One of the pleasures of Indian culture is its music. The sitar is a classical Indian musical instrument that has been part of India’s history for centuries. The sitar looks similar to the guitar, but is held differently in a more upright position. Three popular sitar musicians that come to mind during the last few decades are: Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan, and Nikhil Banerjee. It is well worth watching and listening to at least one performance of each of these excellent musicians. Included for your convenience are links to YouTube with these masters performing.


  1. Ravi Shankar performing at Monterey Pop Festival (1967)
  2. Ustad Vilayat Khan
  3. Nikhil Banergee


My initial exposure to the beautiful sounds of the sitar occurred during a trip to India, visiting the ancient spiritual city of Varanasi, also known as Banaras. Varanasi sits on the Ganges River and is a favorite religious pilgrimage location were people travel from all parts of India and beyond to come pray and bathe, in the river Ganja.


India - Varanasi: People praying and bathing in the Ganges River.
India – Varanasi: People praying and bathing in the Ganges River.


While walking along the ghats or steps leading down towards the bathing area of the river, one will occasionally hear the mesmerizing sounds of the sitar. During evening and nighttime walks, along the tight alleyways of the old portion of Banaras, the sound of the sitar mixed with the other noises, create a haunting yet peaceful otherworldly experience.


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