Punjab gharana

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Punjab Gharānā (sometimes called Punjabi or Panjabi Gharānā), is a style and technique of Tabla playing that originated in the Punjab region of what is now split in present-day Pakistan and India. The Punjab Gharana is one of the six Tabla Gharanas (of which others are Delhi, Ajrara, Farrukhabad, Lucknow and Benares). Initially a pakhawaj-playing gharana, the Punjab school was created in the nineteenth century.


The distinctive features of Punjab Gharana are:

  1. The strong influence of Pakhawaj playing styles.
  2. The exclusive techniques from the Pakhawaj in playing certain Bols thereby giving a very virile and masculine tonal quality.
  3. The emphasis on Qaida styles heavily influenced by the Delhi Gharana (usually ending in the phrases TinNa KeNa and DhinNa GheNa), besides Parans from the Pakhawaj influence and mathematical wizardry thru compositions like Chakradaars.
  4. The strong influence of the Punjabi Language in the pronunciation of bols.


There is debate as to who precisely set up the Gharānā. Some believe it was Lālā Bhavānidas. And others claim that the founder was Lālā Bhavānidas's follower, Mian Qadir Baksh I. Yet others are of the view that it was Saddu Hussain Baksh (Haddu Khan), follower of Qadir Baksh I who founded it. Around the turn of the 20th century, Fakir Baksh, disciple of Saddu Hussain Baksh was the foremost advocate. He was essentially a Pakhawaj player but certainly the first to introduce Tabla in this Gharana. His disciples were his son Qadir Baksh II besides many like Baba Malang, and Feroze Khan of Lahore. Jnan Prakash Ghosh of Farukhabad gharana also studied with Feroze Khan. Qadir Baksh II was the teacher of the most renowned tabla player of the 20th century, Ustad Alla Rakha, besides Ustad Allah Ditta and Mia Shaukat Hussain and 'Tafo' Khan. Ustad Alla Rakha's brilliant son, Ustad Zakir Hussain grew into a world-renowned iconic figure of Tabla.


Qadir Baksh II (1902–1962)[edit]

Teacher: Mia Faqir Baksh
from Sialkot Pakistan. A legendary name, Mia Qadir Bakhsh was the authoritative head or Khalifa of the Punjab Gharana. Teacher of internationally renowned maestro Ustad Allah Rakha and several others like Ustad Allah Ditta and Mia Shaukat Hussain. An adept Pakhawaj player, Mia Qadir Baksh was noted for his layakari and reputation as a dedicated teacher. Towards the end of his life he became a highly eccentric faqir. After his death the khalifa-ship of the Punjab gharana passed to his nephew Khalifa Akhtar Hussain.

Akhtar Hussain Khan (1947–2001)[edit]

Teachers: Mian Qadir Bukhsh, Ustad Mashooqay Khan and Ustad Aslam Khan
"Ustad Akhtar Hussain" born in Lahore (Hakeeman wala Bazar,Kabotar Shah Takiya) The last recognised khalifa of the Punjab tradition, Akhtar Hussain was respected for his knowledge over the traditional solo repertoire of Punjab. These following, are the students of "Ustad Khalifa Akhtar Hussain"

  1. 1. Khalifa Iqbal Hussain (Paaley Khan) S/O "Anayat Hussain" (Naiti Khan) also nephew of "Ustad Khalifa Akhtar Hussain" (Khalifa Iqbal Hussain is son of Ustad Akhtar's sister), Lahore.
  2. 2. Khalifa Dildar Ali (Khalifa Toni) S/O "Hussain Bukhash" also nephew of "Ustad Khalifa Akhtar Hussain" (Khalifa Dildar Ali is son of Ustad Akhtar's brother), Peshawar.
  3. 3. Javed Jan S/O Arif Jan, Kabul, Afghanistan.
  4. 4. Dilbar Hussain Khan S/O Ustad Laal Khan, Peshawar.
  5. 5. Najaf Hussain Khan S/O Laal Khan, Peshawer.
  6. 6. Maina Gul S/O Haji Saman Gul, Kabul, Afghanistan.
  7. 7. Ustad Sanam Gul S/O Haji Saman Gul, Kabul, Afghanistan.
  8. 8. Ustad Nangeyaley, Kabul Afghanistan.
  9. 9. Saleem Gil, Peshawar.
  10. 10. Nadeem Gil, Peshawar.
  11. 11. Javed Ma'aroofi, Kabul, Afghanistan.
  12. 12. Ustad Jacob Khan, Nowshehra.
  13. 13. Ustad Raza Shoukat S/O Ustad Shoukat Hussain Khan, Lahore. ("Shoukat Hussain Khan" is the student of "Ustad Mian Qadir Bakhash II" and He is teacher of "Taari Khan")

