The word gharana means family. Basically this type of Hindustani music is further classified into categories depending on the family or school from where the musician hailed. Every gharana has a particular style of playing instruments and singing. It is said that this classification of Hindustani music came into being in the 18th century.  Any form of Hindustani music to be given the title of being a gharana, should have traveled through at least three generations. This is because it is then given the stature of being a recognized style in the world of Indian classical music.

Gharana has fascinated music connoisseurs across the globe. The fact is that in India a lot of importance is given to family heritage, be it wealth or profession and in this case music. This type of classical music being passed down through generations shows how much people respect the presence of music in their lives.

Though this style of classical music was popular in its time, it began to fade away as musicians began to travel, spreading their talents. During their widespread traveling they would give performances and also attend other concerts. They came across musicians and other music forms. And so instead of adhering to what they had been taught they began to imbibe other styles. Today, gharana style of music has more or less faded away into the oblivion with only a few musicians adhering to where they originally belong.

Some of the popular gharanas of times gone by include:

  • Bishnupur gharana, which upheld the dhrupad culture and was famous in the state of Bengal
  • Emdad Khan gharana, was a sitar gharana that developed in central India towards the end of the 19th century
  • Sarod gharana of Niamutullah Khan took birth in north India
  • Gaya gharana was introduced by Hari Singh, promoting
  • Gwalior gharana was a sarod gharana that began in north India
  • Dagor gharana was an ancient dhrupad gharana based on Dagor compositions
  • The Prasaddu-Manohar gharana was named after Hariprasad Mishra and Manohar Mishra. The two brothers created this gharana that was bent towards beats and tempo, accommodating varied vocal styles and instruments
  • Benaras tabla gharana was initiated by Ramsahay. He taught his disciples the art of playing the tabla with the pakhawaj, dhol and kettle drum
  • Benaras Mishra Gharana originated in Benaras. The peculiar aspect of this was the art of playing the sarangi accompanied by tappa and kheyal performances
  • Betia gharana promoted the dhrupad style of Hindustani classical music
  • Rampur gharana was established with the support of the court of Rampur
  • Lucknow tabla gharana was founded by a tabla player, Bakshu, in the court of the nawabs
  • Shahjahanpur sarod gharana was developed by Enayet Ali Khan
  • Agra gharana was initiated by a Rajput family of Dhrupad musicians
  • Atrauli Jaipur gharana is a branch of the Agra gharana
  • Delhi gharana was founded by Amir Kushrau in the 14th century
  • Patiala gharana was developed in the 19th century and had influences of the Delhi gharana
  • Kirana gharana was performed by the musicians of the small town of kirana in north India
  • Bhendibazar gharana is an offshoot of the Gwalior gharana

The fact remains that the rich heritage of gharanas has trickled down to being almost non-existent today. But, some musicians across the world are trying to revive them by thoroughly studying the forms and compositions so that if people today cannot enjoy original recordings, they could at least experience them as re-creations.