Musicians GGDA

Gavri Devi (1920-1988)

Legendary singer late Gavri Devi of Jodhpur, specially known for her singing style of Maand sang Thumri, Bhajan, Ghazals and Folk. She is famous as Maru Kokila in Rajasthan. Her parents were Raj singer for Bikaner Royal family. Trained by her parents she adapted to her unique style of singing and became most successful and deserving singer of Maand Gayaki. She kept singing post her marriage and traveled in India and abroad. Rajmata Sahiba knew that she was the best singer for the academy. She performed with the academy and even traveled with us to Russia in year 1986 for Festival of India, organised by ICCR [Indian Council for Cultural Relations].

Gavri Devi was awarded with Raja Padak and Rajasthan Sangeet Natak Academy awards. Post her demise in 1988, she was awarded with Rajasthan Ratan Award in 2013 by state govt and Bronze meddle by former President of India Shri R Venkatraman in 2015.

Lakha Khan Manganiyar

Lakha Khan is one of the last few Manganiyars who has mastered the complex instrument called Sindhi sarangi to carry forward the centuries-old musical tradition of Rajasthani folk and Sufi music.  He was introduced to Rajmata sa by Late Shri Komal Kothari, Padmabhushan Awardee; for academy and performs with us since then.
A living legend, Lakha Khan is not only a maestro on the Sindhi sarangi, he sings fluently in Sindhi, Punjabi, Hindi, Marwari and a variety of dialects, His knowledge and skill spanning the divide between folk and classical music. An old school traditional artist yet open to world music Lakha ji performs extensively across Rajasthan and India, and internationally. He has been awarded with National and International awards including Sangeet Natak Academy Award.

Omar Mohammed

Umar Mohammad from Jodhpur, is Raj nagarchi, and plays Nagarh for Jodhpur Royal family. His family has been in service with the royal family since 9 generations. He was hand picked by Rajmata sahiba when she started her academy in 1986.  He is one of the very few Nagarchis who sing and play nagarah at the same time. He was awarded with the state award for the same by rajasthan government.


Niyaz Khan has been withe academy since year 1994. Born and brought up in Badmer Rajasthan, belonging to manganiyar community music was passed on to him in the traditional way. He an excellent Dholak and Dhol player. He has been attached to many musical groups and travels extensively in India and abroad.


Graduate in Sociology from St. Xavier’s college and Masters from the Bombay University, Nandini Mahesh was lecturer in  Elphinstone college for students specializing in sociology in senior college.

She studied Hindustani classical vocals at the Mumbai branch of Bhatkhande Vidya Peeth,  Lucknow. Later studied light classical from Smt Shobha Gurtu and also studied under Smt. Manik Bhide of Jaipur Atrauli gharana, for a short period.

Attending a workshop on Ethno-musicology at the NCPA in 1987 was a crucial experience in her life as that is where she first heard Padmavibhushan  Komal Kothari talk about the Manganiyars, the community she chose as her subject of research the very next year.

And, it was at this workshop that she met Padmashree Late Rajmata Govardhan Kumari of Santrampur.

She joined the Gangaur Ghoomar Dance Academy in year 1988. She was taught ghoomar songs by Rajmata sa personally and she was part of the academy as the lead vocalist for over two years.

Her love for classical music saw her become a very active member of SPICMACAY, mumbai through which she worked towards enhancing cultural awareness among school and college students.
Her research on Manganiyars culminated in a documentary on the unique community titled “Echoes from the deserts”.

In the year 1989, she left academics and entered the world of advertising as copywriter and worked as the Creative Group Head.

In the year 1996, she along with her husband Mahesh Babu founded Banyan Tree, the company that works towards discovering, nurturing,  propagating and celebrating  the performing arts of India; their unique intangible heritage. The promotion body is known for its world class presentations and innovative themes of annual, national festivals which take place across 18 cities and towns of India.

The couple also founded Ninaad Music, an audio label which is among the finest in producing alternate music.

In the year 2001, she authored a novel for children, “The Invisible Cave”, the first of its kind that combined science fiction and spirituality and was the best seller.

In 2009, she published, a coffee table book based on the experiences of presenting Ruhaniyat, the “Sufi & Mystic Music Festival” across ten cities.

As the director of Banyan Tree, she has been travelling extensively across India and beyond, discovering unique forms and artists as well as presenting shows and attending conferences where she represents India and the rich cultural heritage of our country.

Niyaz Khan

Niyaz Khan has been withe academy since year 1994. Born and brought up in Badmer Rajasthan, belonging to manganiyar community music was passed on to him in the traditional way. He an excellent Dholak and Dhol player. He has been attached to many musical groups and travels extensively in India and abroad.

Achar Khan

Achar Khan manganiyar from Khiyan village near Jaisalmer, plays Murli [an intruments which mostly is played by snake charmers, and also known as been] Shehenai, Algoja, Flute and morchang. he is with academy since 1994.

Nishtha Ranjan

Nishtha, A voice over artist and former R.J. with radio Mirchi did her Masters in English Literature. She has been working in Learning and Development with various corporate houses.
She joined the academy in year 1998 as a singer. Late H.H. Rajmata Goverdan Kumarriji guided her in the traditional singing to support Pratiba Naitthani in for the performances. Currently a homemaker and settled in Delhi, Nishtha travels at every possible opportunity with academy.

Asin Khan

Asin khan manganiyar from near by village from Jodhpur, plays sarangi and sings along with it. Trained in traditionally by his family he travels extensively all over the world. He is with academy since 2008.

Zaheer Khan

Zaheer son of Niyaz Khan, plays Dholak, Dhol, Khartal, Morchang and Harmonium. At a very young age he started learning Dholak and Dhol from his father. Zaheer’s versatility has taken him Internationally and brought him opportunities in Bollywood. He is a balance of traditional art form passed on from generation to generation and the new open horizons of world music.

Aadil Khan Meer

Ninteen year old Aadil is son of Umar Mohammad. He started learning Nagarah from his father when he was 10 years old. Studying in class 11, Aadil plays Nagarah, Dholak,Tabla, Khartaal and Morchang. Talented aadil has begun his journey in the world of music and performs in festivals and functions whenever he gets time from his studies. He is one of the few young Nagarah players in Rajasthan and wishes to follow his father’s footsteps and take his family’s 9 generation old tradition ahead.