Music is supposed to be the soul of life. By virtue of being the oldest living city, Benaras has its own rich history and treasure of music. According to mythology, when Renu (son of Vishwamitra) and Mahagovind founded Kashi (Varanasi), they also brought with them the Aryan traditions and the Vedic culture. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of Varanasi and is also considered as the lord of dance and music. According to the Puranic tales the Apsaras, Gandharvas and Kinnars lived in Varanasi and made the musical tradition of Varanasi a rich one.

Going back to history, we find numerous instances and examples of dance, music and drama evolving in Varanasi. Excavations at Varanasi have shown a terracotta figurine, in which two musicians are playing percussion instruments. The literature of ancient and medieval times also point out to a great tradition of music in Kashi or Varanasi. The Bhakti movement in the medieval period also contributed to the development of music in Varanasi. Great saint Chaitanya and Vallabhacharya played an important role in the development and popularity of music in Varanasi. Saints like Surdas, Kabeer, Raidas, Meera and Tulsi also made rich and valuable contributions to the devotional music and their Bhajans are popular to even this day.

Ravi Shankar was an Indian musician and composer best known for popularizing the sitar and Indian classical music in Western culture. Born in India in 1920, Ravi Shankar is an Indian musician and composer best known for his success in popularizing the sitar. In 1954, Shankar gave a recital in the Soviet Union. In 1956, he debuted in the United States and Western Europe. Also helping his star rise was the score he wrote for famous Indian film director Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy. The first of these films, Pather Panchali, won the Grand Prix—now known as the Golden Palm or Palme d'Or—at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955. The prize is awarded to the best film of the festival.

Already an ambassador of Indian music to the Western world, Shankar embraced this role even more fully in the 1960s. Shankar won many awards and honors throughout his career, including 14 honorary degrees, three Grammy Awards (he received two posthumous Grammys as well) and a membership to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Known fondly today as the "godfather of world music," Shankar is remembered for using his wealth of talent to infuse Indian culture into the world's forever-growing music scene, and is largely credited with building a large following for Eastern music in the West.

Varanasi has rich folk music, which includes 'Bidesia', 'Lachri', 'Badhaiya', 'Fauwara', 'Gauri', 'Ghori', 'Lachchan', 'Maand', 'Sawani' and 'Kajri'.

There are many internationally famous & Award winner artists from Varanasi, Such as;

  1. Ustad Bismillah Khan
  2. Pandit Krishna Maharaj
  3. Rajan Sajan Mishra
  4. Girija Devi
  5. Pandit Chhannulal Mishra
  6. Samta Prasad
  7. Ravi Shankar

Pt. Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar had an interesting childhood.  He was born on April 7, 1920, in Benares (a.k.a. Varanasi, or Kashi) into a Bengali Brahmin community.  His family's native place was Kalia which is now in Bangladesh.  His early upbringing was steeped in music and culture.  As a child, he had played a number of instruments and even sang in school functions. When Ravi Shankar was very young, his father and brother (Uday Shankar) left India and went to Europe to live.  This paved the way for Ravi Shankar's entrance into European society.  In 1930 he moved to Paris to be part of his brother's troupe. Paris had a very powerful affect upon the young Ravi Shankar.  He continued his education in Paris, but more importantly, he learned much from his environment.  On one hand, he was exposed to I...Read more>>

Pandit Chhannulal Mishra

Pandit Chhannulal Mishra (Born 3 August 1936) is a Hindustani classical singer from Banaras, a noted exponent of the Kirana gharana (school) of the Hindustani classical music and especially the Khayal and the 'Purab Ang' – Thumri. He has been awarded; The 'Shiromani Award' of Sur Singar Sansad, Bombay; Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award; Naushad Award of U.P. Govt; Yash Bharti Award of U.P Government and the Bihar Sangeet Shiromani Award. Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, on 25 January 2010. ...Read more>>

Rajan Sajan Mishra

Rajan and Sajan Mishra (both are bothers), a khyal style singer of the Indian classical music. Khyal style singing is considered as the 300 years old style of the Banaras gharana. Mishra brothers have been performing their art of singing all across the India as well as the world. They are the great singer of the India from the Banaras gharana. They have started their music career in their teen ages. First time they have performed their music in the presence of Satguru Jagjit Singh. Rajan Mishra was born in the year 1951 and Sajan Mishra was born in the 1956 in the Varanasi. Their grandfather named Bade Ram Das ji Mishra and father named Hanuman Prasad Mishra, taught them the classical music Recognitions and awards: Awarded with the Padma Bhushan in 2007. Awarded with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998. Awarded with th...Read more>>

Girija Devi

Girija Devi is a senior and renowned Indian female classical vocalist, who represents the Banaras Gharana of singers. Born on 8 May 1929 in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Girija Devi has been gifted with the most mellifluous voice. She is proficient singers of various different genres of Hindustani vocal music like Khyal, Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti and Kajari. But her forte lies in singing the Poorab and Thumri and because of this, Girija Devi is lovingly said that she's the last living queen of thumri. She was given the; Padma Shree in the year 1972 the Padma Bhushan in 1989, which are among the highest civilian awards of India. The Tansen award named after Tansen, who was one of the nine gems in the court of Emperor Akhbar, was also conferred to Girija Devi. She has also served as member of many important committees re...Read more>>

Pandit Krishna Maharaj

Pandit Kishan Maharaj, a famous Indian tabla player, born at 3rd September 1923 in the Kabir Chaura, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He was born at the propitious Hindu festival day named Sri Krishna Janamashtami in the family related to the professional music. Kishan Maharaj has passed away recently at his 84 at 4th May 2008 in the Khajuri near to Varanasi. He belonged to the Benares gharana and had dedicated his life to the Hindustani classical music. Awards and Recognitions: He was honored with the Padma Shri award in the 1973  The Padma Vibhushan award by the Indian President in the 2002. In the 1969, he again honored by the title of Sangeet Samrat from the Prayag Sangit Samiti. UP Sangeet Natak Akademi pleased him in 1972. He got Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1984. Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 1986. He also awarded with th...Read more>>

Ustad Bismillah Khan

Bismillah Khan was born in Bhirung Raut Ki Gali at Dumrao, Bihar, in 1913 to Paigambar Khan and Mitthan into the family of musicians. Khan was bestowed with the title of ‘Ustad’ and earned many accolades like Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, honorary doctorates from Banaras Hindu University and Viswa Bharati University, etc. Ustad Bismillah Khan was a great Shehnai player from India. His name was and will forever be associated with shehnai, the musical instrument that he made famous with his talent and deliberation in the post independent India. Khan belonged to a family of traditional musicians of Bihar who used to play in the courts of the princely states, which is why playing shehnai came very natural to him. He was brilliant at what he did - the reason why he had ...Read more>>



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