Kairana : A UP town remembered for all the wrong reasons

Kairana is often in the news for the communal riots that take place in the town. However, we are on the verge of forgetting that it is the birth place of one of the greatest gharanas of Indian classical music.

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Ustad Majid Khan, Ustad Abdul Karin Khan and Ustad Abdul Haqq Khan. Image Courtesy : thewire.in
  •  Kairana is a small town, located in the Shamli district of western part of Uttar Pradesh
  • Shamli district is part of Muzaffarnagar, which was the seat of communal riots, in the recent past
  • These days, it is the tales of so-called religious violence that keeps Kairana in the news

It has always been the birth place of one of the most popular and culturally enriched gharanas of classical music of India.

Kairana, the small town of Uttar Pradesh has been in the news for the apparently nonviable conditions it possesses for its Hindu residents. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has strengthened its claim by saying that the Hindus live in deplorable state over there and almost have to flee from there to shield themselves from the torture that the Muslims inflict upon them. Journalists who have visited Kairana have found these accusations to be untrue and have failed to get hold of proofs that may give legitimacy to the claims of the VHP.

Bhimsen Joshi with others. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
Bhimsen Joshi with others. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

What has almost ebbed away from our memory is that Kairana used to be the seat of one of the most prominent gharanas of Indian classical music. It has given birth to stalwarts of classical music like Bhimsen Joshi, who is the only recipient of Bharat Ratna in the category of male vocalist. Joshi was the composer of the renowned song “Rag Miya Ki Malhar”, an indelible piece of musical genius.

Ustad Karim Khan. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
Ustad Karim Khan. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, the revolutionary of the Kairana Gharana of Indian classical music, was employed by the Gaekwards in their court for his unparalleled musical brilliance. Bhimsen Joshi had stated that the reason he pursued Indian classical music was the Ustad himself. His children, Hirabai Barodekar, Sureshbabu Mane and Saraswati Rane were eminent musicians of Kairana Gharana, after him.  Even after the independence of India, Karim Khan and his Kairana gharana’s legacy carried on and spread through India. Kairana gharana came to be known as the perfect amalgamation of the music of the north and the south.

It is said that Ustad Abdul Karim Khan spent his last days in Miraj, Maharashtra. Every year, the place erupts in musical celebrations to remember the maestro. It serves as a grand attraction to the biggest names in classical music today.




The Hindu Exodus issue of Kariana. Image Courtesy : theindianexpress.com
The Hindu Exodus issue of Kariana. Image Courtesy : theindianexpress.com

Kairana, thus, had been a place where music had kept the Hindus and the Muslims united from the very beginning. The elders of the town say that there was friendly relations between both the communities in Kairana. Nobody was aware of their religious identity, they were more acclimatised with their caste identities.  But now things have changed, now, people have been made aware of their religious identities which have led to a lot of bad blood between the Hindus and the Muslims of the region.

It is a shame, indeed.

-This report is prepared by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Ustad Karim Khan is indeed one of the best musicians and surprising to know that he comes from Kairana!

  • shridhar nagansur

    Bhimsen Joshi was born and brought up in Karnataka ,please check your sources before posting in article!