Sham Chaurasia gharana

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Sham Chaurasia gharana is a gharana (house of musical heritage) in Hindustani classical music known for the singing of vocal duets, most notably represented in modern times by the brothers Nazakat and Salamat Ali Khan. The gharana is centered at a village of the same name in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab (India); variant spellings include Shamchurasi etc.


The gharana is believed to have been founded in the 16th century by Mian Chand Khan and Mian Suraj Khan who were contemporaries of Mian Tansen at the court of Mughal emperor Akbar. Successive generations of musicians in the gharana specialised in the dhrupad form of singing and evolved a tradition of duet vocal jugalbandi performances. Meer Baksh and Khairdeen,Karam Elahi Khan,Vilayat Ali and Hadayat Khan, Nazakat Ali and Salamat Ali are noted practitioners of jugalbandi from this gharana. [1]

Mian Karim Bukhsh Majzoob,Ustad Karam ElahiUstad Nazim Hussain Khan SahibUstad Ahmed Ali Khan, Ustad Niaz Hussain Shami, and Ustad Vilayat Ali Khan were some of the illustrious members of the Sham Chaurasi gharana.

The gharana of Sham Chaurasia (sham is taken from the name of the Sufi saint, Sant Shami Shah and (chaurasi =84) was named after a cluster of 84 villages which constituted a land revenue unit[2] in the time of Ranjit Singh. According to one legend, the founders were given a parcel of land here as a grant to them by Mughal Emperor Akbar.[3]

In an alternative version of the origin, the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah Rangila was said to have been so impressed by the gharana that he gave all income from the 84 local villages, known as 'Chaurasi', to the Sufi saint Sant Shami Shah. This is where the name Sham Chaurasi comes from. [4]

Prominent exponents[edit]

Around the turn of the century, the gharana was represented by Ustad Vilayat Ali Khan, who was noted for his dhrupad singing. His sons are Salamat Ali Khan,Nazakat Ali Khan, Tasadaq Ali Khan,Akhter Ali Khan and Zaker Ali Khan, later Salamat and Nazakat were to become particularly well known for their duet singing in Pakistan and India.

Nazakat and Salamat Ali Khan[edit]

Some of the most memorable classical music of modern times have been sung by the brothers Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan (1928-1984) and Salamat Ali Khan (1934-2001). Salamat showed an early genius for music, and their debut performance was on All India Radio, Delhi in 1942, when Salamat was only 8.[5] At the age of 11, he travelled with his brother Nazakat to Amritsar for a memorable concert:

"When the performance started, it seemed like a feast of musical notes had descended upon us in the audience. Every member of the audience was amazed and in complete awe of the duo. It was almost unbelievable that boys of that age could give such a fine performance. When the drut portion started, the brothers gave a blazing display of taans, sargams and layakari, which left the audience stunned".:[6]

After the 1947 Partition of British India, the family first moved to Multan, Pakistan and later moved to Lahore, Pakistan. They emerged as one of the leading performers of classical music in Pakistan. The other classical singing duo was of Patiala gharana's Amanat Ali Khan and his brother Bade Fateh Ali Khan along with Roshan Ara Begum of Kirana gharana. Hameed Naseem of Radio Pakistan once remarked about Nazakat and Salamat Ali Khan: Tansen issi tarah gata ho ga! (the legendary Tansen must have sung like this).[3]

A number of their recordings exist from their very fruitful partnership until 1974. Subsequently, due to differences over finances,[5] they broke up, and Nazakat Ali Khan was to die in 1984, but Salamat Ali Khan continued singing along with his sons Sharafat Ali Khan and Shafqat Ali Khan, and grandson Shujat Ali Khan, who continue the Sham Chaurasia tradition today in 2016. All of them regularly perform on Pakistan Television now. Ustad Salamat Ali Khan's second eldest son, Ustad Latafat Ali Khan is one of the finest exponents of the Ghazal, Thumri & Kafi singing as well as Pakistani classical singing in the UK.


  1. ^ Tradition of Hindustani Music By Manorma Sharma p63, Retrieved 9 Feb 2016
  2. ^ "An area consisting of Eightyfour Villages". The Tribune. , Retrieved 9 Feb 2016
  3. ^ a b S.M. Shahid. "The Sufi Musician (Ustad Salamat Ali Khan)". Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  4. ^ Tradition of Hindustani Music By Manorma Sharma p62, Retrieved 9 Feb 2016
  5. ^ a b, Biography of Salamat Ali Khan on The Friday Times newspaper, Published 14 Jan 2011, Retrieved 9 Jan 2016
  6. ^ M.A. Sheikh. "Yaadein : Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan and Ustad Salamat Ali Khan's memorable performance at the Durgiana Temple in Amritsar". Retrieved 2007-09-20. , Retrieved 9 Feb 2016