Dhondutai Kulkarni – Famous vocalist of Jaipur-Atrauli gharana of Hindustani music

Dhondutai Kulkarni (1927 – 2014) was a vocalist and doyen of Jaipur-Atrauli gharana of Hindustani music. She was the first disciple of Kesarbai Kerkar and Kulkarni owned numerous students. She was a purist who strictly followed the tradition. She remained unmarried and dedicated her whole life towards the world of music. Government of India honoured her with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990. She was also known as ‘Gaan-Yogini’.

Born into a traditional Brahmin family in Kolhapur, her father promoted her music talents, which was against social norms then. Her father gave her initial lessons in Hindustani music, followed by Bhurji Khan, Laxmibai Jadhav, Azizuddin Khan and Kesarbai Kerkar. When she got opportunity to learn under Kesarbai Kerkar, her father sold their ancestral home at Kolhapur and moved to Mumbai so that she can continue with her musical lessons and pursue a career in music.

Dhondutai Kulkarni – Some interesting facts

1. She didn’t marry and remained single throughout her life as she believed that she can’t have one more master, except music.

2. She got opportunity to learn rare Ragas from Azizuddin Khan, grandson of Alladiya Khan, the founder of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, which helped her a lot. She also learnt under Bhurji Khan, son of Alladiya Khan who followed the same musical traditions.

3. She gave performance on All India Radio at the age of 8, under the tutelage of Azizuddin Khan, court musician of Kolhapur. 

4. When renowned vocalist Kesarbai Kerkar decided to choose a disciple to teach her rare ragas, Dhondutai became her first student.

5. She introduced her students to a new dimension of life, quite visible to others.

6. She was fluent in the compound ragas of Jaipur-Atrauli gharana such as Bhoop-Nat, Basanti-Kedar and Lalita-Gauri.

7. She insisted to stay in her flat alone at Borivali, Mumbai, continuing with her teaching sections.

8. Apart from music she was also linked with spirituality.


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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