Ajrara gharana

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Ajrara gharana or Ajrada gharana is one of the six main traditional schools in tabla drum. This school was founded in the nineteenth century by Miru and Kallu, disciples of Sitab Khan of the Delhi gharana, at the Ajrara village, in Uttar Pradesh.

The Ajrada Gharana is traced to Kallu and Miru in the beginning of the 19th century. Genealogy,They were disciples of Sitab Khan (Delhi Gharana). This Gharana is an offshoot of the Delhi Gharana

  • *Genre'

The distinctiveness of this Gharana is the use of complex Bols and Meend. Pakhawaj bols are rare. The stress is on Ad and Barabar laya. It specializes in the three-time pattern. The position of the left drum is not changed, but its face is touched with the thumb. Gheginak, gheghe, Dhadagena, Nadagena or Tadagena etc. are used in Qayadas.

  • *The Peerless & Illustrious

Habibuddin Khan, Niazu Khan and Ramzan Khan, Manju Khan, Hasmat Ali Khan, Akram Khan

Playing style[edit]

Clarity of sound is made possible by the propensity for using the index and middle fingers in the traditional manner. The Ajrara gharana style includes bol patterns that are rather complicated, much more than does the Delhi gharana, and for the purpose the third fingers are brought into play as well. Bols like Dhina gi na , Ghe Ghe Tit Kit , Dha Ge Na etc are most frequently used. These bols create a certain resonance . Pakhawaj bols are rarely encountered in this gharana.

Ajrada is most well known for its theme and various compositions (mainly Qaidas) as well as its beautiful and balanced Bayan (bass drum) work. The Qaidas of Ajrada, often, have an additional third line out of four; this is one of the few "gifts" of Ajrada to the tabla world.

Following is the typical Ajrada Kayada

Based on Teen Tall or tritaal

Dhag Dhinagina DhaTtirkitatakTirkit DhagDhina DhatitDhagTinagina

1 -------------------- 2 -------------------- 3 -------------------- 4

Tag Tinagina TTtirkitatakTirkit DhagDhina DhatitDhagDhinagina (First 8)

5 6 7 8

Dhag Dhinagina DhaTtirkitatakTirkit DhagDhina DhatitDhagTinagina

9 10 11 12

Tag Tinagina TTtirkitatakTirkit DhagDhina DhatitDhagDhinagina (Second 8 Bits)

13 14 15 16

Prominent exponents[edit]

Though, on the world stage Ajrada is weakly represented, the gharanas compositions are played by almost everyone. The most notable representative of this Gharana has been Ustad Habibuddin Khan. Maestros like Ut Ahmed Jan Thirakwa, Ustad Amir Hussain Khan and Shaikh Dawood excelled in the rendition of many rare and poetic compositions of Ajrada.

Manju Khan Sahib, son and student of Ustad Habibuddin Khan Sahib, is a great representative of Ajrada Gharana. So also Ustad Niazu Khan and Pt Sudhirkumar Saxena, a student of Habibuddin Khan were noted teachers. Another living exponent is Ustad Hashmat Ali Khan.

Ustad Ghulam Sarvar Sabri and Ustad Akram Khan are among the finest young representatives today.


  • The Major Traditions of North Indian Tabla Drumming: A Survey Presentation Based on Performances by India's Leading Artists, by Robert S. Gottlieb. Pub. Musikverlag E. Katzbichler, 1977. ISBN 978-3-8739-7300-8.