This site describes instruments that are mainly used in the Dhrupad genre of Indian Classical Music. Dhrupad enjoyed wide popularity in India till about the 18th century. At present Dhrupad has very few practitioners in India and is rarely heard in concerts there. Not surprisingly many of the instruments of Dhrupad are nearly extinct now in the sense of having few or no performers left such as the Sursringar. The most important instrument of solo dhrupad performance is the Rudra Veena. The bass sitar called Surbahar is also used to play Dhrupad style alap mostly by sitar players who claim to belong to Dhrupad lineages. In the picture is shown a sculpture of Goddess Sarasvati playing the Ekatantri veena, a fretless precursor of the Rudra Veena with a single string and single resonator that was played with a slide.

The Tanpura is a drone instrument that accompanies Dhrupad singing and is the most fundamental of all instruments of Indian Classical Music.. The most fundamental principles on which Indian classical music is based are embodied in the Tanpura. The curved bridge of the Tanpura and its unusual shape produce a sound that is very rich in overtones. When a string of the Tanpura is plucked what is produced is not a pure note fixed in pitch, but a note that oscillates by a miniscule amount owing to the curved bridge. In this way the Tanpura embodies the concept of a note that is not fixed but is fluid with infinite microtonal shades. The tuning of the Tanpura is a complex task and advanced practitioners of Dhrupad especially in the Dagar Tradition -can tune a Tanpura to reflect the flavour of the raga to be performed. Here a few tanpuras made by a famous maker from miraj in India are on offer for private sale. The Tanpuras on offer are of a high quality and many famous Indian musicians get their Tanpuras made by this craftsman from Miraj. please click on the link below for details. Also on offer are a few Surbahars and Rudra Veenas including veenas made by the famous Calcutta veena maker late Murarimohan Adhikari the last master craftsman of the house of Kanailal and brother.

contact gsnellgrove(at)

( a few instruments are on offer for private sale)


The Rudra Veena is an instrument that is rarely heard on the concert stage now although just two centuries ago it reigned surpreme and was regarded as the king of all instruments. It has a hollow tubular body called the dandi on which are placed 24 frets usually glued to the tube with beewax and resin although some players also use frets tied to the dandi as in the sitar. There are four main playing strings and three to four drone strings. Attached to the tubular dandi are two hollow resonators made of dried and seasoned pumpkins.

Traditionally the veena was played with the player sitting in the vajrasana posture with his legs folded under him and one of the two gourds placed on the left shoulder.

With the emergence of new popular instruments more suited for fast virtuosic playing like the Sitar and Sarod the Rudra Veena suffered a decline in popularity and by the 19th and early 20th century very few Veena players remained.

Among the most famous Veena players of the 19th century were Bande Ali Khan of Indore and Wazir Khan of Rampur. Bande Ali Khan had given his two daughters in marriage to the brothers Allabande and Zakiruddin Khan the ancestors of the Dagar brothers. One of the prominent students of Bande Ali Khan was Murad Khan and till today a few students of the line of Murad Khan like Jyoti Hegde, Zahid Khan (son of Shamshuddin Faridi Desai) and Hindraj Divekar continue to play the Rudra Veena in the traditional style. Wazir Khan of Rampur was a descendant of Naubat Khan a Veena player who was a contemporary and relative of Tansen. He was also the teacher of many renowned instrumentalists like Ustad Allauddin Khan of Maihar and Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan of Gwalior. The last veena player of the line of Wazir khan was his descendant Dabir Khan.

Bande Ali Khan had started playing the emerging Khyal style on Veena and some of his students continued this tradition. The great Khyala singer of the 19th and early 20th century Abdul Karim Khan used to play the Rudre Veena.

Jyoti Hegde and her teacher Bindu Madhav Pathak, Hindraj Divekar also play the Khyal style on the veena. An example is video of Hindraj Divekar on this page.

Ustad Asad Ali Khan, Ustad Shamsuddin Faridi Desai and Ustad Abid Hussain Khan were the main reputed players of the traditional veena in India in the second half of the 20th century. Here is a recording of Ustad Abid Hussain Khan playing raga Desh accompanied on pakhawaj by Ambadas Pant Agle.

Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar,  son of Ustad Ziauddin Khan of Udaipur, developed a large and heavy veena that he played in a different posture because it was simply too heavy to be played in the traditional manner. His son Bahauddin Dagar, students Asit Kumar Bannerjee, Philip Bruguiere, Philip Puget and Jeff Lewis continue to play the instrument in the style developed by him.

Veena developed by Ustad Z.M Dagar

The Rudra Veena is the ideal instrument for dhrupad because its sound has the same richness of overtones that the voice acquires with the practice of Nada Yoga and enables the player to establish subtle relations between notes using microtones. The instrument is also useful in the study of microtones. The instrument, especially in the traditional posture, also responds to the flow of prana or vital breath.


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ASHISH SANKRITYAYAN: Dhrupad Ragas Yaman, Malkauns, Lalit - DVD
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Saraswati Playing the Veena ( Parmar School Central India)









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