glissandos). Renowned sarod virtuosos like Amjad Ali Khan have emerged from this lineage.

Kathak Gharanas

The Jaipur Gharana: Renowned for its precision, nimble footwork and storytelling prowess is widely recognized as one of the Kathak gharanas. The legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj hails from this lineage.

The Lucknow Gharana: Known for its graceful movements, Kathak dance places emphasis on expressions and subtlety. It has nurtured talents, like Shambhu Maharaj.

Vocal Gharanas

Agra Gharana: Renowned for its ornamental style the Agra Gharana has produced highly esteemed vocalists. Their emphasis on complexity (layakari) and fast melodic patterns (taankari) has left an impact on classical music.

Jaipur Atrauli Gharana: This particular tradition is known for its approach to music and unwavering focus on maintaining the purity of ragas. Legendary vocalists such as Kesarbai Kerkar and Mallikarjun Mansur hail from this lineage.


Did You know?

Gharanas aren’t just about music—they’re cultural hotspots where musical knowledge, traditions, etiquettes, and even culinary skills are passed down. It’s a rich immersion into music and culture.

Importance of Gharanas

Preservation of Tradition: Gharanas play a role in safeguarding the traditions of classical music. By passing down techniques, compositions and stylistic nuances from one generation to another Gharanas ensure the continuity of these forms.

Diversity and Evolution: While preserving tradition Gharanas also allow for artistic evolution. Each Gharana has its approach that contributes to the diversity and richness of Indian classical music. Over time these traditions adapt to incorporate influences and ideas.

Training and Guidance: Gharanas serve as institutions where aspiring musicians receive training and mentorship. The guru shishya parampara (teacher disciple tradition) is a part of Gharanas ensuring the transmission of knowledge and skills.

Artistic Identity: Musicians associated with Gharanas often develop an artistic identity that becomes a hallmark of their performances. This allows audiences to recognize the lineage and style of the artist.


The realm of Gharanas in music stands as a testament to the intricacy and depth of this art form.

India’s classical music is an amalgamation of traditions, unwavering commitment, to preservation and the constant evolution of the art form. The Gharanas, with their influence continue to inspire and shape the landscape. The virtuoso musicians who carry forward these traditions are the living embodiment of their legacy. In this changing world Gharanas serve as pillars that connect the past present and future of Indian classical music.

From its therapeutic effects to its ability to evoke emotions, discover the captivating reasons why music holds a unique and indispensable place in our hearts.

Related: The Importance of Learning Music


1. What does the term gharana mean?

A gharana refers to a heritage or lineage within Indian classical music, distinguished by its unique style, techniques and repertoire which have been passed down through generations.

2. What are the various types of gharanas?

Indian classical music encompasses gharanas like Gwalior, Jaipur Atrauli, Kirana, Patiala and Rampur Sahaswan. Each of these gharanas is renowned for its styles and rich traditions

3. What is the cultural significance of gharanas in India?

Gharanas hold importance in India as they represent cherished musical traditions and lineages. They safeguard styles, techniques and legacies within the realm of music.

4. How are gharanas transmitted across generations?

The transmission of gharanas from one generation to another primarily occurs through tradition mentoring relationships, intense practice sessions and familial lineages within classical music traditions.

5. Do gharanas stifle innovation or creativity?

While gharanas provide a foundation by preserving structure and tradition in music their impact on innovation or creativity depends on how musicians approach and adapt them to their artistic expressions.

6. How do various gharanas approach styles, like Khayal?

Different schools of music have their ways of approaching styles such as Khayal. They interpret ragas, improvisation and ornamentation in ways reflecting their musical legacies and teachings.

7. How do gharanas influence instrumental music playing?

Gharanas also have an impact on instrumental music playing. They bring characteristics, techniques and approaches that have been passed down through generations, within a specific musical lineage.

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