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[R] RavanaHatha in Pushkar |#atozchallenge 2017|

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2013: I was meandering on the streets of Pushkar, dodging the army of photographers who had descended in locust proportions onto the city (Oh yeah, I was one of them too 😉 ) Nearing a large open field full of camels, the soft strains of a stringed instrument reached my ears and I started to look around for the source. The music was haunting and tragic, raising goosebumps on my arms.


A man was seated on the ground, strumming a rather strange-looking fiddle and his young son was at it too. I walked across and greeted him. He was happy to have an audience and smilingly acknowledged permission for me to photograph/ record him.


“Its called a Ravanhatha”, he informed me. Seeing my perplexed expression, he went on to explain it further as a founding base for the modern-day Violin and Viola (Latter I read up about later). Whoa!!!! now I was really impressed. It seemed this instrument had some links to the legendary Ravana (from Hindu epic Ramayana) and quite possibly could claim origins in Sri Lanka.


This unusual “pre-violin” has a bowl, usually fashioned out of a coconut shell and then clad with goat/camel hide. The neck is a “dandi” (stick) made out of bamboo and there are two main strings on it. Now this is the uniquest part about a RavanHatha – one string is made out of steel while the other is, hold your breathe – horse hair!!! There are also some bells / shells attached at the tail end which jingle in rhythm as the man strums it.


The man lovingly caressed his Ravanhatha and then tuned the strings to give me a performance to record. I was impressed to see his young son having a go at it too. They teach them young as its easier to pick and sustain their interest too. This is a dying tradition now with the modern-day advancements, but one can see many traditional dance and music performances in Rajasthan that employ these musicians. Otherwise one meets them at popular touristy spots, like I did in Jaisalmer too. There the gentleman also had pre-recorded CDs of Rajasthani music which I had purchased too.A2Z-BADGE-2017-blogging-challenge-theme-reveal-travel-stories-picture-speaks-louder-than-words-april-shalzmojosays-roadtrip-girltravel-india-ravanhattha-pushkar-musical-instrument-nomad-camel-fair-rajasthan-desert-traditional-tribal

I loved the colourful dress of this young child with the mirror work and embroidery – it’s a typical traditional wear of Rajasthani folks. He seemed to be struggling at first with his Ravanhatha but then played some festive strains of a popular folk song for me to easily recognise and applaud him.


I look forward to digging into the local crafts and traditions of India on my travels – be it dance, music, food, clothes or just a way of making the bed – its humbling to see them and learn the simplicity of life and beauty of it all. Pushkar with all its colors and hustle-bustle, is just a village town that comes alive during a rural fair that has been made into a huge photo-op by the city slickers but is actually a way of life and business for these folks. Maybe the big towners do help generate some money via tourism but the mainstay of life here is buying and selling cattle and farm produce.

I loved wandering on the streets of Pushkar and clicked many a coloured stalls, which maybe I will write about someday in another worthwhile post!!!

For now, leaving you with a rendition of his playing and look forward to hearing what you think of it!

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

– Ibn Battuta – 

ravanhatha - pushkar-rajasthan-travel-camel-fair - india

Fact File:

  • Pushkar is a town made popular by its camel fair which takes place on the month of November every year.
  • RavanHatha is a traditional veena, made popular by the royalty in Rajasthan and to some extent, Gujarat too.

The post on S is simmering for a bit, lets see what gets cooked up

For the uninitiated, AtoZ challenge is a blogging challenge wherein one has to write on every alphabet from A to Z and post on all days of April, except Sundays. Usually its better to devise a theme as it makes it easy to write the posts. Plus readers have a reason to stay hooked too.

The A to Z Challenge is created by  Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out
and co-hosted by

Alex J. Cavanaugh of Alex J. Cavanaugh

Jeremy Hawkins of Hollywood Nuts

Heather M. Gardner of  The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Zalka Csenge Virág of The Multicolored Diary

John Holton of The Sound of One Hand Typing

J Lenni Dorner of  Blog of J. Lenni Dorner


You can peruse my other posts on #RajasthanTravelDiaries here:

Japanese Kalbelia


April Fools

Foodie Haven

Leather that weathers

Gangaur in Udaipur

Rawla Narlai

Kumbhalgarh Fort


Linking up for #wordsante with Namysaysso for every post deserves some love

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31 thoughts on “[R] RavanaHatha in Pushkar |#atozchallenge 2017|

    1. Oh I had such fun listening to it. I guess I must have been lucky – what did you think of the video? Was that tuneless for you? Just curious!!! 😉

  1. Very interesting instrument. I love that the strings are made of different materials – one steel and one horsehair. I’m still waiting for the video to load – i hope it does because I’m curious what it sounds like.

  2. Have seen this instrument being played by artists all over Rajasthan but was not aware that it is called RavanHatha. Thanks for sharing its history and great pictures as well.

  3. It sounds lovely. I’m glad these more traditional instruments are kept up. Interesting about the horse hair string – that’s often the material for the bow for the modern violin.

    1. Oh wow I didnt know that Nick- modern day violin has a horsehair for string!!! I have used horsehair brushes for painting and cant imagine them taking the stress of a bow!! Amazing indeed!

  4. Wow I didn’t know it is made of so many unique elements… the folk songs sound so lively when this instrument is played. Thanks for sharing so much about

    1. Thanks Raj – yeah this is one helluva instrument. I always keep a look out for it on my travels to Rajasthan!

  5. Ok, I also did not know the instrument. Like I had commented on another post of yours, I have been to Rajasthan and yes, I have seen people play it. It sounds lovely (I echo Bellybyte here) if the player is talented 🙂

    1. Yeah its quite a unique instrument and I have always found a pretty good musician playing it on my travels into Rajasthan!

  6. I absolutely loved the music! I wish you had a longer video. As you mentioned it must have something to do with Ravana, I think it must be related to his love for playing Veena. I’ve heard a story which goes thus;While playing the Rudra veena in order to please lord Shiva, a string from the Veena broke and Ravana fashioned a string using his intestines and continued playing.
    Anyway, maybe RavanaHatha is related to his Veena. 🙂
    A very informative post dear. Very interesting!

  7. This is the first time ever I heard of this instrument also the music played! The music is so touching! Like it is piercing the heart in a go…Loved it Shalz! Without any delay I am going to search for recorded audio so I can load it onto my phone <3

    1. oh wow Keerthi; you sure know how to pay a compliment. Thanks so much. And I am so glad you have liked this – i too find the music very vulnerable and haunting and think its just beautiful! 🙂

    1. Yes the Brahama temple bit is true but its so god damned crowded; twice I have been to Pushkar and both times I couldnt manage to get inside!

  8. I so enjoyed listening to the music, Shalz! it’s so typically Rajasthani – the kind you hear played in their songs. That tune, especially!
    Ravanhatha – heard of it for the first time. Thank you for the info on this one, Shalz!

    1. Thanks so much Shilpa; I love the haunting reverence of the music strains that emanate from this instrument! Its so folksy and cultural at the same time 🙂

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