Allarakha (1919–2000)[edit]

Teacher: Mian Qadir Baksh II
Allarakha Khan (Rakha) was one of the most famous and widely recorded tabla players of the twentieth century.For tabla, ..Ustad Allarakha was such an artist, having brought his instrument a stature and respect never before enjoyed. He moved from Lahore to Bombay in the late 1940s and took full advantage of the opportunity to be in the public eye when Ravi Shankar retained him as his regular touring accompanist from around 1962 onwards. What he lacked in beauty of tone Allarakha more than made up for with the most magically intuitive and natural sense of rhythm – an ability to play outside the beat while always remaining entirely cognizant of it. Rakha popularized the art of tabla, playing across the globe, elevating the status and respect of his instrument. Abbaji (as he was affectionately known by his disciples) also bridged the gap between Carnatic music and Hindustani music by playing with both renowned Carnatic musicians and other Hindustani stalwarts. Leading American percussionists in Rock n' Roll, such as the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart, admired him and studied his technique, benefiting greatly even from single meetings. Hart, a published authority on percussion in world music, said "Allarakha is the Einstein, the Picasso; he is the highest form of rhythmic development on this planet." Rakha also collaborated with Jazz master Buddy Rich, recording an album together in 1968.His consistently brilliant performances made the tabla a familiar percussion instrument the world over. In 1985, he founded the Ustad Allarakha Institute of Music to train young tabla players in the tradition of the Punjab gharana. Ustad Allarakha died on February 3, 2000, truly one of the most pivotal and influential artists to have emerged from India in our time.

Dildar Ali (1976, 12 oct 2015)[edit]

Teacher: Ustad Khalifa Akhtar Hussain

Dildar Ali is the nephew of Ustad Khalifa Akhtar Hussain, born on 10 October 1976 in Peshawer, still alive living in Abbottabad. Dildar Ali's father "Hussain Bukhash" and uncle "Akhtar Hussain" who was also his teacher, migrated from Lahore to Peshawar in 1965, during war between India & Pakistan. Dildar Ali started learning tabla from "Ustad Akhtar Hussain" in the age of 9 year in 1985. His first performance at international level was in 1995 in Afghanistan. He also Performed in "All Musical Conference" at Lahore (2000). Dildar Ali is the master of classical tabla and he is the last alive family member of "Mian Qadir Bakhash II" family. There is another confusion between "Dildar Ali" and "Dildar Hussain", so "Dildar Ali" Nickname "Khalifa Toni" belong to "Punjab Gharana" and " Mian Qadir Bakhash" family, He is the grand son of "Mian Qadir Bakhash II" and nephew of "Ustad Khalifa Akhtar Hussain" and also his student. And "Dildar Hussain" nickname "Pidu" Who Played tabla with "Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan", He Belongs to "Punjab Gharana" But not "Mian Qadir Bakhash" family. And he is the student of "Mian Qadir Bakhash" family, of "Ustad Allah Rakha", Who was the student of "Ustad Mian Qadir Bukhash II", "Ustad Khalifa Dildar Ali" is the Classical tabla player and "Dildar Hussain is the Qawali's tabla player. These Followings are the students of "Ustad Khalifa Dildar Ali"

  1. 1. Ramesh Kumar S/O Amar Naath, Peshawar.
  2. 2. Adnan S/O Jacob, Nowshehra.
  3. 3. Nouman (mani) S/O Jacob, Nowshehra.
  4. 4. Ishtiaque Hussain S/O Haji Mushtaque Hussain, Wah Cantt.
  5. 5. Samay Snam S/O Sanam Gul, Kabul, Afghanistan.
  6. 6. Khadim Hussain S/O Haji Chaman Gul, Kabul, Afghanistan.

Shaukat Hussain Khan (1930–1996)[edit]

Teachers: Pandit Hiralal & Mian Qadir Bukhsh
Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan ranked amongst the finest musicians of South Asia. Apart from his prowess over the solo repertoire, the maestro’s forte was his impeccable accompaniment. Shaukat Hussain Khan was the accompanist of choice for Pakistan's great vocalists and instrumentalists, and he always offered impeccable support. As a soloist one hears the Delhi roots of his sound mixed with a truly Panjabi sense of rhythmic complexity. One can hear this complexity in the varied internal phrase lengths of pieces and in the taal structures. Now after the death of Miyan Shaukat Hussain Khan Sahib, his nephew, Ustad Shahid Khan became a Khalifa (holding the gharana after the death) of the Punjab Gharana in Pakistan.

