KHYAL SINGER, c. 1860 – 1922

By Michael Kinnear

Part Excerpt from “Sangeet Ratna – The Jewel of Music”
Khan Sahib Abdul Karim Khan – A Bio Discography
by Michael Kinnear, Published 2003


Rahimat Khan with Vishnupant Chhatre and his brother Vinayakra Chhatre

Rahimat Khan with Vishnupant Chhatre
and his brother Vinayakra Chhatre

Rahimat Khan at Dharwarkar

Rahimat Khan at Dharwararkar
“Sangeet Ratna, The Jewel of Music, Khan Sahib Abdul Karim Khan – A Bio Discography”, Page 258

Rahimat Khan – Malkauns

Rahimat Khan – Yaman

RAHIMAT KHAN is one of the legendary figures of Hindustani music of the 19th centuryand a leading exponent of the Gwalior Gharana.  Precise or factual information about his life is rather sketchy and for the most part appear to be anecdotal and the lineage of his family varies from one account to another.

Rahimat Khan is believed to have been born at Gwalior in 1860  and was one of the sons of Haddu Khan, who along with his elder brother Hassu Khan had achieved fame as Khayal singers at the court of Gwalior.  The ancestral home of this family was originally at Hussainpur, which later became known as Husanpur-Lohari, a twin village some twenty miles northwest of Muzaffarnagar in the district of the same name, and some twenty miles north of Kairana. This area north of Delhi is generally known as the ‘Bara-basti’.

The area has produced a number of gifted families of musicians of Pathan origin, but it is notknown for certain if the generations of this particular family originally came from Husanpur Lohari, or had migrated there from Lucknow during the rulership of Nawab Saddat Ali Khan II (r.1797-1814).

Of the ancestors of Rahimat Khan, Ghulam Rasool Khan and Mian Jani Khan were Qawali singers at Lucknow under the patronage of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah (r.1753 – 1775), and Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah (r. 1775 – 1797).  Ghulam Rasool Khan’s son Ghulam Nabi Khan, known as Mian Shori, was also a reputed Qawali singer of the time, and is said to have been an originator of the ‘Tappa’ style of singing. Ghulam Rasool Khan’s sister is said to have been the mother of Shakkar Khan and Makkhan Khan, while her sister is said to have been the mother of Kadar Bakhsh Khan and Abdullah Khan, who achieved some fame at Lucknow as Khayal singers.


It is said that Nawab Saddat Ali Khan did not have much interest in music and that during his reign many musicians left Lucknow to seek their futures elsewhere.  Of these musicians, Shakkar Khan’s sons: Bade Mohammad Khan and Ahmed Khan went to Rewa, while Makkhan Khan’s son Nathan Pir Bakhsh went to Gwalior.  With Nathan Pir Bakhsh and his sons, Nathu Khan and Ghutam Imam, the families that had been residing at Hasanpur-Lohari, including Kadar Bakhsh Khan’s sons – Haddu Khan and Hassu Khan, relocated to Gwalior and established a musical tradition there in the service of the Gwalior Darbar, which has become known as the ‘Gwalior’ Gharana.

After his service at Lucknow, Kadar Bakhsh Khan is thought to have resided at Husanpur-Lohari, where be died at an early age. Although young Kadar Bakhsh Khan is said to have had at least three wives and a very large family, of whom Hassu Khan (c.1790-1851 or 1859) and Haddu Khan (c.1800-1870 or 1875) were singers, born of one wife, while another son born of a younger wife was Masid Khan  (c.1820-1880) a wrestler.

Masid Khan had at least three daughters, of whom Mije was married to Rehman Bakhsh Khan, a Sarangi player of Kandhla. Another daughter Jilaye was married to Kale Khan, a Sarangi player from Kairana, and the father of Abdul Karim Khan and a third daughter Habiban, was also later married to Rehman Bakhsh Khan of Kandhla, and was the mother of Majid Khan, Hamid Khan and Bashir Khan of Khandla.

 Hassu Khan spent most of his life as a professional musician at Gwalior, and had one son named Ghuliman Khan, while Haddu Khan had three sons Chote Mohamed Khan, Hyder Khan and Rahimat Khan (c.1852, or 1860-1922).  The younger Haddu Khan was at the ‘Durbar’ of Banda for some years in about the 1840’s, and returned to Gwalior for the rest of his years.  Haddu Khan also had a daughter who was given in marriage to Bande Ali Khan.

