The Gangubai Hangal Gurukul in Hubli was dedicated to the nation on March 5, which happened to be the doyenne's 99th birth anniversary.

“The cradle of music will continue to swing. Someone will always be there to rock the cradle,” the grand old lady of classical music, the late Gangubai Hangal would say, when people expressed apprehensions over the future of classical music.

Gangubai used to recall these words of her grandmother at almost every function in and around Hubli-Dharwad, Karnataka, where she was a regular guest in the last few years of her life. Upset over the dwindling interest in classical music especially among the younger generation, Gangubai in her 90s, despite her frail health was gifted with an indomitable spirit to move on and had become a champion for the cause of promoting the classical music. She strongly desired that there should be a systematic mechanism to teach, promote and propagate Hindustani music so that aspiring students get an opportunity to learn and train in Hindustani Music. The Government of Karnataka has now stepped in to rock the cradle of music by setting up a music institute aptly called Gangubai Hangal Gurukul. The gurukul has come up in Hubli, a place that was close to her heart. Gangubai refused to shift her base from Hubli even if that meant losing opportunities in her musical career. With the setting up of the Gurukul, Hubli is now permanently on the musical map of the country.

Sprawling campus

Located in a sprawling five acre land at Unakal village with the Nrupatunga Betta (Hill) forming the backdrop, the Gurukul possesses the right ambience for a music school run under the guru-shishya parampara.

In fact, the idea of gurukul began to take shape four years ago when the then Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa finally yielded to a demand by musicians of the region. Subsequently it was left to the then Deputy Commissioner of Dharwad M.S. Srikar to workout the structure of the gurukul and he was aided by a team of musicians led by music critic Sadanand Kanavalli.

The team worked out a broad outline of how the gurukul should be and how it should function. It was designed with the objective of making use of advantages from the traditional mode of education, which is not bound by a rigid curriculum, but gives a chance to the students to imbibe values, devotion and sincerity from the Gurus.

Although the blueprint for the Gurukul was ready and funds were allocated it took some time for the government to work out the modalities for setting up the institution. And the task was entrusted to architect Praveen Bavadekar of Belgaum and subsequently the Nirmiti Kendra of Dharwad was given the responsibility of constructing the buildings to provide accommodation to the gurus and also the music students. The first phase of the gurukul was completed recently and the Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa formally dedicated it to the nation amid a host of musicians from across the country including the famed Kishori Amonkar, and veteran musicians such as Panchakshariswami Mattigatti. The campus of the Gangubai Hangal Gurukul has attempted to adapt the ancient tradition of the guru-sishya parampara for a new age. It has been designed in such a way that the guru shares a friendly relationship with the students, who are provided a proper ambience. From the beginning the idea was to make it a gurukul in the true sense, where the guru is the master when it comes to teaching and designing the curriculum for the students.

The faculty

Senior musicians such as Prabha Atre, Vijaya Jadhav, N. Rajam, Maniprasad, Vidyadhar Vyas and S.S. Haldankar who have given their consent to teach at the gurukul will soon arrive to take charge at the institution.

“Our responsibility is only that of administration and maintenance for which the state government has already earmarked funds. Although there will be no formal course as such, the gurus will decide what they want to teach and how the teaching should be. The gurus will also decide the period of teaching. The students will stay here for three years and if the guru feels that the students need to spend some more time at the gurukul, it can be extended to a maximum of five years,” explained Deputy Commissioner of Dharwad, Darpan Jain, who is one of the members of the Gangubai Hangal Gurukul Trust, headed by the Regional Commissioner of Belgaum.

To begin with, the gurus will represent all the gharanas of Hindustani classical music, including one for instrumental music. In the second phase, an auditorium for regular music concerts and a museum dedicated to Gangubai Hangal are being planned. Apart from organising regular music concerts, providing opportunities for budding to local artists and other students are the other plans that will be executed over a period of time. The aim is to see that the gurukul is not limited to just teaching music. It will also be developed into a centre of music that pursues excellence.