Altaf Hussain 'Tafo' Khan (1945-)[edit]

Teachers: Mian Qadir Bukhsh & Haji Fida Hussain
The renowned Tafo Khan is recognised for his matchless tayyari. His solo performances are characterised by his dazzling prowess over difficult bols and charismatic stage presence.

Abdul Sattar 'Tari' Khan (1953-)[edit]

Teacher: Shaukat Hussain Khan
Hailing from a traditional Rababi family (musicians employed in the Sikh temples of Punjab), Tari Khan learned under Shaukat Hussain Khan in Lahore and became famous as the accompanist of the ghazal singer Ghulam Ali (his "Chupke Chupke" was a major hit back in the early 1980s). Tari always provided an exquisite accompaniment: clean, crisp thekas with astonishingly quick and interesting laggis to punctuate the verses. Because of that international exposure, musicians in India got to hear of him at a time when little cultural news escaped from Pakistan, and most were impressed with this show of virtuosity. Since then, Tari has gone on to international fame as a tabla showman. His "International Kherwa" was a popular item (a musical journey round the world that incorporated other musical styles into the basic 4 beat pattern).

Zakir Hussain (born 1951)[edit]

Teacher/Father: Ustad. Alla Rakha
Zakir Hussain is easily the most famous and influential tabla player of the modern age. Ustad Zakir Hussain, more than a brilliant tabla player - he is a musical phenomenon who has changed the way we think about the tabla and the musicians who play it. It is difficult to think of anyone else in the world who has made an instrument[tabla ] such a lovable one ... The son of Allarakha Khan, he endeared himself to the world as a most sensitive and responsive accompanist, a dazzling soloist, and an adventurous fusion player (most notably with Shakti in the 1970s). Hussain was a child prodigy, and was touring by the age of twelve. He went to the United States in 1970, embarking on an international career which includes more than 160 concert dates a year. He has composed and recorded many albums and soundtracks, and has received widespread recognition as a composer for his many ensembles and collaborations. Ustad Zakir Hussain. in 2010, in a ceremony graced by Indian classical music luminaries ranging from Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma to Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain was acclaimed as the "Guru of Punjab Gharana"...

Fazal Qureshi (born 1961)[edit]

Teacher: Utd. Alla Rakha
Under the guidance of his Guru and father, tabla maestro Ustad Alla Rakha, and with the inspiration drawn from his brother, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Fazal has developed a unique style that is distinguished for its fine sense of rhythm, versatility and eloquence. Fazal has expanded his horizons by being involved with other styles of music of the world especially Jazz and Western classical music, and has performed with many well known Jazz musicians. For the last 16 years he has been associated with Mynta, his world music band based in Sweden. They have performed all over the world and have released six immensely popular albums.

Yogesh Samsi (born 1968)[edit]

Teacher: Utd. Alla Rakha
A disciple of the great Allarakha Khan, Yogesh has made a reputation for himself as an intelligent and supportive accompanist. His understanding of vocal aesthetics and performance structure come, no doubt, from his early exposure to vocal music through his father, the marvellous Dinkar Kaikini of the Agra gharana. From an early age he found himself recording with stalwarts such as K.G. Ginde: one recalls the films made about the various khayal gharanas, and Yogesh's appearance with Ginde in the Agra film.

Shahbaz Hussain (born 1979)[edit]

Teacher: Utd. Alla Rakha, Utd. Shaukat Hussain Khan, Utd. Fayyaz Khan & Pandit Sharda Sahai

Shahbaz began learning Tabla at the age of 5 under the watchful eye of his father, Ustad Mumtaz Hussain - a prominent vocalist. He later went on to study with Tabla legends Ustad Faiyaz Khan from the Delhi Gharana (school), Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan from the Punjab Gharana and finally Ustad Allah Rakha Khan.

He has played with many of the great master musicians of India and Pakistan, including Ustad Imrat Khan, Ustad Nishat Khan, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan to name only a few. He has played in some of the most prestigious venues and festivals around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Lincoln Center in New York and the prestigious Royal Albert Hall. He is an extremely versatile Tabla player who holds all the imperative traditional skills as well as the ability to project those skills to more contemporary styles. His solo performances have gained great recognition all over the world.

