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This ‘mohalla of musicians’ in Kashi is striking the right notes

The narrow lanes of Kabir Chaura reverberate with the sounds of tabla, sarangi and alaap.

lucknow Updated: Aug 18, 2017 14:39 IST
Sudhir Kumar
Sudhir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Varanasi
Statues like this have been set up at Kabir Chuara in Varanasi to highlight the musical importance of the area.(Rajesh Kumar/ HT Photo)

As the sun sets, the narrow lanes of Kabir Chaura reverberate with the sounds of tabla, sarangi and alaap (renditions).

It was in these lanes of this ‘mohalla of musicians’ that the Banaras gharana thrived and gave renowned music maestros to the world.

And the legacy continues even today. The mohalla still preserves the ‘guru-shishya’ tradition and nurtures classical music.

Now, on the suggestion of classical vocalists Rajan and Sajan Mishra, the Centre has incorporated Heritage Walk scheme in its ambitious Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) to make Varanasi a tourism hub.

After the beautification of lanes and houses of Kabir Chaura area, a walk will be promoted to allow foreign tourists and music lovers experience the rich legacy of Banaras gharana.

Kabir Chaura has been home to classical musicians like Pt Bade Ramdas Ji, Pt Harishankar Mishra and Pt Gopal Prasad Mishra. Under their tutelage, many musicians of international repute have blossomed.

Padma awardees and classical vocalists Pt Rajan and Sajan Mishra are the sons of sarangi maestro Pt Hanuman Prasad Mishra. The brothers are famous for Khayal style of Indian classical music.

“This area is known for legendary classical musicians such as Pt Ramsahay Mishra. He is known as the ‘pravartak’ (promoter) of Banaras gharana of tabla recital. Tabla legend Pt Godai Maharaj spent all his life in these lanes,” said Rajkumar Mishra, a tabla maestro who lives in Kabir Chaura area.

Tabla maestro Pt Kishan Maharaj, a Padma Vibhushan awardee, carried forward the legacy of classical tabla and developed his unique style.

Tabla player Sandip Das, who won a Grammy award in 2017, is among the pupils of Pt Kishan Maharaj and spent several years in Kabir Chaura area. Pt Kishan Maharaj’s son Pt Puran Maharaj lives in his ancestral house in a lane and trains budding musicians every evening.

“I can’t live without tabla. I am trying to preserve the legacy of classical musical that my father has left behind. He was also a guru to me,” he said.

Legendry kathak dancers late Sitara Devi and Gopi Krishna lived in a lane that has been named after Sitara Devi. Her grandson Vishal Krishna is also a kathak artiste.

“I have a big responsibility to carry forward the legacy of my grandmother Sitara Devi. I am serving the art of kathak,” Krishna said.

Vikas Maharaj, a descendant of Pt Nankau Maharaj, is serving classical music not only in India but in other countries too. He plays sarod and has given a number of performances in many countries.

“I took lessons in music from my grandfather Pt Bade Ramdas Ji, father Pt Nanhkau Maharaj and uncle Kishan Maharaj besides Pt Kanthe Maharaj. With the blessings of great musicians, I am serving the Banaras Gharana and want to popularise it further across the world,” Pt Vikas Maharaj said.

“It is a matter of great pride to be born in the family of legendary musicians,” he added.

Vocalist Pt Rajeshwar Mishra, who is in his 70s, said he was spreading the essence of music that he got from his guru Pt Bade Ramdas Ji Maharaj.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 14:39 IST