Inside India’s Musical City

By | November 20, 2022

Miraj, a small city within the western Indian state of Maharashtra, has been a famend middle of classical music for over 150 years.

Positioned 400 km (248.5 miles) west of the town of Mumbai, Miraj was a part of the previous princely state of Patwardhan and is dwelling to a number of well-known classical musicians.

It’s also the hub of stringed devices within the nation.

Hundreds of devices – particularly the tanpura, sitar, sarangi and veena – made in Miraj are utilized in each nook of the nation.

Lots of India’s best musicians get their musical devices specifically designed by the legendary craftsmen of this historic metropolis.

The trade is run by over 300 artisans from 50 Shikalgar households, who’ve been within the enterprise for over seven generations.

Their fascinating historical past dates again to the 18th century.

Traditionally, the Shikalgars have been a neighborhood of blacksmiths who specialised in making swords and different navy gear in the course of the rule of the Maratha Empire.

“However in 1818 – after the autumn of the Maratha Empire and the introduction of recent weaponry by the British – the Shikalgar neighborhood started to float away from their conventional vocation attributable to a declining market,” says Mansingh Kumthekar, a city-based historian.

The cultural historical past of the town underwent additional adjustments within the years to return.

Shrimant Balasaheb Patwardhan II, the King of Miraj, was an important music lover and he invited a number of musicians from all around the subcontinent to carry out throughout his reign.

However there was nobody to restore the musical devices the performers introduced with them, Mr. Kumthekar stated.

So the king turned to the Shikalgar neighborhood for assist.

“He requested two brothers Faridsaheb and Moeuddin if they might assist with the repairs.”

The brothers – who have been nice music lovers themselves – discovered the craft so properly that everybody began calling them “sitar makers”, says Mr Kumthekar.

Quickly, different households from the Shikalgar neighborhood additionally joined the enterprise, giving rise to a thriving trade.

However Miraj’s century-old musical custom now faces an existential disaster.

The trade that after employed hundreds now has only some hundred.

Artisans say the arrival of digital devices and music apps has made it tough to protect craftsmanship and led to the lack of their livelihoods.

Some have turned to new applied sciences, however others resist the concept and demand on preserving their conventional habits.

They are saying they’re apprehensive about their future.

Photos of Sharad Badhe

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