Shahbaz is also a dedicated teacher of the Tabla. He delivers regular teaching to young people and adults in and around the UK as well as worldwide.

Dildar Hussain[edit]

Teacher: Utd. Alla Rakha
Dildar Hussain was the percussionist of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Qawwali party until Nusrat's death in 1997.
Dildar Hussain learned tabla from Ustad Allah Rakha Khan. His first performance was in India in 1969 before he joined Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Qawwali party in 1971. Along with Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, Nusrat's brother, Dildar had been a member of the party since its formation. With incredible skill as a tabla master, Ustad Dildar now carries the tradition on with his son's. His eldest leading the party Abrar and his youngest Israr sitting in the seat, like his father as tabla player. Now Dildar is an amazing composer, singer and harmonium player. Dildar teaches and performs internationally with his students Yasar Hussain in Denmark and Aminah Chishti in the US. Ustad Dildar does not play the traditional tabla that can be seen in Hindustani classical music but instead plays a combination of "jori" as the treble, and "dhamma" as the bass to create a deeper, warmer sound than the modern tabla set creates. This unique style is known to be more than 1000 years old created by the great Amir Khusro. Rare to see even in Pakistan. Created with the intention to carry sound acoustically. Ustad has also toured and can sometimes be seen accompanying Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Pandit Rama Kant (born 1942)[edit]

TEACHER-Ustad Bahadur Singh

Pandit Rama kant is a renowned tabla maestro of Punjab gharana. He started his training from his father Pandit Kunj Lal from Nurmahal, Jalandhar districtat a tender age of five. He started giving musical performances at a very early age. His father, who was also a vocalist as well as an instrumentalist, trained all his sons and daughters with total dedication. Every day, they had to do 'riyaaz' in morning, noon and night. Seeing his great devotion towards music, Ustad Bahadur Singh accepted Panditji as his disciple. He has given various solo as well as accompanist. He has accompanied with the best artists of the world including Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Subramanyam, Sushri Praveen Sultana, Ustad Shahid Parvez and many other great musicians not in India but all over the world. He has not only won the hearts of Indian audience but also performed in various concerts in Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and many other European countries. Presently he is involved in many institutions of Punjab which give the knowledge of Indian classical music. He has trained many students in Namdhari Kala Kendra, Jawwadi Taksal In Jawwadi Kalan, Gurudwara Badu Sahib. Many school and college students idealize him in the field of music. A regular performer at the prestigious Shree Baba Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan since childhood he was conferred with "Shree Baba Harivallabh Seva Samman" - Life Time Achievement Award.

Pt. Nishikant Barodekar[edit]

TEACHER - Utd. Alla Rakha
Born as a grandson to the great legendary vocalist Padmabhushan Hirabai Barodekar, he is amongst the renowned artists today. A brilliant student of Utd Alla Rakha & Ust Zakir Hussain, Nishikant has earned reputation as a spontaneous & versatile tabla player. With a great sense of melody, rhythm and eloquence, he puts forth a unique style of solo presentations. He stands in the league of major accompanists today & has accompanied many maestros of Indian classical music, like Ustd.Vilayat khan, Ust Salamat Ali Khan, Pt.Birju Maharaj, Ust Amjad Ali Khan, Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Pt Jasraj, Ustd.Shahid Parvez, Vid. U Srinivasan & many more. He has been awarded titles like ' Layashiromani ' by Ganayogi Panchakshara Sangeet Samiti Chennai, ' Taal Mani ' etc. . He is a versatile guru and a few of his students are established Tabla players. He has performed concerts in many countries including the United States, Canada, Japan, England, Russia, France, Germany, Malaysia, Egypt, Middle East, Singapore, Switzerland, China and many more. Presently he is working as a faculty member in SRI SATHYA SAI MIRPURI COLLEGE OF MUSIC, Prashanti Nilayam, Puttaparti, India. He also is a visiting professor in many universities in The United States, Europe and Japan.

