How did Dharwad become ground zero of music?

Kumar Gandharva, Basavaraj Rajguru, Puttaraj Gawai, Mallikarjuna Mansur, Gangubai Hanagal, Bhimsen Joshi, Venkatesh Kumar….

The roster of titans from within a hundred-mile radius of Dharwad is long and illustrious. But how and why did the north Karnataka town become the ground zero of shastriya sangeet, the confluence of classical Hindustani and Carnatic music? Is it the mannina guna? Is it the guru-shishya tradition?

The Bangalore-based historian Ramachandra Guha offers a view in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“It was part of the Bombay presidency, and thus subject to influences from those two great musical centres, Pune and Mumbai. Even closer were the towns of Kolhapur and Miraj, where some famous (Muslim) teachers of music had settled, at the invitation of princes who were patrons of culture. Since Dharwad falls broadly in the region known as ‘South’ India, perhaps these vocalists also drew to some extent on the Carnatic style of music. We do know for certain that they were deeply influenced by folk traditions and by medieval saints. Both Bhimsen and Mallikarjun liked to sing songs composed by Purandaradasa, whereas Kumar Gandharva reinterpreted Kabir with great feeling and sensitivity for a 20th-century audience.”

Photograph: courtesy The Indian Express

Read the article in Kannada at Praja Vani: Jagathige serida sangeetha lokada dheemantaru

Also read: Where the soil, air and peda help the vocal chords

From Dharwad, India’s best shehnai player today, S. Balesh

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12 Responses to “How did Dharwad become ground zero of music?”

  1. Gaby Says:

    The old fart at it again. Pray then why sir not Hyderabad or Kalburgi. Some things have no straightforward answers , such as why Dharwada is the mother lode of music and literature. The only thing we can do is give thanks for it rather than engage in such reductionist farting.

  2. prasanna Says:

    Sometime in the future history may add a Canadian influence for music coming from Dharwad. Yesterday evening had the pleasure of listening to some wonderful music from the kids at Kalkeri Sangeeth Vidyalaya. Simply amazing … if you are in the area pls look up

  3. Sapna Says:

    Hmmm whatever be the reason it became so I just hope the tradition continues…

  4. Niaz Ahmed Says:

    Dharwar a small place,place of my birth is famous not only for musicians but also men of letters like Girish Karnad,DR Bendre,Betageri Krishna Sharma(Ananda Kanda) and also some modern hitech people like Nandan Nilekani and Sudha Murthy(albeit she is from Hubli). There used to be a saying in Dharwar,”if u throw a stone, be rest assured it will either strike a musician or a writer.

  5. Raghava Mathihalli Says:

    One analogy that is put forth for popularity of Hindustani music in these areas has been the frequent visits of top notch yesteryear vocalists to Mysore Darbar. Dharwad was the place where these vocalists would take a break in their journey and give performance.

  6. Curry Hurry Says:

    When did a cricket historian become a historian ?

  7. gaddeswarup Says:

    It seems that Ramachandra Guha gas been wondering about this for a while

  8. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    If the genius were not there, would anything have mattered? That it was there and is one of the greatest gifts to Karnataka and the world is what matters more than any speculation like Guha’s.

    Let’s hope Jayatheertha Mewundi, Madhava Gudi, Ganapathi Bhatta and those like them will keep Dharawada’s magic tunefulness alive for a long time to come.

  9. Deepak Says:

    Why R.Guha is referring to Bombay precidency here? is the influence relally matters? Again the region politics gets more importance in India

  10. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    I should have mentioned Upendra Bhatta who is one of the very best when it comes to dasasahithya. I don’t know of anyone who has recorded more dasarapadagalu than Shri Bhatta.

  11. Ahobala Sadashiva Says:

    I wonder why late Arjun sa Nakod did not figure in the discussion.Some of his Kannada songs are mesmerizing.I had attended is last performance in Bangalore Gayan Samaj,before he passed away rather prematurely fore was one of the early teachers of Mewundi.

  12. Ahobala Sadashiva Says:

    I wonder why late Arjun sa Nakod did not figure in the discussion.Some of his Kannada songs are mesmerizing.I had attended his last performance in Bangalore Gayan Samaj,before he passed away rather prematurely. He was one of the early teachers of Mewundi.

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