Rahimat Khan with Vishnupant Chhatre

Rahimat Khan with Vishnupant Chhatre
“Sangeet Ratna, The Jewel of Music, Khan Sahib Abdul Karim Khan – A Bio Discography”, Page 236

At Varanasi in the early 1890’s, Rahimat Khan came into contact with Vishnupant Chhatre (b. 1840 at Akalkhopar, Jamkhandi State – d. 1905 or 1908 at Indore). Vishnupant Chhatre had learnt music from Haddu Khan at Gwalior, and later set up a touring ‘circus company’ in which he engaged Rahimat Khan as a musician in about I892. Rahimat Khan is said to have remained with ‘Chhatre’s Circus’ up to 1899 at least. 

With Vishnupant Chhatre’s support, Rahimat Khan gave recitals in many princely states, and at the turn of the century he took up residence at Kurundwad, a town and state of the same name some sixteen miles south of Miraj. Although the Chiefs of Kurundwad, particularly Chintaman Rao R.aghunath (b. 1850 – r. 1876?) [alias Bala Saheb Patwardhan] and his son Balchand Rao Chinatmanrao [alias Anna Saheb Patwardhan] were known as great patrons and sponsors of music, there is no evidence to confirm if they patronized Rahimat Khan. 

Pandit Vishnupant Chhatre’s father, Moropant Chhatre had been in the service of Shrimant Appasaheb, the Raja of Jamkhandi, and secured a job for the young Vishnupant as a horse trainer, although the family left Jamkhandi and then settled at Tikota in Kurundwad State.

Following a career as a horse-trainer, Vishnupant Chhatre took an interest in music and came into contract with Haddu Khan at Gwalior from whom he took music lessons.  After holding down positions as a horse-trainer for the Rajas of Kagal, Kurundwad, Jawhar and Vinchur, Vishnupant Chhatre organised a circus company, which toured the Bombay Presidency.

By the early 1890’s Vishnupant Chhatre had acquired the assets of the Wilson Circus at Bombay, which then operated as Chhatre’s Circus and toured in other parts of India. Some reports suggest that Rahimat Khan had travelled with the circus company for several years, while another report suggests that Vishnupant Chhatre had found Rahimat Khan wandering on the roadside while the circus was on tour at Benares. 


Vishnupant Chhatre

In 1899, Vishnupant Chhatre and his brother Vinayakrao placed the owner-ship and management of Chhatre’s Circus in the hands of Kashinathpant, the adopted son of Vinayakrao Chhatre.  Under Kathinathpant’s management the circus continued to prosper and eventually toured overseas in the Dutch East Indies, Siam and China. 

Following his retirement, Vishnupant Chhatre lived at Tikota, near Kurundwad, is said to have organised a number of recitals of Rahimat Khan   At about the turn of the century, Rahimat Khan took up residency at Kurundwad, a town and state of the same name, some sixteen miles south of Miraj. 

The Patwardhan Rajas of Kurundwad had for several generations been known as great patrons and sponsors of music and provided accommodation at Kurundwad for Rahimat Khan.

Rahimat Khan remained with Vishnupant Chhatre’s circus for several years, touring all over India, and also gave performances in many princely states during his years with Vishnupant Chhatre.

Maula Bakhsh on Been

Maula Bakhsh Chief Musician of the Court of Baroda

Maula Bakhsh, center framed in the picture below in 1881 founded one of the first public music schools in India, the Gayanshala, which is now the music faculty of the University of Baroda. Maula Bakhsh was the maternal grandfather of Inayat Khan. 

Rahimat Khan and Son Inayat Khan, Gayanshala

Rahimat Khan is seated in the second row left, and his son Inayat Khan seated right.

Son of Rahimat Khan
Inayat Khan R. Pathan (1882-1927)

Royal Musicians, Inayat Khan - Top Center

Royal Musicians, Inayat Khan – Sitar (top centre), Maheboob Khan, Dilruba (top right), Mohammed Ali Khan, Tampura (bottom left), Ramaswami, Tabla (bottom right)

In 1900 the most celebrated Hindustani musicians, along with Rahimat Khan  were invited to attend a music conference at Kathmandu, Nepal, sponsored by Bahadur Shamsher Jang (1875-?) the Maharaja of Nepal.  Rahimat Khan took his son Inayat Khan along with him.

