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The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen


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Just at the moment I reached the tomb of Muhammad Ghaus and the gretest musician of our times, Miyan Tansen; I was awe-struck by the illustriousness of Mughal architecture. Ghaus was a 16th century Sufi saint and mentor of Humayun, Mughal emperor. I came to know that Ghaus was Tansen's mentor too. The tomb of Muhammad Ghaus and Tansen was built by Akbar as a tribute to both.

In the same mausoleum complex were buried Ghaus's and Miyan Tansen's disciples.

Carvings are so intricate and subtle that one can ogle at them forever and ever.

While I was minutely adoring the lattices, I couldn't overlook the vibrant thread tied around the tomb which were enhancing its beauty. It is believed that, if the people who visit the tomb; tie a knot with colourful threads, their prayers are right away answered. Why would I be far behind? I too tied a thread with lot of hope :)

Gwalior is rightly called 'the city of music' as it's the birthplace of Sangeet Visharad, Miyan Tansen. Born in a Hindu family, he began his career in the court and aegis of the Hindu king of Rewa State, Ram Chand, where Tansen's art of music won extensive fame. This prestige and prominence caught Akbar's attention to him who requested Ram Chand to convince Tansen to join Mughal court's musicians. Ram Chand persuaded Tansen to join Akbar's court. Tansen and his performances attracted lot of attention. Akbar chose him as one of his Navaratnas (nine jewels), and rewarded him the title Mian, an honorific, which means learned man.

Tansen is treated as the founder of Hindustani classical music. Tansen Samaroh, a national musical festival, in the memory of Tansen takes place every year near his tomb. Numerous celebrated classical singers from all across the country come and show effective performances. I've yet to witness this grand festival, however I've heard that the aura and ambience make you feel and imagine as if you are sitting and listening to musicians in the Mughal court of Akbar.

Akbar adored Tansen! So much so that after his death, Tansen was buried as per Muslim customs and his tomb was built by Akbar.

I had heard a lot of legends about Tansen from my parents and teachers. One of the famous legend is that once Tansen sang Raag Deepak (Song of Fire) in the court and the power of his music and voice made the tapers of lamps ablaze. Other one is that it always started raining every-time Tansen would sing the Raag Megh Malhar (Song of Rain). I imagined the moment; Rain dribbling down, peacocks dancing in the rain and the courtiers hypnotised by the cadence of the Raag.

There's famous Tamarind Tree (Imli ka ped) near the tomb. It's believed that leaves of the tree sweeten the voice of a person who chews them ???? Enchanting stories like these make our history so lush and crowd-pleasing.

I and Amishi (daughter) obviously chewed on a few leaves and Amishi even hummed a jingle. I indulged mini-me complimenting that there's a significant metamorphosis in her voice. She blushed with her natural sense of wonder and I was happy to see her smile.

Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 1/11 by Anjali Chawla
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 2/11 by Anjali Chawla
Tomb of Muhammad Ghaus
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 3/11 by Anjali Chawla
Intricate carvings on Muhammad Ghaus's Tomb
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 4/11 by Anjali Chawla
Green meadows
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 5/11 by Anjali Chawla
The Memorial of Tansen
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 6/11 by Anjali Chawla
Tomb of Miyan Tansen
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 7/11 by Anjali Chawla
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 8/11 by Anjali Chawla
I requested the saint to pluck few leaves of imli tree for me and wished silently that may these leaves do for me what they did for Miyan Tansen; but all in vain!
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 9/11 by Anjali Chawla
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 10/11 by Anjali Chawla
Photos of The Mystical Musician Of Gwalior - Tansen 11/11 by Anjali Chawla
Kids playing in the garden inside the mausoleum complex - it's because the entry to the monument is free.

How I wished to witness the magic of Miyan Tansen in Akbar's court. Sadly, it was all but an inaccessible idea.

Picture Credits: Anjali Chawla

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