It is said that the Persian Art and music found their way into Baltistan prior to the advent of the Mughal Rule in India. A Balti version says that the Mughal Princess Gul Khatoon better known in Baltistan as Mindoq Gialmo (Flower Queen) brought with her musicians and artisans into Baltistan. The musicians and artisans propagated Mughal music and art under her patronage. Musical instruments such as the ‘Surnai’ , ‘Karnai’ , ‘Dhol’ , ‘Chang’ etc. found their way into Baltistan.

The very terms such as ‘Muqamat’ , ‘Usul’ , ‘Gosha’ , ‘Rawani’ etc. of Persian music are also used in Baltistan.

The classical music or ‘Ragas’ are known as ‘Harib’ in Baltistan. Some of the ‘Haribs’ or ‘Ragas’ that are found in Baltistan are the following

1.               Nobat

2.               Bayad

3.               Yega

4.               Du – Gah

5.               She – Gah

6.               Chahargah Author being Amir Khusro 1253 – 1325 A.D.

7.               Panjgah

8.               Ushaq

9.               Maghloob

10.              Husaini

11.              Mukha – Lif

12.              Amar – e – Sad

13.              Ajam or Nauroze – e – Ajam

14.              Dabrat

15.              Aamal – e – Sal

16.              Hazar Dastan

17.              basan

18.              No – Shah

19.              Pish – Chumber locallay called Duldul Saqala

20.              Daur – e – Saqia

21.              Dilawar

22.              Dabar Mala locally called Daur – e – Maula

23.              Bodhi She – Gah

24.              Manthali

25.              Nawa

26.              Sukna She – Gah

27.              Brodam

28.              Chhogho Khorchhos

29.              Khamsali

30.              Senduri or Shamdurikh

31.              Rast

32.              Iraq

33.              Rahadi

34.              Isfahan

35.              Hijaz

36.              Babas

37.              Baherve

38.              Dev – Kandhar

39.              Nauroz Saba

40.              Lori

41.              Janjoq

42.              Sunduh – Re

43.              Sa – Rang

44.              Talang

45.              Ashi – Ran

46.              Nauroz – e – Arab

47.              Pehlvi

48.              Ialat

49.              Gizal

50.              Adasi

51.              Sari

52.              Kohi

53.              Baha Kar

54.              Sorat

55.              Zalab

56.              Nohzat

57.              Hisar

58.              Saba

59.              Rawan

60.              Kamancha

61.              Lachare

62.              Sahar – Agah locally composed

63.              Streqpa NGO fochos locally compose one

64.              MAYON TSANG KHRIS locally composed

65.              Saz – e – Hindi locally composed


The majority of the above are Persian classical ‘Ragas’. Hindi ‘Ragas’ such as DABAR MALA, are also included in the list. A very few ‘Ragas’ or ‘Harib’ have been composed locally.

 In imitation of the Mughal Court, ‘Nobat – Khanas’ were constructed in the vicinity of the places where ‘Nobat’ was played five times a day especially on the occasion of Nauroz or New Year i.e. 21st March when all the musicians in the realm took part in this musical concert. The Harib ‘Nobat’ was played on the occasion of the Nauroz only.

The present position of classical music or ‘Haribs’ is deplorable. For want of patronage, which invariably came from the ruling families couples with the spread of influence of the religious leaders during the last twenty years, this art is fast vanishing. There is hardly a musician now who remembers more than twenty-five ‘Ragas’ or ‘Harib’. The day is not for off when this art will die forever. We are making arrangement to tape and preserve whatever little of the music is left.

The engineers and Sculptors who were brought into the land are credited with construction of the Gangupi Water channel, the Marble Palace, the Mindoq Khar Palace and the Hilal Bagh which was fitted with marble fountains. The art of woodcarving was at its height in those days. The carpenters used to decorate Verandas and Ceiling by carvings known as ‘Panjra’ and ‘Hatamband’. This art is said to have come to Baltistan from Iran by way of undivided India. The following are the names of ‘Panjras’ , ‘Hatambunds’

1.                  Kandoor

2.                  Chahar – Sar

3.                  Shash – Sar

4.                  Hasht – Sar

5.                  Dawaz – Dah – Sar

6.                  Shans – Dah – Sar

7.                  Shasht Roomi

8.                  Shasht – Zavia

9.                  Jan – e – Shireen

10.              Shash Tek

11.              Hasht – Tek

12.              Pusht – e – Mahi or Pushte – Mah

13.              Band Roomi

14.              Ab – Shar

15.              Moj – e – Darya various kinds

16.              Moj – e – Haider

17.              Moj – e – Hasan

18.              Moj – e – Bist – o – Yak

19.              Moj – e – Asghar

20.              Kaghaz – Gar

The above can be made into Panjara or Hatambund but the following can only be made into Hatamband.

1.                  YUNG – DRUNG

2.                  TUMARCHA (various kinds)

This art was patronized by the Rajas and the nobility. As patronage is not forth coming any more, this art is on the threshold of extinction.


The classical and other dances are displayed on the occasion of nawroze (21st March), and on the marriages of Rajas etc. These can be classified into Sword Dances, Broqchhos and Dewan or Ghazal.

The following are the names of the sword dances:

1.                  CHHOGHO PRASUL

It commemorates a great victory by the Maqpon Rajas over their enemies. As a mark of respect the musician who plays on the drum or ‘DANG’ stands up and goes on playing on it for sometime. It is worthy of note that the Maqpon princes would sometimes dance when this tune was played.

2.                  GASHO – PA

This sword dance is associated with the Gasho Dynasty of Purik (Kargil) who loomed large in this region one time. It is also called ‘GHBUS – LA – KHORBA’.


It commemorates the advent of spring.


This dance specifically performed on the occasion of the marriages of Rajas. In it the PACHONES or twelve Wazirs who accompany the bride take part.

5.                  JING HRCHES OR THE NECK DANCE

In the early stages the dancers move their necks to and fro.

6.                  KHOSHALPA

In the above dances seven or more persons take part.

7.                  THEN – KAR

Only two persons take part in this dance.

8.                  AFGHANI

This is one man’s display of dance with two swords one in each hand.

Next to the Sword dances comes BROQCHOS which include ‘FURGON KAR’ or Pigeon dance, CHURUKPA, HLANO KAR or Fairy Dance and SHOLI are well known. The dance that is played to the tune of the ‘GHAZAL’ is called DEWAN.

MAQPONI FUTUNG KAR or Maqpon’s Sleeve Dance is a dance that is displayed to the tune of the folk – lore called Amir Haider depicting the downfall of the Maqpon Dynasty in 1840 at the hand of the Dogras. This dance is specially displayed at Khaplu to perpetuate the memory of indignities suffered by the Maqpons. This tune is not played in the presence of any Maqpon prince.


This dance commemorates the victory of Yabgo over Raja Ghori Tham. It is confined to village PHARWA.

It may be mentioned that there are certain tunes which are played on special occasions. CHILAHO tune is played when the royal bride is taken out from the palace. LAMSNA tune is played when the Raja goes out in procession ‘BAM’ is a war tune.

From the statement of eye – witnesses it is confirmed that as late as 1910 women took part in dances along with men in the valley of Khaplu. But this custom has now come to an end. In the past there used to be dancing girls called ‘BEKARMO’ and ‘MALAKH ANMO’.



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