Ustad Bahadur Singh[edit]

TEACHER-Ustad Meeran Baksh (Gilwale)
Ustad Bahadur Singh was a brilliant tabla vadak, he was known for his creativity for creating "paltas" as well as composing his own compositions. He had accompanied many musicians and played at for the All India Radio. Ustad Ahmed Jaan "Thrikwa" had also acknowledged the brilliance of Ustad Bahadur Singh Ji's playing as well as many other great ustads recognized his amazing playing. He had many students, some of which are Ustad Prof. Ranjit Singh (Ludhiana), Pandit Rama kant, Bhai Mohinder Singh, Ustad Gurmeet Singh Virdee, Ustad Ranjot Singh, Ustad Dileep Singh, Professor Parshotam Singh (Jalandhar), Prof. Late Narinder Singh(Chandigarh) and many more.

Professor Ranjit Singh (Ludhiana)[edit]

TEACHER-Ustad Bahadur Singh
Professor Ranjit Singh is one of Ustad Bahadur Singh's senior most students. Ranjit Singh was based in Ludhiana but is now currently in California (U.S.A.). His interest for tabla and music began as a child as he began to study the history of Sikhism (a religion founded in the 15th century). After hearing Ustad Bahadur Singh's tabla at a solo performance he was enchanted and made up his mind that he will learn from Ustad Bahadur Singh. Ranjit Singh began to do sewa (work) for Ustad Bahadur Singh Ji and after seeing his dedication and determination to learn, Ustad Bahadur Singh accepted Ranjit Singh as his student. Ranjit Singh has studied vocal under the great Ustad Sohan Singh and Ustad Giani Gian Singh Almast. Ranjit Singh also taught tabla as well as sitar at India Government College in Ludhiana. He then moved to California (U.S.A.) and has his own academy (Bhai Mardhana Institute). Ranjit Singh Ji has accompanied many great artists of his time, he is extremely knowledgeable about Hindustani Classical music as well as the traditional Gurmat Sangeet music which is from the Sikhism religion. He is also well versed in the Jori-Pakhawaj style of playing which is also a part of the Punjab Gharana.

Professor Parshotam Singh (Born 1940, Jalandhar)[edit]

TEACHER-Ustad Bahadur Singh
Professor Parshotam Singh has been widely regarded as one of Ustad Bahadur Singh's most gifted students. Currently based in Ontario (Canada), Parshotam Singh has been at the forefront of teaching and inspiring young children into learning Hindustani Classical Music, Gurmat Sangeet, and continuing the long traditions more specifically related to the Punjab Gharana. From a young age, his talent was recognized by Ustad Bahadur Singh, and began his formal training alongside other students of Ustad Bahadur Singh such as Pandit Rama Kant and Professor Ranjit Singh. Furthermore, Parshotam Singh continued his education in other Indian Classical instruments: Sitar, Dilruba, Harmonium to name a few. Parshotam Singh is also known to have learnt vocal training alongside Ghazal King Jagjit Singh in their earlier years. Currently Parshotam Singh resides in Canada and continues to train and pass on the wealth of knowledge to his students.

Professor Narinder Singh (Chandigarh)1932-2001[edit]

TEACHER-Ustad Bahadur Singh Ji.

This information has been added by Late Professor Narinder Singh's daughter-Dr.Kamaljeet Kaur Gill. Late Professor Narinder Singh was one of Ustad Bahadur Singh's senior most students. He basically belonged to Hoshiarpur, Punjab but settled in Chandigarh in 1958 and worked as a Tabla Professor in Punjab University, Chandigarh until his retirement in 1994. Prof. Narinder Singh's passion for Tabla started at a very young age. He completed his Masters in Tabla and Music Vocal. Ustad Bahadur Singh ji accepted Narinder Singh as his student and kept him at his house in Jallandhar for long time and taught Tabla to the most. Ustad Bahadur Singh ji and Narinder Singh followed the Guru Shishyaa parampara. Prof. Narinder Singh used to do RIYAAZ in the middle of the night even at the age of 60-68. He also used to play "DHAAMAA" (applying a medium layer of eating dough on the base).

Prof. Narinder Singh had accompanied Tabla with many of the great master musicians of India and Pakistan, including Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Begum Shanno Khurana, Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas, Pt. Vinayak Rao Patwardhan, Malika Pukraj, Jagjit Singh ji, Assa Singh Mastana ji, Kishori Amonkar ji and many more. He had shown his Tabla skills around the world, including Washington D.C., London, New York, Kenya, Australia and many more. He was an extremely versatile Tabla player who kept all the imperative traditional skills. His solo performances have gained great recognition all over the world. He trained numberless students and passed on his skills.

Prof. Narinder Singh died in Chandigarh on January 9, 2001. He has survived with his daughter and wife who are settled in Canada.