Gathering of musicians, Music Conference Nepal c. early 1900’s, Rahimat Khan. front row – far rightGathering of musicians at a Music Conference in Nepal circa early 1900’s
Rahimat Khan – front row – far right

“Sangeet Ratna, The Jewel of Music, Khan Sahib Abdul Karim Khan – A Bio Discography”, Page 237

The Princely State of Kurundwad lies in the Southern Maratha Country, and was founded in 1733, by Raja Trimbakrao Appasaheb. In 1854, the state was divided into Senior and Junior branches, with the senior section being the larger.  Of the twin states Kurundwad senior has only three towns of significance, Kurundwad, some sixteen miles from Miraj, and Tikota, some twelve miles west of Bijapur, along with Angol situated in Belgaum district.  The junior branch is basically comprised of villages.

The major town of the state, Kurundwad is situated on the right bank of the Panchganga River near its junction with the Kistna River. Farming essentially supports the town with no significant features except the Palaces of the Rajas. 

The Palace, Kurundwad (Senior)The Palace, Kurundwad (Senior)
Courtesy –  Kamakhya Sinh Chauhan
 — in Kurundwad, India

Nearby, towards Kolhapur, at the confluence of the rivers, is the village of Narsoba-wadi, a sacred pilgrimage site, where each year a festival is held in honour of Shri Dattatreya {known as Narashiva Saraswati}. The festival also attracts a number of musicians as an appendage to the festival, and one that Abdul Karim Khan and Rahimat Khan used to participate in.

The Narsobachi Wadi

Narsobachi Wadi

Following the death of Vishnupant Chhatre at Indore in 1905 (or 1908), Rahimat Khan retired to Kurundwad, as a guest of the Raja of Kurundwad, who had also been a patron of Vishnupant Chhatre, and when Bala Saheb died in 1908, his son Appa Saheb continued to support Rahimat Khan.

Although Rahimat Khan continued to reside in Kurundwad after the death of Vishnupant Chhatre in about 1905, he is said to have little interest in giving recitals after the death of his friend, although he was always happy to perform whenever he was invited to do so, including public concerts held at Wilson College, Bombay.

The close proximity of Kurundwad to Miraj gave Abdul Karim Khan the opportunity to listen and share Rahimat Khan’s music and was greatly influenced by him.                                                                                                         


Anna Saheb Patwardhan, Kurundwad

Anna Saheb Patwardhan, Kurundwad

The State of Kurundwad was divided into two branches and originally ruled by three Chiefs. The senior branch was ruled by Raja Chintaman-rao Raghunath-rao, alias Bala Saheb Patwardhan (1850 – r. 1876 -1908) and succeeded by his son Balchand-rao Chintaman-rao, alias Anna Saheb Patwardhan (1873 – r. 1908 – 1927).  

The junior branch was jointly ruled by Raja Ganpat-rao Harihar, alias Bapu Saheb Patwardhan (1839 r.1854-1899) and Raja Harihar Rao Vinayak, alias Daji Saheb Patwardhan (1852 r. 1854 – 1911) then followed by Madhav-rao Ganpat-rao, alias Bhav Saheb Patwardhan (1899-1931) and Vinayak-rao Harihar-rao, alias Bapu Saheb Patwardhan (Nana Saheb Patwardhan (1911-1931).

With the formation of The Philharmonic Society of Western India in 1912, Anna Saheb Patwardhan became one of the society’s major sponsors and financiers.  In some respects Anna Saheb Patwardhan had retained Rahimat Khan as his personal musician was is reported to have been reluctant to have him appear in public.

Rahimat Khan, Khyal Singer

Rahimat Khan

Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar (b. 1872 – d. 1931), who had been born and raised in Kurundwad, was a great admirer of Rahimat Khan, and often presented him in concert recitals put on by the branches of the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.

Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Kurundbad

Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Kurundbad

Rahimat Khan is said to have been a simple man of great charm, and to have had a fondness for sweetmeats and to have been addicted to ‘pan’ chewing.

