First a forewarning that this post may be a little boring for most readers but being a sarangi nerd I had to express the latest developments on this front.
As you know I have been on the hunt for a sarangi here in India so while we were in Delhi I decided to follow up a lead I had on a maker in Meerut (Rajesh Dhawan) which is a town not too far away and historically a place where one of the greatest sarangi makers (Behra) resided.
We arrived in Meerut at 8.30am via a train journey (our first in India so far and what astounding leg room on the trains here – the picture doesn’t do it justice!). After waiting outside in the torturous heat till 11am for the shop to open we were taken to the workshop in another location where the instruments are made. It was not long after seeing some of his instruments that I realized my own sarangi, which I left in London, is in fact made by Rajesh and I ended up basically purchasing a twin to my existing instrument!
We spent several hours with Rajesh talking about sarangis and it turns out he is basically the last person making sarangis of a high quality in India and therefore the world and he provides sarangis for practically all professional sarangi players and their students. The finest instruments Rajesh makes are carved from a single block of red cedar wood which is seasoned for a minimum of 8 years. It is cut long ways along the grain for the finest tone quality. He was even kind enough to show me an antique Behra sarangi which he acquired and must have been around 70 years old. He uses it as a model to build his sarangis from. Check out the eroded fingerboard – this instrument has been seriously played hard!
All in all it was a pleasure to meet Rajesh, pick up such a quality instrument and see the old Behra sarangi. Incedentally we had visited the national museum in Delhi the day before which amongst other beautiful things also had some antique sarangis of which i’ve also provided a photo of here.
With the sarangi checked off the list we were done with Delhi and have since moved on to Varanasi, a place which I’d been greatly anticipating!