His singing style was gentle, and melodic, and he was known in music circles as ‘Bhoo Gandharva’ on account of the sweet delivery of his songs.


Rahimat Khan - Khyal Singer

In 1919, Rahimat Khan was persuaded to make eleven recordings for The Gramophone Co., Ltd., at Bombay.

According to Master Krishnarao (Phulambrikar) who made recordings at the same session, the accompanying musicians on these recordings were Bal Gandharva and himself on tanpuras, along with Balantrao Rukdikar and Rajanna on Tablas.

Rahimat Khan is said to have been very amused by the recording horn placed in front of him, and technique of recording sound and became angry on hearing his voice replayed.

The recordings were issued on the “His Master’s Voice” label in June 1921, labelled as by ‘Rahimat Khan-Haddu Khan’,  (HMV – P-4696 to P-4701)


Rahimat Khan, His Master's Voice, P 4696

Rahimat Khan died at Kurundwad in 1922, at the age of about 62 years, and is buried in a small cemetery to the east of the township.

Apart from a few photographs and the gramophone records, there is very little other information to substantiate the life and work of this legendary musician.

Rahimat Khan with Sursingar

Rahimat Khan with Sursingar


Concert Promotion Pamphlet,
featuring Khan Saheb Rahimat Khan,
(photo bottom left)

Son of Rahimat Khan Inayat Khan R. Pathan (1882-1927)

Rahimat Khan – Catalogue 1922

Rahimat Khan Catalogue

Rahimat Khan HMV Catalogue, Page 2

Rahimat Khan - Catalogue 1922

Rahimat Khan, Khyal Singer - DISCOGRAPHYRahimat Khan, Khyal Singer - DISCOGRAPHY


Michael Kinnear

Acknowledgment to the Late Ustad Hafizullah Khan, Sarangi Player, Kirana Gharana

Ustad Hafizullah Khan, Sarangi Player

“Sangeet Ratna – The Jewel of Music” Khan Sahib Abdul Karim Khan – A Bio Discography
Pillars of Hindustani Music [Chapter on Pandit Vishnupant Chhatre]
B.R. Deodhar (translated by Ram Deshmjukh) Published by Popular Prakashan, Bomba, 1993

All photos are from the Private Collection of Michael Kinnear and are featured in “Sangeet Ratna – the Jewel of Music “Khan Sahib Abdul Karim Khan – A Bio Discography.

Copyright © 2021 bajakhana.com.au

Inayat Khan R. Pathan (1882-1927)

Inayat Khan, The Complete Recordings of 1909

Digital Transfers of Inayat Khan made for The Gramophone Co. of India Ltd., by Michael Kinnear at EMI Archives, London, 1994.  Discography compiled by Michael Kinnear of Prof. Inayat Khan R. Pathan included in the liner notes. Double CD – CDNF 1.50129-30 (Cassette STCS850359).

Original recordings taken by George Walter Dillnut at Calcutta on 26th and 28th September, 1909, released in April, 1910. 

“In  1994 Dr. Joep Bor from Holland and Mr. Michae Kinnear from Australia decided to bring Prof. Inayat Khan R. Pathan songs in CD format. Mr. Kinnear located all his 31 songs from EMI archives in London and Gramophone Company released the songs onble CD. It also contains well researched booklet giving information on the musician, his life and music. Most of these songs are composed and sung by Inayat Khan himself. The compositions are set to ragas such as Jhinjhoti, Shahana, Purbi, Sur malhar, Kafi, Sindhura, Yaman Kalyan, Jaunpuri, Todi, Mand, Pilu, Paraj, Barwa, Kausi Kanada, Bihag tarana. The lyric is in Urdu, Hindustani, Punjabi and Persian. He has also sung Parsi Pateti song, First song in this compilation is Yaad Raho Sarkar in Pahadi Jhinjhoti. This is addressed to Nizam of Hyderabad and called Nizam Jubilee Song. He has also sung Gazal-e-Asif, written by Nizam himself under pen name Asif. His voice as represented in these recordings is sweet and voluminous. He doesn’t appear to be shouting as is evident from the recordings of high pitch female singers of that time. He also has sung a famous bandish in raga Yaman Kalyan – “Peeharva Tiharo Nek Nazarne.”